Every day, global trends are reshaping society and the business landscape.
How did we get here, and where are we going?
A Connected World in Flux
Globalization is making the world “shrink” every day, as humans and trade become increasingly connected. However, there are signs that point to a new phase of globalization that is leading to different outcomes than prior years.
1. Globalization in Transition
Global exports are fundamentally shifting. Although manufactured goods are traded at higher volumes, certain services have grown up to three times faster.
The compound annual growth rate (CAGR, 2007-2017) for different sectors are as follows:
|Sectors||Global CAGR (% of GDP)|
|Telecom and IT services||7.8%|
|IP charges services||5.2%|
|Financial and insurance services||3.2%|
This has a profound impact on the mix of industries and countries involved in this shift away from goods and towards services. Asia is coming of age in this phase of the global economy.
2. Asia’s Ascent
Trade with and within Asia is rising, and shows no signs of slowing down. The region’s economic might is growing rapidly, and with higher disposable incomes, consumption is growing too.
In China, there is a new dynamic at play.
3. China’s Changing Relationships
Compared to other developed nations, China’s economy is relatively closed. The country is re-balancing its focus towards domestic consumption and relying less on other countries for trade, technology, and capital.
At the same time, the rest of the world is increasingly exposed and tied to China for the same things—and such unequal engagement has a ripple effect on everything from financial markets to flows of technology and innovation.
Technology and the Future of Work
4. Increasingly Digital India
As the costs of devices and data plummet, India’s digital adoption is surging—it closely competes with China for the highest digital population across everything from smartphone ownership to social media users.
As mass adoption of digital technologies continues, it is poised to add significant economic value to the Indian economy.
|Digital sector||Current economic value||Maximum potential value (2025E)|
|Core digital services|
e.g. IT business process management
|Newly digitizing sectors|
e.g. Financial services
Companies worldwide are also integrating new technologies—changing the nature of work itself.
5. New Geography of Work
By 2030, talent and investment in the U.S. will be concentrated in a few regions—with 60% of job growth coming from just 25 hubs.
These are just some examples of places which see double-digit potential net job growth by 2030. However, all regions will face unique challenges in the next decade.
6. Automation’s Effect on Gender at Work
Globally, women and men are at similar risk of losing their jobs to automation by 2030.
- Women: 107 million FTEs
Share of female employment, 2017: 20%
- Men: 163 million FTEs
Share of male employment, 2017: 21%
*FTE: full time equivalent. Based on midpoint automation scenario.
While everyone needs to adapt in the age of automation, women face more barriers. They spend up to 1.1 trillion hours on unpaid care work, nearly three times that of men (400 billion hours).
Women are also often in lower-paid roles or male-dominated professions. Additionally, many women have less access to digital technology, and limited flexibility to pursue education. These factors make it harder for women to “catch up” and bridge the gap left behind by automation.
Inequalities and Uncertainties
It’s clear that while technology generates opportunities, it also creates new social challenges. Low- and middle-income households face stagnating incomes, higher debt, and rising basic costs.
7. Declining Labor Share of Income
The U.S. labor share of income has been dropping for years—but ¾ of this decline has occurred since 2000.
According to McKinsey Global Institute, boom-bust commodity cycles and rising depreciation are the main factors behind this trend, more so than commonly-cited automation or globalization.
Stagnating incomes mean less purchasing power, while the cost of basics are sharply rising.
8. Changing Consumption Costs
The global inequality gap has narrowed, but within developed economies, it has actually increased.
Technology and globalization have made many discretionary goods cheaper. However, basic costs such as education, housing, and healthcare have ballooned compared to the rate of inflation over the past decade.
With wages stagnating, the higher costs for basics have eaten into disposable incomes in many mature economies.
A Changing Business World
Global trends drastically influence how companies compete with one another, transforming corporate dynamics worldwide.
9. Corporate Superstars
In just two decades, the distribution of economic profits has been growing increasingly wider. The top 10% of companies (>$1 billion in revenue) brings in an ever-larger share of total profits, while the losses of the bottom 10% share deepen.
- Average profit per company, 1995-1997
Top 10%: $0.85B
Bottom 10%: -$1.02B
- Average profit per company, 2014-2016
Top 10%: $1.36B
Bottom 10%: -$1.56B
*In 2016 dollars. Considers corporations with ≥$1 billion average sales (inflation-adjusted). Sample sizes: 2,450 companies (1996–1997) and 5,750 companies (2014–2016).
In essence, the bottom 10% destroy as much value as the top 10% create—and it has only intensified in 20 years.
10. Latin America’s Missing Middle
Latin America best exemplifies this corporate trend of companies “thriving” versus “surviving”.
Compared to similar economies, Latin American countries lack mid-size companies with over $50M in revenue. The Latin American average for firms per $1T GDP is 65 firms, while 100 firms is the benchmark average.
While Asia’s share of the largest firms is widely distributed across countries, Latin American enterprises are lagging behind.
What does the Future Hold?
CEOs and leaders will need to adapt to the new age of disruption—and quickly. To become a 21st century company, they must ask 10 crucial questions about how they operate in an increasingly complex world:
- What is our mission and purpose as a company?
- How far do we go beyond shareholder capitalism? How are we accountable to different stakeholders?
- Who benefits from our economic success? How?
- What is the time horizon for managing our economic success and impact?
- What is our responsibility to our workforce, especially given future-of-work implications?
- How do we leverage data and technology responsibly and ethically?
- Our aspirations for inclusion and diversity?
- What is our responsibility for societal and sustainability issues involving our business, and beyond?
- What are our responsibilities regarding participants in our platforms, ecosystems, supply and value chains and their impact on society?
- How should we address the global and local (including national) imperatives and implications of how we compete, contribute and operate?
As the 10 insights suggest, global trends are profoundly altering the course of our future. Their impact varies greatly depending on demographics and region.
Everyone—business leaders, policy makers, and individuals worldwide—will need to adapt to the realities of a world in transformation.