My personal predictions for 2018 – tech & business trends in a globally connected world

It is this time of the year again to share my personal thoughts & predictions for how the world will change more in the new year with all the tech, business & economic developments taking place around the globe. Do you feel the world is a smaller place with all the direct global communications and consumption of media content? As we are bombarded daily with massive information through social media platforms, subconscious confusion is lurking in our rational thinking and we crush in perception walls of not understanding the events or the international forces that affect and shape our lives as economic entities & citizens. These global powers are aggressively shaping urbanization and the future which is now.

What a year for Bitcoin. There will be more excitement for cryptocurrencies as some financial institutions are starting to see opportunities where other bankers or governments see a growing threat for traditional currencies, trade and exchanges. History teaches us that when regulatory agencies tried to limit a new technology embraced by millions, they ended up strengthening these movements instead of stoping their activity. Just check the global news on Bitcoin to see that it is here to stay.

Bitcoin technology is hard to attack because of its decentralization core features making it less vulnerable to hackers and cyber attacks, in comparison to traditional online banking systems which are far more centralized as financial data stored or customer records can be broken (See Equifax). Cybersecurity therefore will be vital for customer trust and the IT infrastructure of banks needs to be updated, an opportunity for fintech startups. Goldman Sachs has decided to trade bitcoins which is a positive sign for potential investors of cryptocurrencies. The expected fluctuation of the Bitcoin price is normal because of its natural risk. Blockchain technologies supporting Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies will be an attractive field for investors willing to pour money in startups that develop blockchain to secure these systems from hacking or create new business models. Blockchain will make sure that data communications and financial exchanges will remain secure across the manufacturing, processing, distribution chain in various industries.

The banking and finance industry has started adopting mobile applications to serve their customers where a physical presence is not needed. In Asia, more and more people are using their smartphones for various payments, a trend grasped by local banks to offer payment methods through fintech applications. China is leading online payments as millions of people are skipping credit cards, cash, choosing mobile online payments (see Alipay).

Artificial Intelligence: Chatbots are gaining ground and although still in experimentation mode for advanced usage, virtual assistants will start replacing customer support jobs as bots will evolve to serving more complicated tasks and interacting with customers in real time. Bots will soon process our health records, financial records and consult us to optimize our diet or purchases when exceeding our card limits.

Because we are at a critical point where we are closer to creating computer systems that will surpass human performance, marking the beginning of the Singularity era and a new industrial revolution, a wave of change will benefit the world and bring domestic & international problems at the same time. AI will be generating so much data that data analytics will become a new science already taught across universities of the world and through online seminars. Understanding big data means a competitive advantage in global sales, operations and growth for companies. Internet-of-services (IoT) will also produce vast amounts of data and information gathered through sensors applied in house devices connected to the web (See Amazon’s Alexa).

Back in the offline world, Brexit is still discussed and negotiated between UK and EU casting shadows for the unity of the eurozone in 2018. Catalonia is another example of separatist national voices supporting analysts fears for the possible long term collapse of the European Union. A neo-liberal EU where economic and monetary policies are mainly set by Germany and Brussels, find opposition from populist parties and far-right politics. Euro-skepticism and separatism is an important threat to Europe’s unity.

Greece is and will remain the weakest link across all member states of the eurozone with a striving economy and highly indebted. Presenting a budget surplus due to over-taxation and not through real growth prospects is clearly a negative sign for the future of its economy. If Angela Merkel’s coalition government weakens more, we might see a different picture in European politics.

According to the IMF, India will be the country with the highest growth in 2018 leaving even China behind. Asia is the hot bed for watchers of global economic growth. This is because China is focusing on consumer growth along with product innovation. Networking effects will take place as the fruits of China’s economy will positively boost the economies neighbor states. If the world does not face an armed conflict between NK and the West in 2018 (US, SK, Japan), analysts expect moderate economic expansion in Asia although more reforms will be needed to meet global trade policies. Geopolitical tensions of late 2017 in the Eastern world for Jerusalem led by Trump might not scare global markets but Syria is a field where powers will not easily withdraw. Climate change is already affecting our economies and cities, countries should collaborate to further reduce the carbon print.

Global firms, institutions, companies & people, need answers. The way to provide reasonable answers today for the immense changes shaping our lives is by leveraging the power of technology and especially big data generated by smart applications, AI, IoT, Blockchain, online payments, etc. Globalization expressed through technological progress, geopolitical tensions, and the free movement of capital also creates inequality in countries where governments are corrupted or unfriendly policies are imposed upon citizens and entrepreneurs. The global economy is a playfield of technological disruptions, geopolitical tensions and political fragmentation, which will become more intense in 2018. By working together and understanding domestic and international powers will fill us with hope for the future.

Happy New Year!

I dedicate this blog entry & analysis to my daughter, Jenny, who turned 2 in December 2017. 

-Stathis Kassios

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Assorted links by Cyber Consultant

How the World Has Changed From 1917 to 2017 

CHANGE IS NOT A ONCE IN A WHILE THING ANYMORE

Tech, Transport, Tourism, Transformation — What To Know About The Sharing Economy In Africa

H καλύτερη εφαρμογή για τις μετακινήσεις σας

One of the latest international projects I have developed, Sloa Camp. Sloa Camp will bridge students from Asia with universities in Europe and USA.

0 % corporate tax within the EU – Bulgaria. Contact me for an introduction to Innovires Business & Legal Consulting Office.

Future Match 2017. March 20-24 Hanover, Germany. 

 

 

Assorted links

moovit newsletter January 2017: http://us3.campaign-archive1.com/?u=c24727311fc31f651cff01770&id=2decc8dda6

traders out, computer engineers in: https://www.technologyreview.com/s/603431/as-goldman-embraces-automation-even-the-masters-of-the-universe-are-threatened/

innovires legal & consulting business office: https://www.facebook.com/innovires/

a nice interview with economist Gita Gopinath for world trade, currency wars, etc. https://www.mpls.frb.org/publications/the-region/interview-with-gita-gopinath

5 reasons why Greek businesses should move to a paperless – digital office: https://sevdesk.gr/blog/paperless-office-greece/

SaaS startup phenomenon globally: http://buff.ly/2hx5DT5

what is entrepreneurship?: http://www.domeniconicolo.it/2017/01/04/transforming-the-potential-value-of-goods-services-and-locations-real-value-added/

vc backed us companies: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10210401845234556&set=a.2137724174767.2116328.1596004607&type=3

My predictions for 2016. Trends in a globally connected world.

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Dear readers,

Time flies. It’s this time of the year again that I would like to share with you my predictions & trends for 2016.

– The sharing economy platforms like Uber, Airbnb, Lyft, etc. are not only disrupting current business models, they are also creating jobs and generating income for unemployed or even low paid people. These platforms establish a new type of professional life away from the norms of current & old labor laws and traditional employment. See this research for referenece: http://mercatus.org/publication/evaluating-growth-1099-workforce

Internet of Things: we hear & read more and more about the Internet of Things (IoT) and how our lifes will be transformed hopefully for the better. All electronic devices that we use daily will be connected to each other and with the world wide web, collecting and exchanging huge amounts of data that have to make sense and offer practical advantages. The IoT is predicted to have a $13 trillion impact on the global economy. Imagine vehicles, house devices, company offices, factories & work sites, all riding the connectivity wave and creating smarter and more efficient products & services. See this article by McKinsey: http://www.mckinsey.com/insights/high_tech_telecoms_internet/preparing_it_systems_and_organizations_for_the_internet_of_things

Social media & education: these global online networks will play a pivotal role in how people present themselves online. The networks people will be creating matter for the information they share thus education will also be networked online. Maybe we get to see more social networks popping up as with over 3 billion users globally using laptops, smartphones, tablets, more networks will be created to serve these people’s needs. Think poor countries for example where a smartphone connected to the internet, will be a great way to be educated, communicate personally & professionally, gain knowledge of the world outside of the local boundaries that sometimes corrupted governments impose.

Artificial Intelligence: Machines are getting smarter with all the big data we feed them. Will machines help us in the future or take over our lives and destroy millions of jobs in the various industries and sectors of the economy? http://www.wired.co.uk/magazine/archive/2015/11/features/wired-world-2016-alain-de-botton-artificial-emotional-intelligence

Intelligence: due to the fast pace of digital connectivity, a vast amount of information and data becomes available to public organizations, research centers, private companies. As we are building the Everest of data, we carefully have to monitor the intelligence spurring from the top of the mountain which will benefit humanity, eliminate the ”noise” (bad data that don’t make sense) and reduce risks that would appear if sensitive data becomes available to the wrong hands. Organizations and companies will have to protect their data through strong cybersecurity measures and proactive implementation of advanced system security & architecture.

3D Printers: 3D printing will lead the very essence of technological & manufacturing disruption across all kinds of industries, using new materials to construct or replicate products in pharmaceuticals, bio-industry, industrial design, space exploration, house building, etc.

Global growth: according to IMF (International Monetary Fund) the global economy is expected to grow in 2016 by 3.6, expecting a calm growth for Europe, the same growth as last year’s for USA and a bit slower for Canada. The riddle of growth will go to China as nobody can actually predict what is happening in this giant economy due to the lack of trust in their statistics. India will continue to grow strong while Japan returned to recession. Recurring global currency wars and the domestic currencies of Latin American countries will create problems in their development.

Greece’s Debt continues to increase, probably in a non-sustainable way. Much has been discussed in global news & media for ways to make it more sustainable and decrease the burden of imposing more austerity measures. The co-founder of Hellene.gr, Sheridan Tatsuno, has published an article on ways for Greece to develop its economy beyond its debt through tourism, exports, technology outsourcing: http://hellene.gr/news/beyond-greeces-debt-trap/

Balkan countries have started providing important business incentives by setting zero taxes for new companies as a way to invite entrepreneurs from other countries. This is what I call long term strategic thinking and planning. See the example of Albania: http://digjitale.com/2015/11/zero-taxes-for-startups-in-albania/

Geopolitical risks: Independent of the exciting news coming from technology, the political problems in countries like Syria, the general turbulence in the Middle East, the involvement of different powers with different interests, will remain a threat for the global markets (refer to the EU stock market indexes when Turkey shot down a Russian jet). The world will also be watching the US presidential election campaign because of the different policies the elected leader will follow on terrorism, homeland security and foreign policy matters.

Because of the interconnectedness of the global economy, national problems become international (see the Chinese stock market crash & repercussions), altering capital flows & investors sentiment. The monetary policy of FED & ECB on interest rates will also play an important role for global growth and development.

My personal wishes to you for health, wealth and happiness in 2016!

Stathis Kassios
Hellene.gr Co-founder
Moovit Operations Consultant Greece
Web Consultant & Economist