I’m always struck by the number of articles at the turn of each year making predictions for the coming 12 months.  This year I felt it was time to dig out a few from last December and call them to account to see what actually happened.

Online accounting software firm, Quickbooks, laid out their predictions of the business trends they expected to see in 2017.  They cited the unpredictable events of 2016 (Brexit and the election of Trump) and, neatly caveating their own predictions, asked whether 2017 would see more unpredictability.   

Their predictions quite rightly picked out inflationary increase, attributing this to the rise in import prices following the fall in Sterling resulting from the Brexit referendum result.     They also correctly predicted that GDPR would be a hot topic of discussion throughout the year.   If I can make an early prediction for 2018, both subjects will remain high on the agenda throughout.

We’d expect predictions from The Economist magazine and they didn’t disappoint.  Their predictions and the corresponding outcomes make for interesting reading.   Possibly also burned by the unpredictability of 2016, the article was entitled “What Not To Expect in 2017”.  It contains some prescient points.

Firstly, they predicted that worries over EU disintegration were unlikely to prove well-founded – particularly if (as happened) Le Pen was defeated in the French Presidential Election and Merkel was re-elected in Germany.   They predicted some financial market disruption – they were so near, but so far.  They referenced Cyber and they predicted a possible unexpected crash.  They didn’t name BitCoin and the bubble is still rising.

Lastly The Economist pointed to Trump’s foreign policy, expecting him to become aggressive with Iran and China.   The aggression was right but the geography awry with activity more focused on North Korea.  In fact Trump was uncharacteristically mild (bordering on obsequious) in his dealings with China, a far cry from his rhetoric during the election campaign 12 months earlier.

In the world of Procurement, Procurement Leaders magazine pointed at five trends that would shape 2017; Technology, Ethics, Talent, Transformation and Agile Procurement.   It’s my opinion that these will continue to be relevant for the foreseeable future – but I’d point to a quote from CIPS in another article, Procurement Looking Ahead to a Digital Future, in answer to the question “Can procurement be fully automated?”:

“Procurement cannot be managed within a silo,” says Andrew Coulcher of the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply. “There is a place where artificial intelligence and emotional intelligence meet. There will always be a role for human-to-human contact.”

I’d add to this and say that doing business in a more transparent society will require procurement organisations to look further than hard-won negotiations.  This means going beyond “corporate social responsibility” and participating in a re-evaluation of the corporate-social relationship.  In other words doing sustainable good business, for the buyer, for the end user and the supplier.

My prediction for the remainder of 2017 – rest and family time.   For 2018, I can’t wait to see what it brings!