The New Year is an excellent time to assess where you've been and where you're heading. For a glimpse at the latter, consider the following five business trends for 2020 and what you should do about them.

1. Flatter organizations will dominate. 

If you insist on making all the decisions in your company, you are leaving yourself open to faster-moving rivals. How so? More companies are pushing key decisions down the organization to people with greater knowledge of the facts than top executives. In so doing, they're taking out layers of management.

And as they make moves -- like launching new products that give more bang for the buck -- to win your customers, your company will lose market share. To stay in the game, your company must build a flatter organization. How so? Create a culture of accountability and build systems to make sure your people do what they say they'll do. Then you should get yourself out of micro-managing and clear out those who slow down decision-making.

2. Older workers will change the face of business--again.

The nearly 79 million member baby boomer generation is aging. Some of them may be your employees -- hanging on to their jobs because they need the money or because they enjoy the work. Others may be looking to be hired by your company or represent a growing part of your customer base.

If you employ baby boomers, you ought to decide what you can do to harness the benefit of their experience and networks. At the same time, consider changing your human resources policies to meet their health care needs and the pressures some may be under to take care of aging parents while supporting adult children.

If you have many baby boomer customers, deeper knowledge of your boomer employees may provide insights that can help you serve your customers more effectively.

3. China will no longer be the lowest-cost labor source.

China's population is aging and the country is responding with a change in its dominant mode of competing. Instead of being seen as the place for low-cost manufacturing labor, China is shifting to industries whose products and services command high prices and wide profit margins because they use high technology talent as their competitive weapons.

If your company has been relying on China for low-cost manufacturing labor, you ought to plan to shift to other countries -- such as South Asia and Africa -- which are now the lowest-cost labor locations. But keep in the back of your mind that these countries are likely to aspire to follow China up the value chain in the future.

4. New technologies will play a larger role in business.

New technologies could be both an opportunity and a threat to your business. But figuring out which technologies will help and/or impede the achievement of your business goals is different for every company.

Consider these seven technologies likely to become more significant in the coming decade:

  • 3-D printing which can print a coffee cup,  help robots construct new buildings and a create fingers for those who lack them
  • Nanotechnology which could print human skin or replacement heart valves 
  • Mobile apps which continue to transform industries ranging from taxis to mining and agriculture 
  • Mobile payments -- which will be the focus of a battle among banks, credit card, telecommunications and software companies 
  • Entertainment -- Apps and connected machines will transform the battle for the attention of consumers seeking entertainment 
  • Social media will continue to challenge organizations seeking to attract the most profitable customers and the most talented employees
  • Big Data will generate insights that help companies who can harness its power to identify new products and services and provide better customer service 

Sort through these and other emerging technologies by evaluating common factors such as each one's ability to

  • Make your products or services more valuable to customers 
  • Lower your costs of marketing, manufacturing, selling, or servicing
  • Increase your company's market share 
  • Generate a high return on the investment needed to deploy it

5. Worker retraining is a must.

Before you incorporate new technologies and ways of working into your organization, you must make sure your workers have the skills they need to take advantage of their benefits and sidestep their pitfalls. To to do that, train your workers -- through the most effective blend of in-person and online courses.

It's a new decade and the world keeps changing. Do these five things to create the future as less-adaptive rivals fall behind.

Published on: Jan 3, 2020
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.