50 Big Ideas for 2019: What to watch in the year ahead

Article by: Isabelle Roughol.

See original posting here. 

“If 2017 left you breathless and exhausted, then brace yourself,” we wrote last year. Sorry to say, things haven’t slowed down. The business leaders, authors, journalists and academics who gave us their 2019 predictions foresee a shaky economy, a troubled world order and continued anxiety — but also a renewed focus on caring for ourselves, for each other and for doing the right thing. Here’s our annual look at the year ahead. We also want to hear from you: Weigh in with #BigIdeas2019.

1. Move over, Millennials; it’s Gen Z’s time.

In 2019, Generation Z will outnumber Millennials, that generation you’ve loved to hate for the past decade. “Generation Z is now heading into the workforce in meaningful numbers and for the first time in modern history five generations will be working side-by-side,” says Michael Dell, CEO and chairman of Dell Technologies. Gen Z — which Pew Research Center defines as those born from 1997 onward — will be about one-third of the global population and one-fifth of its workers. What is this new generation’s work ethic? “My experience is that they lean in and lean hard,” says best-selling author Brené Brown. About half of her staff is Gen Z. “They are all very different people, but as a group I experience them as curious, hopeful, always learning, painfully attuned to the suffering in the world, and anxious to do something about it.”

2. The economy will slow down…

Economists are split on when exactly, but they know one thing for sure: a downturn is coming. “There is a confluence of deep-seated, structural headwinds that threaten to upend the global economy,” warns economist Dambisa Moyo, among them growing inequality, a workforce ill-adapted to rapid technological change, political instability and a massive debt burden on governments, corporations and individuals. “The U.S. has historically been the leader, and the U.S. is probably going to slow down this year,” adds CBS News business analystJill Schlesinger. China is already cooling. “World growth is much more likely to slow down in 2019, and it really looks like 2020 could be the year of a global recession,” she predicts.

3. … and companies will prepare with pre-emptive layoffs.

Executives know the good times won’t last and many will reduce their workforce pre-emptively to preserve profits through a coming recession, warns Danielle DiMartino Booth, author of “Fed Up.” General Motors announced 14,000 strategic layoffs in November, after 2,250 had already taken buyouts. Meanwhile, Verizon will let go of 10,400 employees via voluntary severance, the company announced Monday. These won’t be the last. “I guarantee you right now, consultants across the country are convening and discussing with executive teams at many companies what they also can do to get in front of the next recession,” Booth says. “Companies are taking unusual steps because they know how very long in the tooth this expansion is and they know what’s to come.”

4. We are finally going to spend more time online than watching TV.

The lines will cross some time in 2019: Around the world, people will start spending more hours a day on the Internet than watching television. The glass-half-empty way to look at it is people are turning away from legacy media, says Viacom President and CEO Bob Bakish. The glass-half-full vision: “There is more content being consumed today than ever before in history,” he adds. For Viacom, that has meant expanding its intellectual property across many platforms or creating shows for third-party streaming sites. “We do work with folks that maybe didn’t exist 10 years ago, and started getting into the media business five years ago,” he says. “It’s a year of a mixed economy and a mixed ecosystem. And that’s the world of the future.”

5. Brexit will continue to consume the European political scene.

Prime Minister Theresa May is now touring European capitals to attempt to renegotiate her Brexit deal with the EU after she canceled a parliamentary vote, which should have taken place today. Brexit should have been the most predictable geopolitical event of 2019 – we’ve known for two years the clock runs out at the end of March. Instead, it continues to defy predictions. Negotiations will be uncertain to the very last minute, Ian Bremmer, president of Eurasia Group, warns. “May now needs to be thinking about plan B, since she’s lost so many [members of parliament],” he says. A revamped “Norway plus” deal is becoming the most likely outcome, but the tail risks of a no deal Brexit or a second referendum are also increasing, he adds. “It is really, really hard to come to terms to negotiate something this complicated with one of the most challenging supranational institutions in the world, the EU, and one of the most dysfunctional developed governments in the world today, the U.K.” Writing any more about Brexit at this point would just be handing the stick you’ll beat me with in a day or two. 

6. Inclusive design will go mainstream.

A growing awareness among professionals and advances in artificial intelligence are transforming inclusive design, says Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft (LinkedIn’s parent company). “We used to call it assistive technologies and it used to be a checklist of things you did after the product was built,” he says. Now it’s “about taking this way upstream into the design process. What if we said upfront we want a design for people of different abilities to fully participate?” He points to the new Xbox adaptive controller, where even the packaging was designed to be accessible, or new AI that helps people with dyslexia read and comprehend written text.

7. AI will be in every industry and every job.

We asked 200 LinkedIn Top Voices about their Big Idea for 2019; one in four mentioned some application of AI, from parsing evidence in medical research to… helping surfers spot the best wave. Six of the 15 hot emerging jobs of the past year — which LinkedIn will unveil on Thursday — relate to AI, while AI skills are the fastest-growing on our platform, up 190% globally from 2015 to 2017. “While 2018 was the year of AI hype, it feels like we’re at an inflection point where these technologies are being incorporated into more of the tools we use everyday,” says Sharon O’Dea, co-founder of communications consultancy Lithos Partners. “It’s when technology trends start to become invisible that they really make a major impact.”

8. The next social movement? Occupy Silicon Valley.

“The ire progressives once felt toward the 1% on Wall Street is turning on Silicon Valley,” says Redfin CEO Glenn Kelman. “Where tech leaders were once hailed as the visionaries of a brave new world, viewed as a breed apart from financiers and other plutocrats, we’re now finding ourselves mired in debates over taxes, housing and affordability.” Not everyone will camp outside headquarters in Mountain View or Menlo Park, but users will vote with their feet, deleting accounts and refusing to play their part in those companies’ business models, warns customer experience expert Don Peppers. “More people than ever will install and use ad blockers, decline surveys and opt out of cookies as 2019 develops into a banner year for privacy protection apps, data blockers and other security services,” says Peppers.

9. Governments will seize the opportunity to regulate Big Tech.

Local and national authorities are surfing on that wave to impose new taxes and regulations on the industry; Kelman points to Seattle’s head tax and San Francisco’s Proposition C, inspiring other cities across the U.S. The British government plans to introduce a “digital tax” of 2% on tech companies’ British revenue, fighting back against U.S. tech giants that evade taxes by domiciling their profits in Ireland or the Netherlands. The European Union’s attempt at a similar tax just petered out, but India, South Korea, Mexico, Chile and others are all working on the same idea, putting pressure on the OECD to advance on its own promise of global taxation reform. European governments are also likely to turn to antitrust, predicts Emily Taylor, CEO of Oxford Information Labs. “We will rediscover competition law and regulation as a way of combating over-concentration of power and distortions in the market,” she says. It’s something the U.S. has shied away from, not wanting to stifle its own innovative companies, but Europe has fewer giants and freer hands. Smarter companies will help shape regulation rather than obstinately oppose it, says Booking.com CEO Gillian Tans. “This collaboration will be the deciding factor of which sharing economy companies will see success in the future,” she says. “Regulation will be something to lean into – not fear.”

10. Automation will disproportionately impact women’s jobs.

By Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund

“New technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning are changing the way work gets done all over the world. The automation trend is especially challenging for women because they tend to be employed in more routine tasks than men across all sectors and occupations, making them more prone to automation. New IMF research estimates that 26 million women’s jobs in 30 countries are at high risk of being displaced by technology in the next 20 years. This means 180 million women’s jobs globally!

We don’t have much time to act, so 2019 is the year to make important inroads in tackling this challenge. How? We must help women get the skills they need to succeed. Education and training will be key — including greater emphasis on lifelong learning and STEM. Think, in particular, of coding programs like Girls Who Code in the U.S. or developing tax deductions for training as they do in the Netherlands. We also need to close gender gaps in leadership positions across all sectors, while doing more to help men and women combine work and family life. Finally, we need to do a better job at bridging the digital divide and ensure women have equal access to finance, bank accounts and connectivity. 2019 is the year we should take a leap forward in leveling the playing field between men and women.”

11. Health care providers will cover your groceries.

A lot more than what happens in a doctor’s office affects health outcomes. “If you’re sitting at home with no job, it’s going to impact your health, whether that’s the mental stress, whether that starts to create high blood pressure, early signs of hypertension,” explains Kaiser Permanente chairman and CEO Bernard Tyson. Same if you can’t afford balanced meals or if violence in your community stops you going out and exercising. That’s pushing health care companies to step out of their lane and start new programs. Geisinger, a health care system covering the poorest counties in Pennsylvania, started a “fresh food pharmacy”, providing patients with groceries, nutrition information and cooking classes, says its president and CEO, Dr. Jaewon Ryu. “Whether commercial insurers start paying for those programs or not, I think it depends on how innovative and receptive they are to the growing body of evidence,” he adds.

12. #MeToo will enter Phase Two…

More than a year after #MeToo exploded onto the public scene, and 13 years after Tarana Burke first launched the movement, the stream of executives undone by their own bad behavior flows unabated. After sweeping the media and entertainment industries, it will spread to mid-level leaders and less visible industries, predicts Ross Martin, CEO of marketing firm Blackbird. “You won’t know all of their names, but you’ll certainly know the brands that they lead or work for,” Martin says. Deloitte just admitted to firing 20 UK partners, and KPMG seven, in the last four years over sexual harassment complaints.

13. …but some disgraced executives will make a comeback.

The spin doctors have learned to plan for it and manage what Martin calls “the sorry cycle.” “We’re compressing the time and space between success, failure and then redemption,” he explains. “Apology content has become a major component of any marketing strategy.” It’s ok to find that cynical; he does too.

14. The battle against extreme poverty will heat up.

Over the last 25 years, more than a billion people have lifted themselves out of extreme poverty, and the global poverty rate is at its lowest level in recorded history. However, that trend may not continue into 2019 due to increasing poverty concentrations in areas like Sub-Saharan Africa, says Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “We can’t always change the circumstances a child is born into, but we can invest in that child’s potential to thrive in spite of them by investing in their health and education,” says Gates. “Economists call health and education ‘human capital,’ because they’re proven to be the twin engines of economic growth.” Especially important, she argues, is investing in the health and education of women and girls. “Healthy, economically-empowered women are some of development’s best allies,” says Gates. “If the number of people trapped in poverty continues to decline, these women will be a big reason why.”

15. A U.S.-China cold war will first be fought on the technology front.

Despite current tensions, the U.S. and Chinese economy are too interlinked for a trade war to truly escalate in the short term, says Eurasia Group President Ian Bremmer. A cold war is more likely in five or 10 years, he adds, when an economic downturn and sustained animosity have undone those ties. But for 2019, the fight is on the technology front: “There you do have a cold war. There you have the Chinese with their AI model, the Americans with our AI model. The Chinese with their internet, the Americans with our internet,” he says. He echoes former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, who warned in September that our online world risked a “bifurcation” into Chinese-led and U.S.-led internets. “They’re not playing nice at all,” Bremmer adds. “I do think that longer term we’re heading for big trouble between the Americans and the Chinese.”

16. What will matter at work is your humanity.

When robots take all our jobs, what do humans have left? Precisely that — our humanity. Creativity and so-called soft skills are becoming all the more important to your career because that’s what can’t be automated. In fact, LinkedIn data shows the fastest-growing skills gaps — the difference between what employers seek and what workers bring to the table — are related to soft skills: oral communication tops the list, followed by people management, time management or leadership. Employers who want to make the most of their human employees make sure to look after them as whole people, not just task performers, says Susan Cain, author of “Quiet” and CEO of Quiet Revolution. “I’m increasingly seeing employers having a goal of facilitating the entire life of an employee,” Cain says. “I don’t mean it in a Big Brother type of way, but being an aid in the entire life of an employee as opposed to just the part that shows up to make wages.”

17. The combustion engine will get smarter before it goes away.

Going green doesn’t have to be reserved for the wealthy who can afford to switch to an electric car, says Bertrand Piccard, chairman and pilot of Solar Impulse, who flew a solar plane around the planet. For middle class people struggling to fill up the tank — we were speaking at the start of the Yellow Vest protests in France — there are solutions. He points to an anti-smog device installed on the engine for a few hundred bucks that reduces fuel consumption by 20% and particles by 80%. Built-in AI in your car can help you drive greener and cut another 20% off the bill. “Today, half the energy we use is wasted because we have inefficient systems,” Piccard says. “There will be more carbon taxes because we can’t afford to keep wasting fossil fuels. But we can put systems in place to be less wasteful, to consume less, and in the end we’ll save money.”

18. Uber and Lyft will lead a wave of IPOs.

Ride-hailing companies Lyft and Uber just filed papers on the same day to go public in early 2019. This could be a banner year for tech IPOs, with total proceeds forecast north of $100 billion. “According to the Chinese calendar, 2019 rings in the Year of the Pig…and boy is that apt for the IPO market!” says CBS News’s Jill Schlesinger. “Uber, Lyft, Palantir, Slack, Airbnb all could take the plunge in 2019. With the tech sector taking a bit of a hit recently, the C-suite execs and their bankers are trying to carefully weigh the old Wall Street mantra: ‘Bulls and bears make money; pigs get slaughtered!’” Despite a shaky market, they may still pull the trigger this year to avoid running into a downturn and an election cycle in 2020.

19. Companies will speed up diversifying their workforce — or will be made to.

Nearly five years after they started publishing diversity reports, few companies have actually made material progress in hiring and retaining a more diverse workforce. That’s because besides being more open about their shortcomings, they’ve mostly kept recruiting the same old way, says Jopwell CEO Porter Braswell. Now’s the time employers humble themselves and ask for help, he says: “They’ll be recruiting with a different mindset, not looking to check every item off a list.” That’s driven by two factors: short term, the labor market is tight and talent at a premium. Long term, “by 2040, the majority of people in the U.S. will be people of color,” Braswell reminds us. Companies that don’t change will become irrelevant to workers and customers. And they may not even have the option: in the U.K., after the success of mandatory gender pay gap disclosures that started in 2018, the government is considering forcing companies to reveal their ethnic pay gap as well — and their action plan to close it.

20. A “me first” world will be harder to steer.

Some of the institutions that since WWII have held the world together — the UN, NATO, G20 and more — are weakening, notes Stan McChrystal, CEO of the McChrystal Group and former commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan. What comes after is uncertain, he warns, because when you pull the key stone from the arch, things may fall apart that you did not expect. “Our challenge is we’re in a ‘me first’ world now, and I mean ‘me first’ by nations, but also ‘me first’ by leaders, ‘me first’ by companies,” he explains. Leaders need to make decisions from a broader perspective and consider interdependencies, McChrystal says. If you go into a negotiation expecting to win everything and leave the other side weakened, he warns, “in many cases, what’s happened is the very ecosystem we both depend upon is gone.”

21. The office will empty out.

By Glenn Kelman, CEO of Redfin

“With cities filling up and housing prices rising, employers will have to pay more for employees to afford an urban life. Some businesses will open an office in a smaller town; more will embrace employees’ working from home. The whole point of an office weakened years ago with the disastrous open floor-plan, a warren of people wearing headphones and messaging their brains out, together in name only. More recently, the movement to give working parents more flexibility has made managers hesitant to grade on attendance. And now, Slack, Github, Jira and other tools for virtual teams are being co-opted by workers of all stripes.

“A gradual process will, in 2019, reach a tipping point: The office will empty out. Working from home will change the most basic rhythm of industrial life. People will have more time to work, and also to play. What we’ll lose is the water cooler, which alongside the altar and the school entrance, was a place for us to connect with new people. Offices are also one of the last spots in an increasingly secular society for all of us to get a sense of community and purpose. I’ll be sorry to see them so diminished.”

22. You’ll have better access to your medical data.

Apple’s move to make medical records available on the iPhone is likely to be the first domino in a move to democratize access to, and control of, patients’ health data. People who live in countries where health care is decentralized know that if they change doctors, their medical records typically don’t follow them. And the entities that do have access to health care data, such as hospitals and insurance companies, typically don’t share it, more for competitive reasons than patient-centric ones. But a behemoth like Apple could change the stakes. “I’d like us to get to the point where data is not seen as intellectual property,” saidDr. Doug Fridsma, president and CEO of the American Medical Informatics Association. “If we don’t have the ability to share data, you’re going to stifle innovation.” It’s notable, he adds, that Apple — a company that does everything on its own terms, from operating systems to headphone jacks — is using the international FHIR standards for its Health app.

23. The high street will band together.

The story is repeating itself in every country: From the famed big box stores of America to the high street chains of the U.K., physical retailers buckle as they face deep-pocketed online disruptors. “Things have never been more competitive,” says entrepreneur Naomi Simson, CEO of the Big Red Group in Australia, where Amazon launched with fanfare just a year ago. But smaller players are starting to band together to stand up to the giants, she says. “It might be through buying groups, marketplaces, associations, movements such as ‘buy local’… There will also be M&A,” she predicts. “The difference now is mindset. Business owners used to think the shop next door was competition. Now they know that there is safety in numbers.”

24. Financial options will catch up to the modern worker.

“If we want to provide the opportunity for people in the future to live financially healthy lives, the industry will need to rethink financial services that were designed for individuals that work a single job for his or her lifetime,” says Dan Schulman, CEO of PayPal. “Emerging technologies as well as socio-demographic changes are going to cause a shift in financial service needs and demands.” We can already see this trickle starting in the industry. The new “UltraFICO” credit score will be rolling out early next year. “It will take into account your banking behavior: Are you able to pay all of your bills? Are you making sure that you don’t go negative in that account?” Jill Schlesinger of CBS News explains. By changing the way loan providers think about credit, it opens a door for a younger generation shying away from credit cards and debt.

25. CEOs will work hard to become more inclusive leaders — or leave.

The new generation of workers expects a different kind of leadership and has now reached the critical mass where their opinion is corporate law. “We were primarily led by ‘my way or the highway’ type leaders and that does not work with this environment,” says Carla Harris, vice chairman and managing director at Morgan Stanley. “I think you’re going to see more leaders looking for leadership development or leadership guidance on how to be more collaborative, how to spur innovation, how to teach people how to fail and how to innovate. I think you’re going to see far more money spent on speakers and resources around that.” Not immediately, but over time executives who don’t make that effort and pivot will be pushed out, she warns.

26. College admissions will get personal.

“The two numbers that have signaled whether a student can get into a top college — test scores and high school grades — are being called into question as more institutions go test optional and grade inflation is on the rise,” saysJeff Selingo, a higher education strategist. “The recent Harvard lawsuit points to the need for colleges to shape their classes amid an influx of applications, particularly ensuring racial and economic diversity.” So, what’s next? There’s no one simple solution, but colleges will start to shift toward weighing the “whole” applicant, looking at accomplishments beyond the classroom, says Selingo. Colleges are already sampling new approaches, like a form that allows students to submit videos and written work to flesh out their application or a new College Board tool that allows officials to better understand not just the high school the student attended but also their neighborhood based on census data.

27. Gig economy jobs will get less miserable.

Both because the hardships of gig work are increasingly making headlines and because the U.S. labor market is so competitive, companies are paying more attention to their treatment of on-demand workers. Retail legend Ron Johnson, formerly of Apple and JCPenney, refused to use 1099 contractors when he started his new company, Enjoy, a technology delivery and setup service. Instead, he made everyone an employee with benefits and stock options. “The number one issue in this full employment economy we’re in, is to create better jobs,” Johnson says. “You gotta make your employee your primary stakeholder. And if you treat them well, they’ll take care of your customer.” Similarly, Rent The Runway CEO Jennifer Hymandecided to align hourly workers’ benefits with those of salaried professionals. “We are starting to see that it’s changing retention, Hyman says. It’s certainly changing the day-to-day culture within the warehouse.”

28. For respite, we will turn to inspirational commerce.

In an anxious world, we’re going to need more than a juice cleanse to take care of our exhausted psyches, writes Gina Bianchini, CEO of Mighty Networks. Health and wellness influencers, exhausted themselves, are shifting their models to building supportive communities and connecting their fans to each other, rather than amassing a large number of one-way followers — communities they can monetize through memberships or events. Bianchini writes: “While the first generation of e-commerce was about selling physical products online, this coming wave of ‘inspirational commerce’ is about creating opportunities for people to buy experiences and connections to realize their full potential.”

29. Conscientious objectors rise up in the workforce.

In a tight labor market, professionals can afford to have principles. It’s starting with Google, always a bellwether of corporate culture, where in the past few months, employees have spoken up against the company launching a censored service in China, forced it to back out of a contract with the Pentagon and staged a walkout to protest sexual harassment in the workplace. “Employees at these companies are no longer going to stand for leadership doing things they just don’t believe in,” Ross Martin, Blackbird CEO, says. This instinct is particularly potent among Millennial and Gen Z workers, Redfin CEO Glenn Kelman notes. “This idealism has opened a generational rift between managers and our younger protégés, who can sometimes be strident,” he says. “But their passion is one of the main reasons I’m excited about the future: The people just entering the workforce now will become the conscience of the corporation.”

30. You’ll learn the term “fallen angels.”

The new subprime crisis will come from America’s corporate debt, especially in BBB-rated companies, warns Danielle DiMartino Booth, author of “Fed Up.” Those companies’ combined debt is now north of $3 trillion, just like the subprime loans market back in 2007, she points out. “I think that the term ‘fallen angel’ is going to come into the accepted vernacular for investors, and that means when a company crosses from investment grade into being junk,” she explains.

31. Businesses will favor integrity over growth.

A decade ago, we rued banks that got “too big to fail.” It’s now happening to our tech companies. “Size matters,” says Rachel Botsman, a lecturer at Oxford’s Said Business School and the author of “Who Can You Trust?”. So does “figuring out what to do with companies that got too big and the unintended consequences that happen as platforms scale.” In 2019, she predicts corporate cultures, particularly in tech, will start eschewing efficiency and growth at all costs in favor of maintaining integrity at scale. “I think you’re going to see more and more cultures say, ‘How big is big enough? How big do we want this thing to become before it’s outside our control and we can’t see the consequences of it?’”

32. Loyalty will beat novelty

Gen Z kids saw their parents lose homes and pensions to the financial crisis. As a result their perspective on work and money most closely resembles that of their great grandparents, who grew up in the Great Depression and prized security above fulfillment. “Millennials want a dream job,” says Pranam Lipinski, CEO of Door of Clubs, who surveyed thousands of Gen Z students about their values and preferences. “Generation Z wants success and financial stability over that dream job.” That means they’re far more likely to remain loyal to an employer that provides a stable environment and benefits — in Door of Clubs’ survey, 61% said they’d stay with an employer 10 years or longer. But watch out, warns Jill Schlesinger: It’s changing jobs that gets you significant raises. Too much loyalty will hurt your lifetime earning power.

33. The Internet will grow ever more fragmented.

Besides the U.S.-China division, internet fragmentation is also happening in less obvious places, Oxford cybersecurity expert Emily Taylor explains. Europe’s global data protection regulation (GDPR) has led some companies to overreact and block their sites to European visitors. Other jurisdictions are following suit and considering data localization laws. “You’re going to end up with cross-cutting national and regional laws that are reaching over their borders, making it very difficult for companies to comply,” Taylor warns. “People will just choose to be very limited in what they do and the audiences that they try to reach.”

34. Don’t even try to guess the price of oil.

By Bethany McLean, author of “Saudi America: The Truth about Fracking and How It’s Changing the World”

“Here’s a prediction for 2019: Energy markets are going to remain wildly unpredictable. One realization I came to when I worked on my last book was that most everyone who makes predictions about the future of oil prices is alike in one remarkable respect: They are wrong.

“Remember M King Hubbert’s famous prediction of peak oil back in the 1970s? He looked roughly right — until the shale revolution changed everything. Now, the shale revolution is supposed to ensure a mammoth and growing supply of U.S. oil for the foreseeable future. ‘Lower for longer,’ meaning oil prices in the $50 range, has become something of a mantra on Wall Street. But skeptics suspect there may be fewer wells that are profitable at $50 oil than executives would have you believe. If so, and if the dearth of long-term projects over the past decade results in less supply than expected, there may be price spikes in the future. Or not. I think this is the ultimate truth about the oil market: It defies people’s attempts at predicting it, much less controlling it.”

35. Chief ethics officer will be the hot new C-suite title.

As technology advances ever faster and the law struggles to keep up, how personal data is handled or how AI is built often comes down solely to corporate decisions. How do they make the right ones? Companies are waking up to that responsibility and making ethics a core function, which is growing out of legal like diversity grew out of HR. “What I think we’re seeing now is a recognition that it’s important to go beyond looking at the rules,” says Katie Lawler, chief ethics officer at U.S. Bank since 2017. “Having a strong set of core values, having a environment in which employees know that their voices will be heard when they have a concern, really goes beyond the ‘Can we?’ of compliance to the ‘Should we?’ of ethics.”

36. Africa and China will tie their fates.

China’s growing investment and presence in Africa over the last several years is undeniable; Xi Jinping just committed another $60 billion to African investment only three years after a similar pledge. “African countries are now fully aware of the huge infrastructure gap they have,” in the $70 billion to $120 billion a year range, and have welcomed Chinese money, saysStephen Yeboah, founder of Commodity Monitor. Meanwhile, China needs arable land to feed its population and raw materials — cobalt from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, copper from Zambia, bauxite from Ghana — to feed its industry. In 2019, public opinion will look at those deals closely, demanding fair terms and quality infrastructure, Yeboah says. Zambia’s loans were so mismanaged it can’t even tell how much it owes, he points out, while countries like Rwanda or Ghana have been able to drive a harder bargain. “Ultimately, each country is sovereign,” he says. “It’s up to African leaders to decide whether they let the Chinese call the shots.”

37. We will reach peak outrage.

In the last couple of years, public opinion has been driven by “polarized tribes,” says Willow Bay, dean of the USC Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism: “Outrage has been modified, optimized, personalized and, of course, monetized.” Outrage, like fear, is helpful in the short term but unsustainable in the long term, she says. “Many do not want to live in a state of semi-permanent outrage, they’re simply tired of it,” she adds. “And I believe increasingly, people are going to want to reclaim consensus, collaboration and shared values rather than polarizing ones.” While Bay is referring to the United States, any country where people discuss politics on social media will recognize a version of this. She points to a study by More In Common which showed that 67% of Americans did not conform to partisan ideology or had disengaged from politics. They’ve been dubbed the “exhausted majority.”

38. Companies will shift to an ecosystem mindset — and hire for it.

“We’ve gone from a traditional linear type of thinking where everything is predictive to an ecosystem mindset,” says Sanyin Siang, a professor at Duke University and executive director of the Fuqua/Coach K Center on Leadership & Ethics. “So people need to rely less on just first-order effects but also think about second- and third- and fourth-order effects.” This will shift how companies hire as they look for skills that will boost company wellbeing in subtle but often unmeasurable ways, including people who are great mentors, skeptical thinkers or team builders. “When these roles happen serendipitously in an organization, it enables organizational survival and continuity,” says Siang.

39. You’ll eat that bug in your salad.

Retailers are warming up to the idea, which means you’re next: Sainsbury’s in the U.K., Provigo in Canada or Carrefour in Spain have all put bugs on their shelves in the past year. Insects have more protein than any other meat and are lauded as an environment-friendly way to feed a growing population. To combat the eek-factor, they can be ground into a protein-packed flour or used for animal feed. “If I had half a billion dollars to invest right now, mark my words, a large portion would be allocated to this emerging field,” says futurist QuHarrison Terry. “Currently, over 2 billion people worldwide consume insects on a regular basis for a source of protein. Yet, the industry is only estimated at $406 million. We’re one hit product away from seeing it become a multi-billion-dollar industry.”

40. Immigration to the West will get harder, and refugee crises will hit poorer nations.

As richer nations grow increasingly hostile to the idea of welcoming refugees, migrants pour into developing countries with more porous borders, who already host 85% of the world’s refugees. “Countries that are weak, don’t have the money, or don’t have the ability to police, are the ones that are usually right on the borders of a lot of these refugee crises to begin with,” Ian Bremmer, president of Eurasia Group, says. Millions of Venezuelans have already left their country and ended up in Colombia, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador or Peru — a crisis on par with Syria’s — while 3% of Uganda’s population is made up of refugees from South Sudan or the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

41. Learning isn’t enough; professionals will focus on doing.

After the explosion of the online learning sector, our heads are full of all those classes we’ve been taking. But what we are doing with this newfound knowledge? Whitney Johnsonauthor of “Build and A Team” and “Disrupt Yourself,” says the next trend is to focus on improving our behavior, not just our expertise, in order to apply these lessons to our work and personal lives. She points to the success of books like “Atomic Habits” by James Clear and “Willpower Doesn’t Work” by Benjamin Hardy, along with perennial bestseller “The Power of Habits” by Charles Duhigg. “Perhaps because of the political environment, people want to take action, take control,” Johnson says. “And the only thing you can control is what you do.”

42. Order comes to the Wild West of data collection.

After a year of scandals, the implementation of Europe’s GDPR and upcoming copycat legislation from other jurisdictions, the advertising business will move away from the wholesale collection of personal data and the extreme personalization of advertising, predicts Mihael Mikek, the founder and CEO of digital advertising platform Celtra. “The question will come down to, Is the data being used in a way that benefits the consumer or not?” he explains. “In the last five years, it’s been such a crazy race to collect as much as possible.” Advertisers will follow consumers, who will demand more ethical and consent-based use of their data. After The New York Times’ investigation of location-tracking appspublished yesterday, location data is likely to be the next battlefront.

43. We will ask ourselves hard questions about what free speech means.

By Glenn Kelman, CEO of Redfin

“This isn’t about the death of free speech on college campuses, which sometimes can’t find a hall to host a political provocateur on short notice. It’s about a deeper and more deeply fraught idea that has already been embraced by Twitter, YouTube and Facebook, that European-style censorship may be necessary. Maybe there are ideas so obnoxious, like the belief that the parents of students slain in a mass shooting are part of an anti-gun conspiracy, that we shouldn’t let them be amplified endlessly on the Internet. Or maybe we should be uncomfortable that these censorship decisions are being made by a few tech leaders, who historically have had little interest in either the journalistic principles that have guided other media magnates, or the costs of paying human beings to gather and weigh facts. It’s unclear to me how we quash or validate dangerous ideas except through vigorous, open debate, but even I have to admit that this hasn’t worked well recently. What we all know now is that the case for free speech is weaker now than it has been in 50 years.”

44. Corporate generosity will grow — and help the bottom line.

Annual corporate giving has reached nearly $21 billion, and companies are investing that money to boost corporate culture as well as charitable causes. “We’re seeing companies being more generous than ever, and I think we’ll see even more of that in 2019,” says Sue Desmond-Hellmann, CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “A staff that sees leadership live up to the values of that company is much more likely to be engaged and drive a positive business outcome.” Read more about what Desmond-Hellmann is watching in the year ahead.

45. Brands won’t be able to stay neutral.

Consumers and employees increasingly expect companies to take a position on the day’s issues and live their values, says Blackbird CEO Ross Martin. “You’re forced, as a company, as a leader, to stand for something, otherwise everyone will know you stand for nothing,” he warns. “You won’t be hated, you’ll become completely irrelevant, and the people who worked for you, won’t work for you anymore because you didn’t stand up when it mattered.” These expectations will only intensify in 2019, agrees Marianne Cooper, senior research scholar at Stanford and the lead researcher on Lean In. “To prepare, leaders need to get clear on their own and their company’s values, decide which issues make the most sense to weigh in on, and pre-plan how they will respond — or at least establish a process for dealing with situations that need a rapid response.”

46. Hotels will take away your alarm clock.

“It used to be a real treat to go to a hotel because they had things you didn’t have at home,” says Marriott International’s global chief development officer,Anthony Capuano. “We have everything at home today!” And we expect those things to work at the hotel too, whether that’s connecting our own devices to the TV screen or continuing a Netflix show where we left it back home. Meanwhile, the technologies we no longer use that hotels have stubbornly held onto are finally disappearing. Bye bye alarm clocks and landline phones!

47. Employers will make room for neurodiversity.

Neurodiversity refers to the inclusion of people with all sorts of cognitive abilities and patterns, from ADHD and dyslexia to people on the autism spectrum. It is coming to workplaces as the chronological consequence of a cultural and scientific shift in the 1990s; conditions once seen as pathologies to be medicalized became differences society should embrace. “You have a whole generation of people who were much more rigorously diagnosed entering the workforce now,” says Ed Thompson, founder of Uptimize, an organization that helps employers attract, hire and retain neurodivergent talent. Add to that a “chronic war for talent,” he says, which is prompting recruiters to look beyond their usual demographics, and neurodiversity is “becoming a category of workplace [diversity and inclusion] that a lot of people are talking about in a way that wasn’t true even a year ago.”

48. Drugmakers will double down on China.

In 2018, that investment translated into pharmaceutical partnerships with leading Chinese companies like health insurer Ping An (Sanofi), e-commerce giant Alibaba (Merck Group) and tech conglomerate Tencent (Novartis). Not only is the country the second largest pharmaceuticals market for many companies now, China itself is rethinking its approach to medicines. It published its first list of rare diseases six months ago, and a new drug approval process may result in new therapies from Chinese drugmakers, too. “Our experiences there are going to drive how we reimagine health care,” predicts Novartis’Vas Narasimhan, who took over as CEO in early 2018.

49. Your next vacation may be to space or undersea.

Ok, maybe not “next” vacation unless you’re a very occasional traveler. But in 2019, NASA will start building its Lunar Space Station and we’ll see continued investment in private spaceflight, predicts Glenn Fogel, CEO of Booking Holdings. His company compiled data-driven travel insights from its millions of reviews and bookings. Until space becomes an option, “travelers are seeking out uncharted territories in other forms, with 60% of travelers confirming they’d want to stay in an accommodation under the sea,” Fogel writes. Gen Z and Y travelers are also bringing their values with them and seeking environmentally-friendly and socially-conscious experiences, often opting for shorter, nearer trips. The hot new destinations? The Bahamas, Florence, Palm Springs and Cartagena.

50. We will stop living an Insta life.

The social media honeymoon is over. As people question their screen addiction, the impacts are felt in all walks of life, from dinners where guests demand the phones be put away to changing trends in the beauty industry. “In 2019, people are looking to scale back, simplify their routine and their look,” says Melissa Butler, founder and CEO of The Lip Bar, after years where trends were set by Instagram influencers and elaborate makeup tutorials on Youtube. “Social media has played such a big part in pressuring us to show up in a certain way. People are looking to reconnect with who they are, go back to the basics.”