The world is never static. Change is constant. It’s astonishing how much everyday life has changed over the last 30 years. The business and technology environment has transformed spectacularly.
This is only set to continue through 2019 and beyond.
A combination of intense business competition, evolving customer demands, new technologies, and the dynamics of the regulatory environment will introduce new issues that corporate leaders must grapple with if they want their organizations to thrive.
Whether you are planning to start a business this year or at the helm of an established corporation, here’s a look at some of the main challenges that will dominate boardroom conversations in 2019.
Donald Trump rode on a protectionist platform to claim an unexpected victory in the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election. True to his campaign promise, Trump has embarked on aggressive review and renegotiation of America’s trade agreements with other countries. That has placed the U.S. at loggerheads with its key trade partners such as China, Canada, Mexico, South Korea, and the European Union.
This, together with the UK’s decision to pull out of the EU, are sending shockwaves in markets across the world that will continue to affect how businesses transact across borders. The U.S., for instance, engaged in a tit-for-tat confrontation with China with each side imposing tariffs on multiple products imported from the other. In 2019, businesses have to develop mitigating safeguards that cushion them from the impact of global trade wars.
Data Protection in the GDPR Era
The volume of electronic data generated each year has been growing exponentially. And with Internet access fast approaching ubiquity worldwide, there’s a greater need to protect sensitive data than there’s ever been before. While business and technology leaders have for years now understood the value of data protection, the coming into effect of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) in 2018 has provided new impetus and urgency to the quest to keep user and customer data safe.
The GDPR may be an EU law but given the size and reach of the EU in the global economy, it’s quickly becoming a de facto global standard. Businesses that are not based in the EU but seek to transact with EU citizens must comply with this new law. To mitigate against the risk of non-compliance, many companies are making the GDPR the basis of their enterprise-wide data protection policy. That means, for instance, using tools such as Loggly to make sure system logs across systems and devices are centrally monitored and analyzed.
Digital Native Generation and Workforce
The digital native generation is quickly becoming the dominant demographic among both customers and the workforce. As people who have grown up with technology touching every facet of their lives, this generation is exerting new demands on businesses and tech firms.
At the workplace, they want to use technology they are familiar with. So whereas they are comfortable with traditional laptops and desktop computers, they’ll want to use smartphones and tablets for work as well since that’s what they are most accustomed to.
On the customer end, no longer are emails and phone calls considered the primary channels of communication. Customers now expect to reach a business through social networking platforms like Facebook and Twitter as well as messaging services such as WhatsApp and Messenger. They also expect to interact with bots that negate their need to speak to an actual person.
Gig Economy Goes Mainstream
The idea of what is perceived as ‘normal’ work is changing. Traditionally, when someone graduates from college, they’ll start sending their resume to all the places they’ll wish to secure long-term employment. While that’s still the view of the majority of the world’s adults, there’s a fast-growing segment of the population that values the flexibility of gig work over the rigidity of long-term employment.
People are taking the quest for work-life balance to a whole new level by wanting a looser relationship with their employer. This can be a positive for businesses as they are under no obligation to provide additional benefits to the contractor such as health insurance and 401k matching. They can also more easily drop a freelancer they are working with and find a more competent one without going through the complex process of employment termination.
Growing Role of Robotics
Robots have been in use for decades and have had an especially prominent role in automotive manufacturing. But thanks to the growing sophistication of artificial intelligence and machine learning programming, robots are bound to have an even bigger role in the workplace throughout 2019 and beyond.
This automation of business processes means that a significant number of jobs will be considered redundant. Yet, robots will also create new careers in AI programming, maintenance, and support. Workers will have to learn new skills if they want to remain employable in a world where they’ll work side by side with robots.
Businesses that prepare for looming change will have an edge over the competition. It all begins with recognizing and understanding what these impending trends are.