The newly published Fjord Trends 2020, from Accenture, explores seven trends that they believe will be most important for organizations, brands, employees, customers, and stakeholders over the coming year and into the opening decade.

#1. The Faces of Growth

People are pressuring organizations to define success in ways beyond the long-established standard of financial growth and to pursue a wider set of business objectives, balanced with the fact that profit is essential for survival. If business can resolve these issues, the redefinition of growth will offer an epoch-changing opportunity to imagine new ways to create value.

Organizations are under pressure from investors, customers, and employers, and must respond to changing societal values, rising concerns about climate change, finite natural resources, and economic and political instability. Shareholders will increasingly demand skillful environmental, social, and corporate governance, and organizations will need to upskill staff levels. This is a positive call to redefine growth in ways that will enhance our lives.

#2. Money Changers

The perception of money is rapidly changing as the very shape of money morphs, along with our relationship with it. These shifts will create opportunities for a new stream of products and services.

This trend is about our evolving relationship with money as new ecosystems, pioneered by non-traditional financial companies, are making relationships with money more ambiguous. As these changes gather pace, they will affect every organization and financial transaction. Doors will open for new payment products to augment the capabilities of payment systems. Those that thrive will meet customers’ needs while delivering great experiences and addressing concerns about privacy, transparency, and integrity.

#3. Walking Barcodes

Facial and body recognition make us as trackable in the real world as we’ve been for years online. 5G will create opportunities for new products and services but we must learn from the digital world mistakes and prioritize privacy and security above all.

As machines get better at reading our physical features, our bodies become our personal signature, merging our digital and physical selves. It’s about how living services — contextually-aware, digital services — will move from the digital world into the real world. As they do, targeted advertising and experiences will become the norm in physical environments.

Organizations will need to master design for dissolving interfaces. Designers will need to redirect their energies toward facilitating meaningful human interactions instead of transactional stopgaps, to ensure that data-transactions are exchanges that offer people tangible value.

#4 Liquid People

People still want to buy and to work, but they no longer define themselves by their worldly possessions or jobs. Organizations must support consumers’ and employees’ pursuit of greater meaning in their lives.

This trend is the human side of many faces of growth. In short, consumption is changing. Driven by various factors, including a growing understanding of mental health and well-being, climate change and sustainability, people’s priorities are becoming fluid. Organizations that cater to people’s thirst for conscious consumption by providing guilt-free experiences, and creating ways to help people feel good about who they are, will win.

#5. Designing Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is moving fast. At first, it was largely used to improve efficiency through automation, but its’ next iteration will add new value and support human ingenuity. Systems that effectively blend people’s skills with AI, will enable disruptive business strategies, empower people to cope with increasing complexity in the workplace, and enhance the human experience.

AI matures as technology and organizations will look to it for more than automation, but need better tools and careful consideration of its economic and social impact. The keys to success require a commitment to designing for human intelligence and optimizing the relationships between people and our machines.

#6. Digital Doubles

Digital twins — 3D and data models — are already established tools in manufacturing but now they’re getting personal, in a race to create virtual manifestations of ourselves.

Digital doubles will, at first, offer personalized entertainment opportunities, but will soon combine with other services to eventually become a virtual home for our data. Brands must learn how to design for these coming digital doubles while a few companies that create them will emerge as winners. People will use their digital doubles to look after their interests rather than those of third-party data gatherers. Farther out, digital doubles will become gatekeepers to one’s personal life, and organizations will need to respond appropriately.

#7. Life-Centered Design

The focus of design is moving away from “me” and toward “we.” As we question the self-centered nature of a user focus, above any other value, it will prompt a need for design to evolve from user-centered to design for life. The values in the traditional Venn diagram of desirability, feasibility, and viability are fundamentally changing, along with organizations’ design responses. The logical solution is a shift to life-centered design. For years, too often user-centered and human-centered design have separated people from ecosystems. Designers must learn to consider people as nodes in an ecosystem rather than as the center of the universe. Success will require a systems mindset and the ability to design for two sets of values: personal and collective.

What Does It All Mean?

Economics and politics, capitalism and resources, technology and society have long been entwined, but recently the consequences of that entanglement have burst into public consciousness — driven by the very technologies that made interconnectivity possible.

The omnipresence of digital communications and the internet have been major factors in the prominence of President Trump and Greta Thunberg, of Amazon and the gig economy, of smartphones and techlash and, indeed, the very re-evaluation of Silicon Valley start-ups as triggered by events like WeWork’s failed IPO.

Such realignment will potentially lead to innovation beyond start-ups and in favor of established businesses, which will need to work together to create change at an industry-wide level. We might see a two-speed model emerge as shifts occur at different paces in various markets. Emerging markets might leap-frog western attitudes toward endless consumption and go straight for a balanced view. Meanwhile, people’s behavior continues to become ever more fluid, shifting between traditional demographic segments in newly contradictory ways.

However things play out, it is likely that Fjord Trends 2020 will reveal that tomorrow’s winning organizations will be those that are willing to embrace the long view — starting with their impact on the planet and society, and embracing the complexity of our ever-faster changing world.

Image source: Fjord Trends