Anticipating the Future
Given the scale and pace of change in recent years – and especially during 2020 – you could be forgiven for wondering what’s next.
What else is around the corner, waiting to upend everything you thought you knew about running a successful business? How are you supposed to foresee the next black-swan event? As Mark Twain (probably) said: “Prediction is very difficult; especially about the future.” 2 But here’s the thing: we can predict the future... or potential futures at least. There had been warnings for years that a pandemic might one day sweep the globe. Organisations are aware of the incessant threat of cyber-attacks. Regulation tends to be signalled for months, or even years, in advance. We continue to witness the growing impact of climate change on our planet. Stories of Big Tech growing year on year and of tech start-ups attracting the next round of funding fill the news daily. We also know that digital technology isn’t going to disappear or to slow down. It will continue to evolve and innovate, to get faster and smarter, to dominate and disrupt industries and enterprises. And we’ve a fair idea of its direction of travel. There’s much we can learn from the winners and losers in the digital economy, from before and during the pandemic. There are lessons we can glean from the sustained success of Apple, Amazon, Google, Netflix and Spotify. From Deliveroo’s $7 billion valuation. From the meteoric rise of Zoom. From Airbnb’s resilience in a devastated industry. And on the other side of the coin, from the unfortunate fate of many once famous brands that haven’t survived the latest test. By amplifying current shifts, we can envisage what the future could look like. We can imagine a world where traditional businesses are far better at attracting and retaining customers, innovating new offerings, automating processes and reducing costs. Where they make smarter decisions, faster. And where they’re ready to pivot when expectations change, because they’ve fostered organisational agility, and invested in the infrastructure to harvest and share data and insight. In this context, our aim is to envision three prominent forces that will impact businesses across industries over the next five years:
Click the triangles to the right to take a look at each of these in turn.
2 This quote is sometimes attributed to physicist Niels Bohr.