Increasing global integration: Due mainly to explosive growth in many emerging markets, the world will experience massive economic growth over the next thirty or so years. It is predicted that by 2050, global real purchasing power will quadruple. As BRIC and N11 countries grow and become richer (Developing economies are already adding 90 million middle class people – thats an economy the size of Germany being added to the every year!) Globalisation will continue to be a business reality. Business leaders will need to be adept at managing diversity. Economic power will shift from the West towards the East. China will become the largest economy around 2025 and India overtake China in 2050, largely as a result of superior demographics.
Ferocious competition: Competition will come from unlikely sources. Companies, for example, like Groupon (fasted company to reach $1billion in sales) will emerge from out of nowhere. New business models will be invented. New ways of engaging people inside and outside organisations will be invented.
March of the machines: Machines are becoming smarter and combined with the Internet of Things (there are already more objects connected to the Internet than there are people living on our planet) we will increasingly be interacting with intelligent machines. Robots will increasingly become a normal part of our daily lives with many professions, or repetitive aspects of professions being replaced by machines or sophisticated algorithms.
Super intelligence: Sophisticated algorithms are already performing complex tasks that humans are incapable of undertaking and this trend will especially as advances in computer technology will increase dramatically. By 2020 computers will have the same data processing capability as the human brain. Driven largely by Moore’s Law, chip performance will continue to doubles approx. every 24 months, until approx. 2030. Thereafter water cooled 3D chips will be used to further sustain the speed and performance gains. Optical computing and quantum computing, with will enable massive further increase in computing power. Furthermore, telecommunication bandwidth and digital storage technology will also continue to grow exponentially.
A data deluge: Aided by super intelligent machines our global knowledge will evolve exponentially. Advances in information technology will assist companies capture and make sense of a tsunami of information. By 2050, useful knowledge will be 40-50 times as large as in 2010. Companies that focus on making the management of Big Data a priority will be winners.
Mass mobility: The emergence of flexible e-workers or electronic-freelancers will be a growing trend, supported by electronic tablets and smartphones. Projects will be managed much the way they are on a movie set with people with key skills coming together for key projects, working for an agreed period of time, and then the team will abandon.
Values driven: The impact of the credit and financial crisis will result in business becoming more transparent and responsible towards broader society. New business models such as Creating Shared Value will emerge. Capitalism will survive but in a much more sophisticated and refined way. Values will represent a key way in which people are led and customers are attracted to organisations.
Turbulence is the normal: We are living during a major revolutionary period. The ways in which people live work and play will dramatically change over the next two decades. New global powers will emerge and people on the whole will become wealthier. However, there will be a huge demand on resources especially water. Wars over water will be fought. There will be several financial bubbles and crashes (up to 12 over the next 40 years)
Workforce evolution: Aging will be another major theme. The number of elderly will explode, and perhaps surprisingly, 90% of this growth will take place in emerging markets. Retirement, or non-retirement will increasingly be a major theme. We predict conflict in the organisation as a result of younger employees being unable to progress as retirement age increases and people stay on working longer. This will require a complete rethink of how people are promoted, motivated and managed.