We often look ahead to the coming year with analyses of trends and give some predictions of what we expect to see, based on how the previous year has played out. This year it feels a more momentous task at the threshold of a new decade, particularly with Business Transformation being inextricably linked to the Fourth Industrial Revolution set to shape the next few years.
We will no doubt see further technological developments that organisations must embrace to survive and thrive. While regulations will be sure to evolve too, it’s a long-term strategic view of adopting the right, efficient methodologies and technologies that will pay dividends. Here are some of the areas where we expect to see higher demand for skilled professionals this year.
Digital transformation has been huge for several years now and will continue to be a key area for all businesses, either beginning their transformation or evolving their existing projects in new directions. While much of AI is still “on its way” and will be debated again much like last year, certain elements that are already with us, such as automation and robotics, will be vital to adopt, with expertise in these areas already much sought after. For those businesses beginning their digital transformation journey, we expect to see ongoing transition to cloud technology this year, though with the hindsight of seeing a number of high-profile failed implementations over recent years, these may be more considered, better planned projects, taking longer in the initial stages to ensure a positive outcome.
Data transformation is set to be a busy area this year as organisations look to better understand customer needs by utilising increased volumes of consumer data and acting upon those insights as quickly as possible for competitive advantage. As such, automation platforms that enable data teams to provide rapid strategic information should become more commonplace this year.
By 2022, online payment fraud is estimated to rise to €100bn across Europe. As part of PSD2, Strong Customer Authentication (SCA) was introduced by EU regulators to reduce this amount and make the web a safer place for transactions. The SCA’s two-factor authentication came in towards the end of last year, but the FCA has now given firms extra time this year to implement a full conversion to the new regime. As the customer journey and customer experience are also set to play more important roles for organisations from every sector in the coming years, fast, user-friendly digital identity and authentication will become must-haves this year.
Linked to customer experience, 2020 will inevitably see the launch of new digital payments vehicles, such is the speed of innovation in that sector. The digital payments market is expected to grow at an average of 18% a year until 2023, with mobile and contactless platforms already responsible for more than 20% of all card payments worldwide. Payment tech is already moving into voice assistant devices such as Alexa, Siri and Google Home and we expect to see the adoption of these, and new methods, increase this year.
Specialist Agile talent was in serious demand throughout 2019 and we see no sign of that relenting through 2020. With the number of digital transformations either underway or yet to begin, combined with the sheer volume of legacy systems across all sectors that are on their way out, the need for Agile professionals is here to stay for the foreseeable future. Software development is by nature a progressive sector, so the role of the Agile expert may change with advances in tech combined with some streamlining through experience, but we expect demand to remain as high as ever.
Despite best intentions, 2019 saw a number of high-profile cybersecurity incidents in organisations from a range of industries, with the result that more resources are to be invested in cybersecurity this year, particularly by financial institutions. Improved technology doesn’t only end up on the side of security of course, meaning cyber criminals are also more equipped and sophisticated and therefore able to exploit any weaknesses. The battleground may move more to the cloud or mobile this year as more businesses increase activity in these areas, but the hackers will be set to expand upon and add to the buzzwords of 2019 – deep fakes and ransomware – especially in the face of a skills shortage in cybersec.
Much the same as in 2019, there is still enough geopolitical and economic uncertainty worldwide to theoretically slow down activity in mergers and acquisitions, but in our experience of hiring patterns, it is only having a minor effect. Tech disruption continues to drive deals and strategic partnerships; and tough times in some sectors should see an increase this year in stressed and distressed M&A, as businesses either diversify or offload. Transformation requirements mean that again this year M&A will be a faster route for some than doing it organically, so we expect to see similar results to last year in terms of demand for skills in this space.
IBOR (interest rate benchmarks that have been used for decades) are undergoing global reform and the impact is expected to be huge. LIBOR, the most widely used, is due to be replaced at the end of next year, so 2020 is expected to be a challenging year for many in terms of risk and disruption as they prepare for the adoption of its alternative reference rate (ARR) replacement.
On top of the usual everchanging nature of the regulatory landscape due to the introduction of technological advancements or geopolitical changes, IFRS17, the incoming new global financial reporting standards in the Insurance sector, will be back on the agenda in 2020, despite its effective date still being debated and potentially delayed. Set to transform this industry, its impact will be huge and specialist skills will be in great demand.