What’s the 'next big thing' for business? Have your say at #CEOSurvey

Author: Suzanne Snowden, Global Thought Leadership Suzanne Snowden- photo
Business leaders and consumers alike have come through the hardest and longest recession since the last world war. As growth and stability start to return to global markets, business leaders can take stock and look further ahead (and perhaps around the corner) to consider the ‘next big thing’ for their businesses, their industries, their customers and their own lives.

Predicting the future is tricky business.

“We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change in the next ten,” according to Bill Gates. And he goes on to warn us not to allow ourselves to be ‘lulled into inaction’ as a result. 

You could say there’s no excuse for inaction when we consider just how much has changed in our lives over the last 10 to 15 years:  from how we phone home, share photographs, read books and grab our morning coffees.  The ‘next big thing’ is probably in our midst, but hasn’t quite yet emerged.  Perhaps it’s waiting in the wings, ready to impact areas of our lives in desperate need of transformation - such as our daily commute which, if you live in one of the world’s metropolises, has gone through a reverse evolution over the past 10 years.

The next big thingCurious about what global business leaders might put forward as the ‘next big thing’ in our 17th Annual Global CEO Survey, (to be launched later this month on the eve of the World Economic Forum's Annual Meeting in Davos), we asked global CEOs: “What’s the next big thing which you think will impact your business - or, what development will revolutionise society, business or your industry in the next 10 years?”

We’re reviewing the varied and fascinating responses from hundreds of CEOs who mentioned social, mobility and cloud technologies -- to the smaller number of extraordinary predictions including the impact of robotics, 5G, capital recycling, personal digital identification and precision farming. As Bill Gates suggests, business leaders may get excited about genomics and self-drive vehicles in the short-term and at the same time underestimate the longer term impact of new wearable technology or predictive analytics.

We’ve also been surprised at a range of gloomier responses, including those CEOs who used this question to share their increasing concern around access to a shrinking talent pool or the demise of the Euro. 

We’ll be sharing further analysis of these responses in the launch of the full survey on 21 January (sign-up here to join the live webcast from Davos). In the meantime, here’s a peek at what one of the CEOs we interviewed - Mark Wilson, group CEO of Aviva - said he thought was the next big thing for the global insurance market.



As we enter 2014, for those of us dreading Monday mornings, here’s to hoping the next big thing will help us all cope with this year’s daily commute!

And, of course, we’d love to hear your views. What’s your prediction of the next big thing? Add your thoughts in the comment section below – or join the discussion on Twitter using #CEOSurvey. You can follow the conversation on PwC's pages on LinkedInTwitter and Facebook.




Suzanne is Programme Director for PwC's Annual Global CEO Survey and Global Director of Thought Leadership at PwC.  She has a passion for scanning the horizon for the latest trends and issues which impact global business and pilots PwC's network of thought leaders engaging in the creation, development and presentation of PwC's research and insights.


« How global wage growth will reshape business | Main | Could 2014 be the year the world’s advanced economies get their mojo back? »


Imagine a world in which American retail and manufacturing is virtually non-existent. Furthermore, imagine that one of the most ubiquitous and significant assets on the balance sheets of the United States' largest corporations is the intangible asset of intellectual property. Hard to believe, right? Not if you take a look at the incredibly disruptive and transformative potential of 3D printers. I believe that personal and commercial 3D printers, like the personal computer and cellular phone/multimedia device, will radically alter our lives in the future. I have listed below five major ways that personal 3D printers will change the economy and our livelihood as we know it:

1) 3D printers will enable the simplicity of point-and-click purchasing of any product that can be "printed" at home as long as the end user has ample "raw materials cartridges."

2) They will render unnecessary the cost of labor inputs into manufacturing, and shift the power consumption costs of production to the end users/owners of 3D printers.

3) They will reduce transportation costs of goods by eliminating the need for large-scale shipping and logistics operations

4) The predominant "product" that companies will sell, as a result, will be the intellectual property that underlies the design of products that are in demand by consumers

5) 3D printers will also virtually eliminate the need for many companies to maintain inventories of their products on hand as just-in-time inventory evolves to become near-instantaneous provision of the product users want to purchase

I agree the Next big thing is 3d printing. Just take a look at the markets. These 3d printing companies are 12 folding over 3 years trading at high P/E ratios. If that's not a sign then I don't know what is!

Excellent insights David. I share your enthusiasm for the promise of 3D printing and recently wrote a primer on the subject. http://usblogs.pwc.com/emerging-technology/3d-printing-brink-disruption/

Readers of the blog raised some interesting questions about the limitations of 3D printing that I think are worthy of further exploration. It'll be interesting to see how we overcome barriers such as quality of production, cost of materials, environmental impact, etc. Given the hurdles, how long do you think it will it take for 3D Printing to disrupt the manufacturing industry to the degree you envision?

Robotics will create the most impact on market in the next ten years. It will impact working market that will impact all other things...

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated and will not appear until the author has approved them.