5 must reads for the weekend

We keep our ear to the ground for the interesting stats, insights and discussion points you need to feel in the know.

1. Inclusion is a choice

Diverse colleagues having a discussion in an EY office, while standing on the stairs.

People with disabilities represent the world’s largest and fastest-growing minority; estimated to be more than 1.3 billion people according to the World Health Organization. Yet, research shows that people with disabilities face significant challenges at work. Generative AI holds immense promise – and the recent International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD) on December 3 served as a reminder, to make sure that AI plays a constructive role in mitigating bias. Recently, a team at EY developed a solution to help improve communication amongst members, as the team included a member who is deaf – and not all other team members knew sign language. They worked together to build an AI sign language translator app, converting sign into spoken words, and spoken words into sign. It works in real time. Solutions like this help narrow the communications gap so that everyone can interact more seamlessly. Here are three ways to better use AI for the benefit of everyone…

Inclusive AI: AI that Considers and Benefits Everyone on International Day of Persons with Disabilities

2. The festive season has arrived

A woman holding multiple shopping bags walking into a bright shop, that has a large "SALE" sign in the window

From Singles Day through Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Boxing Day and New Year’s, there’s always ample opportunity to pick up a good deal. But post Black Friday, it’s worth reflecting on what it might mean for retailers and consumer products companies looking ahead to the remaining festive season and into 2024. “Over the last few years, the seasonal shopping period has been influenced by pent up demand and high savings rates” writes Kristina Rogers, EY Global Consumer Leader. “This time it is framed by stubbornly high prices and the increasing cost of debt. In store and on-line, this makes the need to pick up a bargain more apparent than ever, but without the usual frenzy of conspicuous consumption often associated with it.”  Though seasonal sales are known for their discounts, this season they’ve been even more significant. Companies have been cutting prices much more to attract shoppers back. This certainly contributed to the success of Black Friday but may point to much more subdued shopping for the rest of the festive season. According to the EY Future Consumer Index, of US Consumers planning to particulate in Black Friday sales, 39% intend to spend less over the rest of the festive period, compared with 22% who intend to spend more. Kristina shares more in her latest article.

Hot Black Friday deals could point to a cold Christmas for consumer companies

3. Future-fit leadership

Three women in a bright, modern office, discussing work. One is sitting in a hanging basketweave chair.

In a rapidly shifting global landscape, a novel leadership paradigm emerges: future-fit leadership. But what does it mean? Unlike traditional leadership values, this approach emphasizes resilience, adaptability and foresight. Rather than just dealing with problems as they arise, it’s about identifying potential obstacles and planning on how to handle them ahead of time. Moreover, it encourages leaders to consider new approaches to growth, team management and talent retention. So why does the concept of future-fit leadership resonate with female entrepreneurs so much? Throughout history, women have shown their ability to adapt while skillfully handling varied roles and challenges. As entrepreneurs, they bring new viewpoints, values, and strategies to their companies and the future-fit approach only further strengthens these skills. Elvire Jaspers, Co-founder and CEO, WeAreBrain, and a fellow entrepreneur, shares her experiences, «future-fit leadership has been a game-changer for me. It has empowered me to take bold steps and innovate without fear,» she states. It’s clear, being future-fit is not an option; it’s a necessity. So how can entrepreneurs embrace this innovative way of leadership?

Future-fit leadership: A beacon for female entrepreneurs

4.  GenAI is exploding

Silhouettes of travellers on a concourse at a modern airport - the walls are made of glass and show dfferent rainbow colours.

Over the past year, the explosive emergence of GenAI has captured the attention and imagination of people across the world, and the technology’s groundbreaking capabilities have inspired tech titans to explore opportunities to inject it into a slew of front and back office functions – and it’s paying off. Today, companies are demonstrating how GenAI, when utilized effectively, can enhance their product and service offerings whilst boosting operational efficiency. However, GenAI tools bring challenges. They can be cost and resource intensive, for example. The temptation to use GenAI across all areas of business operations is strong, however, companies may find greater success focusing on specific, high-impact use cases and transformational opportunities. Wisely directing investments, staffing and resources towards these high-impact areas could yield better results too. So, where should companies begin? A good way to start can be to develop a portfolio of potential opportunities to leverage GenAI or incorporate it into current efforts. Possible use cases can then be assessed and prioritized based on metrics, such as alignment with existing business imperatives and scalability. But that’s not all…

Top 10 Opportunities for Technology Companies in 2024

5. Turning buyers into brand loyalists

Customer loyalty is a precious commodity as it is one of the most effective influences on sales. According to Grand View Research, loyal customers can yield conversion rates between 60% and 70%; whereas new customer conversion rates are only around 5% to 20%. Thanks to advancements in technology and data analytics, loyalty programs have evolved significantly over time to become highly customer tailored. That said, many companies do still find it difficult to provide real value to their customers, as well as to their overall organization. What’s causing the difficulty? It’s a two-part answer. First, companies are neglecting the broader customer relationship by focusing attention on the transaction. Consumers want deeper, personal relationships with brands. They want to be acknowledged as an individual first and a customer second. Second, companies are neglecting to use the power of their existing customer data or collect useful data that can provide an accurate picture of their customer. Here’s how to become a loyalty leader, not just a company with a loyalty program…

Accelerating customer loyalty: leveraging trust, technology and data