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Quick Takes

Environment Dominates the Risk Outlook of Younger Stakeholders

Economic, environmental and domestic political risks all dominate the short-term concerns of respondents to the Global Risks Perception Survey. Its results are presented in the 2020 Global Risks Report from the World Economic Forum, produced with support from Marsh & McLennan and other partners. 

The first column shows risks that are expected to increase by the WEF’s multistakeholder community, while the second column shows the concerns of WEF’s younger constituents. 

It illustrates the different priorities of each group, with the latter being much more focused on climate change and its impacts. 

Economic confrontations and their effects on trade — complicated by protectionism and the lack of a resolution to 2019’s trade war — mostly concern the group of WEF multistakeholders, along with the potential for a recession in a major economy.  

Economic inequality and social issues are another focal point: The domestic political fractures and protests seen in 2019 are expected to continue as people demand more from and remain critical of their governments. Without social stability, countries will find it more difficult to address key global issues, the report says. 

The interrelated nature of global risks complicates their potential solutions, for example, “a growth in nationalist policies risk[s] preventing meaningful action,” against climate change, the report notes. 

AI Is Growing, but Strategy and Skills Need to Catch Up

Source: Enterprise Technology Trends, Salesforce

AI adoption is expected to double within two years in the IT industry. And chatbots — a form of AI that have maintained the same pace of adoption as AI at large — are also expected to double in use within the same time frame, a study by Salesforce shows.

Eighty-three percent of industry leaders say that AI is transforming customer engagement, and 69% say it is transforming their business, with customer service and marketing ranking as the areas of AI’s highest potential value. Beyond customer service, roughly 80% of industry leaders anticipate AI contributing to increased business security and operating efficiency.

However, while 37% of leaders say AI is a high priority, only 7% have a completely defined AI strategy. Insufficient skill sets are the biggest barrier to AI implementation, with just 10% of workers having advanced AI skills to match the desire to adopt the technology. 

But who is responsible for closing this skills gap? Ninety-six percent of general public respondents said: companies. 

Europe, North America Lead Global Trends for Childless Households and Fewer Married Couples

Source: Regional values calculated by UN Women using published country-level estimates from the UN DESA 2018a. For this analysis, data on China are based on estimates produced and published in Hu and Peng 2015.

Note: Regional estimates marked with an asterisk (*) are based on less than two-thirds of their respective regional population and should be treated with caution: Europe and Northern America (41% of the population) and Northern Africa and Western Asia (36.1% of the population). Global and regional distributions of households by type may not total 100 due to rounding. Population coverage was insufficient for Oceania and therefore not shown.

Family structures are rapidly changing, with fewer than four of every 10 households across the world reflecting the “traditional” composition of a couple with children, according to a new UN Women report

But the trends diverge per region, with Europe and North America having the highest portion of couple-only (24%) and one-person occupancy households (27%). Conversely, 59% of households in the Middle East and North Africa include children. 

Nevertheless, shifting employment trends and changing societal norms toward women and marriage are being felt globally, but at varying paces. For example, the proportion of women aged 45-49 to have never married has increased across the world since 1990, with the rate skyrocketing by 220% in Australia and New Zealand compared to just an 18% increase in Latin America.

To ensure socioeconomic prosperity, governments and employers need to enact policies that recognize evolving family dynamics, such as equal employment opportunities for women, paid parental leave and child-related support for lone-mother households. “The relationship between families, economies and governments is a symbiotic one: Each needs the other to flourish and to achieve stable and prosperous societies,” the report adds.

Travel Services Companies Aim to ‘Own the Vacation’

Source: Global Web Index 2015 and 2019

Averages conducted between Q1-Q4 2015 and Q1-Q2 2019

Base: 197,734 (2015) and 279,055 (2019), internet users aged 16-64

Travel apps registered a massive 90% growth in use over the course of just five years. They were outpaced only by messaging and TV apps, according to the Global Web Index’s report on consumer trends for 2020.

Their growth has enabled travel companies to collect increasing amounts of user data. In turn, app users expect a connected and personalized experience when managing the logistics of their travel. 

This has prompted an industry shift wherein various travel-related companies — including review sites, publishers and airlines — are moving beyond simply providing a service for one part of a trip. 

Now, they want to be involved in travelers’ experiences, end-to-end. They are aiming for their brand to become “synonymous with taking a trip,” the report says, much like other brands have become synonymous with watching movies or shopping. 

More Than 4 Million Robots Will Be in Industrial Operation by 2022

Source: IFR World Robotics 2019

Robots are flooding the world’s logistics and supply sector, with more than 4 million robots set to be in industrial operation come 2022. As shown above, Asia — and to be more precise, China — is dominating shipments of robotics, with the region witnessing consistent growth in the use of robotics over the past decade compared to America and Europe. 

The slowed demand for manufacturing robots in the United States “may suggest it has hit a saturation point,” writes Ryan LaRanger of PreScouter. Meanwhile China, still the world’s main manufacturing hub, is increasingly turning to robotics to improve its production. As of 2018, China had 140 robots in the manufacturing industry per 10,000 employees — well above the global average of 99 robots.

As advances in robotic technology continue, LaRanger contends, additional industries, such as health care and construction, will open up to “robotic labor.” Training workers “to adopt new technologies into their already existing practice,” he suggests, is essential to ensuring a seamless interaction between human employees and technology, without the need for expensive retraining.

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