Welcome to the Twenties!

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Some days ago we entered a new decade, the twenties. As the New Year and decade begins, it is interesting to reflect on the past ten years and make some predictions about the future. Here are some of my personal highlights:

  1. There was the internet, now there is AI and the GIG economy, when will we get self-flying cars?

Writing this blog post on my laptop, and knowing that many people can potentially read it later from many different geographical locations and from a variety of devices is not much of a novelty anymore. It is an obvious circumstance, as we are used to technology and the internet, to which millions of people around the world have nowadays access. Indeed, the dramatic change from when cell phones and the internet were still a rarity to the ubiquity they are today, already happened at the beginning of “the” new millennium. Yet, the last decade brought us something new, namely the GIG economies and rapid automation of work. In the 2000s, people mostly travelled staying in hotels, the majority of client services were owned by companies, and paying for your groceries in the shop implied communicating with the cashier. Today, we are used to the gig and sharing economy, be it Airbnb, car sharing options or Uber taxi and food delivery services. Many jobs and services are now in globally open freelance markets, which are supported by technological platforms. Finally, you can go around buying your groceries or any other goods without any human communication involved, as AI is increasingly there to do the job.

Looking forward to the new decade, I expect the technological transformations to continue, and at exponential speed. Emerging technologies will definitely continue to shape the way individuals work and global economies operate and, as such, flexibility and agility to change, as well as openness to learn and adapt seem crucial capabilities to me.

  1. Climate change used to worry us. Now we are actually starting to think about and act on it. Go, Greta!

Similar to technological advancements, the topic of climate change is not a novelty of the past decade. Yet, recent years stand out in terms of the level of public awareness and agency related to environmental matters in my opinion. Environmental issues have started to shape customer expectations, and companies’ approach to business. Although there is still a huge gap between intentions and actions, green consumerism and eco-friendly businesses have gained momentum. Although in 2017 Trump notoriously pulled out of the Paris climate deal, in 2019 Greta Thunberg was chosen as Person of the Year by Time Magazine.

My sincere wish and hope for the upcoming years is that Greta will add impetus to the growing positive momentum on the issue, so that governments, businesses, societies and us, individuals, will do much more to care for our planet.

  1. It is not your business?! Global challenges and social issues are brought to the agenda of CEOs

In 2018, I wrote about CEO activism and the ever increasing pressure for businesses to take a clear stance on bigger social issues. Indeed, just reflecting on the topics I covered in the blog, it is evident that there were plenty of reasons to write about political issues, human diversity, inequality and inclusion, apart from the already mentioned climate change. The increase of such discourse is naturally mediated by social media, which allows us to maintain the conversation at any time, amongst different age and gender groups, and across borders. The recent EY’s CEO Imperative Study indicates that 67% of global CEOs feel pressure to act on global issues, and see such meaningful actions more like growth opportunities than risks. As the report highlights, ‘CEOs and the companies that they lead can no longer sit on the sidelines’. Good for us, in my opinion!

Naturally, such activism and new set of expectations towards businesses will imply a shift towards more public-private partnerships and collaborations with governmental institutions in the new decade.

  1. And then there was Trump…

Last but not least, the past decade will probably be remembered in relation to political instability, populism and protectionism, Trump and Brexit. The US-led global economic order that we have been used to for many decades, seems to be changing, new economic powers arise, and anti-globalization trends have emerged. This uncertain geopolitical landscape is naturally interconnected with all the highlights presented above, and it will certainly continue to shape the world we live in for the next decade. How much and which kind of a new world order will we be experiencing in the coming years only time will tell.

In the spirit of New Year’s hopes and wishes though, I dare to trust that the new decade will bring us to a more secure, stable and peaceful place.

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