We’re just one month into 2019 and it’s still anybody’s guess as to what might happen next. In business, we should expect more attention given to data, trust, and the experience economy. In society, we can look forward to less plastic, more streaming, and even bigger, brighter cities.
These are some of the predictions heard on Game-Changers Radio 2019 Predictions, Presented by SAP, during the final three installments of a six-part series, which aired live on January 9, 16, and 23, 2019 and featured predictions from more than 80 thought leaders. Host Bonnie D. Graham asked dozens of leading experts, academics, and business influencers to share their predictions for what the coming year holds for industry, business, technology, and the world.
A handful of the most fascinating predictions are captured here. These predictions are the experts’ personal points of view and do not necessarily represent the views of SAP.
What These Thought Leaders Foresee
1. Companies that use data for good and provide a rich experience – while treating data ethically – will win this year. People are becoming more attuned to protecting their data and they’re going to support businesses that abide by the rules. Trust, privacy, and transparency are extremely important for acquiring and retaining customers. Customers expect a positive experience or they will take their business elsewhere. So companies should to pay attention to data, or they run the financial risk of not abiding by the regulations, but also, and perhaps more importantly, customer attrition.
– Tina Rosario, head of Data Transparency, chief data officer, SAP EMEA
2. There are three macro-level forces that are going to set the stage for things to come. The first is convergence. In 2019 we’re going to see more and more convergence across science, technology, society, politics, the environment, economy, and ethics. This will be a year that launches us into a period of significant change. The second one is increased acceleration, as things occur like increasing virtual cycles and building blocks, like artificial intelligence (AI), mature. The third is techno-philanthropists: wealthy individuals who are starting to spend their wealth on energy and renewables.
– Frank Diana, principal, Future of Business, TCS
3. The next step in the evolution of storytelling is streaming. Theaters are always going to draw crowds for big budget special effects films, but smaller films that are either dramas, comedy pieces, or international films will get bigger audiences through streaming. There is a good example with a film called Bird Box, which was consumed by 45 million Netflix accounts within the first seven days. The way that film awards are handed out will need to be reclassified and redefined in terms of what becomes eligible for awards and how filmmakers market the distribution of their films.
– Casey Ryan, partner service advisor, Partner Service Delivery, SAP
4. Twenty years ago, pundits predicted the demise of big cities as tech allowed people to live and work anywhere. What happened is exactly the opposite. As the gig economy took off, those home workers began to congregate together and find a common culture in cities. Now in 2019, Amazon and Google are following those young people with moves to New York City and Washington, D.C. This trend is accelerating the biggest demographic shift in history, with tremendous disruption to cities and rural areas. In 2019, tech will also make cities more livable and rational with startups like Sidewalk Labs focused on making cities run better and faster.
– Jesse Samberg, shared services fellow, IBM Center for the Business of Government
5. There will be three game-changing aspects: innovation, data, and experience. Innovation refers to how companies improve their products and bring technology into the componentry to serve and change their business models. Data refers to how we deal with quantity in the data economy. Providing an exceptional experience means that everyone who services any demographic or community is going to have to put that experience front and center. We must think about what that experience creates and how we drive our businesses and organizations around it.
– Shannon Platz, global vice president, Platform Solutions Ecosystem GTM and Readiness, SAP
6. This will be the year we hit a tipping point where purpose orientation for social and environmental programs – commonly called sustainability programs – moves from being a reputational aspect for corporations to being of critical importance. We’re starting to see more customers ask and care about sustainability. More investors are looking to see how companies are performing in these areas and looking for programmatic strength. Also, as companies recognize that to make an impact on global challenges, they must move beyond their own organizations, we’re going to see catalytic collaboration, which is how these global leaders partner together, listen to a variety of voices, and then innovate to make even further changes.
– Dr. John Frey, strategist, HPE
7. We’re going to see a combination of content, Big Data, and innovative technologies, like machine learning and predictive analytics. It’s been said that “content is king”. This is no more than true now with the capabilities machine learning and predictive analytics, and our abilities to store and comprehend large amounts of data. In 2019, we’ll see a network of content that is enabled by technology to allow us to start to bring together commerce and regulation around the world.
– Chris Carlstead, lead, Partnerships and Alliances, Thomson Reuters
8. The European Union has put out a directive that single-use plastics will be banned by 2025. Many corporations are also putting out commitments around avoidance of single-use plastics. My prediction is that more of these scattered initiatives will consolidate during 2019. They will focus not on cleaning up, but on solving problems in the beginning by looking at substitutes for plastics and oils, sustainable design, sustainable supply chains, and integrating the waste toward secondary feedstock. The regulations about plastics will tighten. Consumers will increasingly change their behavior toward avoidance. That will drive more corporations toward circularity, as they see the potential reputational risk and the opportunity to control supply cost and create brand differentiation.
– Will Ritzrau, director of Sustainability, SAP
9. By 2025, up to 50 percent of data science activities will be automated by AI and machine learning techniques, easing the acute talent shortage. Up to 40 percent of development teams will be using augmented machine learning techniques to build models and incorporate AI capabilities into their applications. As AI and machine learning become more pervasive and we auto-generate some of these models, the potential for catastrophic events increases, which will lead to an intense focus on AI governance.
– Rita Sallam, VP analyst and Gartner fellow, Gartner
10. In 2019, we’ll see the rise of the experience economy and the relevance of trust. Companies will begin to invest in technology so that they can pursue new value creation along two strategic dimensions. The first is how to create and infuse processes with intelligence so that they can better engage with their customers and earn their trust by delivering value on the customer’s terms. The second is how to design and scale the delivery of new levels of convenience and consumer experience.
– Lori Mitchell-Keller, co-president, SAP Industries
11. This year will be the start of the golden age for human intelligence. Over the years, it’s been perfectly clear what business people want: easy, intuitive access to all the data they need to run the business. The technology however just hasn’t been there. We’ve now reached a tipping point and the technology has finally caught up with our aspirations. These technologies are transforming every aspect of the business. Just as the Mechanical Era allowed a single farmer to plow hundreds of acres using a single tractor, we’re now poised to see the same thing, but with algorithms augmenting human intelligence.
– Timo Elliott, innovation evangelist, SAP
12. This will be the year of the democratization of AI. AI will be present in many devices, applications, and services. We will find more ways to automate and streamline what we do. To do that in the right way, we need to overcome some hurdles. Foremost is the lack of appropriate data and the talent shortage. There are three technology observations to consider, because we are not talking about one large-scale AI, but hundreds. First, a lot of data scientists will come from the consumer world, not only the expert realm. Second, there are a lot of development projects that already include AI. Third, we already see autonomous solutions, like autonomous cars. From a software perspective, we’ll start to see autonomous solutions too in the near future.
– Sven Denecken, senior vice president, SAP S/4HANA Cloud Product Management and Co-Innovation, SAP
SAP Game-Changers Radio 2019 Predictions Special
For insightful predictions that can impact you and your business in 2019 and beyond, listen to recordings of all six episodes of the SAP’s Game-Changers Radio 2019 Predictions Special: Part 1 |Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6.
Coffee Break with Game-Changers airs live on Wednesdays at 11:00 a.m. ET/ 8:00 a.m. PT at spr.ly/SAPRadio or here.
Experts’ predictions have been edited and condensed for this space.