30 years after the initial publication of Megatrends by J. Naisbitt, this concept keeps being increasingly fashionable in the business world!
The Copenhagen Institute of Future Studies defines Megatrends as “the great forces in societal development that will very likely affect the future in all areas in the next 10-15 years”.
See hereafter their Top 10 Megatrends (http://www.cifs.dk/scripts/artikel.asp?id=1469)
1 – Ageing
2 – Globalization
3 – Technological development
4 – Prosperity
5 – Individualization
6 – Commercialization
7 – Health and environment
8 – Acceleration
9 – Network organizing
10 – Urbanization
Other institutes propose different rankings or additional trends and sub-trends such as Frost and Sullivan with the N11 (the next BRICS), Virtual reality, Mega-urban corridors, zero emission technologies, etc. (http://www.frost.com/sublib/display-report.do?bdata=bnVsbEB%2BQEJhY2tAfkAxMzQyOTAxMjAzMTcw&id=M65B-01-00-00-00)
But they mostly share the same big picture. Of course, some will wonder whether large-scale unpredictable events, the “black swans”, could divert the effects of Megatrends? Well, certainly but not all at once!
This is why, more and more companies use Megatrends very publicly to explain their strategic choices to stakeholders and to structure their path forwards. DSM for instance, used this framework focusing on the megatrends Health & Wellness, Climate & Energy and Global Shift, to justify and communicate on its radical and financially very successful transformation from a Petroleum-based chemical company to a Material & Life Science company.
What does this tell us?
Well, some companies rethink their market focus, products portfolio, culture and business models following Megatrends. They generate radical structural and cultural changes and impressive financial profits – others behave like dinosaurs and get extinct…
Following this model you could imagine a traditional fossil fuel car company mutating into a 100% electric car and scooter producer. They could even enter into joint ventures to distribute clean electricity on the road in order to create the conditions for success.
Marketers, strategists and senior leaders should keep an alert eye on megatrends. They should use them to fuel their thinking process and project their company 20-30 years ahead. This powerful framework can help them decide which long term strategic initiatives to support. It can assist them in shaping the company future market choices, structure, culture and ultimately it’s chances of survival.
As an example, did your company consider the megatrend Personal Robotics?
Initial humanoid robots drawings date back from Leonardo da Vinci in the 15th century. Then, the first patent holder for an industrial robot was American. Afterwards, Japanese pioneered mass robotics in global factories. With current progresses in IT and detection technologies, the time has come for a scale-change. According to the Japanese Robot Association, Personal Robotics will become a US$ 50 billion/year market by 2025. Japanese will certainly own a big share, though the world leading robot, NAO, is a French one.
Can you imagine robots performing difficult surgery, androids acting as nurses to help the elderly, to support kids education, to guard malls at night? Of course they will be replacing human workers, as was the case with industrial robots. But this trend will also result in a need for skilled workers in new areas, such as mecatronic engineering, repair services, apps development, training, etc. It will also enable businesses and institutions in many fields to rethink they way they handle multiple situations.
You can consider this Megatrend as a threat or an opportunity. Whatever your perception is, do not forget that someone will take advantage of it!
Therefore, the sooner you consider Megatrends within your strategic planning process, the sooner you can start adjusting your business and operation models as well as your pipe-line of innovative products.
Why not start brainstorming by reading “I robot” published in 1950 from Sci-Fi Author Isaac Assimov on the beach !
And after vacations, you can dig your old Sci-Fi novels from the attic and start envisioning more of our future world.
Don’t react, Anticipate.