As the effects of the coronavirus continue to reshape our state and our world, 2022 will see several factors accelerating the shift to a more digital, hybrid future. In the year ahead, there will be a continued focus on digital transformation as the driving force creating value for business owners.
In 2022, it will be critical for companies to further digitize their offerings and operations using new and emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) and data analytics.
In a Deloitte Insights global study of 441 executives across industries, 73% reported piloting or adopting AI in one or more of their business units. Companies of all sizes are using AI and ML solutions to increase automation and streamline tasks. In addition, digitalization will become a greater priority in unexpected areas of the business, such as M&A and succession planning.
Digital capabilities can also improve recruitment and retention efforts. While many companies continue returning workforces to the office, many are offering remote or hybrid work options — which rely heavily on digital solutions. According to an August 2021 study by Accenture, 53% of people who never worked from home previously now plan to work from home more often in the future, even post-pandemic.
By removing geographical constraints on hiring, companies have more flexibility to hire from a wider and more diverse talent pool of candidates — something that can help companies stay competitive in a challenging labor market.
One-third of American companies have reported difficulty finding the talent they need, and the situation is expected to worsen. Companies can also focus on benefits to attract and retain employees. Financial benefit plans and wellness resources, employee education or affinity groups — often part of a focus on diversity, equity and inclusion — will be more important than ever.
Some counties in Maryland have offered teleworking or online sales grants to help businesses adjust to the work-from-home trend that is becoming increasingly more popular. Last year, Harford County offered $21,000 in grants through the state’s Telework and Online Sales Relief Grant program.
According to a recent RSM survey conducted in partnership with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, nearly half of those surveyed said their organization was either acting to reduce its net carbon emissions to zero or had already reduced their emissions to zero. In Baltimore, Mayor Brandon Scott and Lisa McNeilly, director of the city’s Office of Sustainability, announced that the city has new targets to achieve the goal being carbon neutral by 2045.
Companies should implement a meaningful Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) framework for every stage of the business life cycle, considering both their goods and services as well as activities across key business functions – from finance to sales to customer acquisition and more.
For companies in 2022, clarifying ESG targets and frequently communicating progress will be paramount. This will benefit not only talent attraction and retention but also customer acquisition as the spending power of Gen Z — a generation strongly engaged in environmental and social issues — continues to grow.
The Maryland Green Registry Program is free for local businesses. The program provides education about sustainability and offers tips and resources that can be tailored to fit any type of business. Programs like this are helping businesses take action to create a more sustainable business model for years to come.
In 2022, it won’t be enough for a company to develop and sell a good product. How the company develops, markets and delivers the product will need to be increasingly digital, and take ESG factors into greater consideration.
Companies that recognize the possibilities of digital transformation, while keeping the values of their employees and customers in mind, will be better positioned to address the business challenges in the year ahead and create greater value for the stakeholders and communities they serve.
Liz Shore is market executive of global commercial banking for Bank of America.