Global Business Policy Council: Five predictions for 2019
Chicago-based global management consulting firm AT Kearney has released its annual Year-Ahead Predictions report, through its strategic service subdivision, the Global Business Policy Council (GBPC). Business Chief takes a look at five of the GBPC’s predictions for 2019, a year in which “companies must prepare for significant global events that will occur and trends that will gain momentum”.
5. A new wave of innovation in anti-anxiety treatments
Over 300mn people are currently reported as suffering from clinical depression or anxiety. With nearly 5% of the global population afflicted, the GBPC estimates the ‘anxiety epidemic’ is costing the global economy US$1trn each year.
According to the report, “consumers are finding comfort in not only medications, but also a variety of products designed to alleviate their stress and anxiety such as adult coloring books, essential oils, meditation apps, weighted blankets, fidget spinners, and the non-psychoactive cannabis compound cannabidiol (CBD).”
The global need will, the report predicts, create a new wave in consumer treatments to meet elevated demand. “A vast gamut of products will be offered, ranging from affordable items such as new supplements and oils to costlier technology gadgets such as headgear and electrotherapies.”
4. Rising recognition of the global trash crisis will lead to new innovation
Global waste is expected to increase by 70% by 2050, according to the World Bank, driven particularly by the rise of e-commerce and the subsequent increase in cardboard and plastic packaging.
The GBPC report predicts that “in 2019, innovation in waste management processes will accelerate. Government initiatives such as the Clean India Mission and Beautify Malawi will continue to improve trash collection and disposal in emerging markets.”
Startups will also be at the forefront of the refuse management innovation wave. Companies like Scrapo, which facilitates cooperation between users wishing to dispose of recyclable goods and those users who need it; reusable container manufacturer, TerraCycle; and Evocative, which makes faux-leather goods from food waste.
3. Africa becomes increasingly integrated
March 2018 saw the signing of the African Continental Free Trade Area agreement by 44 countries. The number has since grown to 49 and the agreement has the potential to boost trade in the region by up to 52% by 2022, according to the GBPC report. Also, Nigeria is predicted to sign the agreement in 2019.
According to the report, “Intra-African economic integration will begin to drive a virtuous circle, as greater economic activity fuels expanded airline routes within the continent and additional railway investments. Furthermore, digital connectivity will strengthen.”
2. Wearable robotics will breakthrough to common use
Over the coming year, the report claims, exoskeletons will become popular across a range of industries. Previously, exoskeletons have seen successful applications by companies like Seismic, which incorporates subtle exoskeletal robotics into core-supporting underwear; Ford Motors, which deployed exoskeletons in 15 manufacturing plants to increase worker safety and endurance; and Lockheed Martin, the defence contractor, which has developed military exoskeletons to improve troop carrying capacity.
2019 will see other manufacturers adopt the Ford model of integrating exoskeletons into their production processes. According to the report, “new technologies such as artificial intelligence will also help address previously difficult design challenges such as functionality, weight, and mobility. Interest from both entrepreneurs and venture capitalists seeking to profit from this budding trend will prove to be an important catalyst in the technology’s growth as more start-ups are created and investments pour in.”
1. Bitcoin and the cryptocurrency market at large will mature
Bitcoin, the world’s most traded cryptocurrency, turned 10 in October, 2018. After the currency’s 1,375% price spike in 2017, it fell in price again by over 90% in 2018, due to security breaches and hacks, spiking fees, and the popping of a highly speculative bubble.
2019, according to the report, will see Bitcoin enter a state of post-crash maturation, reclaiming two-thirds of its value by the end of the year “as altcoins lose their luster because of growing risk aversion among cryptocurrency investors.”
“Ironically, for cryptocurrencies to see a third decade, the only viable path forward involves this acceptance by the international financial system that Bitcoin once sought to defeat”, predicts the GBPC report.
Marketing matters: from IBM to Kyndryl
Prior to joining Kyndryl as Chief Marketing Officer, Maria had a 25-year career at IBM, most recently as the tech giant’s CMO where she oversaw all marketing professionals and activities across North America, Canada and Latin America. She has held senior global marketing positions in a variety of disciplines and business units across IBM, most notably strategic initiatives in Smarter Cities and Watson Customer Engagement, as well as leading teams in services, business analytics, and mobile and industry solutions. She is known for her work with teams to leverage data, analytics and cloud technologies to build deeper engagements with customers and partners.
With a passion for marketing, business and people, and a recognized expert in data-driven marketing and brand engagement, Maria talks to Business Chief about her new role, her leadership style and what success means to her.
You've recently moved from IBM to Kyndryl, joining as CMO. Tell us about this exciting new role?
I’m Chief Marketing Officer for Kyndryl, the independent company that will be created following the separation from IBM of its Managed Infrastructure Services business, expected to occur by the end of 2021. My role is to plan, develop, and execute Kyndryl's marketing and advertising initiatives. This includes building a company culture and brand identity on which we base our marketing and advertising strategy.
We have an amazing opportunity ahead at Kyndryl to create a company brand that will stand apart in the market by leading with our people first. Once we are an independent company, each Kyndryl employee will advance the vital systems that power human progress. Our people are devoted, restless, empathetic, and anticipatory – key qualities needed as we build on existing customer relationships and cultivate new ones. Our people are at the heart of this business and I am deeply hopeful and excited for our future.
What experiences have helped prepare you for this new opportunity?
I’ve had a very rich and diverse career history at IBM that has lasted 25+ years. I started out in sales but landed explored opportunities at IBM in different roles, business units, geographies, and functions. Marketing and business are my passions and I landed on Marketing because it allowed me to utilize both my left and right brain, bringing together art and science. In college, I was no tonly a business major, but an art major. I love marketing because I can leverage my extensive knowledge of business, while also being able to think openly and creatively.
The opportunities I was given during my time at IBM and my natural curiosity have led me to the path I’m on now and there’s no better next career step than a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity to help launch a company. The core of my role at Kyndryl is to create a culture centered on our people and growing up in my career at IBM has allowed me to see first-hand how to prioritize people and ensure they are at the heart of progress in everything Kyndryl will do.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I believe that people aren't your greatest assets, they are your only assets. My platform and background for leadership has always been grounded in authenticity to who I am and centered on diversity and inclusion. I immigrated to the US from Chile when I was 10 years old and so I know the power and beauty that comes from leaning into what makes you different from other people, and that's what I want every person in my marketing organization to feel – the value in bringing their most authentic self to work every day. The way our employees feel when they show up for themselves authentically is how they will also show up for our customers, and strong relationships drive growth.
I think this is especially true in light of a world forever changed by the pandemic. Living through such an unprecedented time has reinforced that we are all humans. We can't lead or care for one another without empathy and I think leaders everywhere have been reminded of this.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
When I was growing up as an immigrant in North Carolina, I often wanted to be just like everyone else. But my mother always told me: Be unique, be memorable – you have an authentic view and experience of the world that no one else will ever have, so don't try to be anyone else but you.
What does success look like to you?
I think the concept of success is multi-faceted. From a career perspective, being in a job where you're respected and appreciated, and where you can see how your contributions are providing value by motivating your teams to be better – that's success! From a personal perspective, there is no greater accomplishment than investing in the next generation. I love mentoring younger professionals – they are the future. I want my legacy as a leader to include providing value in work culture, but also in leaving a personal impact on the lives of professionals who will carry the workforce forward. Finding a position in life with a job and company that offers me a chance at all of that is what success looks like to me.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
I've always been a naturally curious person and it's easy for me to over-commit to projects that pique my interest. I've learned over years of practice how to manage that, so to my younger self I’d say… prioritize the things that are most important, and then become amazing at those things.