[UPDATE:] The conference was rescheduled to 25 May – my keynote presentation is here.
In early February I am delivering a keynote at the MegaTrends conference in Abu Dhabi, one of three international keynote speakers together with John Naisbitt, who sold over 9 million copies of MegaTrends and created an industry, and Dr Lynda Grattan, author of Living Strategy and Professor at London Business School.
I recently did a press briefing by video for journalists in the UAE, touching on some of the themes I’ll cover in my keynote at the conference. I chose to speak briefly about four massive trends that will impact business globally and in the Gulf region in years to come. I’ll give more details on the speech content before and after the event.
1. The Rise of the Global Talent Economy
Talent – long recognized as the key driver of companies and economies – is becoming a highly dynamic global market. Top professionals are increasingly choosing to work independently, retired executives are making their skills available, and connectivity means we can access expertise from anywhere on the planet. Companies will as a matter of course engage and work with staff, professionals, and suppliers all over the planet. And those that do this better, beating their competitors to get the most from a world of available talent, will win.
For more, see writing about the global talent economy.
2. Service Automation
The rise of intelligent machines will be most obvious in the ongoing automation of services. Automated Teller Machines and the dwindling ranks of bank tellers is very old news, and most consumers now prefer ATMs to a visit to the bank branch. In their wake fast food counters will become robotic. More interestingly, automation will extend from brainless jobs to jobs requiring intelligence. Advances in Natural Language Processing mean we will be able to have (at first stilted) conversations with machines. Call center staff will be partially replaced by machines that can speak with customers, respond appropriately, and be unfailingly polite. Triage in hospitals will be performed by robotic nurses, and bank managers will pass on loan enquiries to their silicon underlings. A key implication is in the increasingly rapid shift in employment structure. There will still be plenty of jobs for people, but they will be new jobs requiring skills and training.
For more, see Future of Aged Care
3. Media Becomes Everything
As the economy doubles in size over the next two decades, almost all of that growth will be in the virtual world of ideas and information. The weight of goods produced will not increase. We will redefine what we understand as media to encompass virtually all social and business activity. Our means of socialization with friends near and distant will be media. How we communicate within organizations will be media, making every company in every industry in fact a media organization. Every facet of organizations’ activities and promotion will be media. In the developed world we will soon consume more media than there are waking hours in a day, as we consistently take in entertainment and information through multiple channels.
For more, see Future of Media Report 2008
4. Greater Expectations
One of the defining trends of humanity, particularly urgent today, is to expect more. This is expressed by the 4 billion aspirant middle class across the planet in striving to build more affluent lives for themselves and their family. It is visible in the middle class and wealthy seeking every more refined food, drink, and luxury. It means we are sick of illness, and expect to live far longer, healthier lives. It also means we expect a better environment for ourselves, our family, and for everyone, ranging from organic food and smoke-free restaurants through to reduced carbon emissions and environmental impact. Shifting perhaps faster than anything, we expect transparency and accountability from our corporate and governmental institutions, for them to do what we think is right, and for our voices to be heard.