It’s a magical time of the year . . . Forrester Predictions! It’s like Christmas morning, but there aren’t any cookies or presents under the tree — it’s a different kind of excitement and energy. The research team huddles together, full of anticipation and excitement, reflecting on the year that’s been and looking forward to the year to come.

Remember two decades ago, when everyone thought Y2K would cause global chaos with planes falling out of the sky? The internet was taking flight, and we all really believed that in a few years we’d have flying cars and Back to the Future shoes. While some of these things have become reality 20 years later — cue Elon Musk and Nike’s Back to the Future-inspired Adapt BB sneakers — the issues rocking our world today are the ones we didn’t foresee: climate change, firms’ social responsibilities to consumers, the growing surveillance economy, and rapidly emerging (and potentially abusive and terrifying) technologies like deepfakes.

The challenges that businesses will face in 2020 will affect all parts of the organization and blur the lines between work and home. At our recent Sydney Predictions event, held on November 14 and attended by nearly 300 professionals, my colleagues, senior analysts Zhi-Ying Barry and Riccardo Pasto, principal analyst Jinan Budge, and research director Paul Dolan, and I shared our views on what 2020 would be like. Here’s a glimpse:

  • The top 10% of CMOs will broaden their role in the name of customer value. In 2020, leading CMOs will rally around customer value, refocusing and ingraining customer vision and purpose into organizational DNA. Michael Barnes explained why CMOs will be driven to better demonstrate brand value everywhere — being both customer-obsessed and purpose-driven. For example, confectionery company Mars now has a customer growth officer instead of a traditional CMO, with a strong focus on “using brand as a tool for growth.”
  • One-quarter of firms will lose more than 1% of revenue by flubbing their response to a social issue. In 2020, organizations that can demonstrate social responsibility and values are more likely to resonate with customers. Zhi-Ying Barry made the case that how firms respond to climate change, their corporate social responsibility practices, and their ethical sourcing and servicing policies are all becoming front of mind for consumers. Brands that can recognize this, embed it into their branding, and deliver on it will increase their chances at having loyal and engaged customers and drive growth.
  • EX transformations will be bolder and more insights-driven. Unsurprisingly, organizations with racial, age, gender, and thought diversity are more innovative and perform better. In 2020, more employee experience (EX) leaders will lead their organizations with unique hiring practices, strive to better manage emotional distress, and prioritize workload management. Riccardo Pasto described how EX leaders need to focus on how to cultivate a growth mindset among employees to create sustainability and balance.
  • Mass data collection will drive 15% growth in antisurveillance technology. In 2020, firms will ramp up their mass data collection efforts in hopes of gaining a competitive edge. Calling on tools like social media listening and using traffic and weather will become the norm. However, as Jinan Budge made clear, this will bring consumer questions and concerns around ethical data practices and privacy to a peak, resulting in resistance through things like “adversarial fashion” and makeup that fools facial recognition.
  • CMOs must convert corporate vision into marketing strategy. Sixty percent of Asia Pacific CMOs are transforming their organizations by introducing a new business model; 78% are introducing a new go-to-market approach. Paul Dolan explained how both of these are lofty business transformations and that we will see more CMOs drive this change in 2020. But they won’t be alone: Better alignment with sales and product counterparts will create a cascade effect across the revenue engine, tightening the connection to the business and crystallizing marketing strategy.

The above is, of course, only a small sample of all of Forrester’s 2020 Predictions. To learn more, you can always engage our analysts through inquiries here. Our Sydney Predictions event has wrapped, but we’re now gearing up for what 2020 will bring. Watch this space!