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Editor’s Question: How do you see your business developing in 2023?

Editor’s Question: How do you see your business developing in 2023?

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It has been a turbulent year for many companies as worldwide events have changed the business landscape. And as 2022 closes, businesses will be looking forward to the year ahead. Joanna Swash, Group CEO at Moneypenny, explains how she is approaching 2023. She said: “As the new year begins, it is important to reflect and learn from our mistakes of the past year (as well as those of others). To thrive, not just survive, we need to cultivate cautious optimism, invest in our people and maximise what we have. And we need to be bold. That’s what we will be focusing on at Moneypenny.”

Focusing on maximising what it has, Moneypenny will be investing in the relationships it has with its people and its customers. “It is easy to assume that your customers know what you can offer, but it is always worth actively listening and re-communicating as requirements, offerings and circumstances change. Our goal is always to foster long-term relationships rather than thinking of short-term gains, treating our clients like the celebrities that they are, putting them at the centre of our strategy and providing excellent customer service, tailored to them” Swash said.

Lesson learned: Never assume anything.

Swash added: “I think the past year (or three) has shown companies how important it is to invest in your culture. And make it an optimistic one. In attracting and retaining the best people for your business you need a culture that you can live and breathe, as it is at the top of people’s agendas, for both current and potential employees.”

She said that cautious optimism in leaders and businesses is critical for the future, as optimistic people benefit from better mental and physical health; they suffer less anxiety, they adapt better and recover quicker and they live longer. “Nurturing this mindset among your people will ensure a healthy, positive workforce and a healthy, positive business. Furthermore, optimistic people tend to be more productive and resilient. They accept failure as part of their learning journey,” Swash added.

Lesson shared: Invest in your culture. And cultivate optimism.

Swash said: “One thing on a personal note that was reinforced for me this year, was the value of trusting your gut and being bold, making decisions based on your market, your product and your data. Our gut is a vessel which holds our experiences and learning, everything that we have picked up on our journey to date, consciously and unconsciously. Harnessing it and learning to trust it can be a critical addition to any leader’s toolbox.”

Lesson learned: Trust your gut, and don’t be a sheep!

Dr Michael Duetsch, Vice President UPM Biochemicals:

We were all reminded how real the climate crisis has become and the need to accelerate our collective action. It is encouraging to see some established businesses stepping up their net zero and circular economy activity, making it a core strategic priority. Leading brands and manufacturers understand that change has to happen now if they are to remain in business. But we also learn – or are reminded – that we must bring the whole value chains together – isolated actions are admirable, but ineffective.

We also see how important it is to actively help consumers make better choices and support the behaviour change that is urgently needed – by making sustainable solutions comprehensible, easy to action – and affordable.

2023 is a pivotal year for UPM Biochemicals. For more than a decade, UPM has been developing and executing a strategy to establish the world’s first industrial scale biorefinery to produce renewable chemicals. The €750 million investment at Leuna, in the state of Saxony-Anhalt, Germany, is rapidly taking shape, in anticipation of production in 2024. It will produce innovative, sustainable and competitive wood-based biochemicals that will enable manufacturers to replace fossil-based raw materials used to make multiple everyday items.

This year we began to enter commercial partnerships that will transform the carbon footprint of value chains in different industries. For manufacturers like Dongsung Chemical of South Korea, this presents an opportunity to both advance its net zero commitments and achieve competitive advantage in its global markets, such as sports footwear, where the demand for truly sustainable products accelerates. 

We have entered into a strategic partnership to develop eco-friendly products using UPM’s Bio-Mono Ethylene Glycol (MEG). The Bio-MEG will serve as a base material for various industrial products and consumer goods. As the new biochemicals can be fully integrated into existing production and recycling processes, they enable the transformation of the entire chemical industry towards a renewable circular economy.

In the future beyond fossils, there will be only three sources of carbon – recycled materials, CO2 capture and biomass. Therefore, establishing a circular economy – reuse and recycling, is hugely important and rightly a big focus for manufacturers. But this will not be sufficient – you will always have losses in a circular economy, and we will need to compensate for those losses with sustainable, non-fossil raw materials in order to create a perfect, circular low carbon economy.

Transforming the chemical value chain to become more sustainable can only be achieved through collaboration and partnerships, and this will continue to be our focus in 2023.

Martin Taylor, Co-Founder and Deputy CEO, Content Guru:

2022 has reaffirmed the importance of customer experience (CX) delivered through social media. Social media is a hive of activity, with a predicted 15 million active TikTok users in the UK by 2025, and we have seen the impact it can have on businesses that use it effectively. We have worked with a number of customers from various industries to deliver CX integrations with Instagram as it became a major customer support channel, and we expect TikTok to follow a similar path in the next 12 months. However, although TikTok shows great promise, offering a huge opportunity for brands to connect with younger audiences using short-form video format, it must overcome some pressing data security concerns.

In 2023, our product roadmap will reflect the needs of our customers, which are largely driven by the demands of consumers and citizens. We constantly strive to predict and adapt to emerging trends, and our cloud-based Contact Centre-as-a-Service (CCaaS) model allows us to deliver agility to our customers and meet evolving needs.

One of the biggest items on the agenda for our customers in 2023 is immersive CX, even if it isn’t fully operational as of yet. Seventy percent of CX industry professionals believe that interactions through virtual reality (VR) will join traditional and digital methods as a recognised front-line support channel by 2028. However widespread adoption of VR technology is needed before customers will be able to use immersive CX channels to interact with brands.

In the more immediate future, we expect to see the increased proliferation of AI deployed in various roles, such as conversational machine agents, helping to tackle the repetitive and monotonous tasks that drive customer frustration and agent attrition. With the job market still turbulent, AI has huge potential to help and will be of benefit to CXOs as they look to leverage the best talent while retaining valuable team members.

Technology vendors aren’t immune to hiring challenges and therefore we are likely to see a larger focus on nurturing and developing staff. At Content Guru, we have hired 102 graduates so far in 2022 and this recruitment drive will continue in 2023. This has been a key part of our success and I expect more companies to focus on developing the next generation as part of their growth plans over the coming year.

Jacques Du Bruyn, Managing Director, Flume Digital Marketing:

2022 was an interesting year on all fronts. It’s the year that business returned to somewhat of a normality post the COVID-19 pandemic. In some instances, it felt as though the market was trying to make up for lost time, hence the pace seemed faster than usual. As a result, there are a few lessons that I learnt from what we call the ‘new normal’.

Remote vs in-office

There still seems to be a raging debate between the ‘at-homers’ and the ‘at-officers’. However, there is no case study that exists that proves which option works best. It may apply differently to different business types. What I’ve learnt in a business such as ours, that relies heavily on people and ideas, is that personal growth can only happen around other people. Those who have entered the job market recently can only learn by observing how those with more experience behave and produce work. That can only take place in a physical environment. Perhaps a hybrid solution caters for what’s best. Time to learn and time for self.

Businesses needing to grow up

Over the past while, and more so this year, we’ve noticed brands using ‘virtue’ marketing as a way to gain awareness and relevance. However, this hasn’t always worked out. There have been brands that have been found wanting. Social media has somewhat grown up this year. The audience is looking for authenticity; the next generation cares about this. What I’ve observed is that businesses first need to make sure that they cover the bases of authenticity before venturing into the world of ‘virtue’ marketing. This starts in-house. If your employees don’t believe what you’re doing is authentic, you’re never going to convince a wider audience of the same. Be honest. Business exists solely to make money. Now that we’ve established that, let’s talk about purpose.

Mental health

What was once a term only found on academic papers is now mainstream. We’ve learnt this year that mental health matters. It matters more than we care to know. It’s not only about depression, it’s actually about pacing workload and looking out for a work/life balance. The more balanced work and life is, the better the output at the end of the day.

Looking forward

2023 I believe is going to be the year that business decides whether it believes in a physical world or a virtual world. With the interest in META gaining traction, businesses will need to decide whether they should start investing in virtual interactions or whether they believe in the world of physical interactions. Which horse they back will either win or come back to bite them.

Andreas Wilfinger, Co-founders, RINGANA:

In these last few years and again in 2022 we learned that the world can change very quickly. First, we had to adapt to a pandemic, and in 2022 we had to adapt to a war in Europe and to the far-reaching consequences. We had to accept the energy crisis as well as the scarcity of raw materials. One thing that I learned in the last few years is that a sustainable company, built on strong pillars, can survive all of that quite easily. Because we are flexible and resilient and we have strong roots. Through all this time we stayed optimistic, and it proved to be right!

We are quite self-sufficient in terms of energy at our RINGANA campus. Our team at the purchasing department manages to get all necessary ingredients in the quality we need on time. And the products we offer – FRESH cosmetics for a healthy skin and supplement for a healthy life – are also in need in times of crisis or especially in need in difficult times. Our employees and partners have once again proven that we stick together well. We can offer the product range without any restrictions. We will be able to maintain last year’s turnover, and – very important – we can keep all our members of staff.

I am convinced that this was a very important year for learning, for checking up all processes, for looking into every corner of your business. I hope many companies have made use of that time. What was learned this year will have a huge effect on the business performance of the next years.

Regarding 2023, I am optimistic. We are post Corona, life goes on despite all challenges we have to face. I suppose the economic growth will stagnate. Still, I am very convinced that it will be a good year for RINGANA. We will launch new products, move on with the extension of our sustainability campaigns, drive our business on new online channels.  Like every year, we will focus on our values: FRESH, excellent and trendsetting. We will not wait for anyone to come up with solutions, but we will look for them ourselves and act accordingly.

I think the potential for the cosmetic and supplement market is stable and respectively increasing. Special products with strong USPs and a strong connection to the trends (naturalness, sustainability, etc.) will show incomparably greater growth than mainstream products. Since Corona, purchasing decisions have become more conscious, especially for health/skin health products. People had more time during the pandemic to take a closer look at ingredients. The trend is towards honesty, authenticity and awareness.  Customers make their decisions based on their overall conviction of a brand. Sustainability, which RINGANA has lived by since the beginning, is becoming increasingly important.

I am optimistic for next year, and we have lots of plans to concentrate on in 2023:

We will drive further growth in Europe, and we will start with the intercontinental expansion. We will launch a completely new product line. We are expanding our transparency – two transparency reports have already been published, more will follow in 2023. We will continue to expand our sustainability mosaic, and there are already many projects and actions set for this.

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