20 trends for 2020
Earlier this week I spoke at the Ovations Speaker Showcase about the 20 Trends for 2020, the big economic and technology trends that will define business over the rest of this decade.
The most important trend for business is how the pace of work is speeding up.
For the last 30 years business has been getting faster – the arrival of the fax machine, desktop computer, mobile phone and then the internet has seen the speed of workplaces accelerate dramatically and what used to take weeks is now done in hours.
What's different this decade is the speed of many business tasks is shrinking to almost nothing as machines talking to each other can now carry out many tasks without the need for managers or supervisors to approve things.
For businesses, this means understanding new technologies and investing in the important ones that are the keys to success this decade. Even more important is appreciating the trends underlying how our economy and markets evolve over the next seven years.
Those trends, along with some links, are listed below. Sharp-eyed readers will notice there are 21, which is a bonus for SmartCompany readers.
1. Accelerated rate of business
The year 2020, explained by Wired Magazine
2. China moving up the value chain
The Economist on growth and China
3. Dealing with a society at retirement age
4. Rising incomes in South Asia and Africa
5. Robotics and automation
Better than human – Kevin Kelly
Will a robot take your job? – Gary Marcus
Robots and robber barons – Paul Krugman
Myth of the jobless recovery – Matt Yglesias
The end of labor – Timothy Noah
7. Reinventing entertainment
8. The fall and rise of social media
9. The continued rise of the DIY economy
10. Newspapers cease to exist
Newspaper extinction timeline – Ross Dawson
13. The new education revolution
14. Older workers re-entering the workforce
15. Reskilling the workforce
16. The fight for control of the mobile payments system
17. Mobile apps redefining service industries
18. Taming the Big Data tsunami
19. The fight for data rights
20. Flatter organisations
The future of the enterprise – Marc Andreesen
Of all the trends, Big Data is one of the defining ones as I believe what will separate the successful business from the failures by 2020 will be the ability to deal with the tsunami of information swamping us all.
For Australia, China moving up the value chain is a vital one for the export economy. The realignment of the Chinese economy raises a number of challenges which most of us – particularly politicians and business leaders – have barely considered.
The demographic cliff is also a game changer for many businesses; the assumptions of a young, free spending population are going to be challenged as we face the reality of the Baby Boomers reaching pension age.
Making problems worse for those whose business models are based on consumer spending is the great deleveraging that started with the GFC. Industries that have driven sales through the easy credit policies of the last 30 years are going to find times hard as governments run out of ways to kick the can down the road.
Technology's role in these trends is to help businesses do more, faster with less. Cheap, connected computers are going to see more automation and robots in the workplace.
For business, the rest of this decade promises to be one of the most exciting in our lifetimes. What do you think are the trends which are going to change our lives over the next seven years?
Paul Wallbank speaks and writes on how industries and societies are changing in this connected, globalised era. When he isn't explaining technology issues, he helps businesses and community organisations through his business Netsmarts.
eBusiness, Seven Steps to Online Success is Paul's latest book which looks at how businesses can effectively use web services like social media and cloud computing.