Kloten-Zurich, 3 January 2022.
COVID-19 continues to dominate our personal lives, whether we like it or not. As some people suggested, it is now COVID-21 already, and the Coronaviruses will continue to stay with us. This virus will stay with us, and everyone on earth needs to get infected once before we all get better! Omicron is now spread to more than 60 countries in the world. According to medical history, viruses will continue to multiplicate, but the variants are getting milder. So, there is a very big chance that we get an Omnicron plus, and then the pandemic outbreak will become endemic. New variants will not continue to create more deaths. What worries me is that investments in other vaccines have been delayed. Let us not talk about further HIV/AIDS research these days, this is not interesting enough for the moment. Although we lost 680 000 people in 2020 on HIV-related illnesses worldwide, compared to 5.37 million of COVID-19. If you look at age and gender, the biggest risk patient is male over 75 years of age. To conclude this section, by the end of 2022, 82% of the world population will have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. One very last thing on this issue: Ventilate the rooms, wherever and whenever possible!
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary: cocooning is staying inside one’s home, insulated from perceived danger, instead of going out, coined by F. Popcorn (1981). The COVID-19 virus put us in lockdowns and closed the borders. We all experienced that! Here is the good news: that will be over by August this year, thanks to science. It is very important because as stated earlier in March 2019, more people will die from loneliness than from the Coronavirus. It will take a while before we are all flying and travelling again, but in the summer of 2022, we end the restrictions, and we have open borders again.
The gaming industry did benefit from the pandemic with a 29% increase year-over-year. The number of gamers is increasing but also the time spent on gaming itself. One of the stimulators is the in-game monetization and microtransactions possibilities. We think that gamers are lonely dudes (=stereotype), but the opposite is true. People use games to build and main-tain social relationships: for 1/3 of all the gamers this is the primary drive, and this trend will continue.
Crypto has become an emerging financial asset. Central banks own crypto and more and more institutional investors are buying crypto. In the USA, Cryptocurrency companies have started to act as banks. Cryptocurrencies follow a seasonal pattern. Best months for gains: April and November.
The Global GDP growth could average 2.5% per year. The slowdown is most severe in emerging markets and developing economies. So, growth needs to come from the advanced economies while they are struggling with a labor shortage and fighting a beast called inflation. The biggest spenders: the mil-lennials! The world’s economic output will exceed 100 trillion USD in 2022, for the first time in the history of mankind. The USA will go into a recession in April 2022. The World Bank expects the Chinese economy to grow at 5.1 %, which would mark the second slowest pace of growth for China since 1990. From an educational point of view, there is good news: the global workforce needs further upskilling. Focus on soft skills and data storytelling, and you have a competitive edge.
FROM FINTECH TO CLIMATE TECH
A new subsection of fintech is «climate fintech»- it is an innovative way to address both sustainability and financial needs. The customers expect an increasing responsibility for climate action from the financial services sector. The Swedish environmental fintech company Doconomy has developed a Carbon Calculator for Mastercard customers. It shows customers the carbon footprint of their purchases across different categories of spending. Or we have Aspiration, a digital bank that uses consumer-facing products to help mitigate the climate crisis. These are solid examples, but there is also a warning for greenwashing projects. Major banks have announced efforts to go to net zero but continue to invest in the fossil industry.
THE NEXT NORMAL WORKPLACE
Zoom and zoom meetings, working from home…we all experienced it, but it is not the same as your cozy office space, isn’t it?
Most employees experienced that having a home office only is not beneficial to personal communication. Even today, you cannot send a handshake via E-Mail or SMS, or WhatsApp. So, we need to rethink how we organize work. First, make sure that the technology is in place, easily accessible but well protected against cyber-attacks. Concentrate on tasks that can be done at home, where you can use your digital skills. If you go to the office, focus on meeting people, and communicate, communicate, communicate. The home office also requires a new leadership style. Trust will replace control as a means of making sure that the work gets done. The Golden rule is to avoid having a home office more than three days per week since this will decrease employees’ involvement in the organization. It will lead to isolation, poor communication, more stress, and a greater risk of burnouts.
A PLAIDOYER FOR OUR YOUTH
The global society is more divided than 5 years ago. Sadly, we see that young people are set up against elderly people. It should not be like that! On the other hand, young people entered the pandemic, and their development and freedom are now limited. They have made all these compromises, but something is cooking. We cannot continue to limit the development of their social skills and must do something about it. So, let us believe in the youth and give them full credentials and the right tools to make this world a more than better place!
I wish you a fantastic 2022. May all your wishes come true! And remember, as a good leader: remain humble and be authentic. People are assessing how credible you are all the time. If you are faking it, to make it…people will sense it very quickly… Enjoy the year of the Tiger!
Bert Wolfs, Ph.D.