Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 12/2012

Industries in 2013: A special report from the Economist Intelligence Unit

December 2012

Economist Intelligence Unit


Last year we published Industries in 2012 and made a number of predictions about developments in our six key industries – Automotive, Consumer Goods and Retail, Energy, Financial Services, Healthcare and Telecommunications. Some of our predictions were prescient, others were premature. In particular:  We said that Chinese automakers would become more assertive in 2012. They did. In 2012 Chinese carmakers opened plants in Bulgaria, Egypt, Uruguay and elsewhere, and announced expansion plans in many more countries. Meanwhile, China’s auto exports are expected to top 1m units for the year. We said retail and consumer goods would need to get serious about multi-channel selling. They have. Best Buy reversed its initial attempts to block “showrooming” (testing a product in-store and then buying it elsewhere online), and has now embraced it as part of its customer acquisition strategy. Even pure play retailers like Amazon and eBay reverted back to traditional channels with lockers and physical collection points. We expected little progress on emissions-reducing policies. We were right. Bickering between policy makers in rich economies and developing countries continues. We predicted a breakthrough in mobile payments in the developed world. We were too optimistic. Although there are signs of progress, the industry remains fragmented thanks to a profusion of standards and payment providers. Wider adoption will take more time. We anticipated turbulence in healthcare in 2012. We were right. Efforts to cut health spending helped spark riots in Greece and Spain, while healthcare reforms proved to be the most divisive issue in the US presidential election. And that is ignoring the turbulence within the pharma companies most affected by patent expiry.  We expected to hear even more about cloud computing in 2012 than we had in 2011. We were right. Spending on cloud services will continue in 2013. Alongside this, companies will seek renewed assurances about security and fresh revenue streams by mining the petabytes of “big data” they are sending to the cloud.