What to expect from 2019? From plateauing global growth to catering to increasingly picky consumers, there’s lots on the economic and business horizons to watch out for. Here, our professors choose a dozen of the key trends that may impact your business in the coming year.
Slowing global growth
While the world’s economies are still in expansion, there are more and more signs that growth may slow down. “Growth in 2019 will remain strong, but it seems to have plateaued. We have a slowdown in advanced economies, especially in Europe, while emerging economies remain strong, especially Asia,” says professor Nuria Mas.
On March 29, 2019, Britain will officially leave the European Union after nearly five decades. How that plays out will have impact not only on Britain but also on the euro-zone. But Brexit isn’t the only thing that could unsettle the euro – Italy and its mounting debt should always be on the radar.
The escalating trade war between the U.S. and China may buffet the global economy during 2019. And both countries have domestic political issues worth monitoring: China heads into a year marked by historic anniversaries, including the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square clampdown, and the U.S. goes into 2019 with a divided legislature and a president who is the subject of a number of inquiries.
“One of the big challenges for next year is the widespread use of blockchain,” says professor Miguel Antón. The technology has reached the point where it will find increasing uses in the finance sector. As the year progresses, it will also find more applications in the trade and settlement of stocks and bonds – and beyond.
The age of voice assistance is upon us. “As consumers and as companies, we will get assistance from machines massively through voice interaction,” says professor Sandra Sieber. That means that companies will have to consider how to incorporate voice into their strategies, and position their products and services according.
Professor Carlos García Pont calls this “interactively co-creating your consumption experience.” It goes far beyond Amazon making book recommendations or Netflix offering series to match your tastes. Rather, companies should harness data in such a way to offer consumers tailor-made products, like watching a football match with only the plays and camera angles that interest you. “It’s not what I can give you,” he says. “It’s what we do together that creates your consumption experience.”
Mixing clicks and bricks
So it turns out that e-commerce, however wildly successful, hasn’t killed off traditional stores. In the coming year, even the most e-oriented business will have to consider how they use bricks. And even the most traditional businesses will have to continue adjusting how they incorporate clicks.
Connecting big and small
Large corporations will grow more dependent on startups for innovation, so 2019 is expected to see more operations between big and small companies. “Established companies need to become more flexible, adopt technologies that sometimes they don’t have. So startups are going to be there serving those needs,” says professor Julia Prats.
But that doesn’t mean there will be a surge in funds available to any startup operating from anyone’s garage. Rather, funding may go to companies at a slightly later stage. “We are coming from a period of a lot of liquidity. We believe that this is going to be rationalized,” says Prats. “And part of the money is going to go to scale-ups and growth opportunities.”
Spreading narrow AI
In the B2B sphere, artificial intelligence is expected to be applied across industries. “In B2B what we’re seeing for 2019 is supervised machine learning, which is the application of narrow artificial intelligence going mainstream,” says Sieber. “We are going to see an explosion because the technology is ready.”
Market share and corporate ownership are increasingly concentrated in a few large hands. “What’s new for next year is the fact that we’re starting to agree that this might be a problem,” says Antón. That could set off a debate between big corporations and regulators to see how to reduce concentration, with major implications for the world’s biggest companies and investors.
After the General Data Protection Regulation took effect in Europe in 2018, the continent may lead the way toward a different approach to data. During 2019, other countries may begin to consider taking measures to oblige companies to do more to safeguard data and limit the use they make of clients’ information.
Want to stay ahead of the trends? And have the knowledge and skills to deal with new trends as they emerge? IESE’s Executive Education programs, from our general management courses to our short programs on specific areas to our industry meetings, will help you to know more and to lead better.
This post is also available in: Spanish