The Global Business Policy Council is constantly scanning the international horizon to anticipate and understand how external factors can influence our clients’ business. The matrix below highlights what we see as some of the most important forces at work in the world right now.
Explore this page for insights into the trends that are shaping the world, and the opportunities and challenges they present for businesses—and check back to see how this list evolves as conditions change.
Consumer tastes are changing dramatically, as are the means by which companies engage their customers, because of social, demographic and economic shifts around the world.More
Regulation and Activism
Environment and Natural Resources
Realignment of global supply chainAs supply and demand relocate and regulatory and resource constraints increase supply costs, the “make in the developing, sell in the developed” world model has become outdated.
New models of consumer engagementConsumer tastes are changing dramatically, as are the means by which companies engage their customers, because of social, demographic and economic shifts around the world.
War for talentThe global war for talent is escalating, spurred by the advance of knowledge-based economic activity and shifting demographic and educational trends.
Changing role of governmentRising debt levels and changing demographics are triggering a revision of the fundamental relationship among businesses, individuals and government.
Depleting natural resourcesA growing global population is increasing pressure on resources, which is in turn multiplied as the population grows richer. The result is a Malthusian challenge for the 21st century.
New paradigms in product design and manufacturingTechnological advances, along with market demands for increased speed and flexibility, have changed the way companies develop products, resulting in new paradigms for design and manufacturing.
Economic shift from global North to SouthThe global “south,” emerging and developing economies, is overtaking the global “north,” advanced industrial countries in economic output, largely because of favorable demographic shifts, rising investments, and increased productivity.
The insatiable consumerConsumers in advanced markets are showing signs of returning to pre-crisis consumption patterns in which income is the only limiting factor. Meanwhile, developing world consumers are joining the middle class in droves.
Growing infrastructure needsNew pressures in emerging markets and neglected needs in developed countries are converging to put increased stress on infrastructure worldwide.
Rising geopolitical instabilityThe risk of geopolitical instability is rising as many countries face potentially destabilizing power transitions over the next few years and the old global system is being eclipsed by a more diffuse power structure.
Responding to the sustainability challengeGreater consumer awareness of environmental issues, increasing reputational costs of ignoring these issues, and more action by governments and activist groups has set the stage for the global economy to respond to the sustainability challenge.
New and innovative R&D modelsPowerful collaboration tools and the global diffusion of talent, along with growing market pressures for speed and flexibility, have driven the creation of new and innovative R&D models.
More inclusive globalizationThe benefits or globalzation are expanding to broader groups because of a migrating global workforce, increased access to global goods and services, and more widely available communications technology.
New era of squeezed profitabilityThe changing dynamics of globalization, empowered consumers, new market entrants, the rising cost of capital, and increased government oversight are eroding margins as never before. It’s a new era of squeezed profitability.
Changing global governanceThe global power structure is undergoing a dramatic shift. Changes in relative economic power coupled with ongoing social and demographic realignment are leading to an emerging—and vastly different—multipolar world.
Elevated financial volatility and riskAs the speed and volume of global flows increase dramatically because of globalization and more advanced connectivity and information technologies, the world is entering a new state of elevated financial volatility and risk.