“Predicting the future seems almost an insurmountable task these days.”

Jacob Holst Mouritzen, trend expert and strategy consultant at Holst Mouritzen.

The concept of ‘poly crises’ has taken hold, and the feeling that there are constant crises to keep an eye on has really taken root in the management corridors, greatly influencing the strategic processes.

Questions like where is the economy heading? Are we facing a deep recession or a soft landing? Will the war in Ukraine continue – and for how long? The Middle East is ablaze – what will that mean? China’s economy and possible annexation of Taiwan could shake the world so violently that the coronavirus pandemic will seem like a beach holiday by comparison.

The fact is the world has become more volatile, unpredictable, and extremely interconnected. And then one would think that many would try to mitigate these threats, which some do, but as humans, we are wired in such a way that when the world around us is burning, we tend to focus on what we can control and try to manage what makes sense.

Below is a non-prioritized list of the initiatives I most often see in strategic processes, which will shape companies’ strategies in the coming year.


Focus on AI

Most companies today have dipped their first few toes into the AI lake and started various experiments.

Some places are quite decentral and other places are controlled entirely from the top. But the fact is that most are still fumbling, that the initial hype about AI has evaporated, and that we have now landed in a scenario that can best be described as: “Wow, this is exciting – but what the hell are we going to use it for?”.

Once you’ve played with Midjourney and ChatGPT, you become amazed at all the things the systems can do. But most people quite quickly realize that if it’s going to be something that can be broadly implemented in the organization and truly make an impact, it requires a significantly different and more intensive approach.

In this light, many companies will either initiate larger projects to explore where AI can create the most value, fastest, and where the long-term potentials are seen. But an even larger part will probably put their focus on AI on standby and wait for the first public cases from those who lead the way and have created measurable results.

Personally, though, I do not doubt that AI will revolutionize many industries, but it probably won’t happen as quickly as many expected.


Growth – but with a focus on climate and sustainability

Growth is still what drives the engine. That’s the way it is, and it will probably continue to be that way. So even though there’s widespread talk about carbon footprint, transparency in supply chains, responsibility, etc., growth remains at the top of the pedestal for most companies. But in 2024 – more than ever before – growth has acquired a sidecar. Because growth is being viewed through climate-critical glasses – and that changes the game for many.


Employer branding – the battle for employees

The Confederation of Danish Industry has stated it very clearly: The lack of labour is the biggest barrier to growth for Danish companies. We simply lack hands. And even though AI and tech can do a lot, it’s not yet a replacement for skilled hands and heads. Therefore, many companies have a laser-sharp focus on recruitment, employer branding, and attracting and retaining talent. Employer branding has become synonymous with growth, and in 2024 it will become business critical.


Branding and recalibration of the marketing setup

Over the past +10 years, many companies have sacrificed their brand in favour of a new and extremely measurable form of advertising. Namely performance marketing. A machine driven by external data from the big platforms like Google and Meta has given especially smaller companies a unique opportunity to create targeted advertising and acquire customers cheaply and easily. But the golden times are over, and the amount of data and targeting options via external data has already been severely limited by the introduction of Apple’s iOS 14, GDPR rules from the EU, etc. This will drive many companies to have to rediscover the old textbooks on how to build a brand and create a long-term and financially sustainable business.


First-party data

As a direct consequence of point 4, even more companies will begin to chase first-party data to an even greater extent. It’s first-party data that makes the whole machinery in the digital marketing engine work and turn. New systems, opportunities, and personalization features are all 100 percent dependent on how much first-party data a company has, and in what quality it is. Do you have a limited dataset with relatively poor data quality? Well, then you’ll likewise have limited opportunities as well as poor targeting and marketing.