Trends & Lessons from 2017
So, what were the big trends in 2017 and what lessons do they carry for us?
Anti-Corruption: Mohammad bin Salman took forceful steps to reduce top level corruption in Saudi Arabia. Anti-corruption pressure forced Robert Mugabe to resign as president of Zimbabwe. Corruption seems to be declining in many parts of the word and there seem to be 2 main reasons. One is that information suppression is declining thanks to the spread of the internet. Simultaneously, citizens everywhere are demanding better governance.
Terrorism & War: ISIS lost its strongholds in Mosul and Raqqa. On the other hand, there have been several terrorist attacks, mainly in Western Europe and West Asia. Terrorism seems to be increasingly decentralized and will probably be even more difficult to target by conventional military means. The bottomline is that the threat from terrorism is far from over.
Economic: The biggest news in India is surely the replacement of a large multitude of taxes by a single tax, the GST. Also, India rose to the 100th spot in World Bank rankings on ease of doing business. The most important news, though not a headline, is that neither the world nor any major economy suffered a major decline.
Technology: The terrible headlines include Mumbai University examination results being delayed by software bugs, WannyCry malware spreading fear and fake news spreading like wild fire. The good news of course is the greater penetration of digital, especially among the economically weaker sections and commercialization of innovations like blockchain. I want to highlight two major headlines. First is that Europe declared Uber as a taxi company, finishing the company’s positioning of being a technology company. Is this a disruption of the digital wave? This signals a new trend that digital cannot hide in the virtual world, it must be a part of the real world. I wonder if this will soon extend to cryptocurrencies! The scond headline was the debate over whether AI will empower mankind or finish it. I am glad this debate is happening now, rather than when it is too late. But it needs to move from a celebrity debate to a mainstream and scholar debate.
Banking: Fintech was the biggest impact on the banking sector across the world, with a promise to reshape banking dramatically and quickly. The progress is moderated by issues of compliance and governance.
Looking at all the above, I see ethics as the biggest underlying force in 2017, and I expect this to continue in 2018. Two issues in the financial sector are closely aligned with ethics – they are compliance and governance.
I think it is important that we develop a deeper understanding and insights about ethics, compliance and governance as we step into a year of hyper innovation. Managing innovation is far easier than managing ethics, compliance and governance.
I would like to organize a conference that covers these topics and I invite everyone who shares my enthusiasm to support this conference by way of content and sponsorship.
I await your phone calls, emails and WhatsApp messages, and to meet you in person.