Over the previous decades the rate of innovation has been astonishing, from the internet to smart phones and the rise of social media and electronic marketplaces. The rate of change has been mind-blowing. Those of us of a certain age can still remember the debate over Betamax v VHS, both of which were quickly overtaken by DVD’s, then BluRay, then streaming companies such as Netflix.
The only thing that is constant in today’s business environment is that it will change in the future. Predicting change, however, is difficult, just ask those who still have a Betamax recorder in their attic.
Being able to adapt to change is arguably more important than trying to predict change, so with that in mind I’d like to share my thoughts on how to prepare for what is to come.
In 2030 the key drivers in the market are customer expectations, easier payment mechanisms, more transparent transactions and marketplaces; and a regulatory environment that is built into the transactional framework.
The impact of blockchain has expanded exponentially. It's allowed consumers to make better informed choices about ethically or environmentally sourced goods or services. Financial services are cheaper as the current middlemen are removed; this also includes banks, especially for international transactions. There is less of a need for marketplaces, including Amazon and Uber as people can connect directly with suppliers.
Blockchain has also lead to the expansion of the gig economy with people working for themselves supplying services to many different companies, especially as AI and automation reduced the need for staff on the production line (either for goods or services).
It’s also meant an easier route for entrepreneurs to get their products or services to market.
As a result of these changes, governments reacted and changed their regulatory and taxation regimes to follow the transactional information held within the blockchain.
The above changes led to a more mobile workforce, who can work from any location, but they also needed the appropriate skillsets for this. There has been an increased focus on customer service and support with the transactional aspects being increasingly automated.
These changes did not happen overnight, and there was still a need for traditional services and employment alongside the new to support customers who wanted a more traditional service.
Due to climate change, and also due to the growing population, agricultural tech became increasingly important to the world economy, with big advances in drought resistant crops, and intensive farming.
One issue has been a rise in unemployment in areas where the cost of local employment is higher than in the global marketplace, especially as it got easier to employ someone in, for example, Indonesia.
A growing world population, an increasing awareness of the social and environmental responsibilities of the planet, combined with people living and working longer in a more global workforce, led to increased unemployment and political discontent in first world countries. This in turn led to increased political and social unrest in what used to be considered “safe” countries.
For the Isle of Man, its ability to provide a connecting infrastructure and suitable regulatory framework determined whether it could continue to attract businesses and people to the island. Also, its stable political system and close social structure would help the island maintain a safe environment that would also attract families to live there.
The one piece of advice I would give to a CEO in 2020 is to make sure your business can adapt to the changing environment in which we operate; be that regulatory, technical, financial, etc. Adapting to change is going to be key to survival and to thriving in the coming years.
Trying to keep on top of the increasingly intricate VAT (or its equivalent indirect tax) reporting system.
Some of the large companies of today, such as Uber and Amazon, will be on the decline as newer, cheaper and faster platforms become available.
Overall the future is optimistic for the Isle of Man. It has proved that it is adaptable to a changing environment, and it is well placed as a centre for the global tech industry.