WELCOME TO THE FUTURE
Happy New Year. As we head into 2019, we continue our Innovation and Digital Transformation (IDX) practice tradition of summarizing what we’ve learned about the skills required to lead Innovation and Digital Transformation, updating our favorite “ahahs” from 2018, and highlighting what to look for next year.
Certain to be uncertain
2018 was full of surprises. Political, economic, and technological factors contributed to eye-popping disruptions and spikes in uncertainty. Trade tensions between the US and China raised anxiety in many sectors. The growth slowdown which started in China has begun to spread, arousing fears about recession risk. UK politics have left all Brexit options—an orderly Brexit, a disorderly Brexit, or no Brexit at all—still on the table. President Macron’s weak approval ratings, the possibility of snap elections across the Europe, and Angela Merkel’s decision to step down in 2021 suggest that political risk in Europe will continue into the new year. Late-cycle profit headwinds, such as higher raw materials costs, increased freight and logistics expenses, and accelerating wage inflation are expected to pressure corporate margins, exposing winners and losers at the sector and firm levels. These and other factors contributed to whip-saw action for equities in Q4. Indeed, 2018 is ending on a sour note for some of our clients who will post negative stock returns for the year. 2018 was full of surprises—2019 will likely bring more.