Companies motivate and manage employees who never set foot in their corporate office.
Opportunities abound for small businesses, when spending on health and wellness becomes our single largest consumer expenditure.
Manufacturers produce goods sustainably because it makes economic sense.
We see glimpses of that tomorrow today. 2010 has ushered in a new decade, a new economy and a new ecosystem for small businesses and their customers. Effects of the Great Recession will continue to reverberate globally, with slower growth, less credit and greater uncertainty churning the marketplace. Yet, in spite of this turbulence, a new economy will grow, one that holds promise for businesses large and small, and consumers around the world.
The next decade will bring an abundance of increasingly accessible – and cheap – information and computing power. As technology prices fall, highly sophisticated mobile technologies will become pervasive. Smartphones and other mobile devices will emerge as the new standard for everyday computing, often replacing or completely bypassing desktop and laptop computing. From downtown Manhattan to rural Africa, consumers and businesses will adopt these devices, connecting global markets and enabling economic growth in ways that were never before possible.
As new economies grow, economic and political clout will shift around the world. Asia, in particular, will emerge as a significant player in the world economy, both as a producer and, more importantly, as a market of new consumers. More than 1 billion new middle-class consumers will enter the marketplace over the next decade, most of them from Asia.
Increased demand will put price pressure on natural resources. And with volatility in resource markets, sustainability will arrive as a new business model to reduce risk, improve competitiveness and address growing concerns for the environment. Small businesses will experiment with sustainability and often lead with innovative practices that become honed and adopted by larger firms.
As markets become more interconnected, small businesses will find new opportunities in specialized product and service niches that satisfy increasingly customized demands from their customers. With continued credit shortages, enhanced “cloud” services, a broader contingent workforce and greater options for plug-and-play manufacturing, small businesses will rely on variable cost business models to adapt, respond and adjust to the ever-changing marketplace.
In this changing ecosystem, collaborative partnerships between big and small firms will be on the rise. Small firms will contribute innovative practices with market agility and customer knowledge that big firms can’t easily achieve. Big firms will offer small businesses marketing and distribution power, enabling them to penetrate broader markets more effectively. Small businesses will proliferate in response to increasing niche market opportunities. Large firms will consolidate and get even bigger to compete more effectively in the global economy. The Web and mobile technologies will become the great equalizer of big and small, with customers no longer knowing – or even caring – about the size of the firm that provides their goods and services.
Underlying and enabling all these trends are technology developments that will be increasingly complex, yet more intuitive and almost invisible in their use. In a major shift from previous decades, we’ll set expectations on how technology improves the way we live, work and operate our businesses, not on what technology is or how it works.
The coming decade will be complex, volatile and uncertain, but it will also provide many new opportunities for small businesses and their customers in the United States and abroad.
Below we identify 20 demographic, social, economic and technology trends that will shape the next decade.
A BRIEF LOOK AT…
TWENTY TRENDS THAT WILL SHAPE THE NEXT DECADE
I. DEMOGRAPHIC TRENDS
Age, culture and gender will blur the lines of influence over the next decade, changing the face of small business and consumers across global markets.
1. Digitally Savvy Kids Grow Up and Change Everything
Gen Y will mature, continuing to be quick adopters of new technology, with a focus on careers, families, home ownership and high-tech living. Gen Z will enter their teen years, natively fluent in both mobile and social platforms, as the global grid is their toy, their inspiration and their education.
2. Baby Boomers Gray, but They Don’t Slow Down
Baby boomers will dominate the graying population of the industrialized world. But 2020 will see a new breed of senior citizens with “unretirement” and active engagement best describing their lifestyle choices as they continue to work in their current professions or even opt to start new careers.
3. It’s a She-conomy
Women, especially those in emerging markets, will be a dominant force in the global market – taking increased leadership responsibilities across business, government and education. According to analysis by Booz & Company, 870 million global women who have not previously participated in the mainstream economy will gain employment or start their own businesses.
4. Cultural Fusion Brings Global Tastes to Local Markets
The adoption and adaptation of global traditions into local habits will emerge as a growing trend due to the widespread use of the Web. Exposure to different cultures and practices through the Web’s global grid will become the norm as consumers and businesses worldwide view, share, tweak and adopt products and practices.
5. Economic Opportunities Fuel Urban Living
Driven by economic opportunity, the shift from rural to urban will continue, with about 60 percent of the global population living in cities and suburbs by 2020. More than 50 cities worldwide will boast more than 5 million inhabitants, with more than 20 megacities teeming with more than 10 million residents.
II. SOCIAL TRENDS
Communities will be transformed, driven by social and mobile technologies, changing the ways that people work and behave.
6. Social Networks Fuel the Participatory Economy
Grassroots movements will be the norm, replacing traditional institutions as drivers for change in government and the economy. Web and mobile platforms will encourage more people to use forums and build communities and other relationships to make informed social, economic and political decisions.
7. Localism Creates a New Way of Life
Work-life balance will no longer be a myth, but a reality as people invest in the places they live to make them better, forging new communities. This weave of community fabric will see people re-establishing stronger ties with family, friends and community spawning local economic development in new dynamic ways.
8. Individuals Shoulder the Risk Burden
Driven by economic changes and needs, individuals will be increasingly accountable for making their own insurance and retirement decisions, where institutions have previously been involved. Likewise, governments will begin reducing social support systems, driving the need for individual risk management.
9. Customers Control the Relationship
The balance of power will shift from the business to the marketplace as customers grow more informed about products and services. With this shift from “push” to “pull” marketing, companies won’t find their customers, their customers will find them.
Post recession, the economy will adjust for both abundance and scarcity, forcing businesses and consumers to adapt to new markets and business models in a way never before seen.
10. Industrializing Countries Emerge as the New Engine for Global Growth
More than 1 billion new middle-class consumers will fuel global consumer spending, driven by the developing world. Successful businesses will have to adjust their products and services to meet the needs of these new global, middle-class consumers.
11. You No Longer Need Cash to Start a Business
Starting a small business will be easier – and more affordable than ever. The cost of starting and running a small or personal business will continue to decline as smaller, lighter and smarter systems, components and manufacturing methods emerge.
12. Sustainability Becomes a Competitive Requirement
Sustainability will move from social novelty to business necessity. The return of economic growth will renew pressure on resource supplies and prices, with regulation, taxes and other efforts to reduce carbon footprints adding to these pressures.
13. Health and Wellness Spending Soar
Health and wellness will become the world’s largest industry, accounting for global consumers’ single-largest expenditure. Multiple factors will drive the trend including rising costs as a result of aging, health-intensive populations; increasing pollution problems worldwide; rising levels of chronic diseases among the young; expanding use of expensive, high-tech health equipment, services and pharmaceuticals; and a growing consumer focus on wellness.
14. Work Shifts from Full-time to Free Agent Employment
Traditional employment will no longer be the norm, replaced by contingent workers such as freelancers and part-time workers. The long-term trend of hiring contingent workers will continue to accelerate with more than 80 percent of large corporations planning to substantially increase their use of a flexible workforce.
15. Niche Markets Flourish in the New Economy
Consumers will demand unique, niche products and services and businesses will have the means to deliver them driven in part by the vast reach of the Internet and low cost tools and materials. Availability of niche products will be accessible anytime, anywhere due to the expansive reach of the Internet and social media.
16. Small Businesses and Global Giants Form a Barbell Economy
Small businesses will grow in importance and flourish due to both their agility and demand for niche products and services. The global economy will see the diminished presence of mid-sized businesses as they are acquired and consolidated into large corporations.
IV. TECHNOLOGY TRENDS: THE UBIQUITY OF TECHNOLOGY
Technology, combined with advanced analytical tools, large data sets and social and mobile computing platforms, will be further ubiquitous and reshape industries, businesses and consumers’ lives.
17. Working in the Cloud
The brick-and-mortar office will be a thing of the past, as the where and how people work and do business will change due to emerging Internet cloud and mobile technologies. Working in the cloud will increasingly shift work lives away from corporate offices altogether and toward an in-my-own-place, on-my-own-time work regimen.
18. Data is Critical for Competitive Advantage
Data overload will no longer be a burden, but an advantage for individuals and companies with the skills to provide compelling analysis to consumers. Those who become proficient in the collection, management and analysis of digital data will gain competitive advantage, leaving others behind.
19. Social and Mobile Computing Connect and Change the World
The use of social and mobile networks and technologies will possess greater utility, including collaborative technologies. Business will be redefined in how they create value and compete and will help consumers and businesses to anticipate and guide decision making and risk management.
20. Smart Machines Get Smarter
The hardware and software technologies we use on a daily basis will get smarter, helping people make everyday decisions and streamline complex tasks. Intelligent devices will be engrained in consumers’ lives along with businesses, changing the way we live and work.
Read the full report here.