Reflecting on My Predictions

Reflecting on My Predictions

It’s that time of year again when we break for the festive period and people take stock and consider where they are going.

Last year I picked out 5 themes that I thought would shape the next 3-5 years, and in the spirit of the season (and of a degree of accountability) I’m revisiting them to check on progress.


At the end of 2018 I emphasised the myriad considerations globalisation creates for all businesses and that the shape of trade arrangements will bear watching.  This will undoubtedly continue looking forward.

As 2019 reaches its close, analysts and commentators alike are warning that uncertainty surrounding the trade relationship between China and the US is dampening global growth.  

At home it looks like Brexit is going to ‘get done’ – but the reality of what ‘done’ will look like is anything but clear.  

Social Transparency

As Greta Thunberg appears on the cover of Time Magazine as ‘Person of the Year’ and the US President suggests that she “work on her anger management issues” it’s clear that the clash of the generations I highlighted is not going away.

I also highlighted consumer activism – since September major cities worldwide have seen regular disruption from Extinction Rebellion.   The impact on public opinion that the climate change action group’s activities have had has led to them reviewing their own strategy.

Negative reactions – most notably commuters in Canning Town dragging a protestor from the roof of a tube train due to him preventing them getting to work – have introduced more considerate activities.   I recently witnessed a very eloquent teenage speaker, at a climate change demonstration in Manchester, interrupting her speech to ask her audience to move away from the tram tracks to avoid delaying passengers.

Risk Management and Innovation

Uncertainty can create inertia, but it is also a stimulus for invention.  I highlighted the role that procurement will have to play in better understanding the roles of suppliers and in identifying new product development and evolution.

We seem to have been talking about Artificial Intelligence (AI) for a long time and it can feel like something of a buzzword.  IBM’s Ginni Rometti possibly had a better description when she referred to AI as “Augmented Intelligence”, suggesting that cognitive (i.e. human) plus artificial will always beat artificial on its own.  She also highlighted the need for greater transparency about its use.   

I can certainly see more applications for ‘augmentation’ coming thick and fast both in analysing performance / identifying opportunities and in creating new products and services.


We cannot duck our responsibilities in this area, but I do fear that a degree of ‘fatigue’ could be setting in.   Governments and businesses alike are aware of a need to take action but for individual managers it can be overwhelming – meaning a return to a ‘do nothing’ default position.

I’d love to see the rise in activism take hold within businesses and industry sectors – but I must say this feels some way off.   The issue is not going away but we have some distance to travel to make progress.