Hello, and Happy New Year to all! Welcome to my annual “Dave-predicts-the-year-
I spent a lot of 2022 wandering, soul-searching, and generally sharpening my prophesizing toolkit, so apologies for the slight delay for those of you who can’t truly start your year without the wisdom imparted from the Nostradavus crystal ball. As we enter the middle chunk of what has turned out to be quite an interesting decade thus far, I remain certain in my belief that the only thing I am certain of is more chaos and surprises.
As always, the format will be an overly
wordy and sometimes tangential predication with explanations followed by a too long; don’t read (tl;dr) summary of the key takeaway for those of us with fruitfly-esque attention spans.
As an example:
Prediction: After a challenging and tumultuous season, the Buffalo Bills finally win a Super Bowl with Josh Allen doing a triple lindy over the entire Eagles defense into the end zone as time expires in the 4th quarter.
Key Takeaway: Seriously, do you know how agonizing it is to be a Bills fan? Did you even see the playoff game against the Chiefs last year? Is it too much to ask to have one stupid Lombardi trophy?
As always, my predictions are the sole responsibility and provenance of Nostradavus and I reserve the right to use straw men, circular reasoning, and ad hominem attacks against you when you point out how wrong I am.
2023 Predictions- Let’s Do This!
Hey, Nostradavus, aren’t you forgetting something? What about your predictions from last year? Wild-ass predictions with no look back accountability are the provenance of paid analysts and TV talking heads, not world-famous LinkedIn soothsayers.
How silly of me, I nearly forgot. Of course, for those of you faultfinders, who like to point out others are wrong and say I told you so, let’s take a look back at what I said a year ago. I think you will find that my powers of prognostication are as adequate as ever! If you are a forward-looking, trail-blazing, futures-so-bright, I gotta-wear-shades kind of person, feel free to skip ahead to this year’s predictions below.
2022 Predictions in Review
1. Customer Experience becomes THE key business driver
I postulated that 2022 would be the year that companies that were intentional and deliberate with their Customer Experience (CX) roadmap would start to pull ahead and those who kept their head in the CX transformation sand would start to decline and feel pain and that business-to-business brands would start to take this topic much more seriously.
Grade: Solid B- Consumer brands that are taking this seriously are seeing revenue growth and higher customer satisfaction and net promoter scores (NPS). It will take while longer to see the downside for those who are not making changes at this critical juncture, but I remain steadfast in my belief that this will be a topic that determines winners and losers going forward. I was a little off base on the B2B companies investing here but continue to believe that it will be a competitive advantage for those who do it sooner rather than later. I did expect to see way more companies naming CXO/ PXO titles, but much like the shift from Directors of IT to CIOs that many of us lived through, it’s taking more time than it should because we still don’t have a real clear understanding of the role, even if most organizations acknowledge the importance of customer or patient experience. I am once again going all-in on this topic, particularly in light of the recessionary head winds we are facing, more below.
2. Non-telecom behemoths were going to cannonball into the telecom and CX pool
I predicted that Salesforce, Microsoft, and Google were going to go from the edges into a full cannonball into the pool. While none of them made as big as a splash as that, each of them made progress towards their eventual world domination style end states by making acquisitions, adding features, products, and generally iterating in this direction.
Grade: C- The general thought isn’t wrong, each of these companies will be a relevant player in communications and customer experience, the thinking that any of them were going to do it with a big move is what was off. It seems they are content to leverage their existing positions in the business and consumer tech stacks to take over the world slowly and methodically like the Blob.
3. Blockchain finally enters the mainstream
OK, I will admit it, this has become the hill I am dying on. I was convinced that 2022 was the breakthrough year for all of the good stuff blockchain will eventually bring, like smart contracts for real estate, video game ledgers where players own their purchases and loot, and decentralized stock trading and other forms of finance gaining traction. Now blockchain is on everyone’s mind for all the wrong reasons.
Grade: B. Winning on a technicality is still winning. People are talking about NFT’s, crypto, and blockchain, but mostly because it seems to all be the playground of charlatans, grifters, and crooks, not because it is streamlining bureaucracy, democratizing finance, and bringing transparency to financial markets.
4. Hybrid work is here to stay
I talked a lot about the scales tipping from employer to employee in the work-life balance equation and it turns out that despite billionaires whining about everything needing to go back to like it was in 2019, workers still want more time-off, fully remote work, and general control over their time.
Grade: A+ This one is not over by a long shot. The push and pull between employers who are demanding in-person and employees who are asking for flexibility was the focus of 2022. Still employees who demand to be judged on their outcomes and productivity and not whether they are loyal enough to the company to sit in traffic for 10 unpaid hours a week are leading the charge. I’ve got a lot more to say about this topic as well, below and in future posts.
5. Talent shortages force companies to start thinking about what must be automated.
I touched on companies starting to use purpose-specific automation and AI to augment human workforces by taking on frequently done and high-process type tasks. This is definitely happening. The team at Eclipse has been involved in many different deflection and automation projects. We are still in the early adopter section of the adoption curve, but this is going to hit an inflection point sooner rather than later.
Grade: B+ Automation is here to stay and as computing power and AI and machine learning models continue to improve, I expect entire industries, once thought to be untouchable, to be disrupted over the next decade.
Not too bad if you ask me. In a year where I pushed to get a little bolder in my predictions, I give myself a passing grade with no complete misses. Much like my technicality above, I will take not losing as a default win!
1. CX, CX, and more CX!
Oh, did you think I was done with this one? No chance. It continues to be my assertion that the companies who are planning ahead, investing intelligently, and changing the way they go to market by becoming more digital and mobile friendly, providing customer-self serve, and ensuring every human-to-human interaction is exceptional are going to continue to define categories, pull away from their peers, and win new customers. There is no alternative to making these investments. Those who focus on removing buying friction, enhancing customer delight, and attracting new younger consumers are going to win in the long run.
Key Takeaway: Many companies have already started this long and worthwhile journey, those who haven’t are going to be left further behind, eventually wondering where all of their customer went. Seriously, if your company is not all over this topic, call Eclipse, we will help.
2. A large state-sponsored act of cyber-terrorism occurs
I do not want to be right about this one in any way, shape, or form, and those in the know will argue this can’t happen because we are in a constant state of cyber warfare détente. This constant state of conflict is similar to the cold war, where small battles are being fought daily on identity compromise, election interference, and spreading of misinformation, but full-scale war won’t happen. It’s a lot harder to maintain the stalemate when no sort of SALT-style multinational consensus has been achieved. It does not take a long leap of imagination to imagine Vladimir Putin launching a cyber attack on the U.S. or Europe for supporting the Ukraine against the Russian invasion.
Key Takeway: It’s not that bold to assume a giant cyber-attack will occur, as they are constant, despite our tendency to forget about them rather quickly. An attack that hits critical infrastructure like banking, the water supply, power grid, or air traffic control could be the start of escalating world-wide tension or conflict. I am rooting for myself to be wrong on this one.
3. The debate about the future of work, office hybridity, and work-life-balance heats up
It's difficult to say exactly what the future of work will look like, as it will likely be shaped by a variety of factors, including technological advancements, shifts in the global economy, and changes in the way people work and live.
However, some potential trends that may shape the future of work include the continued growth of remote work and virtual teams, the increasing use of artificial intelligence and automation in the workplace, and the rise of the gig economy.
Additionally, there may be a greater emphasis on work-life balance and flexible work arrangements, as well as a continued push for diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
Overall, the future of work is likely to be dynamic and constantly evolving, and it will be important for individuals and organizations to adapt and stay ahead of the curve in order to remain competitive.
Full Disclosure- everything above in italics was generated by Chat-GPT when I simply asked it, what does the future of work look like? The work hybridity conversation gets more complicated as companies outsource tasks to a workforce that doesn't get sick, take vacation, or fight coming back to the office. My point, as the ongoing tension between large corporations who value having people in buildings and employees who prefer to mostly work in the building they happen to also live in, I expect companies to continue to outsource work to machines. We are still quite a ways away from the full rise of the machines, but not at all far away from it taking away tasks and even jobs from professions that were not automatable even a couple of years ago.
Key Takeaway: Large corporations more and more, begin to use AI to replace tasks and even people as the tension builds around the future of work and where and how we do it. Lucky for me, the future-casting AI above writes like it works as an analyst at a large firm and lacks any of the wittiness and memes that have kept you entertained for nearly 2,000 words thus far. Nostradvus is safe from being replaced by robots for another year!
4. The Economic Storm sinks some telecom ships
Add recession to the list of things I am predicting but do not want to happen. The problem with the sort of headwinds that we are facing is that large organizations start to plan for the downturn, closing open job positions, laying off workers, and reducing spend on many categories. With those pre-emptive efforts, the irony is that, voila, we created a recession that may have otherwise been avoidable. There is small bright spot in that many organizations are reporting plans to increase technology spending, but it may not be enough to make up for the reduction in high paid jobs that has been happening.
I do believe spending will get more focused on topics like CX and cybersecurity and items that have commoditized will see buyers narrowing down the field by limiting choices. The obvious one to me is UCaaS, and industry that has been going through a lot of consolidation already. With Microsoft asserting itself into a leadership position, many of the upstarts will continue to struggle. Top line growth without profitability will start to look like the liability it always becomes and many of the players in the space will be acquired. This is going to be exacerbated by the lack of cheap debt that was so instrumental in funding explosive growth in the category over the last decade. In addition, as companies rethink traditional office footprint, key categories, like UC seats and network bandwidth will contract as companies rationalize their physical space and have employees work in shared space, home offices, mobile first.
Key Takeaway: The macroeconomic downtrend that appears to be already happening and the lack of cheap debt are going to expose a lot of companies, but particularly small network and UC companies as Emperors sans clothes when they can no longer hide the lack of profitability behind rocketship CAGR growth.
5. Metaverses and NFT Marketplaces Take Center Stage
I know, I know, this is my annual “blockchain is happening this year and this time I mean it” prediction in disguise, but hear me out, my point about blockchain has always been and continues to be, it will become part of daily life when it’s in the background and invisible. I have always believed the $250b/ year gaming industry was great use case for this exact reason, every gamers is sick of in-app purchases, loot boxes, and skins that they buy and don’t actually own. Creating these and other items as Web3 NFT’s that are ownable and tradable is going to be an explosive growth industry in 2023 and yes, it’s all powered by the Ethereum blockchain which will continue to be prominent in all of our lives even if we don’t see it.
Key Takeaway: Web3 starts to take hold as average consumers start using it for social media and gaming. This is not Nostradavus trying to make blockchain happen for the 10th year in a row and I’m definitely not a Cryptobro, right? Right?
There you have it, all you need to know to prepare for an amazing 2023, another year filled with hope and potential. Thanks for making it this far (all 5 of you who actually read this whole thing every year). May the coming year bring you laughter, abundance, health, and as much love as your heart can hold.