The future is here now. We can expect revolutionary changes to affect business around the world. Companies who position themselves to meet the future will prosper. Those who stubbornly cling to traditional ways of doing business will go out of business. It’s that simple.
Expect business change to be as dramatic as the transition from analog TV to digital TV. If you remember, once the all-digital broadcasting system was switched on, the fuzzy TV reception problem disappeared forever.
Here are five mega trends that will transform the future:
1. Expect more connectivity
Five billion people will use the Internet in 2020. Half will use handheld devices to do it. In total, there will be 80 billion devices plugged into the global information network.
The three silos of home, work, and other environment will blend into a seamless whole. It will be an era of connected living. Digital aids will access our favorite applications on the cloud to integrate these three silos. Our favorite music will follow us from our kitchen table over breakfast to our desk at work. Lights will switch on when we enter a room at night and switch off when we leave it. We will be able to use our mobile devices anywhere on the planet. And smart governance will be a way of life.
Big data will be all the rage, and those who work with it will be regarded as the magicians of the future. The use of big data will reveal new markets, as well as suggest new products and services. Some of this is already happening–like new insurance business models, open innovation, and social sentiment analysis.
2. Expect more remote shopping
Today, many stores have a website, but not all. In the future, a corresponding online presence will be considered the business norm.
By 2020, shopping is expected to follow the Pareto Principle: 80% of consumers will shop in stores while 20% will shop online. The shopping experience will still remain tangible–it’s hard to imagine retail therapy going out of style–but every brick-and-mortar store will also have a digital clone.
There will also be integrated shopping. You will be able to buy items online and then pick them up offline–it will be a “click” and “collect” system similar to the current trend in movies, where you can buy a ticket online then go to the theatre to watch the movie.
By 2025, virtual stores will be earning about $4.3 trillion, and IPOs for ecommerce stores will become more popular than for physical stores.
This trend to go online will affect all merchandise, including cars. You will be able to take many virtual test-drives from an online showroom for a new car before venturing out to test a few cars at a dealership.
In the future, the life cycle of a product will depend on how well a manufacturer is able to integrate an online and offline shopping experience.
3. Expect computer technology to match industry needs
When you board a commercial flight, you’ll have access to the same computer functionality that you enjoyed on the ground. Air-to-satellite or broadband air-to-ground will allow you to be entertained as you travel. You’ll be able to play video games, watch on-demand videos, access multimedia features, and employ email using either VPN access or Internet. This next generation of In-flight Entertainment & Communication (IFE&C) is already being pioneered by Kontron, an industrial computer manufacturer, who has over twenty years experience building versatile computer platforms for commercial and defense aircraft.
4. Expect “zero” to become a popular catchphrase
Futurists have a new keyword in their lexicon: “zero.” They have a special definition for the word. It does not mean “nothing.” Instead, it means “no problem.” It’s used in phrases like “zero concept” and “innovation to zero.”
You may have heard of the concept of “zero inbox strategy” developed by Atos, which means no more irritating spam or distracting marketing messages. Similarly, zero emission cars will not pollute cities; zero accident cars will not smash into things; and zero fatality cars will not kill people. Zero will also be a popular concept for cities, with zero pollutants in buildings and streets.
5. Expect smart people and devices
The past decade has been one of environmental concern and an emphasis on “green.” In the future, everything will be “green” from “green” buildings to “green” cities. The emphasis will shift to getting smart.
People and devices will be getting smarter. People will get smarter because research in neuroscience is revealing new smart drugs to improve cognitive abilities and memory. Devices, too, will get smarter. They will be able to sense things, process information, and issue reports. Already, we have smart phones, smart watches, and smart biometric devices to track statistics as you run, play, and jump to stay fit.
While the world still has plenty of problems to resolve, we have the means to think about our problems from a different level than they were created from using advanced technology. It’s not just highly-expensive Cray supercomputers used in think tanks that will give humanity more options, but, today, even a high school student can access an entire city library in their back pocket by using a tablet or smartphone. As political and economic storms calm, the entrepreneur of tomorrow will sail on new seas of opportunities. He or she will be more ingenious and enterprising than ever before in the history of the world.
Cover photo credit: Com Salud / Flickr