Facts about the changing world of business … helping business leaders to make sense of the opportunities of ahead

January 28, 2019

We live in an incredible time. More change in the next 10 years than in the last 250 years.

New technologies are transforming the ways in which we live and work. Technologies enable incredible change. It is how we unlock their potential that matters.

The most innovative businesses see the world differently.

They don’t just seek to imitate the success of others, to compete in the markets of today, to frame themselves by their relative differences to competitors. Instead they play their own game. And that means they need to be sense makers – able to make sense of change.

Trying to evolve in today’s complex and confused world is unlikely to lead you towards a bright and distinctive future. It will extend your life a little longer, but it will be tough and uninspiring, with diminishing returns.

Instead jump to the future. I tend to start with five years ahead, although it may differ by company. 5 years is long enough to change the world, but close enough to be real. Start by creating a positive, collective and inspiring vision of the future market. What will it be like? What will people want? Why? How? Where? Then consider how to win in this new world.

Below I have tried to bring together a collection of many anecdotes from multiple sources (including Accenture, Economist, EY, Forbes, Futurism, Gartner, IDC Futurescape, Institute for the Future, SAP, Singularity, World Bank, World Economic Forum and more) to get a sense of the challenges and opportunities, and the enormous scale of change now and ahead.

Changing Markets

  • Global urban populations will add 2.5 billion people by 2050. This massive urban expansion will require as much as $70 trillion in infrastructure spending.  Source: “In a fast-changing world, can cities be built with long-term perspective? EY
  • The spending power of baby boomers is predicted to be $15 trillion worldwide by the end of 2019. Source: “5 Key Customer Experience Trends for 2017, The Huffington Post
  • Chinese consumers took nearly 3 billion trips and spent over $110 billion during the Chinese New Year celebration.  Source: “3 reasons why Chinese New Year is a global phenomenon to heed, Juwai.com
  • Over the next 15 years, consumer spending in China will grow by more than the total EU consumer spending today.  Source: “The Chinese consumer in 2030, The Economist Intelligence Unit

Customer Expectations

  • By 2020, 85% of a customer’s brand experience will occur without any human interaction. Source: “How Omni-Channel Customer Experiences Drive Brand Transformation, Centric Digital
  • Only 37% of consumers say their favorite retailer understands them. Source: “Omnichannel: 5 Roadblocks to Avoid on the Journey to Omnichannel Retail Success,FitforCommerce
  • Businesses that adopt omnichannel strategies achieve 91% greater year-over-year customer retention rates. Source: “25 Amazing Omnichannel Statistics Every Marketer Should Know, DataMentors
  • 65% of B2B customers say their B2B experience does not match their consumer experiences on Amazon.com and similar sites. Source: “How will you change buyers into stakeholders?, EY
  • 72% of customers expect a response to their complaints on social media within one hour.  Source: “The Top 14 Customer Experience (CX) Stats of 2016, Clarabridge
  • 87% of Millennials say that they base their purchasing decisions on whether or not a company makes positive social efforts. Source: “Why Millennials Care About Purpose-Driven Business, Digitalist Magazine

Brands and Experiences

  • Since 2009, a stock portfolio comprising the brands that provide the simplest customer experiences outperformed the major indexes. The Simplicity portfolio grew +433%, S&P +135%, DAX +116%, and FTSE +52%. Source: “Global Brand Simplicity Index 2017, Siegel+Gale
  • Companies with best-in-class customer experience management achieve year-over-year customer profit margin improvement 527% higher than their peers, and 359% greater company revenue growth. Source: SAP Center for Business Insight 2017 calculation based on “CEM Executive’s Agenda 2016: Aligning the Business Around the Customer,” Aberdeen Group
  • 86% of consumers are willing to pay more for an upgraded experience, and 55% are willing to pay for a guaranteed good experience. Source: “50 Important Customer Experience Stats for Business Leaders, The Huffington Post
  • By 2020, 50% of digital transformation initiatives will fail due to the lack of an end to-end customer experience operating system. Source: “IDC FutureScape: Worldwide Chief Marketing Officer 2017 Predictions, IDC Research, Inc.

Marketing and Engagement

  • 84% of B2B buyers rate word of mouth the biggest influence on their purchasing decisions. Source: “What is Advocate Marketing? CustomerAdvocacy.com
  • 92% of consumers trust word of mouth, and 70% trust online reviews. Source: “How will you change buyers into stakeholders? EY.
  • By 2020, the average person will have more conversations with bots than with their spouse. Source: “Top Strategic Predictions for 2017 and Beyond: Surviving the Storm Winds of Digital Disruption,Gartner
  • In 2016, global use of ad blocking apps grew 102% year over year. Source: “2016 Mobile Adblocking Report, PageFair.
  • User-generated videos about a brand get 10x more views on YouTube than content created by the brand, and user-generated content-based ads get 4x higher click-through rates. Source: “38 Mind-Blowing Stats About User Generated Content, TINT
  • 71% of B2B customers are actively disengaged or indifferent. Source: “B2B Customers Are Indifferent, Gallup
  • But only 1% of B2B marketers manage after-sales experiences with customer relationship programs. Source: “Forrester B-to-B Marketing Predictions: Customer Focus to Sharpen, AdvertisingAge
  • By 2019, more than 50% of all industries will price and package their offerings as services with flexible subscription or consumption-based pricing models.  Source: “IDC FutureScape: Worldwide Software Business Models and Monetization 2017 Predictions, IDC Research, Inc.
  • By 2020, approximately 70% of online purchases in China will be made via a mobile phone. This is significantly higher adoption than estimates for other countries: U.S. 46%, UK 40%, Japan 40%, and India 30%. Source: “The New Connected Consumer Code: Unlocking Digital Commerce Opportunities, Euromonitor International

Channels and Social Media

  • Every day, Facebook videos are viewed 8 billion times, a dramatic increase from the 1 billion daily views average a year ago. Source: “Top 10: Video Marketing Trends 2016/2017,Doubleshot
  • Each month, as many as 93% of all Internet-connected millennials visit YouTube. Source: “93% of Millennials Visiting YouTube, GlobalWebIndex
  • By 2020, eSports – competitive video gaming – will reach nearly 500 million fans worldwide, more than popular sports such as basketball. Source: “Think Again: Tech & Media Outlook 2017, Activate
  • Airbnb usage is projected to grow 1,165% by 2025, reaching one billion “room nights.” Key growth factors include Airbnb’s high levels of repeat customers, and significant word of mouth, as more than 80% of customers are likely to recommend Airbnb to friends. Source: “One Wall Street Firm Expects Airbnb to Book a Billion Nights a Year Within a Decade, Bloomberg
  • Live sports accounts for 50% of the Twitter conversations linked to TV programs, even though it accounts for only 1.4% of total TV programming. Source: “Why Live Sports and Social Media are just at the beginning of a fabulous love story, SportsPro
  • By 2020, 100 million consumers will shop in augmented reality.  Source: “Top Strategic Predictions for 2017 and Beyond: Surviving the Storm Winds of Digital Disruption,Gartner
  • Within just two months, the augmented reality video game Pokémon Go was downloaded 500 million times globally, and after 90 days, the app had generated $600 million in revenue. Source: “75 Incredible Pokemon Go Statistics, DMR

AI and Machine Learning

  • By 2020, the average person will have more conversations with bots than with their spouse. Source: “Top Strategic Predictions for 2017 and Beyond: Surviving the Storm Winds of Digital Disruption,” Gartner.
  • In initial tests, a machine-learning algorithm created at Carnegie Mellon was able to predict heart attacks four hours in advance with 80% accuracy. Source: “Of Prediction and Policy,” The Economist.
  • Artificial intelligence can predict where epidemics will happen. AIME developed a platform with 87% accuracy in predicting dengue fever outbreaks three months in advance. Now they hope to similarly target other diseases such as Ebola and Zika. Source: “Artificial Intelligence Innovation Report,” Deloitte.
  • After watching 5,000 hours of TV, Google’s DeepMind AI was able to lip read 34% more accurately than a professional lip reader. Source: “Google’s DeepMind AI Can Lip-Read TV Shows Better than a Pro,” New Scientist.
  • After watching just 600 hours of TV, an MIT deep-learning AI algorithm was able to predict future human interactions after two people met 60.5% as accurately as human subjects. Source: “Teaching Machines to Predict the Future,” MIT News.
  • By 2019, 75% of workers who use enterprise applications will have access to intelligent personal assistants to augment their skills and expertise. Source: “IDC FutureScape: Worldwide Big Data, Business Analytics, and Cognitive Software 2017 Predictions,” IDC Research Inc.
  • By 2030, the largest company on the Internet is going to be an education-based company, with smart-bot instructors able to personalize lessons for each individual student. Source: “A Top Futurist Predicts the Largest Internet Company of 2030 Will Be an Online School,” South China Morning Post.
  • Problem: In the last two decades, 9.6% of the earth’s total wilderness areas has been lost, equaling an estimated 3.3 million square kilometers. Source: “Catastrophic Declines in Wilderness Areas Undermine Global Environment Targets,” Current Biology.
  • Solution: Many Latin American governments are turning to artificial intelligence to aid in their forest conservation efforts. Source: “10 Innovations That Are Changing Conservation,” Cool Green Science.

The Internet of Things

  • IoT car safety technology already reduces crashes significantly and will save insurance companies $45 billion over the next five years in the United States alone. Source: “IoT Insurance: Trends in Home, Life, and Auto Insurance Industries,” Business Insider.
  • Self-driving vehicles have the potential to save millions of lives, given that 1.25 million people die and 50 million are injured each year in auto accidents, nearly 95% of which are caused by human error. Source: “Will Self-Driving Vehicles Save Lives?” Together for Safer Roads.
  • Self-driving trucks are hauling iron ore in Australia, convoying across Europe, and appearing on roadways across the globe. And because they offer business savings, self-driving trucks are expected to be more rapidly adopted than self-driving cars. Source: “Self-Driving Trucks: What’s the Future for America’s 3.5 Million Truckers?” The Guardian.
  • Barcelona uses the IoT to optimize urban systems and enhance citizen services. To date, it has saved $95 million annually from reduced water and electricity consumption, increased parking revenues by $50 million a year, and generated 47,000 new jobs. Source: “How Smart City Barcelona Brought the Internet of Things to Life,” Data-Smart City Solutions, Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard Kennedy School.
  • By 2019, 40% of local and regional governments will use the IoT to turn infrastructure such as roads, streetlights, and traffic signals into assets instead of liabilities. Source: “IDC FutureScape: Worldwide Internet of Things (IoT) 2017 Predictions,” IDC Research Inc.
  • Usage-based auto insurance enabled by the Internet of Things will grow nearly 1,200% by 2023. This insurance uses real-time information about a driver’s actual driving to assess actuarial risk. Source: “Usage-Based Insurance Expected to Grow to 142 Million Subscribers Globally by 2023, IHS Says,” IHS Markit.
  • The Internet of Everything could be worth $19 trillion over the next decade thanks to cost savings and profits for businesses and increased revenues for the public sector. Source: “The Internet of Everything Is Closer than You Think,” EY.
  • Problem: With the coming and going of ice ages over the last 400,000+ years, CO2 in the Earth’s atmosphere fluctuated between 180 ppm and 300 ppm. However, CO2 levels have skyrocketed and now exceed 400 ppm for the first time in recorded history. Source: “The Relentless Rise of Carbon Dioxide,” NASA Global Climate Change: Vital Signs of the Planet.
  • Solution: New digital technologies can enable a 20% reduction in global carbon emissions by 2030. This is equivalent to eliminating 100% of China’s CO2 emissions, plus another 1.5 billion tons. Source: “SMARTer2030: Australian Opportunity for ICT Enabled Emission Reductions,” Telstra Corporation.

Augmented reality and virtual reality

  • By 2020, 100 million consumers will shop in augmented reality. Source: “Top Strategic Predictions for 2017 and Beyond: Surviving the Storm Winds of Digital Disruption,” Gartner.
  • And by 2021, over 1 billion people worldwide will regularly use an AR/VR platform (augmented reality/virtual reality) to access apps, content, and data. Source: “IDC FutureScape: Worldwide IT Industry 2017 Predictions,” IDC Research Inc.
  • Within just two months, the augmented reality video game Pokémon Go was downloaded 500 million times globally, and after 90 days, the app had generated $600 million in revenue. Source: “75 Incredible Pokemon Go Statistics,” DMR.
  • Renault uses virtual reality and immersive simulation technologies to allow its design team, partners, and suppliers to experience, interact with, and test drive new car designs without any physical prototypes. Source: “Designing the Workplace of the Future: Virtual Reality and 3D Panoramas,” CNN.

Mobile

  • Two billion individuals and 200 million small businesses in emerging economies lack access to basic financial services and credit. Broad adoption of mobile banking in developing nations could create 95 million new jobs and increase GDP by $3.7 trillion by 2025. Source: “How Digital Finance Could Boost Growth in Emerging Economies,” McKinsey Global Institute.
  • Once fully available, 5G data speeds will be 1,000-times faster than today. This revolutionary leap will enable ubiquitous connections across the Internet of Things, engagement across virtual environments with only millisecond latency, and whole new Big Data applications and services. Source: “2017 Predictions: Behind the Scenes with 5G – 2017 Lays Groundwork for Telecom Revolution,” Canadian Wireless Trade Show.
  • By 2020, approximately 70% of online purchases in China will be made via a mobile phone. This is significantly higher adoption than estimates for other countries: United States, 46%; United Kingdom, 40%; Japan, 40%; and India, 30%. Source: “The New Connected Consumer Code: Unlocking Digital Commerce Opportunities,” Euromonitor International

Robots and drones

  • Amazon uses 30,000 Kiva robots in its global warehouses, which reduce operating expenses by approximately 20%. Bringing robots to its distribution centers that have not yet implemented them would save Amazon a further $2.5 billion. Source: “How Amazon Triggered a Robot Arms Race,” Bloomberg Technology.
  • The European Union is proposing new laws that require robots to be equipped with emergency “kill switches” and to be programmed in accordance to Isaac Asimov’s “laws of robotics” stipulating that robots must never harm a human. Source: “Europe Calls for Mandatory ‘Kill Switches’ on Robots,” CNN.
  • Only 13% of U.S. and Canadian manufacturing jobs recently lost were due to international trade. Fully 85% of the job losses stemmed from productivity growth – another way of saying machines replaced human workers. Source: “Industrial Robots Will Replace Manufacturing Jobs – and That’s a Good Thing,” TechCrunch.
  • Fully 88% of U.S. consumers say free shipping makes them more likely to shop online, and 79% would select drones as a delivery option if it meant they could receive packages within an hour. Source: “Reinventing Retail: What Businesses Need to Know for 2016,” Walker Sands Communications.
  • Taxi drones will start flying passengers in Dubai in July 2017. Passengers will select destinations on a touch screen and will be able to travel up to 30 minutes at a top speed of around 100 kph. Source: “Taxi Drones Set for July Launch of Passenger Service Over Dubai,” RT News.

Platforms and networks

  • Car sharing could reduce the number of cars needed by 90% by 2035, resulting in only 17% as many cars as there are today. Source: “Self-Driving Cars Are a Disaster for the Car Industry, But Great for the Rest of Us,” Seeking Alpha.
  • Millennials are more than twice as willing to car share as Generation X, and five times more likely than baby boomers. Source: “Cars 2025,” Goldman Sachs.
  • A large majority – 82% – of executives believe platforms will be the glue that brings organizations together in the digital economy. The top 15 public platforms already have a market capitalization of $2.6 trillion. Source: “Accenture Technology Vision 2016,” Accenture.
  • By 2020, over 80% of the G500 will be digital services suppliers through Industry Collaborative Cloud (ICC) platforms. Source: “IDC FutureScape: Worldwide IT Industry 2017 Predictions,” IDC Research Inc.
  • The world’s biggest banks have taken the first steps to move onto blockchain, the technology introduced to the world by the virtual currency Bitcoin. Source: “Wall Street Clearinghouse to Adopt Bitcoin Technology,” The New York Times.
  • By 2027, blockchains could store as much as 10% of global GDP. Source: “Making The Next Moves With Blockchain,” D!gitalist Magazine.
  • Africa is leapfrogging the developed world’s traditional banking systems through fast adoption of mobile and Internet-based technology and is poised to take advantage of the disruptive opportunity that blockchains offer. Source: “The Blockchain Opportunity, How Cryptocurrencies and Tokens Could Scale Disruptive Solutions Across Africa,” BitHub.Africa.
  • Problem: To combat corruption and tax evasion in its cash economy (only 2.6% of its citizens pay taxes), the Indian government devalued 80% of its currency in three hours. Source: “Demonetization: This Is a New Indian Sunrise,” DNA India.
  • Solution: India could eliminate the need for credit cards, debit cards, and ATMs in three years by switching to biometric payments, as nearly 1.1 billion citizens have already registered their biometric data. Source: “First Cash, Now India Could Ditch Card Payments by 2020,” CNN.

Big Data and analytics

  • In-memory computing speeds are 1,000 to 1 million times faster than the previous most advanced computing techniques, enabling Big Data analytics processing to be reduced from hours or days to real time. Source: “Global In-Memory Computing Market – Growth, Trends & Forecasts (2016 – 2021),” Research and Markets.
  • Among executives, 80.7% characterize their Big Data investments as successful, while only 1.6% deemed them failures. In spite of the successes, executives see lingering cultural barriers hindering full adoption and value realization. Source: “Big Data Executive Survey 2017,” New Vantage Partners.
  • Problem: An estimated 45.8 million people are trapped in some form of slavery in 167 countries. Source: “Global Findings,” Walk Free Foundation: The Global Slavery Index.
  • Solution: Advanced analytics and Big Data are enabling coordinated efforts to combat human trafficking networks and engage rapid responses when victims are located. Source: “Tracing a Web of Destruction: Can Big Data Fight Human Trafficking?” HBS Digital Initiative.

Cloud

  • By 2018, 90% of the population will have unlimited and free data storage in the cloud that will ultimately be supported by ads. Source: “21 Technology Tipping Points We Will Reach by 2030,” Business Insider.
  • By 2018, 60% of enterprise IT will be off-premises and in the cloud, driven in large part by the shift to public cloud services. Source: “IDC FutureScape: Worldwide IT Industry 2017 Predictions,” IDC Research Inc.
  • In 2020, the top five cloud IaaS/PaaS providers will control 75% of the market, up from 50% in 2016. Source: “IDC FutureScape: Worldwide IT Industry 2017 Predictions,” IDC Research Inc

Employee Engagement

  • Only 13% of employees worldwide are engaged, meaning that the other 87% are not involved in, enthusiastic about, or committed to their work and company. Source: “The Worldwide Employee Engagement Crisis,” Gallup
  • Companies with engaged employees outperform their peers by up to 202%.  Source: “The Importance of Employee Engagement,” Dale Carnegie Training
  • In a study of 100 variables, seeing purpose and value in work was the single most important factor that motivated employees. Yes, more than compensation. Source: “Purpose Trumps Cash + Other New Research Findings,” LinkedIn
  • 75% of millennials would take a pay cut to work for a socially and environmentally responsible company. Source: “2016 Cone Communications Millennial Employee Engagement Study,” Cone Communications
  • How millennials want to work and live is a problem leaders need to take seriously. Just 40% of millennials feel strongly connected to their company’s mission. Source: “Millennials Not Connecting With Their Company’s Mission,” Gallup
  • In the next year, one in four millennials plans to leave his or her current employer, and by 2020, two in three millennials expect to have found a new employer. Source: “The 2016 Deloitte Millennial Survey – Winning Over the Next Generation of Leaders,” Deloitte
  • Organizations in which employees perceive meaning at work are 21% more profitable. Source: “Meaning@Work, Leadership in Times of Digitization,” Future of Leadership Initiative

Diversity and Inclusion

  • The 43 public companies in the DiversityInc Top 50 were 24% more profitable than the S&P 500 average. Source: “Cultural Diversity in the Work Place: How Diversity at Work Makes More Money for You,” The Balance
  • A McKinsey & Company study found companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity were 35% more likely to have financial returns above national industry medians. Source: “The Inclusive Leader,” Korn Ferry Institute
  • Companies where women make up at least 15% of senior managers had more than 50% higher profitability than those where female representation was less than 10%. Source: “The CS Gender 3000: The Reward for Change,” Credit Suisse Research Institute

Humans and Machines

  • By 2020, the average person will have more conversations with bots than with their spouse. Source: “Top Strategic Predictions for 2017 and Beyond: Surviving the Storm Winds of Digital Disruption,” Gartner
  • A new McKinsey report finds that although 51% of job activities can be automated, less than 5% of jobs are entirely replaceable by machines. Many more occupations will evolve as jobs are partially automated than will disappear. Source: “51% of All Job Tasks Could Be Automated by Today’s Technology,” Yahoo Finance
  • Only 13% of U.S. and Canadian manufacturing jobs recently lost were due to international trade. 85% of the job losses stemmed from productivity growth — another way of saying machines replaced human workers. Source: “Industrial Robots Will Replace Manufacturing Jobs — and That’s a Good Thing,” TechCrunch
  • By 2019, 75% of workers who use enterprise applications will have access to intelligent personal assistants to augment their skills and expertise. Source: “IDC FutureScape: Worldwide Big Data, Business Analytics, and Cognitive Software 2017 Predictions,” IDC Research Inc.

Developing People

  • 90% of companies that helped employees identify and develop their natural strengths achieved 10% to 19% increased sales, 14% to 29% increased profit, 9% to 15% increase in employee engagement, and 22% to 59% fewer safety incidents. Source: “Global Study: ROI for Strengths-Based Development,” Gallup
  • 91% of engineering firms agree that to improve the supply of engineers and technicians, more employers need to provide work experience for students in the education system. Source: “2016 IET Skills Survey,” The Institution of Engineering and Technology
  • Of the children entering primary school today, 65% will end up working in job categories that do not yet exist. Source: “The Future of Jobs,” World Economic Forum

Agile Working

  • The most innovative employees are twice as likely to have the flexibility to choose when and where they work, and they also have greater access to amenities such as gyms and childcare facilities. Source: “The Gensler 2016 Workplace Survey Reveals Workplace Secrets of the Most Creative and Innovative Companies,” Gensler
  • 75% of millennials want to work from home or from another location where they feel more productive. Source: “The 2016 Deloitte Millennial Survey – Winning Over the Next Generation of Leaders,” Deloitte
  • By 2020, 43% of the U.S. workforce is expected to consist of freelance workers, and within 10 years, there will be a new Global 2000 company with no full-time employees outside of the C-suite. Source: “Accenture Technology Vision 2016,” Accenture
  • By 2021, more than 1 billion people worldwide will regularly use an AR/VR platform (augmented reality/virtual reality) to access apps, content, and data. Source: “IDC FutureScape: Worldwide IT Industry 2017 Predictions,” IDC Research Inc.
  • Renault uses virtual reality and immersive simulation technologies to allow its design team, partners, and suppliers to experience, interact with, and test-drive new car designs without any physical prototypes. Source: “Designing the Workplace of the Future: Virtual Reality and 3D Panoramas,” CNN

Environmental Impact

  • With the coming and going of ice ages over the last 400,000+ years, CO2 in the earth’s atmosphere fluctuated between 180 ppm and 300 ppm. However, CO2 levels have skyrocketed and now exceed 400 ppm for the first time in recorded history. Source: “The Relentless Rise of Carbon Dioxide,” NASA Global Climate Change: Vital Signs of the Planet.
  • New digital technologies can enable a 20% reduction in global carbon emissions by 2030. This is equivalent to eliminating 100% of China’s CO2 emissions, plus another 1.5 billion tons. Source: “SMARTer2030: Australian Opportunity for ICT Enabled Emission Reductions,” Telstra Corporation.
  • In the last two decades, 9.6% of the earth’s total wilderness areas has been lost, an estimated 3.3 million square km. Source: “Catastrophic Declines in Wilderness Areas Undermine Global Environment Targets,” Current Biology.
  • Many Latin American governments are turning to artificial intelligence to aid in their forest conservation efforts. Source: “10 Innovations That Are Changing Conservation,” Cool Green Science.
  • Air pollution continues to rise at an alarming rate, and now 92% of the world population is exposed to air pollution above WHO air quality guidelines. Source: “Ambient Air Pollution: A Global Assessment of Exposure and Burden of Disease,” World Health Organization.
  • Every year, nearly 600,000 children under the age of five die from diseases caused or exacerbated by the effects of air pollution. Source: “Clear the Air for Children,” United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

Social Impact

  • GDP per capita has increased roughly 1,000% since the 1970s. Source: “GDP Per Capita,” The World Bank.
  • CEO pay has risen 1,000% over the past 40-plus years. Source: “World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2017: Responsive and Responsible Leadership,” World Economic Forum.
  • But average worker pay has increased just 11% since the 1970s, essentially stagnating over the past 40-plus years. Source: “The Productivity–Pay Gap,” Economic Policy Institute.
  • If ordinary citizens don’t have incomes to buy products made by corporations, how can those corporations prosper? The IMF found countries with less inequality perform better.  Source: “Nobel Economist: One-Percenters, Pay Your Taxes,” CNN.
  • Although GDP growth is an indicator of progress, it has concealed growing inequality. Economies need a balanced scorecard that also assesses and prioritizes quality of life across the population. Source: “An Economy for the 99%,” Oxfam International.
  • By broadly addressing gender equity at work and in society, the world could add $12 trillion to annual gross domestic product in 2025. Source: “Realizing Gender Equality’s $12 Trillion Economic Opportunity,” McKinsey Global Institute.
  • The 43 public companies in the DiversityInc Top 50 were 24% more profitable than the S&P 500 average.  Source: “Cultural Diversity in the Workplace: How Diversity at Work Makes More Money for You,” The Balance.
  • Migrants make up just 3.4% of the world’s population, but they contribute nearly 10% of global GDP. Today, immigrants earn 20% to 30% less than native workers, but if countries narrow this wage gap by just five to 10%, they could generate an additional $1 trillion in global economic output. Source: “Global Migration’s Impact and Opportunity,” McKinsey Global Institute.

Improving lives

  • In initial tests, a machine-learning algorithm created at Carnegie Mellon was able to predict heart attacks four hours in advance, with 80% accuracy. Source: “Of Prediction and Policy,” The Economist.
  • Artificial intelligence can predict where epidemics will happen. AIME developed a platform with 87% accuracy in predicting dengue fever outbreaks three months in advance. Now they hope to similarly target other diseases, such as Ebola and Zika. Source: “Artificial Intelligence Innovation Report,” Deloitte.
  • An estimated 45.8 million people are trapped in some form of slavery in 167 countries. Source: “Global Findings,” Walk Free Foundation: The Global Slavery Index.
  • Advanced analytics and Big Data are enabling coordinated efforts to combat human trafficking networks and rapid responses when victims are located. Source: “Tracing a Web of Destruction: Can Big Data Fight Human Trafficking?” HBS Digital Initiative.
  • Two billion individuals and 200 million small businesses in emerging economies lack access to basic financial services and credit. Broad adoption of mobile banking in developing nations could create 95 million new jobs and increase GDP by $3.7 trillion by 2025. Source: “How Digital Finance Could Boost Growth in Emerging Economies,” McKinsey Global Institute.
  • Patients dying while waiting for an organ donor could soon be a thing of the past. By 2030, organs will be biologically 3D-printed on demand.  Source: “Healthcare in 2030: Goodbye Hospital, Hello Home-Spital,” World Economic Forum.

Energy and Resources

  • On the edge of the Sahara, Morocco is building what will be the world’s largest solar power plant, capable of providing energy even after the sun sets.  Source: “Morocco Unveils A Massive Solar Power Plant in the Sahara,” NPR.
  • Morocco plans to generate 14% of its energy from solar by 2020, and hopes to eventually export solar energy to Europe.  Source: “The Colossal African Solar Farm That Could Power Europe,” BBC.
  • An extremely large city can lose as much as 500 billion liters of drinking water each year through leakage. Source: “Water and Cities – Facts and Figures,” United Nations.
  • More than 300,000 billion liters of water could be saved globally by using new information and communications technologies to increase resource management efficiencies. Source: “Quantifying the Opportunity,” Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI).
  • Barcelona uses the IoT to optimize urban systems and enhance citizen services. To date, it has saved $95 million annually from reduced water and electricity consumption, increased parking revenues by $50 million a year, and generated 47,000 new jobs. Source: “How Smart City Barcelona Brought the Internet of Things to Life,” Data-Smart City Solutions, Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard Kennedy School.
  • By 2019, 40% of local and regional governments will use the IoT to turn infrastructure such as roads, streetlights, and traffic signals into assets instead of liabilities. Source: “IDC FutureScape: Worldwide Internet of Things (IoT) 2017 Predictions,” IDC Research Inc.
  • Global urban populations will add 2.5 billion people by 2050. This massive urban expansion will require as much as $70 trillion in infrastructure spending.  Source: “In a Fast-Changing World, Can Cities Be Built with Long-Term Perspective?” EY.
  • Global debt has more than doubled since the turn of the century to $152 trillion and now represents a record high 225% of global GDP. This creates a vicious feedback loop in which the debt overhang exacerbates the economic slowdown and lower economic growth hampers deleveraging. Source: “The IMF Is Worried About the World’s $152 Trillion Debt Pile,” Bloomberg.

Trust and Corruption

  • 93% of CEOs believe it’s important to engender trust that their company “will do the right thing.” Source: “Connecting the Dots: How Purpose Can Join Up Your Business,” PwC.
  • 72% of people feel that companies have become more dishonest. Source: “The State of the Debate on Purpose in Business,” EY Beacon Institute.
  • There is a growing level of distrust: only 15% of people believe that society’s institutional pillars (government, businesses, media) are working for the common person. Source: “2017 Edelman Trust Barometer,” Edelman.
  • Leading up to the U.S. election, the top fake news stories on Facebook generated 20% more engagement than factual stories.  Source: “This Analysis Shows How Fake Election News Stories Outperformed Real News on Facebook,” BuzzFeed News.
  • Bribery reduces global GDP by $1.5 trillion to $2 trillion each year, as it drives suboptimal business decision making, corrupting economic performance. Source: “Corruption: Costs and Mitigating Strategies,” International Monetary Fund.
  • To combat corruption and tax evasion in its cash economy (only 2.6% of its citizens pay taxes), the Indian government devalued 80% of its currency in three hours. Source: “Demonetization | This Is a New Indian Sunrise,” DNA India.
  • India could eliminate the need for credit cards, debit cards, and ATMs in three years by switching to biometric payments, as nearly 1.1 billion citizens have already registered their biometric data. Source: “First Cash, Now India Could Ditch Card Payments by 2020,” CNN.

Finding Purpose

  • In a study of 100 variables, seeing purpose and value in work was the single most important factor that motivated employees. Yes, more than compensation. Source: “Purpose Trumps Cash + Other New Research Findings,” LinkedIn.
  • 75% of millennials would take a pay cut to work for a socially and environmentally responsible company. Source: “2016 Cone Communications Millennial Employee Engagement Study,” Cone Communications.
  • Only 13% of employees worldwide are engaged, meaning that the other 87% are not involved in, enthusiastic about, and committed to their work and company. Source: “The Worldwide Employee Engagement Crisis,” Gallup.
  • Companies with engaged employees outperform their peers by up to 202%.  Source: “The Importance of Employee Engagement,” Dale Carnegie Training.
  • How millennials want to work and live is a problem leaders need to take seriously. Just 40% of millennials feel strongly connected to their company’s mission. Source: “Millennials Not Connecting With Their Company’s Mission,” Gallup.
  • During the next year, one in four millennials plans to leave his or her current employer, and by 2020, two in three millennials expect to have found a new employer. Source: “The 2016 Deloitte Millennial Survey – Winning over the next generation of leaders,” Deloitte.
  • Organizations in which employees perceive meaning at work are 21% more profitable. Source: “Meaning@Work, Leadership in times of digitization,” Future of Leadership Initiative.
  • 87% of millennials say that they base their purchasing decisions on whether or not a company makes positive social efforts.  Source: “Why Millennials Care About Purpose-Driven Business,” Digitalist Magazine.

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