2014: A Year of Polarization!

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2014: A Year of Polarization!

Did you make your ‘selfie’ already this week? President Obama did this together with the Prime Minister of Denmark during the Nelson Mandela funeral meeting in the soccer stadium. A ‘selfie’ is a picture people make of themselves with their smartphone and was chosen in several European countries as the word of the year. Let us now try to predict what will be the trends of 2014.

1. Small data

The paradigm of management is changing. Data and sharing of information are becoming the key factors to making decisions and leading a company. Data we can process in Excel (software) is small data. The time schedule of the train, the consumption of energy at home, the money we spend shopping, these are all small data. The next years belong to distributed models, not to centralized ones, and also to small data.

2. Guilt-free

Food waste, feeling guilty about the impact on the environment, not enough physical exercise…We had to hear it all during the past years. In 2014 the consumer will be hungry for a new kind of consumption, one that will allow them to continue enjoy consuming and not to worry about its negative impact. After years of financial crisis, consumers are now open to responsible consumption and trust brands that act in the best interest of the society.

3. Polarized markets

In 2014 it is expected that 56% of global economic growth will come from emerging markets. But the tensions are rising between north and south, between rich and poor, between educated and non-educated people, between advanced and emerging markets. These issues should be taken into consideration in your daily professional life.

4. My psycho-help

Smartphones will become an important device for lifestyle assistance. More apps will be created to assist you improve your mental wellbeing. Apps will track your footsteps and track your daily calories. The smartphone will become your best fitness and wellbeing coach and advisor. Return on Happiness (RoH) will become a key ratio in finance literature.

5. Fast, faster, fastest during an election and important sports year

We live in a hectic society where speed is the dominant factor. The future happens in real time. Time goes faster and faster, we need to reply to emails instantly, if not, we miss plenty of opportunities. All our friends are online. Restaurants and bars will open where people will not be able to use their smartphone or get a discount for their food if they turn off that tech tool. Sportsmen will run faster during the Winter Olympics and football players will kick harder. Politicians will be elected or rejected during the European Parliament elections. To upset the rest of the world, Spain will become world football champion.

6. Personalization of clothing

Since a long time, clothes have been a mean to differentiate from each other. The trend for modularization and individualization will continue to grow. We will still go to the fashion shops, but then will ask the local tailor to change one or two parts on the clothes, so that we look different from other people. For extra money, this is possible.

7. ‘Lego’ Financing

The year will remain difficult for the banking world and several European banks will need external help to survive. The banking crisis is not over, despite all nice stories we hear. Start-ups and small and medium-sized businesses will continue to experience difficult times to attract financing. Therefore, ‘lego’ financing will grow, meaning don’t get a loan only from a bank, but use several sources to finance your new company projects. Build your company financing needs like a ‘lego’ system, a bit from here, a bit from there. Get several partners to drive your products through the innovation chain. Innovate, innovate is the only way to remain competitive in an increasingly complex and polarized world. Interest rates will not remain at this level and will start to increase in 2014 again.

I wish you all a wonderful year! By the end of 2014, we will see how wrong or right I was with my predictions! Keep on having learning fun!

Bert Wolfs, Ph.D.
Academic Dean

SBS Swiss Business School