2018 – here we are! I believe that for many it is exciting to welcome the New Year, as it symbolises the beginning of something new, fills us with new energy and hope. Many times this momentum of a new beginning drives people to conclude ‘the past’ and create all sorts of resolutions and multiple goals for the New Year. Notoriously, only a small part of these resolutions and goals actually are lived up to, yet I believe that the processes of reflecting back and hopefully forward are important. Even if it doesn’t fuel a major change, it can once again make us adjust the direction we are moving towards, and bring new energy to move further along the chosen path. Thus, in this spirit of new beginnings, where do we start off and where could we be headed for with global business and global mobility?
Quite certainly, 2017 left us with lots of uncertainties: general geopolitical instability, a rise in populist and protectionist moods, Brexit, cyber security risks, increases in automation and the Gig-economy, climate change, talent and diversity gaps in organizations… Quite a challenging place to be, right? At the same time, the more reasons for hope and room for improvement we might have.
According to Deloitte’s recent report, the majority of private companies’ executives have an optimistic outlook for the near future, and expect their revenues, profits, productivity, and capital investments to rise in 2018. In fact, in spite of all the protectionist and anti-globalization rhetoric we heard in 2017, the report indicates increases in interconnectedness and alignment of businesses around the world. As the Deloitte professionals put it, for the first time in a decade the major economies of the world are moving in sync towards growth. Therefore, private companies are also willing to invest into new markets, technologies, and people. For example, already now 79% of private companies rely on international markets to some extent, and global trade is expected to rebound further. Optimistic outlook is also expressed in the ways companies embrace new technologies and invest in them. According to the report, two-thirds of companies associate technological advances with new opportunities and positive outcomes. For many businesses, strategic growth can also be supported by M&A activities, and 68% of respondents expect to engage in such activities in 2018. Finally, any optimistic plan will remain inactive without the necessary people, hence talent investment is among the most important priorities for companies. Deloitte’s data shows that 46 % of private companies plan to invest in training their employees and 33 % are investing in leadership development programs.
Echoing these notions of growth and interconnectedness, Santa Fe relocation professionals predict some trends specifically for global mobility professionals. Given the remaining and increasing needs for international skills, as well as the acquisition and retention of talent, global mobility professionals are expected to remain busy with improving expats’ experiences, securing their safety and well-being, and diversifying both the pool of expats and opportunities for international experiences.
As such, it seems that 2018 starts with quite a TO DO list for global businesses, yet the outlook is synchronously positive. Naturally, there is no room for blind optimism, as global markets are equally aligned in perceived threats as well. The same geopolitical uncertainty that 2017 left us behind with is among the top risks to growth across all regions. These risks are unlikely to disappear any time soon, yet again, maybe the momentum and energy of a new beginning will help optimism to surpass uncertainty?