Whether in technology or any other field, if you want to know what’s coming, ask entrepreneurs, the people who take big risks based on their view of what’s next. Members of the Houston Chapter of Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) share their take on what 2019 will look like in their industries.
High Tech: James McDonough, Founder and CEO of Fat Finger, a technology company that transforms business processes with smart, mobile forms, says, “2019 will be the year that large enterprises take digitization efforts seriously and invest in people and projects. Older themes like mobility, data, and the Internet of Everything (IoT) are starting to show value and, combined with newer themes like AI, will start to take hold. You will start to see employment titles like Digital Transformation Lead, Chief Innovation Officer, and Innovation Manager become common roles in most teams.” He also ponders, “When will we see examples of blockchain and new profit-sharing models threaten existing business models? How quickly will Machine Learning and AI be as common to everyday small businesses as email? And how long will it take for the physical world to be mapped to the digital market (Spatial Web, Web 3.0, etc.), and how will we interact with these new digital layers?”
Healthcare: Ron Barshop, CEO of Beacon Clinics, predicts that hospitals will continue to replace primary care physicians because of their pricing advantage. Independent primary care physicians are selling their practices to larger institutions, aging, and retiring in high numbers, and there are not enough docs in this practice to replace them. Patients of the remaining independent primary care docs should expect wait times to grow, and mergers among the large healthcare providers will become even more common. He says, “The big providers will continue consolidating care in fewer hands.”
Accounting: Gary Cooper, President/CEO of Cooper CPA Group, predicts more roll-ups and mergers. While noting that local CPA firms (firms like his own) are becoming extinct, Cooper also predicts that the economy will continue to grow. He states, “Most businesses have largely experienced growth and diversity, which creates a stronger revenue base for most CPA firms. Growth, diversity of services, and better profit margins are the general outlook. On the less positive side, Cooper also states that the increasing difficulty for CPA firms in finding great employees will “limit some practices on the amount of business that can be adequately handled.”
Commercial Real Estate: Mark Davis of Davis Commercial sees continued strength in the Houston commercial real estate market. Mark cites positive contributing factors, including the more than 130,000 jobs that have been created in Houston in the last 12 months, low unemployment, and record home sales. He says, “All segments of the commercial market are strong, with the exception of office space, which has been hammered by low oil prices and for which there is no quick fix in sight.”
Cybersecurity: Cindy Boyd, founder of Sentigy, says cybersecurity will continue to be a top concern for businesses in 2019. Even small companies, she says, “must prepare proactively for continued threats to their data and intellectual property. We expect to see a continuation of data breaches in business coming from a variety of threat vectors, increasingly including nation states.” Boyd adds that businesses dealing with critical infrastructure like the power grid, pipelines, water and chemical plants need to be especially vigilant, and that includes companies that are suppliers to these enterprises, especially since suppliers’ systems have been used to gain access in a number of recent breaches. She says, “Insurance companies are increasingly limiting coverage for incidents and are requiring their insured clients to have security programs in place that include continuing security awareness training for all employees. Supply chain partners are being vetted to make certain that their programs are also in place.” Boyd also expects to see a growing shortage of qualified cybersecurity workers as companies work to address their vulnerabilities, even though universities and other educational organizations are working to address the need.
Mortgage Banking: Robert Wagnon, CEO of Republic State Mortgage, says, “The second half of 2018’s decline in home sales reflects a lack of inventory and the rising cost of homes. Home prices are now at record highs, and inventory levels have begun climbing back from 30-year lows. Rising mortgage rates, higher home prices and global trade tensions have contributed to the decline. 2019 looks to mirror the second half of 2018 with some growth but a general cooling. Robert Dietz, chief economist at the National Association of Home Builders, said he expects single-family housing starts to grow less than 2%, down from about 4% this year and 8% in 2017. Texas, however, remains an outlier, statistically outpacing the broader market.”
The Entrepreneur’s Organization (EO) is the only global business network exclusively for entrepreneurs. With 13,000+ members in 57 countries, EO is a member-led learning organization focused on engaging and empowering its member leaders to learn from each other, leading to greater business success and an enriched personal life.