2024: Predicting the Unpredictable

Michelle Boockoff-Bajdek
4 min readJan 3, 2024

If the last few years have taught us anything, it’s that change is the only constant, and there’s no such thing as “business as usual.” In fact, we’ve all gotten used to business as unusual. Just think about some of the words and phrases that have seeped into our vernacular: pivot, new normal, disruptive thinking, quiet quitting, quiet cutting, rage applying, shift shock, and bare minimum Mondays.

And, I won’t even mention all the virus-related terms. (Okay, just one. “Coronacoaster.”)

Many of us use the new year as an opportunity to reflect and take stock of all we’ve just lived through — and all we’ve accomplished — in the past 12 months. But, it’s also a chance to look ahead, whether that’s through resolutions (most of which, let’s face it, will be distant memories by February) or to set intentions and goals.

In my case, I sat down New Year’s Eve to look at this journey holistically, to think about where we’ve been and where we’re going — with the great big caveat that life and business have never moved quite so fast. So, consider this my exercise in predicting the unpredictable.

As I reflected on 2023 and 2024, three major themes emerged. To survive — and thrive — we all need to:

Embrace a new way of working.

The pandemic altered “work” in a profound way, changing not only what we do but, perhaps more importantly, where we do it. The Office is back in a major way, and I certainly don’t mean the TV show. According to CNBC, 90% of companies said they would mandate some sort of return to the office by the end of 2024. Only 2% of leaders surveyed say they don’t have plans to have people work in person.

Why is that?

It comes down to culture. It’s difficult to maintain a culture when people are feeling less connected than ever to the companies for which they work. And it’s incredibly hard to onboard new-to-career employees remotely. They don’t have the opportunity to learn the “unwritten rules” of the office, catch the vibe, or experience the important aspects of culture that help people understand the work environment. Personally, I’ve found remote work quite lonely. I miss the camaraderie of the office and look forward to the days when I do get in-person time with members of my team.

PREDICTION: People will embrace a return-to-office culture, but will utilize the space in different ways than pre-pandemic. We’ll come together to collaborate, strategize, and have meaningful conversations. Spaces will be fit-for-purpose, with more conference rooms, collaboration areas, and places for small huddles.

Become obsessed with the customer.

According to a Deloitte study, 98% of consumers surveyed say they trust and are more loyal to businesses that provide consistent, positive interactions. This means that businesses need to lean into what their customers want and need.

How do you do that?

By shifting focus from products to value. By offering engaging experiences that are differentiated and unique. By always doing right by the customer, and remembering that the sale itself is just a fraction of the overall journey.

PREDICTION: Businesses, even those that sell to other businesses, will aim to create a “lifestyle” for their customers, one that delivers on its promise — to make lives easier, help people be more productive, and help businesses and people flourish.

And, keep it human.

Generative AI is one of those massive tectonic shifts that most didn’t see coming. It changed everything. Entire business models were rendered non-existent, seemingly overnight. And, in very short order, everyone — from corporate CEOs to actors and writers; from regulators to content creators — began pondering a world in which generative AI exists.

For marketers, disruption was early, fast and furious. I’m proud to say that my own marketing team included early adopters, willing to jump right in. Now, we must continue to evolve, working alongside this rapidly advancing tech, particularly as consumer behavior changes.

PREDICTION: 2023 was a year of innovation and discovery. In 2024, I think we’ll see more intentional use and far more progress. In other words, we’ll evolve from experimentation to execution. And, if you need a jumpstart, I suggest you listen to this episode of the Marketing AI Institute’s podcast, which covers the 15 AI questions every marketer is asking.

So, how do we prepare for these predictions (not to mention the surprises we may also encounter)? I suggest the key is to be informed, stay curious, remain adaptable, and keep the endgame in sight.

Use your purpose and passion as the north star that helps you navigate new technologies and ways of working. Make that the constant in a world of continual change.

Happy New Year.