It’s time once again to get out the crystal ball and see what future trends await us. Warning– there are no predictions about future love life, jobs, or pandemics and we are definitely NOT psychics!
However, as we step into the new year, the business landscape is poised for significant transformations driven by technological advancements, evolving consumer behaviours, and global economic shifts. The year 2024 promises to be a pivotal period for businesses worldwide, with several trends and predictions set to shape the way companies operate and compete in the market.
Even if you’re not in business, these trends will affect you and the organisation you’re working in. So buckle in – it’s going to be a bumpy ride!
Remember to include these kinds of issues and future trends in the lab’s management review under topics such as changes in internal and external issues that are relevant to the laboratory or the suitability of policies and procedures.
Rise of Sustainable Business Practices
Sustainable and eco-friendly practices are no longer optional but imperative for businesses in 2024.
In a lab, that means everything from reducing, reusing, recycling and more. Looking at ways to reduce things like energy consumption with equipment might mean simple things like closing fume hood sashes and turning off equipment when not in use, through to implementing green chemistry techniques.
Consumers are becoming increasingly conscious of their environmental impact, demanding that companies adopt green initiatives. From eco-friendly packaging to carbon-neutral operations, businesses are expected to integrate sustainability into their core strategies to meet consumer expectations and contribute to a more sustainable future.
Start by making an inventory of your consumables and waste streams, including things like sample containers, to see what changes you can make. Not only will these changes save you money, but they will be good for the environment!
Acceleration of Digital Transformation
The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated digital transformation across industries, and in 2024, this trend is set to continue at an even faster pace.
In 2021, 91% of labs surveyed were taking action towards digital transformation. This ranged from implementing LIMS to implementing the use of smart instruments and consumables and data analytics solutions.
In 2024, organisations will continue to prioritize investments in cutting-edge technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, and automation to enhance efficiency, streamline operations, and remain competitive in an increasingly digital world.
Even the simple word processing and email applications we use every day will be transformed. Why not explore what these tools we all use for achieving our work have to offer as productivity improvements?
Remote Work Evolution
The traditional office setup is undergoing a profound transformation, with remote work becoming a long-term reality for many businesses.
In a lab setting, it’s more difficult to “work from home” as not many of us have space for lab equipment in our lounge room. But that doesn’t mean remote work tools and ways of working won’t touch us!
Take collaboration platforms, for instance. Even in a small lab, there are plenty of times when we have to work collaboratively with colleagues to write and issue a report, write a procedure or method, or be involved in a meeting. There are many virtual collaboration tools such as in platforms for file sharing like Google Docs. Dropbox and Box which make it easier to work with others and share information.
Then there are technologies such as virtual reality like Meta Quest where early training could be delivered without spending a cent on expensive reagents and consumables to teach staff how to perform a technical task.
The adoption of remote work tools, virtual collaboration platforms, and flexible work arrangements will not only continue but also evolve to ensure a seamless and productive remote work experience. Organisations will invest in technology and policies that support a hybrid work model, combining in-person and remote work to meet the diverse needs of their workforce.
What can you take from the ideas in business to make things more accessible in the lab, no matter where your people are located?
Advanced Cybersecurity Measures
We see cybersecurity problems hit the news almost every week. With the increasing reliance on digital platforms, cybersecurity will be a top priority for businesses in 2024.
As cyber threats become more sophisticated, companies will invest heavily in advanced cybersecurity measures to protect sensitive data, ensure customer trust, and safeguard their digital infrastructure.
Cybersecurity will not only be seen as a defense mechanism but also as a critical component of business resilience. The recently released 2023-2030 Australia Cyber Security Strategy of the Federal government, sets out six cyber shields. This includes work by the government to support small and medium businesses to strengthen their cyber security through measures like a cyber health check program and providing victim support services for small businesses to help them respond to cyber incidents and bounce back quickly.
Why not do your own cyber health check? If you’re a small or medium business in NSW, the Cyber Health Clinic Program might be just the thing to get you started! In Victoria, look at the Business Victoria site for information.
Personalization and Customer Experience
We predicted this would be a trend taking off in 2023. The era of personalized customer experiences is here to stay.
In 2024, businesses will leverage data analytics and artificial intelligence to better understand customer preferences and provide tailored products and services.
From personalized marketing campaigns to customized user interfaces, companies will strive to create seamless and engaging experiences that resonate with individual customers, fostering brand loyalty in the process.
It could mean anything from a customised (and simplified) report format for your lab clients, dashboards on result portals, and better predictive sales and marketing activities using data analytics to anticipate the needs of clients when it comes to the kinds of follow-up testing or advice they may be seeking.
Or it might simply mean picking up the phone and calling them to invite them for coffee and finding out how best to suit their need! But do make a note of these conversations so you can meet the requirements for customer feedback.
Blockchain technology is set to play a pivotal role in various industries in 2024, not least of all in labs.
Beyond its association with cryptocurrencies, blockchain offers transparent and secure solutions for supply chain management, financial transactions, and data integrity. In fact, NATA, together with JASANZ and GS1, has been looking at the digital future of conformity assessment.
Businesses will explore innovative ways to incorporate blockchain into their operations, enhancing trust, reducing fraud, and improving overall efficiency. Applications for labs can include non-fungible tokens (NFTs), smart contracts and blockchain-infused Internet of Things (IoT). Adopting this kind of technology can really transform processes related to decision rules and equipment calibration and maintenance.
Before you head off to implement the changes, make sure you ensure the integrity of the overall management system is maintained when these changes are made. Careful planning is essential!
Health and Well-being at the Forefront
The ongoing global health challenges have highlighted the importance of prioritising employee well-being.
In 2024, businesses will continue to focus on initiatives that support the physical and mental health of their workforce. In fact, if you’re not minding the issues related to psychosocial risks, you could be risking your organisation’s legal compliance!
Flexible work arrangements, wellness programs, and mental health support services will be integral parts of the organisation’s culture, contributing to increased employee satisfaction and productivity. Workers are one of any organisation’s most important stakeholders, so it’s important to take care of their health and well-being.
Capture things like employee satisfaction and feedback on productivity when you do your management review. Perhaps you could have these things as a quality objective for the next year!
The business landscape in 2024 is one full of dynamic changes and opportunities. Labs are not immune to these. With a well-tuned quality management system businesses will be able to not only survive but thrive in the years to come.
Companies that embrace and adapt to these trends will not only survive but thrive in the years to come. The key lies in agility, innovation, and a commitment to meeting the changing needs of both customers and employees. Core elements of Quality.
Would you like to implement some new ideas that address these trends? Let us know what you’re planning and of course, if we can help, we’re here for you!
Simply get in contact with Maree at email@example.com , or phone 0411 540 709. If we don’t have the know-how, we’re often able to point you in the right direction to someone who does.
Remember, you don’t have to do this alone!
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