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Think ahead of the curve in the coming year, by Bob Vecchiotti

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It’s 2020. Hooray?

We finally reach 2020, a year much discussed in 2019. Now with this reality what can we really expect? The word that comes to mind for 2020 expectation is tensions. For starters, in politics, we have an impeached president, a contentious Senate, a House dominated by a single party and a presidential election year. We will have more trade wars with unsettling consequences. There’s also the possibility of a looming worldwide recession. Experts place the chances of recession between 35 percent to 55 percent. Meanwhile, Britain decides how to leave the European Union.

In the religious arena, we have tensions rising between Sunni and Shia Muslim forces, mostly in the Middle East. Add the Israelis and you have enough tension to last into the next decade. In the Christian world, it’s evangelicals, conservatives and progressives all seeking the podium for influence. Can these tensions ignite local conflicts or worse even wars in new business markets?

In social media, there’s a struggle to be free or submit to some government regulation. Being free means exposing people to fake news from our own dissident elements as well as Russia, China, Iran and many terrorist forces. Finding the truth will be a problem for decision makers seeking new business opportunities. But that effort can and must be done.

What does all this mean for businesses large and small? It means being vigilant to elect political leaders who are for the needs of their people, for justice and for economic opportunity. It means praying for the common good and not necessarily for partisan causes and outcomes. These may be too narrow for many to benefit. This isn’t a progressive request; it’s one for ethical and legal survival. Here are a few other suggestions for profit and contribution in 2020.

Find the disruptive path within your specific industry. Don’t settle for profits from current products and services. Find the new, the different, the innovative, the radical. At every team meeting make sure this is a focus. Capitalize on the circumstances you face and transform them into lasting opportunities.

Keep a global focus for the disruptive path. There will be global market opportunities. Enlarge your environmental scan to include other industries where opportunities may be easy to find. All the while recognizing that the areas of tension may very well be opportunities for you to pursue.

There are many emerging markets in Southeast Asia and Africa for example. These areas are seeking new business from businesses like yours. Explore them as part of your long-range planning. They are growing faster than the world economy.

Where does technology fit? Some very advanced technology is planned to assist in being disruptive and vigilant. Here are a few examples.

AI as a service will be a significant transformative technology. As service providers expand, seek the AI applications that will work best for you. 5G networks will expand in 2020 and will provide faster download and upload speeds at economical costs. The revolution in robotics from manufacturing to home will continue. Look for robotics to expand in areas such as schools, hospitals and ocean liners. Cybersecurity will keep advancing to protect both home and office devices from intrusion and vicious attack. Make sure you are protected with the latest devices and software. Keep up with these advances and others at technology expos throughout the year.

2020 will be a year that demands leaders who recognize the importance of implementers and seek to build more effective and closer relationships with them. It’s also a time for leaders who know how to motivate the spirit in the people who work with them. They will have the best resources to understand tension and know how to interpret it as an opportunity for future success with thoughtful business strategies.

Bob Vecchiotti of Dublin is a business adviser and executive coach in Peterborough.

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