Megatrend 2020, a crystal ball for the near future
Sustainable development, democracy, artificial intelligence, Big Data, disparity in global wealth, technological unemployment, intelligence, cyberwarfare, organised crime, gender empowerment, politics of anticipation, these are the key issues of the future.
The 19.1 report of the Millennium Project on the state of the future offers a complete panorama of what awaits us all, what are the most importance changes in recent years and where our civilisation risks giving way, faced with the tumultuous pace of change.
The State of the Future, written by Jerome C. Glenn and Elisabeth Florescu, can be used as a guide, rich in data, forecasts and advance information to navigate political, corporate and social processes and adjust to their transformations in the near future.
If, however, we want to get an idea of what will be talked about in 2020 — what we will be concerned with and what will form part of pop and mainstream culture, what will be the objects that we will most keep to hand — knowing how to navigate future trends in various sectors like Retail, Energy, Digital Transformation, Media, Labour, Telecommunications, Security and Insurance, can prove to be very useful and crucial in the management of a company today.
The Italian Institute for the Future, operating since 2013 in the future studies sector, has the task of identifying megatrends, starting from the “faint signs” that have emerged in the last twelve months. What futurologists identify as major trends able to change the future based on complex dynamics, drawn, for example, from the interaction between demographic and economic changes, transformations of mentality and geopolitical factors, changes in habits and technological innovations.
The megatrends are important because the implications they have on the future strategies of businesses are great. The key issues of megatrends concern urbanisation, society, development and infrastructure, energy and the environment, technology and the economy. According to the study ISS 2020 Vision on New Ways of Working, technological development is seen as the most important megatrend, one that will completely change the world of work within five years. What, then, are the trends that will have a major impact in 2020?
1) The evolution of the city.
The city will increasingly incorporate the suburbs, leading to growing urbanisation and the obliteration of borders, which will have a not insignificant impact on mobility, working life and society. Three concepts of urbanisation will emerge: megalopoli, mega-regions, mega-corridors.
In the major cities, which are gradually swallowing up the suburbs, there will be even more than 5 million inhabitants. Cities will merge with other cities to the point of forming mega-regions of more than 12 million people, and between two mega-regions or two mega-cities, connecting mega-corridors will be formed. With the advent of technology and the development of infrastructure, urban centres will turn from ‘green’ to ‘smart’, adopting so-called ‘intelligent’ solutions that will invade all the elements that make up the city, such as automobiles, roads, buildings and public services.
Generation Y will continue to have the greatest purchasing power and remain the key target. 30% of the Global Fortune 500 companies will be led by women. They will have decision-making power concerning financial and commercial questions, gaining a increasingly predominate role on boards of directors and in the home. There will be goods, services and advertising specifically aimed at a female audience.
Without forgetting that today is already tomorrow, it is predicted that, in 2020, we will enjoy greater longevity, we will live for 730,000 hours, 30,000 more than in 2019, technology is so advanced by now that a chip is the size of a neuron, robots will be endowed with empathy thanks to emotional digital technology and the digital cloud has already transformed the world into a huge agora, knocking down barriers, for which reason smart working, nomad working and digital nomadism will be more the rule than the exception.
Technology will completely change the world of work. Virtual work already exists but there will be even greater mobility. The automation of knowledge work will increase, for example, translation, data analysis, research and the decision-making process. There will be more video conferences, real-time translators, intelligent spectacles and other wearable work technologies by the end of 2020. Companies and industries will undergo restructuring guided by mobile, omnipresent technologies.
3) Mini trends.
Tik Tok, more intelligent smartphones, audio books, e-bikes and podcasts will be to the fore in the new year. The whole smartphone ecosystem in 2020 will exceed 900 billion dollars. Deloitte predicts that, in 2020, more than 750 million Artificial Intelligence edge chips will be sold, that is, chips that develop machine-learning functions directly from the device on which they are installed, rather than remotely from a data centre. In the coming year, companies will acquire more than 1 million robots and half will be devoted to professional services. In 2021, this category will exceed the number of industrial robot units sold in 2020 and the respective revenues.
There will also be an increasing focus on the e-bikes markets. Between 2020 and 2023, the sale of more than 130 million e-bikes is forecast, of which two fifths will have lithium-ion batteries. In 2023 alone, 40 million e-bikes will be sold around the world for an overall turnover of around 20 billion dollars.
By 2020, what’s more, the global market for audio books will increase by 25%, reaching a turnover of 5 billion dollars, while the podcast market will rise by 30% for a total of 1.1 billion dollars.
4) Digital marketing trends
There will be social shopping on Instagram, which was facilitated in 2019 by the introduction of tap shopping by Instagram. In 2020, it will be the norm and the social networks will become an authentic form of e-commerce.
Intelligent chatbots with which to engage in conversation and facilitate data collection, the supremacy of in-depth contents of value, augmented reality and interactive contents, personalised communication, video and live content will all be features.
Generation Z will be increasingly involved in social campaigns, the collaborations of brands with micro and nano influencers, investments in user-generated content will increase. The next step for the social networks will be to place their trust in geotagging and geocoding services.
Through the web, everything will be mapped and divided by geographical areas, creating new trends of networking, digital marketing and the breakthrough of new ways of socialising, promoting the evolution of interaction between individuals and organisations.
If the time spent online has so far been a kind of Wild West, there will be a new focus on privacy and more intimate social spaces will be favoured. Social content will no longer be based on brevity: In a more mature digital scenario, increasingly lengthy and complex content and narration will be offered on the platforms.
Culture will be consumed in a more fluid way and shared through the continuous collaborations between brands and platforms.