Global Disruptors: The 2024 Strategic Intelligence Estimate

11 January 2024

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As an innovation-driven risk intelligence practice, Emergent Risk International has always embraced the term “disruptor,” not as a negative or positive term, but as a change agent. Disruptors are necessary to move us out of our comfort zone, challenge our thinking and remind us that complacency is dangerous. In the world of global affairs and risk management, disruption and disruptors are generally viewed as a negative term. One that defines actors and events that challenge global stability, safe operating environments, and physical safety and security. But in business, disruptors and risk-takers can have both positive and negative connotations – and outcomes.  

This year as we worked through major themes that came to mind as we roll into 2024, nothing seemed a more perfect fit – looking forward or in the rearview – than the word ‘Disruptor.’ At the close of 2023 we see a world that is more interconnected than ever and yet perhaps nearly as divided as it was on the cusp of World War II in the late 1930s. With technology accelerating at a pace far faster than most humans can absorb, climate impacts mounting, and information pollution clouding our judgement of fact vs fiction – organizations face daunting investment environments the world over, with disruptors around every corner. While most of these outlined here focus on disruptors and disruption as risks to be accounted for and managed, it’s important to remember that one of the positive roles that business can play is to create solutions and responses to problems – and even major disruption.  

As you read through this year’s themes, keep in mind that every disruption brings with it opportunities for better solutions-oriented thinking. How does this apply to your organization? How can you be a positive change agent in addressing disruption? That does not mean that it is in our toolbox or capacity to thwart these disruptions or change large societal or technological outcomes, necessarily. But through considering scenarios and their applicability to our particular circumstances, by building resilient crisis management systems, and by keeping our key decision makers informed – we can better prepare for disruption. In doing so we create the circumstances for better outcomes and mitigation of negative impacts in our lives, businesses, communities and governments. In some cases, our organizations may even be poised to help create a solution to the disruption.  

Among the themes we will explore in the following pages: 

  • Electoral outcomes in 2024 that could shift government models, regulatory outcomes, and political stability 
  • States on the edge of failure 
  • Disruptive technologies in the era of Generative AI 
  • Climate as a disruptor and the disruptors pushing for more action on climate 
  • State and non-state actors as global disruptors 
  • Middle powers like Saudi Arabia and their unique advantage in the US – China – Russia struggle for power 

We hope you’ll find some valuable insight in this year’s report with which to think about the coming year and how some of these disruptors could drive risk mitigation strategy, but also your organization’s business strategy. Will they cause a reconsideration of expansion to certain markets? Or simply a reframing of strategy to better position your organization for success? Are there ways that these changes will create new demand and needs, the way that the pandemic did for several years? Whatever the outcome, we hope it provides additional context and food for thought for the coming year.  

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