Business trends for 2019 and beyond

Where is business going in 2019? What effect will Brexit and regulation have in Ireland? What will technology do to our jobs and work practices and procedures? Mark Kennedy, Managing Partner of Mazars, looks into what might be in store for 2019 and beyond.

One of the key challenges for any business leader is to find space to identify which economic and societal trends are likely to impact their company and to sift the real opportunities and threats from the internal and external­­­ “noise” that can sometimes surround us. It can be difficult to be prescriptive on a topic as broad as the future of business. Nonetheless, there are several topics I think are central to trends in Ireland in the short term and influential for most companies.

Regulation

We are living through the age of regulation, in almost every sphere. The intersection of business and general societal concerns will remain a key issue, as trade and services become more global and subject to increasingly large organisations. The challenge is to understand what that means for your company, position and differentiate by managing the challenges and costs arising. Getting it wrong is a significant brand detractor.

Sustainability

Society is demanding that business be increasingly proactive on a range of sustainability issues – diversity and equality, environment and waste, human rights and responsibilities. This is both an opportunity and a threat. Those who embrace the challenge and articulate their position stand to gain in terms of recruitment, brand perception and, ultimately profitability and sustainability of their own business.

Interest rates

We are living through a period of historically low-interest rates. Money has rarely been cheaper, and companies have seized the opportunities that this has brought. Prudent leaders will have realised and begun to hedge themselves against rate increases in the medium term. Fundamentally, positioning on this is a strategic question.

Technology

A catch-all term, but how we do business has been revolutionised in the past decade and this period of change looks certain to continue as technologies evolve. For most of us, this is an opportunity to reevaluate business models and drive revenue generation, distribution and cost factors differently. For the entrepreneurial, markets have never been more accessible and the ways in which we work more subject to disruption. Threats exist, and cyber-security is a key issue for all companies.

Brexit

Lastly, one must mention Brexit. At the time of writing, the ultimate deal is not clear, but it is a challenge for Irish companies either directly or indirectly. It is also emblematic of a changing landscape, and this theme of change in international trade relationships is likely to remain prevalent in the next five years. Politics and nationalism are again risks.

The business world is shifting quickly, understanding and adapting to change is a key skill. We have tools at our disposal which help in developing that skill set - the internet has made knowledge accessible in formats. The key theme to all of this is change - and the changes we have seen in recent years are only now beginning to be understood.

Mazars hosts The Future of Business podcast series with Vincent Wall, exploring what’s important both from the perspective of executives and the impact on society more generally. You can listen to it here .

This article first appeared in Briefly , a weekly eNewsletter from Accountancy Ireland on the 26th November 2018.

Podcast

ET-FOB

The Future of Business Podcast

Hosted by Vincent Wall of Newstalk, the Future of Business podcast series delves into the issues which will have a big impact on the future of business in Ireland and beyond, exploring what’s important both from the perspective of business people and the impact on society more generally.

Brexit

ET-Brexit

Brexit

The UK public has voted to leave the EU, which will have significant implications for businesses and individuals.