21 Business learnings to apply in 2021 - Part Two

21st December | Thought Leadership

In the first part of this article (read it again here), we touched on 11 of our 21 business learnings looking ahead to 2021. Below are our other key lessons we think will inform how leaders move forward in this new year:

12.    Smart homes are desirable homes. Schneider Electric is a leader in this field, and 2021 will be the Year of the Smart Home, both for safety (new technology helps nullify the risk of electrical fire and overloaded circuits) and security (various camera and alarm set-ups can keep property secure when we’re away). With 2021 likely to be another year with a lot of WFH, we might as well do it smarter.

13.    Consumers are supporting businesses that champion the community. Recent research by EFTPOS provider Smartpay New Zealand prompted the company to call for suppliers to avoid hiking prices to business in a time of intense economic stress. As CEO Marty Pomeroy said, “New Zealand is such a small market that all businesses are breathing the same air and are part of the same ecosystem, so if businesses start to fail because of the compounding effect of fee increases on larger economic pressures, everybody loses.”

14.    Take care of your gut and your gut will take care of you. A nationwide campaign in support of Gut Cancer Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month garnered a tremendous response and highlighted how conscious Kiwis are about managing the potentially carcinogenic effects of excessive stress during a pandemic and economic crisis. The Foundation offers a comprehensive repository of resources, research and advice for anyone concerned about their health or managing their own or a loved one’s diagnosis.

15.    The future of education will involve technology and global partners. NCEA is just part of the puzzle. The likes of Joy Business Academy and its founder James Coddington are figuring out how to upskill workers in multiple sectors using virtual reality that draws on existing skill sets and enables up-to-the-minute qualifications. Other providers are focusing on world-class curricula that allow New Zealand students to test and compare their knowledge and abilities with those of ‘classmates’ around the globe.

16.    The Matrix is real! As Agent Brown famously said, “Perhaps we are asking the wrong questions . . .” It’s time to ask the right questions and prepare the correct answers. Risk analysis and developing a risk matrix is a vital part of any business strategy, and forms a ‘No surprises, no bullsh-t’ platform that should be a must-have for all boards.

17.    Conduct a communications audit of your organisation. An audit shows you where you are, your strengths and weaknesses, and highlights gaps that can be exploited by competitors or risks that can undermine the organisation from within or without. This how-to guide emphasises auditing everything that represents your brand and how you communicate it – from every piece of media coverage all the way down to your logo.

18.    Respect the fourth estate (and give them an assist). Being a journalist is stressful and those in media are to be admired for taking on demanding and sometimes risky roles which put them on the frontlines of every major event. 2021 will be The Content Place’s fifth year and it’s become an editor/writer’s best friend, with essentially a full in-house news team (writer, director, reporter, videographer, designer, photographer) helping media share important narratives with strong visuals and authoritative, expert spokespeople.

19.    2021 is the year of the family business! The shape and nature of business is changing, and in some ways reverting back to the old ‘Smith and Sons’ approach to establishing and running a business. Some of our most successful business stories, in sectors from real estate to manufacturing to health food supplements involve close family members working together. After all, who can you trust more?  

20.    ‘Woke culture’ and ‘cancel culture’ – how do we navigate the grey areas amid the fast-paced evolution of society’s approach to human and civil rights, equality and diversity? Taking a stand is important, and research tells us that Gen Z craves moral authority and investment in communities, with these issues driving many of their purchasing decisions. But how do we walk the talk in a social-media-filtered 2020s world, where it’s hard to tell what is authentic and who is sincere? We advise clients to take a stance from a position of independent market research, where possible – it is always best to know what matters to your customers, staff and other stakeholders, and respond accordingly. 

21.  Mother Nature doesn’t care about COVID – so extreme weather fluctuations and natural disasters will continue to pose tremendous challenges and risk to business. The next year – as the Government has declared a climate emergency on New Zealand’s behalf – is prime time for leaders to prepare for climate-related risk and crisis, and to show how their enterprises are help to mitigate causes of climate change for the greater good.

By Kate Alexander, Crisis & Legal Consultant and Alexander PR