The blurring of the human-machine divide, the ability to immerse ourselves in new augmented/virtual/mixed reality worlds, the prospect of being able to recycle everything in our homes, the joys of having an intelligent assistant take over our chores at home and work, the dilemma over the double-edged sword that is data, the thrill of having companies personalize their services and products to suit our demands, the sheer convenience of being connected anytime-anywhere…
This is our exciting future predicts Frost & Sullivan’s Visionary Innovation Group as part of its future casting (now there’s a new word for the dictionaries!) exercise, where it identifies key global Mega Themes— across social, economic, cultural, technological, business, and personal spheres—that will shape our future lives.
Our futurists follow a rigorous three-step process while compiling this annual list: first, identifying and defining the Mega Trends and sub-trends that are bringing sweeping change to our world; second, analyzing future scenarios, cross-industry implications, and the future market potential of each of these sub-trends; and, third, evaluating how these sub-trends might converge into dominant Mega Themes that will create opportunities, challenges or disruptions over a five and 10 year horizon.
The Twelve Mega Themes
Biological evolution based on the Darwinian theory of natural selection will give way to greater human intervention based on medical and social breakthroughs and, subsequently, to more aggressive manipulation of biological, neurological and physical factors. Human-machine evolution will rapidly evolve to a stage of cognitive achievement characterized by advanced computing and artificial intelligence (AI) tools that possess sentient capabilities. Meanwhile, behavioral evolution will be marked by a move towards loftier, values-driven goals that will center on creative pursuits, self-fulfillment and the nature of humanity. Collectively, these trends will call into question the very idea of what it means to be human, giving birth to the theme of ‘transhumanism’ where the divide between humanity and technology dissolves.
2. Anything That Moves Will Be Autonomous
It will soon be a case that anything that moves will be autonomous. Products and processes across logistics, industrial, aerospace, smart home infrastructure and automotive will become fully automated and intelligent. Starting with drones and home appliances like the lawnmower to the vacuum cleaner, from there onto self-driving cars, followed by automated trucks and ships to eventually personal mobile robots in homes, autonomous products will make our lives easier and more convenient. Over the long-term, aerospace, construction, agriculture, and defense industries will also benefit from autonomous applications.
3. Heterogeneous Society
Social heterogeneity—characterized by differences in income, ethnicity, gender, age, language, and culture—will intensify. This will have implications for business models, economic trends, and social dynamics. On the one hand, it will result in the rise of populist leaders, more protectionist policies like Brexit and the U.S. -China trade wars, and neo-nationalist consumerism where purchasing decisions will be influenced by social/national/trade protectionist sentiments. On the other hand, increasing social diversity will spur the emergence of distinct groups like Gen Y, Gen Z, women, and the middle classes. Their attitudes, motivations and beliefs will differ, compelling businesses to focus on products and services that are personalized to suit the unique demands of each group.
4. Connected Living
Connected technologies will create a spider’s web of tensile, densely interwoven networks. Within the next five years, an impressive range of customized solutions will connect the three silos—home, workplace and the city—in our daily lives. In the next 10 years, anytime-anywhere connectivity based on the seamless integration of video, voice, and data services will become standard. On the home front, advanced voice control and AI will pave way for unified service integration and control across multiple consumer appliances on a single platform. On the work front, 5G will support seamless connectivity and instant analysis of sensor generated data. Autonomous, shared mobility will render the thankless task of driving to work redundant. Augmented Reality (AR) / Virtual Reality (VR) / Mixed Reality (MR) based services will open up new avenues for work sharing and remote assistance. On the connected cities front, a new term will be spawned; not citizens anymore but ‘digizens’ who interact with city-wide “connected systems” that offer ubiquitous 24/7 services.
5. Moving From Industry 4.0 To Industry 5.0
Human-machine synergies will set the stage for the transition from Industry 4.0 to Industry 5.0. This stage will see the shift from efficient mass production, as was made popular by the likes of Toyota, to being defined by hyper personalization. Data will emerge as a critical tool in devising these new, customer-focused services. Improved automation in manufacturing processes will allow for data monetization and collation of real-time information, enabling a shift from a products-based approach to a more lucrative services-based one. Human-machine collaboration will magnify, as Industry 5.0 will support ever closer linkages of human intelligence with advanced, cognitive computing.
6. Digital Reality As Frontier Technology
Digital reality applications will explode, setting new technology benchmarks, and creating highly profitable revenue opportunities. The price of key components in AR/VR will fall, making them more affordable. In terms of technology, new layers of feedback will be added to VR and AR that will heighten the real-world experience. More immediately, however, AR/VR companies will work to enhance imaging quality and projection in order to ensure a seamless user experience.
7. Data As 21st Century Oil
Data monetization, gathered from online and offline revenue streams, will be the fulcrum of many new business models. Data monetization strategies will seek to optimize the value of data to reach untapped customer segments, create new markets, and open up unexplored revenue streams. The future will be shaped by (the alliteratively pleasing) 4 “Bs”: Bartering, Brokering and Building Services, which will emerge as the three main business models of data monetization, together with Business Intelligence.
8. Intelligent Assistants
RIP Jeeves. Intelligent assistants (IA) will optimize and personalize daily experiences across a spectrum of activities and environments. Apps will be replaced by social bots. Tier-based IA, with premium features that fulfill more complex requirements, will become commonplace. Traditional advertising, particularly paid search, will take a big beating. IA will become so integral to our lives that the availability of IA capability will become a primary consideration when purchasing products/systems. Meanwhile, the evolution towards voice controlled systems means that rather than hone their handwriting skills, future generations of school children might be better served to perform voice modulation exercises!
9. Innovating To Zero – The Concept Of A ‘Zero’ World
In a ‘zero’ concept world, products and technologies will “innovate to zero.” Over the next decade, collaborative business models and the Internet of Things will support a range of zero vision goals—zero waste, zero fatalities, zero manufacturing defects/faults, zero security breaches, zero emails, zero emissions, and zero accidents, among them. Smart energy-saving products and materials will facilitate zero energy initiatives like energy-efficient buildings and greener transport. Technological advances will support zero time business incubation, translating ideas to implementation in real-time.
10. The Rise of The Platform Economy
Today, seven out of the world’s top ten companies—Apple, Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook, and Tencent, among them—are based on platform business models. Many of these digital leaders will work to build a diverse ecosystem which not only offers search, social media and ecommerce, but also provides an infrastructure on which platforms can be built. This will be symptomatic of the ongoing transition from a traditional, products-based approach where companies manufacture, distribute and sell products to consumers to a platform -driven one where manufacturers leverage their ecosystem to interact with, exchange feedback, and deliver optimal value to consumers through multiple digital platforms.
11. Zero Latency World
Ongoing advances in 5G and the imminent introduction of 6G by 2030 will create a world of ‘zero latency’, where millions of connected devices will interact in real-time with almost infinitesimal lag or latency. Zero latency will benefit everything from smart grids, emergency response services, Industry 4.0 and autonomous vehicles, among others. For instance, zero latency will enable autonomous robots working collaboratively to receive, transmit and access data without delay, thereby ensuring optimal reaction times and enhanced manufacturing productivity. Zero latency will be a critical enabler for autonomous vehicles, allowing instantaneous decision-making since data will be accessed, transmitted and analyzed in real-time.
12. Marketplace Everywhere
Consumers rejoice; the future will be that of everything, everywhere marketplaces. For instance, a new generation of in-car marketplace applications will allow you to do everything from ordering your daily Java fix, making a restaurant reservation, paying for parking or fuel, and receiving deals and discounts – all while seated comfortably in your car. In time, these marketplace models will have a digital currency embedded in them, making it easier for you to spend and buy. Not just car manufacturers but, equally, social networking sites like Facebook, which has recently launched its own currency, and other companies will serve customers through a marketplace model. Interestingly though, this concept will not mean the end of the physical store but instead the emergence of a “bricks-and-clicks” model where online vehicle retail and the traditional physical store will reinforce each other, adding mutual value to the consumer experience.
These twelve Mega Themes will trigger profound change over the next five to 10 years. As they evolve, new strands may emerge, while others may unravel. In the end, though, the verdict is clear: the world we know and in which we live in today will be immeasurably transformed, as will we.
The question is: are you and your organization ready to embrace these themes?
You can learn more about how these themes will influence and change our lives at Frost & Sullivan’s webinar, “Our World in 2025-2030: Top 12 Transformational Shifts to 2030”.
Article was originally published on Forbes.com