The future of 2020: Predictions from our faculty

Cornelis Coetzee
December 9, 2019 · 4 min read

As the door to 2019 closes, we look into what possibilities the opening of 2020 might bring. Here are some topical predictions from our faculty at Nexford

It’s hard to comprehend that we are just under a month away from the year 2020. Amidst the digital age, we are seeing transformations on a global scale, waiting in apprehension for what the future holds. Although, impossible to accurately predict the possibilities, here are a few ideas from our faculty.

“Complex systems thinking is experiencing a moment of popularity within the worlds of policy research and practice. It’s an intuitively exciting approach that seems to capture some fundamental truth about our experience of policy: it suggests that policymaking takes place in a system that operates somewhere on the spectrum between “complicated” and “chaos”, making the results of policy interventions difficult to predict.” Quarmby (2018).


Complex systems behave in a way that is greater than the sum of their individual parts, which means that a system is not understood by just looking at its individual elements, but rather as a whole. Complex systems involve feedback mechanisms (from output to input) where small actions in input can have a wide-spread effect across the system, which is a representative example of the Chaos Theory. “In order to deal with an increasingly complex world, we need ever more sophisticated computational models that can help us make decisions wisely and understand the potential consequences of choices” Calder et al. (2018).

Creating an efficient IT system model requires far more than just raw data and technical skills.

It requires close collaboration between model commissioners, developers, users, and reviewers. Good modeling requires its users and commissioners to understand more about the whole process, including the different kinds of purpose a model can have and the different technical bases.

Unfortunately, decisions about policies and systems, which are supposed to align with the policies, are made in the C-suite of organizations and enforced on the workforce who must adhere and execute these policies using the implemented systems.  The effects of these decisions on the workforce are rarely considered when output is affected by input. Collaboration appears to end at the C-suite and corrective actions, alternatives and re-modeling become prone to profit margin-based decision making after initial implementation.

2020 would see the beginning of the implosion of standardized systems with increased growth in customized, self-developed systems and applications within organizations. With programming languages such as Code, Python and Java now being available to the general public, as opposed to a selected few in the past, the future will see more and more organizations developing their own IT systems which will meet their policy needs instead of enforcing pre-existing licensed software (which only meets certain criteria of the business output) onto existing business policies. Policies will hence be contextualized within the parameters of the regulatory and operational landscape instead of attempting a “force fit” of policies to pre-determined system parameters and vice versa.  This will also eliminate the limited output of “this is the only way it can be done” to a wider scope of decision making and alternative output options in terms of operational systems and policies.

In 2020, higher education institutions will offer courses that provide focus on building technology skills to complement their specialization. Most students today are looking forward to knowing more about data analytics, artificial intelligence, and machine learning, among others. In the coming years, emerging countries will be more aggressive in developing their capability, especially in the field of education and technology. They will take advantage of their young and intelligent workforce to sustain their economic growth.

In the past decades, we have seen the governments of emerging countries laying down the foundations for this through their policies. For instance, Singapore has a “regulatory sandbox” to encourage fintech (Madgavkar, Seong & Woetzel, 2019). According to Shenglin, Simonelli, Ruidog, Bosc & Wenwei (2017), “technology is dynamic, and so should education.” We are seeing for years now that the gap between education and the labor market further increased because of the rapid developments in technology. Simply put, a student earning his four-year degree today finds himself outdated when he enters the labor force right after graduation. This reality is becoming more and more “real” on the face of higher education institutions.

As a result of innovation and digital technologies, global citizens have started (and demanded) to learn differently.  Today’s learners have little spare time, are hyperconnected, and require knowledge that is both flexible and readily accessible.  So, gone are the days of four- (or five-) year degree programs and in are the days of micro “credentials”, certificates and Just-in-Time (JIT) learning.  This is exactly what unbundling education is all about; the process of disaggregating curriculum into components, very often with external actors that provide greater context and stimulate social learning that is real and applicable.  Unbundling education allows for open spaces, relationship building, and opportunities that did not exist not even five years ago.

At Nexford, this educational model has been harnessed and utilized for the greater good of society, ultimately pushing the democratization of higher education for all.

The year 2020 will see more adaptations to the blockchain technology, especially for financial services. There will be a higher usage and appreciation for digital-only banks, as the global market shares expand. Local regulatory bodies, however, will continue to face challenges as they gather more information on how to protect the respective domestic sectors, as well as their consumers.

The goal of the Writing Lab is to empower learners to use various resources and live sessions to enhance their assignments at Nexford. It is through this facet that learners will educate themselves. As a result, they will feel more confident and score higher on their modules. By addressing the concerns of learners, the Writing Lab Coach will fulfill various learner’s needs to ensure an overall higher success rate.

So, here is what our Nexford faculty see when looking down the road of 2020. Prepare for technological transformations, automation and blockchain technology. Paired with this comes the growth of the youth population and the developments of liquid boarders. We are ready for a technological revolution of 2020, are you?


Calder, M. et al. (2018). Computational modelling for decision-making: where, why, what, who and how. Royal Society Open Science, 5(6). 

Madgavkar, A., Seong, J., & Woetzel, J. (2019). How governments in emerging economies can help boost and sustain growth.

Shenglin, B., Simonelli, F., Ruidong, Z., Bosc, R., & Wenwei, L. (2017). Digital infrastructure: overcoming the digital divide in emerging economies. 

Quarmby, S. (2018). Complex systems thinking is being used for policymaking. Is it the future?

About the author
Cornelis Coetzee
Cornelis Coetzee

Cornelis Coetzee, born and educated in South Africa, has had a career spanning more than 25 years, working in both industry and academia. In 2012, he won the Faculty of Management Lecturer of Year Award at the Tshwane University of Technology, and is currently working on his PhD Business Management at Nelson Mandela University. He has experience in both contact session, online and distance education.

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