TWENTY FOR ‘20
CEO India|February 2020
WILL THE NEW DECADE BE AS TRANSFORMATIVE AS THE LAST? EY EXAMINES THE QUESTIONS THAT WILL SHAPE THE NEXT DECADE

As the physicist Nils Bohr once said: “Prediction is very difficult, especially if it’s about the future.” Many of the revolutionary changes of this past decade were relatively easy to predict. We expected the proliferation of digital technology and new media in every part of our lives, from smart TVs to wearables. And the climate crisis was looming well before the dawn of 2010 with many already highlighting the increasing urgency of the climate crisis. Other changes were less obvious, like the emergence of the gig and sharing economies, and the return of geopolitical and economic uncertainty.

As we move into a new decade, some of these transformations will continue. Populations will keep growing, particularly in developing economies. Climate-related risks will intensify. Politics will likely continue to be unpredictable. And whole new technologies, from 5G to biotech to quantum computing as well as others not yet invented, will transform the world.

In this new decade, we’ll discover ways to promote human health, communicate and share with each other, and protect the planet. There will be new art forms, and new ways of living. Business models, companies, and jobs will emerge, and quickly feel as though they’ve been with us forever. Some of these changes we can anticipate; others will take us by surprise.

Here, we take a look at 20 topics, trends and insights we’ve examined over the past 12 months to frame the critical questions the working world will need to address in the next 120.

GROWTH: HOW CAN WE CREATE LONG-TERM VALUE?

The world keeps growing, and businesses need to prepare for whatever form that takes.

1. Will the CEO become society’s chief problem-solver?

The world is changing. What’s not is CEOs’ obligation to make decisions that deliver long-term value. An EY study examines what concerns top leaders and decision-makers, and how they are preparing for the next decade. The importance of risk-taking remains a key theme — 57 per cent of CEOs believe there are more opportunities than risks in actively confronting major global challenges like gender inequality and climate change.

2. What’s the right way to use data to turbocharge growth?

Growth comes from making better decisions. And from strategy to planning to execution, data is crucial. In fact, 41 per cent of CFOs believe insufficient data is a primary barrier to the optimal allocation of capital. What matters is making sure that the talent, technologies and processes are in place to allow for effective interpretation.

3. How can business innovate as the pace of change accelerates?

It’s important to realise, when thinking about growth, that change isn’t just getting faster — it’s getting stranger. With modern technology, the rate of change becomes exponential. That is, the speed at which change is happening is itself accelerating. Technology isn’t progressing — it’s exploding. We can no longer afford linear strategies, such as adopting new products and models and reacting to the market as change happens. Exponential change demands whole new models of innovation, to ensure bottom lines keep pace with the rate of transformation.

4. How can we feed an extra two billion people?

Population growth will be a hugely consequential trend in coming years — the UN predicts the planet will have nearly 10 billion people by 2050, up from 8 billion today. Just how will we feed an extra two billion people in the face of increasing climate precarity and diminishing arable land? The $5 trillion global food industry will change radically over the next decade to accommodate growing and shifting demand. Understanding the nature of this change means being ready to capture this market as it transforms.

5. Can we grow wealth without growing inequality?

Growth is good. Growth is what allows us to build our houses, feed our families, heal our sick, and fund innovation. But when inequality between the richest and the poorest grows, it can breed resentment, animosity, and political instability. Moving to more inclusive and equitable growth may help address these anxieties. Future models of growth, business, and taxation must consider climate sustainability, as well as equitable, inclusive distribution of the wealth and benefits generated by businesses.

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