As we move through 2024, it’s clear that transformation is on the horizon for Australian businesses. With so much change in the air, it’s more important than ever for professionals to stay informed about emerging trends in the business world.

From technological advancements to shifts in consumer behaviour, trends can influence market dynamics, dictate the demand for certain skills and play a crucial role in ensuring businesses can remain resilient and profitable in the face of change. Staying informed about business trends is essential for professionals to navigate these transformations effectively, maintaining their competitiveness and success in a dynamic environment.

If you’re at a professional crossroads or just eager to seize new opportunities, pursuing an MBA can be a smart strategy to match pace with new trends and stand out professionally. Today, we explore the latest business trends and how studying an MBA can help you adapt to these changes, enhance your strategic thinking and position yourself as a leader in your field.

2024 business trends

This year promises a smorgasbord of emerging and forecasted trends that could redefine how businesses operate in Australia. From the integration of cutting-edge technologies to four-day working weeks and a renewed emphasis on sustainability, these trends capture the shifting focus and priorities of the fastest-growing industries in Australia and the wider business environment.

Jason Perelson​​​​, a partner​ at Synergy Group, says, “All of these trends have a multitude of lenses through which business professionals should assess and understand. This helps them align their practices and strategies for sustainable business operations that can adapt to changing conditions.”

Here, Mr Perelson helps us uncover some of the most impactful business trends shaping the industry in 2024.

1. Artificial intelligence (AI) and digital disruption

Artificial intelligence (AI) is a key driver for efficiency and innovation across various sectors, from finance to construction and healthcare. The widespread adoption of AI sets new benchmarks in customer service, project management, logistics, healthcare diagnostics and many other critical business areas.

The CSIRO estimates that digital technologies, including AI, could be worth $315 billion to the nation’s economy by 2028. Industries most reliant on AI include mining, agriculture, defence, energy and healthcare.

Mining giant Rio Tinto has deployed AI and automation technologies in its operations, including autonomous haul trucks and drilling systems, to improve safety and efficiency. The big banks are getting on board too, using AI for fraud detection, customer service chatbots and personalised banking experiences.

By embracing AI, companies can improve efficiency and unlock new opportunities for workforce development, ensuring they remain at the forefront of their respective industries. As the AI market grows, its role in redefining business models highlights the importance of using AI to augment, not replace, the workforce.

2. Sustainability and ESG practices

Sustainability and ESG practices are increasingly vital for businesses to mitigate risks, comply with evolving regulations and meet consumer demands for ethical responsibility. Australian companies are at the forefront of this shift, with leaders like Woolworths Group and BHP investing in sustainable operations and transparent ESG reporting, while firms like Australian Ethical base their investment decisions on strict ESG criteria.

Not surprisingly, energy sector companies like Meridian Energy are channelling investments into renewable energy sources, like wind and solar, to reduce carbon footprints and support the transition to a lower-carbon economy.

This trend is reshaping the narrative of the modern business environment, encouraging innovation and opening new markets by aligning with global sustainability objectives. As businesses integrate these practices into their core strategies, they can enhance their market appeal, secure their long-term viability and contribute to the global sustainability agenda.

3. Demographic changes and an ageing population

The demographic shift towards an older population in Australia is prompting businesses to innovate their product and service offerings. Industries from healthcare to finance and real estate are tailoring their strategies to meet the needs of this growing segment.

While companies like Bupa continually evolve their residential aged-care service offerings, tech-based providers like InteliCare offer smart home monitoring systems that use AI and IoT to enable older adults to live safely and independently while keeping their families informed about their wellbeing.

Businesses can create useful and valuable solutions that foster loyalty and drive growth by addressing these demographic changes. Better still, shifting to meet the needs of this trend allows businesses to tap into new consumer segments and contribute to a more inclusive and diverse business environment.

4. Evolving work cultures: Annual leave reform and remote work

The Australian workplace is undergoing significant transformation, driven by two major trends — the push for annual leave reform and the widespread adoption of remote work. The most recent data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows 37 per cent of Australian workers regularly work from home. Although this is less than the approximately 40 per cent of workers in 2021, it’s still more than the pre-pandemic level.

The social trends towards enhancing work-life balance and employee wellbeing are driving the changes. Businesses are showing a commitment to enhancing work-life balance and employee wellbeing, aligning with global standards and modern workforce expectations.

Retail sector leaders like Woolworths are at the forefront of exploring annual leave reform, considering policies that offer a fifth week of leave. Meanwhile, the rapid shift to remote work, driven by the pandemic, has become a staple in redefining work environments. Companies like Atlassian and Telstra are leading by example, implementing flexible work arrangements and support systems to accommodate the dynamics of remote work, including wellbeing programs.

At the same time, companies like Versa have successfully shifted to a four-day work week model, highlighting a trend towards balancing improved productivity and employee satisfaction.

By embracing these workplace trends, Australian businesses can adapt to changing global standards and position themselves as attractive employers in a competitive landscape.

5. Renewed focus on cybersecurity

As cyber threats grow more complex, Australian companies are stepping up their cybersecurity efforts to safeguard sensitive information and preserve customer confidence. Businesses in various industries, including banking and technology, pour resources into sophisticated security solutions and train their staff to fend off these dangers.

Businesses in Australia spend more than $5 billion a year on cybersecurity, and this figure continues to grow.

Leading the charge, financial giants like the Commonwealth Bank of Australia have implemented thorough cybersecurity strategies. This move underscores the sector’s dedication to protecting against online risks, ensuring the safety of customer data and the integrity of the digital economy.

In this era, it’s essential for every business to safeguard and defend their customers’ data.

6. Geopolitical shifts and economic resilience

Navigating geopolitical shifts is crucial for Australian businesses to mitigate trade uncertainties and build economic resilience. The country’s reliance on international markets makes it essential for businesses to diversify their operations and strengthen supply chains. Investing in supply chain resilience allows businesses to not only withstand shocks but also to adapt and thrive amidst volatility.

Companies like the Australian Agricultural Company are expanding into new markets and enhancing supply chain resilience to counteract global tensions. This approach helps stabilise the economy, ensuring steady market access and price stability.

Firms like BHP have led the way in fortifying their supply chains, diversifying their source materials and implementing cutting-edge logistic solutions to ensure reliability and efficiency under any circumstances.

The global pandemic highlighted vulnerabilities and disruptions in pharmaceutical supply networks, which are still affecting consumers and businesses today. Healthcare companies are continuing to re-evaluate their sourcing strategies, moving towards local production and diversifying suppliers to mitigate risks. Similarly, major retailers are reimagining their supply networks to be more responsive and adaptable to changes in consumer demand and global market trends.

Adapting to geopolitical changes is a matter of ethical responsibility and a strategic approach to risk management, regulatory compliance, and consumer satisfaction. By prioritising economic resilience, Australian businesses can safeguard against disruptions and support the nation’s overall economic stability and growth.

7. DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion)

The emphasis on DEI pushes Australian companies towards greater transparency and accountability in their practices. Nowadays, there’s a widespread expectation for companies to cultivate genuine diversity, equity and inclusion at every level of their operations.

Firms like Westpac lead by example, implementing comprehensive DEI programs and policies that enrich the work environment for employees and foster a culture where everyone can thrive.

DEI is not just a moral imperative; it’s also good for business. It’s a strategic asset that drives collaboration and innovation, attracts a wider net of talent, enhances customer satisfaction and can contribute to better overall performance.

Adapt to future business trends with an MBA

As these trends continue to develop, the need to adapt and bring new ideas to the table becomes critical. Pursuing an MBA can provide a comprehensive toolkit for assessing and adopting relevant trends for a successful outcome.

Studying an MBA through one of MBA Discovery’s partner universities can provide knowledge in essential areas like digital innovation, technology management and entrepreneurship while fostering critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

An MBA can also open doors to a rich network of professionals and experts, helping you to better grasp global business trends and practices. This blend of knowledge, skills and networking can prepare you to lead effectively, seize new opportunities and drive growth in an ever-evolving business environment.

Here’s a snapshot of the MBA programs that can help you to future-proof your career and business outcomes:

  • RMIT’s Master of Business Administration Technology and Innovation unit explores the cutting edge of digital technology, preparing students to lead in a world where digital disruption is the norm.
  • James Cook University’s Master of Business Administration Global Business Innovation and Technology Management unit delves into the strategies required to manage technological advancements and innovation, ensuring businesses can stay ahead in fast-paced industries.
  • Victoria University’s Master of Business Administration (MBA) Managing Innovation and Entrepreneurship unit focuses on harnessing creativity, strategic thinking and leadership to drive business success in an ever-changing market.

An MBA doesn’t just provide the technical know-how to navigate these trends; it fosters a mindset geared towards continuous learning and evolution. By tapping into diverse perspectives and innovative approaches, you’ll be better equipped to adapt to future business trends and transform challenges into opportunities, gearing yourself and your organisation towards success.

Lead the way from today

The landscape of Australian business is changing, and emerging trends present both obstacles and possibilities in business. Studying for an MBA can equip you with the knowledge, skills and mindset to turn challenges into opportunities and thrive in this dynamic, new-world environment.

Ready to lead, innovate and succeed? Adapting to new trends is key to succeeding in the business world. Speak to a Student Enrolment Advisor to discover how an MBA can set you up for success.

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