It is traditional at the turn of the year to look forward at what is to come.
We have crystallized our thinking on the year ahead and the decade of the 2010s in a new 3-page visual landscape.
Note on ExaTrends: Given the exponential pace of change of today we are far beyond a world of MegaTrends. Exa is the prefix meaning 10 to the power of 18, following Mega, Giga, Tera, and Peta. As such Exa is Mega cubed.
Download the pdf of the framework by clicking on any of the images. The full text of the ExaTrends and the Zeitgeist themes is below.
EXATRENDS OF THE DECADE:2010s
More than ever before, we can transcend our human abilities. Traditional memory aids are supplemented by augmented reality glasses or contact lenses, thought interfaces allow us to control machines, exoskeletons give us superhuman power. Machines will not take over humanity… because they will be us.
Now that biological and genomic technologies are largely driven by information technologies, they are on the same exponential trajectory. Medicines personalized to the individual, genetic modification of our children, drugs to increase intelligence, and life extension will all become commonplace.
The divide between believers and dis-believers in climate change and the necessity for action is increasing. Beyond that, views on the potential of planetary engineering will cut to the heart of the divide on faith in or fear of technology, Whatever the meteorological data that emerges, it will tear us apart.
In a world of infinite information and diversity of opinion we will not drown, but harness our dormant potential to be more together than we are individually. Crowdsourcing platforms and aggregators of insight will be part of the planks that create the reality of a global brain, expressing our destiny.
Remix culture will surge, with everybody taking and jamming up slices of everything and anything to express themselves, while intellectual property law fails to keep pace. Every culture on the planet will reach everywhere – the only culture we will know is a global mashed-up emergent culture that changes by the minute.
Many developed nations will start hitting the wall in their ability to support their elderly. The contrast with the rapid growth of developing nations will bring into focus the turn in economic fortunes. The inevitable result is mass migration, licit or illicit.
ECONOMIC POWER SHIFT
The sheer weight of China’s burgeoning economy together with India’s rise will change the business world’s center of gravity. The Far East will fund the continued profligate spending of the West. The weightless economy based on innovation, media, and professional services will dominate growth.
The way we use energy will change faster than ever before in human history. Renewable energy sources, electric cars, and strict energy accounting, driven in part by carbon taxes on fossil fuels, will transform transportation and large chunks of the economy, faster than we currently imagine.
What we knew as media has exploded far beyond its traditional boundaries to encompass most social activity, how organizations function, and indeed the creation of almost all economic value. Even as newspaper extinction proceeds apace, the best media operators will thrive.
2.Every business and social activity is a form of media. Organizations are media entities, creating and disseminating messages to achieve their objectives. Our social lives are manifestations of media. As the physical economy is marginalized, media in a new and broader sense will encompass almost all economic value.
Talent is everywhere. As organizations shift to networks, transcending workplaces, success will be driven by how well they can attract the most talented, those who can choose where, how, and why they work. Real-time translation software will enable true multi-cultural teams. Wealth will flow to the talented, wherever they are.
HAVES AND HAVE NOTS
Across communities, nations, and the world, there is a keen risk of increasing separation between those who have access to technology, tools, and basic needs, and those who do not. This is not inevitable. However it will require concerted action around the world to avoid an increasing schism between us.
ORGANIZATIONS TO NETWORKS
By the end of this decade close to half the workforce will be working independently, often across national boundaries. Companies will function on social networks and gaming platforms, professionals will work for many clients, and many of today’s companies will be supplanted by networks of experts.
Emerging measures of reputation will shape business and society, providing increasingly accurate views of trustworthiness and credibility. They will enable far more efficient business, make dating easier, help to filter information overload, and allow no space for the dodgy to hide.
The 2002 book Living Networks described how the rise of a hyperconnected world is literally bringing to life the networks that connect us. Soon a profusion of billions of richly connected devices will together manifest behaviors beyond all expectations, evolving themselves and seeking beauty.
1. Networked or Not?
We are all facing a fundamental choice that will shape our lives. Many dive headlong into a world of always-on connection, open social networks, and oversharing. A few cry halt and choose to live only in the old world of tight-knit personal communication. The result is a divided society.
2. Debt Anxiety
With the global economy seemingly continually teetering on the verge of an abyss, few feel assured about the next few months, let alone beyond. Determined debt avoidance will push discount hunting and postponement of desire. Governments find that debt is the unavoidable elephant that is tramples on their best-laid plans.
3. Mobile Universe
We experience the explosive inflection point of almost everything we know shifting to mobile. The infinite resources of the web are used mainly on mobile devices, location-based services give us context whe’er we go, and printed newspapers and magazines are supplanted by the iPad. Our entire world will be wherever we are.
4. End of 9 to 5
Work has already moved far beyond the office. Organizations respond by offering flexibility to avoid traffic, pick up the kids, and manage personal affairs at work. The dramatic rise of global work means many have phone calls at odd hours or find their primary clients or suppliers in far-flung places. Work now transcends time.
5. Brands in the Blender
The time it takes for a powerful new brand to grow is the same it takes for an old brand to be trashed: next to no time. As reputation shifts from corporations to individuals, trying to keep control has the opposite effect. Chopping and remixing brand identity is better done by choice than by others.
6. Sensory Indulgence
With many of our basic desires assuaged, we are free to indulge our senses, exploring how richly we can taste, feel, hear, and see. Fine dining explodes as an affordable luxury, while we all become oenophiles. Sensory luxury at home as well as on excursions is a basic expectation.
7. Immersive Entertainment
Aldous Huxley’s vision of the ‘feelies’ is here, as we use surround sound, big screens, 3D, Kinect motion sensors, video glasses, augmented reality, haptic suits, and more to give us a complete experience of our entertainment. Any and all technology that immerses us in other worlds is taken up with alacrity.
8. Terror Tomorrow
With terror yesterday and terror tomorrow, the interregnum is more tedious than terrifying. The calls for personal freedom and inviolate junk rise. That is, until tomorrow becomes today, bringing additional control and surveillance to everyday life, and more pushback than last time.
9. Social News Curation
Who goes to the newspaper front page or 6pm news for their news fix? As more of us share what we like and who our friends are, individually curated news is at each of our fingertips. Web, tablets, and mobiles will offer us the all the news that fits who we are.
10. Wrath of Crowds
BP and Nestlé have experienced how global mobs can egg each other on and amplify their voices to ravage reputations. Across nations, politics is becoming more volatile, with missteps and mismatched moods crystallizing concerted opposition. The wrath of many will be expressed more powerfully than ever before.
11. Everyone Naked
WikiLeaks moving into the crosshairs marks the point when society becomes transparent. As individuals we are already scrutinized by marketers who know us better than we do. Corporations succeed governments in their fear of inner workings being unmasked. Many rail and flail but there is no going back.