Business Trends to Look Out For in 2019 |

Business Trends to Look Out For in 2019

By Niamh O

Updated October 5, 2020 Updated October 5, 2020

Every year brings with it a hot new business trend. In 2016, big data was the focus, followed by blockchain in 2017, while last year saw business leaders and journalists forecasting the rise of artificial intelligence (AI).

After a year when augmented and virtual reality helped distract us from widespread political upheaval, arguments about immigration and economic struggle, the start of 2019 brings with it the opportunity to start afresh and think about possible industry shifts and new technologies which could change the way businesses operate.

Here are some of the key trends we expect to see more of in 2019.

AI and machine learning will continue to dominate

Artificial intelligence and machine learning were at the forefront in 2018 and have been forecasted to be game-changers in the coming decade.

Expect this to continue into 2019, with these technologies used for everything from building cars to identifying signs of heart disease. The latter is already happening thanks to a joint venture between Google and Verily Life Sciences, and further developments in medical technology are likely.

We may also see discussion take place about the relationship between AI and human intelligence, and how the two will work in harmony together for the benefits of society.

European schools may see a spike in applicants

The world is in a state of uncertainty. Listening to the radio in the morning, I’ve heard the phrase “in these troubled times” more often than ever before.

Brexit looming over the UK, anger in France about the economy, and troubles in the US caused by Trump’s desire for a wall on the Mexican border and a hard-line immigration policy have all played their part in this feeling of foreboding.

In particular, this is having a negative effect on foreign applications to US business schools. Once the Mecca for business school education, Trump’s hard-line approach has left foreigners feeling uneasy about their position in the country.

As a result, international applicants may look a little closer to home for their education, and with so many top-quality programs in Europe it’s clear to see why.

London Business School, ranked fourth in the QS Global MBA Rankings 2019, is one example of a leading school based in one of the buzziest capital cities in the world which could offer a fantastic alternative to the traditional US heavyweights.

Similarly, IE Business School in Barcelona – famed for its innovative ethos and curriculum – is ranked joint eighth, tied with The University of Chicago Booth School of Business in the US.

Voice search

Voice recognition software such as Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home have been around for a while, and the technology continues to evolve at a steady pace.

A Stone Temple Consulting study in 2018 asked all major voice assistants 5,000 different queries – noting whether the question was recognised and the quality of the answer, with Google Assistant reigning supreme in the battle of the bots.

However, other voice assistants are quickly catching up. People are looking for information, making purchases, and interacting with websites using only their voice and, eventually, businesses will need to re-evaluate how they present information to their audiences and may need to revamp their search software to keep ahead of the game.

Voice searches were said to have been conducted 1 billion times a month by the start of last year, and the figure is expected to soar in 2019. We think this is definitely a technology to build plans around this year.


Holograms may have once seemed futuristic and impossible but as we reported in 2018, Imperial College Business School has become the first institution to use holograms for a live lecture.

Imperial’s ‘Women in Tech’ lecture saw female entrepreneurs and tech geniuses ‘beaming in’ live from locations all over the world. This is only the beginning for what the technology will be able to do as more business schools and companies jump onboard.

Dr David Lefevre, Director of the EdTech Lab says, “Next year there’ll be another technology, and the year after that there’ll be another which means more competition.

“It’s very difficult to predict the future, as a year ago we didn’t imagine we’d be working with holograms.”

Expect to see others following the trend this year.

The continuing popularity of online MBA programs

This section is based on our 2019 rankings. Check out the QS Online MBA Rankings 2020 for the latest version of this information.

For many people, taking up a full-time two-year MBA program on-campus is out of the question. This is why the popularity of online MBAs soared in 2018, with more students embarking on the programs than ever before.

An online MBA offers flexibility, a major selling point if you want to earn your MBA without giving up other important elements in your life. Plus, you can study remotely from anywhere in the world.

QS’ Top 10 Distance Online MBA 2018 Ranking features some massive contenders we think those looking to undertake an online MBA should consider, including:

Ranking position Business School name
1stIE Business School
2ndIndiana University (Kelley Direct Program)
3rdImperial College Business School
4thWarwick Business School
5thUniversity of Florida (Warrington)
6thAlliance Manchester Business School
7thOxford Brookes University
9thGeorge Washington University
10thEuroMBA Consortium

As you can see from our top 10 ranking – an online MBA allows you to learn from some of the greatest intellectual minds around the world, from the comfort of your own remote location.

Of course, there’s no way we can predict everything that will happen this year, although we’re confident with our picks above. Keep checking back to to make sure you don’t miss any of the other top developments in the business sector this year.

This article was originally published in January 2019 . It was last updated in October 2020

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Written by

Niamh is Deputy Head of Content at QS (;, creating and editing content for an international student audience. Having gained her journalism qualification at the Press Association, London and since written for different international publications, she's now enjoying telling the stories of students, alumni, faculty, entrepreneurs and organizations from across the globe.  


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