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9 Top Business Trends (2023 & 2024)

by Josh Howarth
January 10, 2023

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This is an up-to-date list of key business trends in 2023, along with those that are poised to see continued growth into 2024.

We'll cover the sectors, consumer behavior changes, and tech innovations driving each trend.

Whether you're a scrappy startup or part of a Fortune 500 company, here are the top business trends to know:

1. E-commerce Growth Persists Post-Pandemic

The pandemic completely changed the way consumers shop.

E-commerce was already on the rise before COVID hit. But the pandemic helped the eCommerce space take off at an astronomical rate.

In fact, Shopify reported that e-commerce experienced 10 years’ worth of growth in just three months during the pandemic.

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Search volume for “eCommerce” has leveled off, but is still up nearly 22%.

Although the growth of eCommerce has slowed post-pandemic, it’s still growing modestly. And businesses continue to adjust their marketing and sales strategies to maximize its impact on the bottom line.

In 2021, global e-commerce sales totaled $5.2 trillion and that number is expected to grow 56% over the next four years, reaching $8.1 trillion by 2026.

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E-commerce sales continue to grow. Predictions show more than $6.3 billion in sales next year.

E-commerce was responsible for nearly 14% of all retail sales in 2019, but in 2023, e-commerce is expected to account for more than 22% of all retail.

Some specific retail categories like electronics, home improvement, and home furnishings have been able to maintain post-pandemic growth.

The furniture industry, for example, is estimated to have brought in more than $149 million in e-commerce revenue in 2022 and grow to $208 million by 2025. That’s approximately 12% of total e-commerce sales in the United States.

There are currently more than 4 million e-commerce companies in North America.

And companies are launching new e-commerce opportunities every day.

Take Disney, for example.

The company announced in early 2021 that it would focus on e-commerce and close 60 of its brick-and-mortar stores in North America.

In late 2022, they announced plans to expand the Disney+ platform to include in-app commerce options.

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Search volume for “Disney+” is up 48% since launching.

Users can scan a QR code on the detail pages of their favorite shows and movies. That will take them to a specific shopDisney site where they can purchase merchandise that’s available only to Disney+ subscribers.

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Exclusive merchandise from Star Wars, Black Panther, Frozen 2, and other Disney titles are available only to Disney+ subscribers.

Your Super is an e-commerce superfood supplement company that saw tremendous growth during the pandemic and into 2023.

In 2021, they launched a partnership with Target and were acquired by The Healing Company.

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Michael Kuech and Kristel De Groot founded Your Super in 2015 after Michael was diagnosed with cancer.

They’ve sold more than 5 million products, earning them a ranking of 25th on 2021 Inc. fastest growing companies list.

2. 5G Vastly Improves Data Collection and AI Capabilities

The development of the 5G mobile network has the potential to radically change business operations.

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Search interest in “5G” continues to climb, up 1,660% over 5 years.

In simple terms, 5G can deliver higher data speeds, greater reliability, and sub-10ms latency.

As of August 2022, China and the United States were leading the race for the 5G rollout.

In China, 5G is available in 356 cities. It’s available in 296 cities in the US.

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China and the United States are the two leading countries in the 5G rollout.

The 5G market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 65.8% through 2030 to reach a valuation of $797.8 billion.

This technology is crucial for businesses that are eager to offer new services and track insights in order to stay ahead of the competition.

For example, the development of the 5G mobile network is driving enhanced data collection and analysis for businesses.

Overall, this means businesses will have more data from more diverse sources at faster speeds. Then they can put that intelligence to work in real time.

These are the data speeds businesses need in order to utilize AI and automation.

A few possibilities include intelligent data analysis, remote medical control, remote control of traffic lights, and virtual reality monitoring of machinery.

BMW is already testing the capabilities of 5G technology at their factory in Leipzig, Germany.

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BMW is utilizing 5G technology to improve factory operations and worker safety.

They are combining 5G and AI in order to locate machines, cars, tools, and parts within the factory in real time. They have an accuracy down to within one centimeter.

In early 2021, T-Mobile deployed its first 5G network in a hospital at the Miami Veterans Affairs Healthcare System.

The network has peak speeds of 1 gigabit per second.

This enables healthcare providers to access data-intensive patient records like x-rays and medical charts from devices anywhere in the hospital.

The 5G network is also critical for medical providers who’ve invested in telemedicine. The high speeds of the 5G network can enable nearly real-time video and remote monitoring of patients.

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Searches for “remote patient monitoring” have climbed over 466% in the past 5 years.

Businesses are also leveraging 5G connectivity via the Internet of Things (IoT) in order to improve business operations and launch new services.

IoT sensors are already in use in manufacturing production lines, supply chain tracking, autonomous vehicles, and more.

IBM is in the testing phase of using IoT to monitor civil infrastructure.

This “next-generation maintenance program” brings together data from sensors, cameras, drones, and wearables to assess the safety and risks associated with roads, bridges, water mains, and other assets.

IBM estimates that this program can help release a $2 trillion backlog of improvements to civil infrastructure.

We expect to see the agribusiness industry rapidly integrate the use of 5G and the IoT into daily operations in the coming years.

Remote sensing and connected devices have the potential to monitor soil conditions, assess harvest readiness, and control pests.

Connected devices are already monitoring livestock.

A “cow-recognition system” from Lely outfits each animal with a transponder attached around its neck.

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Lely’s data-driven solution gives farmers the insights they need to efficiently manage livestock.

The sensor collects data regarding animal health, activity, eating, and reproduction.

Although the system doesn’t currently operate on mobile networks, ag business experts say this is one area in which 5G networks will drive efficiency, seamless workflows, and a better-quality end product in the near future.

3. Employees Actively Seek Out Remote and Hybrid Work

At the height of the pandemic, 71% of Americans who had jobs that could be done from home were working exclusively from home.

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Search volume for “remote work” saw huge gains during the early days of the pandemic and is climbing again.

In fact, the number of people working from home tripled between 2019 and 2021.

A 2022 Gallup survey showed 56% of full-time US employees have jobs that can be done from home. That amounts to 70 million workers.

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As the pandemic wanes, many workers are adopting a hybrid work schedule.

Of those workers, 50% have a hybrid work schedule, 30% work fully remotely, and 20% work fully in-office.

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Search volume for “hybrid work” is up more than 413% in the past 5 years.

Young people with a college degree are the most likely to have access to remote and hybrid work environments.

Research shows that those with a bachelor’s degree or higher are five times more likely to work from home than those with less education.

In recent months, we’ve seen that employees who’ve had the opportunity to work remotely aren’t quick to give in to companies who’d like them back in the office.

A 2022 survey from the Pew Research Center reported that 78% of those who currently work remotely want to continue with that setup in the coming years. That’s up 14% since 2020.

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Search volume for “remote hiring” continues to climb, up 1,750% in 5 years.

More than two-thirds of remote workers say they’d start looking for a new position if their company required them to work in-office full-time and more than half say they’d rather take a pay cut than give up their workplace flexibility.

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In this survey, more than half of respondents said they’d take up to an 11% cut in pay if it meant they could continue with their remote/hybrid work environment.

Employees are continuing to see financial benefits from working remotely.

Those who work from home spend about $432 on things like lunch and coffee while those who work in the office spend an average of $863 per month.

However, businesses remain leery of the ongoing work-from-home trend.

Microsoft’s Work Trend Index reports 85% of business leaders say it’s challenging to have confidence in employee productivity in a hybrid work environment.

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Only 12% of business leaders say they have full confidence in employee productivity.

As this trend persists, we expect to see more companies opting for monitoring technology that will ensure worker productivity.

Many businesses are already utilizing screen monitoring, recording keystrokes, and implementing facial recognition programs that scan workers’ faces several times a day.

Garter reports that the number of large corporations using this type of monitoring technology has doubled, reaching 60%, since the pandemic began. The number is expected to climb to 70% by 2024.

4. Businesses Expand Ads, Communities, and Commerce on Social Media

Running a business without having a social media presence is almost unheard of in 2022.

The importance of social media in business’ marketing will likely continue to increase in 2023.

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Search volume for “social media marketing” continues to climb, up 88% in the past 5 years.

A report from November 2022 showed that consumers’ usage of social media is up nearly 8% since the beginning of the year.

Estimates showed 4.74 billion users currently on social media as of October 2022.

We’re seeing ad spend following these consumers.

More than half of CMOs say they’ll be increasing their spending on social media ads in the coming years.

TikTok ads are one marketing strategy that's increasingly used by businesses in nearly all industries.

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Searches for “TikTok ads” have climbed 8,600% over 5 years.

A study found that in-feed TikTok ads are 23% more memorable than TV ads and 13% more memorable compared to other types of digital video.

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TikTok ads are consistently more memorable than other types of ads.

In the coming years, we expect to see businesses go beyond ads to focus on building communities as part of their overall social media strategy.

Nearly 80% of people say that the most important group they belong to operates online.

HubSpot reports 64% of marketers planned to invest in social media communities in 2022.

In addition, we’re already seeing brands shift toward connecting with more authentic influencers who can impact smaller communities.

This may be a more profitable strategy for businesses.

According to one source, companies that use micro-influencers see a 60% higher engagement rate than they see with more popular influencers.

The conversion rate is better, too: 1.46% for micro-influencers compared to 0.61% for influencers with 21k followers or more.

In an effort to increase engagement and sales, brands are likely to invest in social commerce in the coming months.

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Search volume for “social commerce” is up more than 40% over 5 years.

Social commerce is a popular concept in China where 14.3% of total online retail sales were made through social commerce in 2021.

Only 4.1% of sales are made through social commerce in the US.

However, Accenture predicts social commerce will grow three times as fast as traditional e-commerce, hitting $1.2 trillion by 2025.

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Social commerce is expected to see huge gains in categories like clothing, electronics, and home decor.

5. Companies Focus on Sustainability

Research from IBM and the National Retail Federation shows that half of US consumers say they’re willing to pay more for sustainable products, and 62% of consumers are willing to change their shopping habits in order to reduce their environmental impact.

Globally, reports show that 85% of people have changed their purchasing habits to become more sustainable in the past five years.

Businesses are responding to this consumer demand by paying special attention to their ESG processes.

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Search interest for “environmental, social and corporate governance” continues to grow, up 810% in the past 5 years.

A 2022 survey found that nearly 80% of retailers who’ve dedicated resources to improving sustainability believe their efforts have resulted in increased customer loyalty.

However, a McKinsey survey found the business results for the bottom line might not be quite that promising yet.

In their survey, only 22% of respondents reported achieving modest or significant value from their sustainability efforts in the past five years.

But businesses are optimistic about the future, the survey showed.

40% of respondents are expecting to see their efforts produce modest or significant value in the next five years.

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McKinsey’s survey showed the electric power and transportation industries are expecting to generate the most value from sustainability efforts in the next few years.

Another business buzzword related to ESG initiatives is the circular economy.

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Search volume for “circular economy” is climbing, up 111% since 2018.

Environmental activists refer to the way the world operates now as a linear economy — businesses take materials from the earth and customers eventually throw them out as waste.

In contrast, a circular economy focuses on keeping materials and products in use for as long as possible.

The World Economic Forum reports that if businesses invest in reusing and recycling there could be a savings of $1 trillion per year.

One business example of the circular economy is found in Teemill, a fashion business from the UK.

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Search volume for “Teemill” shows 83% growth in the past 5 years.

The company offers B2B print-on-demand services for t-shirts with distinctly sustainable business practices.

Any business owner can login to the Teemill site, design t-shirts, and set up a store.

When a customer orders a shirt, Teemill prints it and dropships it to the customer directly.

Every tee includes a QR code on the tag so that customers can return the shirt to Teemill. The company then recovers the organic material from the shirt and uses it to spin new yarn.

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Teemill’s products are designed to be returned to them and recycled in order to make new clothing.

6. Businesses Experiment With Immersive Technologies

As businesses look to engage customers in cutting-edge ways, immersive technologies like augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and mixed reality (MR) are setting a new standard.

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Search interest in “immersive technology” has grown 500% since 2018.

Big tech is already investing heavily in various types of immersive technologies with hopes that widespread business adoption is coming soon.

Meta reportedly has 10,000 employees working on mixed reality and Apple has 2,000 people developing extended reality.

The immersive technology market (including AR/VR/MR) was valued at nearly $28 billion in 2021. It’s expected to swell to more than $252 billion by 2028.

Consumers are showing increasing interest, too.

The sale of AR/VR related gear and software increased 50% between 2019 and 2020.

And, more than 50% of consumers are willing to use AR/VR to assess products.

In one study involving a make-up retailer, consumers who utilized AR to try on lipsticks sampled nearly 2x more lipsticks than in-store customers.

The study also found that customers who used AR browsed for longer and viewed more products than those who didn’t use the technology.

Those who used AR were nearly 20% more likely to make a purchase than those who didn’t.

In early 2022, Pinterest launched new AR capabilities on its platform.

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Pinterest’s AR capabilities now provide consumers with the ability to try furniture, lipstick, and eye shadow in their own space.

The “Try On for Home Decor” tool allows users to virtually stage their home with furnishings from a variety of retailers via the Pinterest Lens camera.

The brand reports that consumers are 5x more likely to buy items when using this feature than when using standard pins.

Some businesses are going further into immersive technologies and investing in the metaverse.

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Search volume for “metaverse” shows a steep climb in late 2021 when Mark Zuckerberg first announced the concept.

Gartner predicts the metaverse will be a gathering spot for employees soon.

Instead of video conferencing, employees will engage, collaborate, and connect as avatars in the metaverse, they say.

They predict that 10% of workers will regularly use the metaverse by 2025. That’s up from 1% in 2022.

In another example, Duolingo’s mascot, an owl named Duo, led the company’s metaverse debut in the Duolingo Game Hub in late 2022.

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Duolingo’s presence in the metaverse was launched in honor of the 10th anniversary of the company.

In just a few weeks, the metaverse destination received more than 9 million visits and players spent a total of 41 million minutes playing Duolingo games.

The brand had a metaverse presence in Roblox as well as Decentraland.

Predictions show that investments and spending related to AR/VR are climbing quickly.

The fourth quarter of 2021 saw nearly $1.9 billion of venture capital pouring into startups in the space.

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Crunchbase reports $3.9 billion in venture capital funding went to VR/AR startups in 2021.

Immersive technologies related to employee training and industrial maintenance are expected to garner $4.1 billion in investments in 2024.

AR/VR gaming is expected to bring in $17.6 billion in consumer spending in 2024.

7. More People Become Freelancers and Entrepreneurs

The pandemic sparked a revolutionary change in where people work, but it also changed how people work and who they work for.

For example, “quiet quitting” became a buzzword in March 2022.

A Gallup poll finds that the trend is likely to endure through the coming months.

At least half of US employees are quiet quitting, the Gallup survey said.

The survey also looked at the ratio of engaged employees to actively disengaged employees. It sits at 1.8 to 1, the lowest it’s been in nearly a decade.

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A Gallup survey found the number of actively disengaged employees is climbing.

What’s more, many Americans are actually quitting their jobs.

The Great Resignation is still ongoing with one-fifth of employees planning to switch to a new employer within the next 12 months. Other research shows this number may be as high as 30% of employees.

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Many American workers plan to quit their jobs soon.

More than 4 million Americans quit their jobs each month in 2022.

Many of these people are leaving their industry and not coming back.

McKinsey reports that 72% of people who quit work at a public or social sector organization did not return to the industry or did not return to the workforce at all. The same is true for 65% of those who quit working in the financial industry.

The numbers show that a sizable portion of these individuals are starting small businesses of their own.

In 2021, entrepreneurs filed 5.4 million new business applications. That was up from 4.3 million in 2020.

That trend continued into 2022.

In the first half of the year, there were 2.5 million applications.

Intuit’s New Business Insights report predicted the number of new businesses would surge to 5.6 million in 2022.

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Intuit’s predictions show even more new businesses will launch in 2022 as compared to 2021.

According to the New York Times, Entrepreneurs have been especially active in the warehouse and retail industries.

Young people and Black Americans are two groups of people that have been especially interested in building their own business. Nearly 20% of 18-to-24-year-olds and 23% of Black Americans have aspirations to be entrepreneurs.

Employees who want to quit their full-time work but don’t want to start their own business have entered the gig economy.

16% of Americans have worked via the gig economy at least once.

The gig economy platform Snagajob reports their job listings tripled from 2020 to 2021. They predict the number will quintuple in 2022.

Businesses are leveraging this trend to attract employees.

One survey showed 60% of executives expect gig workers to substantially replace full-time employees at their company within the next three years.

8. Innovation Impacts Last-Mile Delivery

Nearly all businesses suffered supply chain disruptions due to the pandemic.

Up to 97% of businesses experienced at least minor impacts, with 63% reporting major impacts, according to one study.

Last-mile delivery is one supply chain component that’s receiving a lot of attention from businesses.

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Search interest in “last mile” is up 160% in 5 years.

In the past, the last-mile has been inefficient, costly, unreliable, and unable to flex with changing demands.

In fact, this component alone accounts for 41% of overall supply chain costs.

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Last-mile delivery accounts for more supply chain expenses than warehousing, sorting, and parceling.

But as consumers demand faster shipping times, businesses cannot afford to have sub-par last-mile delivery solutions.

In May 2022, nearly one-third of consumers bought retail items online and had them delivered the same day.

Nearly 80% of consumers say they’re more likely to make a purchase if they can get delivery in two days or less.

30% of consumers are willing to pay more for same-day delivery and 65% are willing to pay more for 1-2 day shipping.

Drone delivery is a last-mile solution that’s been talked about but not launched on a large scale quite yet.

We expect to see that change in the coming months.

Research and Markets reports the global drone delivery market could be worth $5.56 billion by 2030, achieving a CAGR of 49% over the next eight years.

In June 2022, a few companies were given clearance from the FAA to begin drone deliveries.

This includes Amazon, Wing, and Flytrex.

Wing, a company owned by Alphabet, is testing its drones in Virginia and Texas.

They’ve made more than 250,000 total deliveries so far.

Statistics from an impact report focused on Wing’s potential in Dallas, Texas, show that drone delivery could drive $26,000 in revenue gains for businesses per year. That would potentially boost annual revenue in the Dallas Metroplex by $197 million.

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Accenture’s impact study found numerous benefits to drone delivery in Dallas.

LogiNext is a New Jersey-based company that’s offering AI solutions in order to help businesses improve last-mile operations.

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Search volume for “LogiNext” is up more than 112% over 5 years.

Their SaaS solution features automated route optimization, intelligent capacity utilization, and predictive analysis for delivery ETA.

The company’s platform supports more than 500 million orders each year.

They’re looking to raise up to $100 million in their Series C funding round with the goal of expanding globally. That could bring their valuation up to $800 million.

9. Improved Customer Experience and Cost-Savings Through AI

In 2023, customers have more purchasing options than ever. That means businesses must work even harder (and smarter) to attract and retain customers.

70% of organizations say customer service is directly connected to the performance of their business and 63% of them are prioritizing the customer experience.

One critical way businesses are improving customer service is through the use of artificial intelligence (AI) solutions.

Gartner reports that customer service budgets are directing increased spend to tech solutions.

Technology is seeing a 7.6% boost in spending while increases in training and development and personnel are seeing only modest increases hovering around 3%.

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Gartner predicts that spending related to customer service technology will continue to increase throughout 2022.

Salesforce reports that the number of customer service leaders using AI has increased by 88% since 2020. Currently, 45% of leaders say they’ve deployed AI solutions.

AI solutions have the potential to drastically increase the efficiency of customer service operations, reduce spending, and boost overall customer satisfaction.

65% of tasks can be automated in an AI-powered customer care ecosystem, according to a McKinsey report.

And, companies that use AI solutions see a 3.5x greater improvement in customer satisfaction rates than those who don’t use this technology.

The bottom-line impact of AI is staggering—Gartner predicts the costs-savings will top $80 billion by 2026.

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Predictions show spending on conversational AI solutions to reach $2 billion this year and cost-savings to reach $80 billion by 2026.

In one example, Camping World launched an AI system from IBM to handle the company’s customer contact center.

The solution incorporates a virtual customer care agent named Arvee and dynamic routing of incoming calls.

The virtual agent is connected to other customer platforms at Camping World, so it can find customer information automatically and address customer questions more efficiently.

Camping World says customer engagement has increased 40% and call wait times have decreased to just 33 seconds since implementing the AI solution.

Forethought is one of the leading AI startups in the customer service sector.

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Forethought’s AI solution offers support via chat, email, help desk, and social media.

In 2021, they completed a $65 million Series C funding round, grew their ARR by 5x, and tripled their customer base.

The company recently worked with online retailer Uncommon Goods to improve their customer service during the holiday season.

The AI system provided customers with a robust self-service portal and automatically tagged inquiries with relevant information that agents could use.

As a result, the company now has a 49% deflection rate via email, a 46% deflection rate via chat, and a 47% self-serve rate.

Overall cost-savings came to $18,000 per month.

Conclusion

That concludes our list of important business trends that will impact various sectors from 2023-2024.

The business world continues to invest heavily in social media and tech solutions. As these trends continue to develop, we expect to see increased funding and product development.

However, businesses will have to keep a sharp eye on consumer sentiment regarding environmental and corporate responsibility if they want to continue to attract new customers.

Companies that stay on top of key trends and innovate based on these trends are poised to come out on top.