Amid the pressures of everyday living, it is easy to get so stuck in today that we all but forget about tomorrow.
The future, however, refuses to be ignored. The reality that is unfolding around us is that of a global village in which our daily actions have consequences that are both far-reaching and, more often than not, unprecedented.
In this unique context, some significant patterns of change are emerging and these will determine our future experiences. In this article, we explore this exciting new world, drawing heavily on the FastFuture – Shape of Jobs to Come Report (2010). From this report, we have gleaned invaluable insights into the workplace of the future and, as always, we are eager to use this forum to share these with you.
The FastFuture Report analysed the key areas of change in society by drawing on top international think-tanks. These areas are discussed below:
- Demographic Shifts
Nation states representing single cultures are a thing of the past. Nowadays, there are people from every country in every other country. Although social pockets and communities that are still fairly nationalistic do exist, within the next two or three generations a massive shift away from “old” cultural models will take place. Moreover, as the global population continues to escalate (the official population of Europe in 2010 was 738 million people, a number recently overtaken by Africa with its 1022 million inhabitants), the accompanying evolution of human interaction and living conditions are bringing about new cultural and socio-economic realities, conflicts and opportunities.
- Economic Turbulence
The only stable thing about economic turbulence is the fact that it isn´t going to go away any time soon. Cycles may alter in size and nature, but volatility and economic remain a package deal. In coming years, the balance between commodities, energy and consumption will undergo multiple shocks and corrections and entire economic clusters will shift either up or down (or both) at some point in time.
- Politics Gets Complex
In the new world, the role of the state will change dramatically as politics becomes both more transparent and more complex. The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) and other legislative practices have already demonstrated how laws can have a global impact and therefore require understanding (and skills) that are internationally relevant. The cop-out trend has been to look to the USA for solutions but, in the new world, every country will need to step up to the diplomatic plate. That this change is already underway is evidenced by the fact that numerous countries recently had to take out insurance policies against potential economic collapse in order to be eligible for a financial bailout should they ever need it. To top it all off, the truly complex solutions required for the kinds of geopolitical challenges that are bound to arise within this landscape will necessitate massive collaborations between governments, business and other organisations all over the world.
- Business 3.0 – an expanding Agenda
Our understanding of new concepts such as the cloud, big data and the post 2010 enterprise is still developing. The new business, referred to as Business 3.0 by some, will be involved in previously-undesirable functions of the state becoming privatised. The globalisation of companies and changes in revenue and earnings recognition relative to stock markets are altering the reality of accounting, finance and business. Large corporates now have a more social agenda, including the increasing obligation to maintain a socio-economic presence in the countries from which they profit – and not only the countries in which they are listed.
- Science and Technology go Mainstream
We are in an unprecedented time of knowledge sharing and innovation, with the Internet having precipitated a knowledge boom that forces us all to challenge our previously-held assumptions. At the same time, this change compels us to advance at an ever-greater pace. As science and technology advance and there is an increased emphasis on aesthetic appeal, the devices we use are growing ever more powerful, compact and, most importantly, indispensible.
- People living longer
Worldwide, people are living longer. This has already begun to challenge every model that has ever been built on the now-outdated assumption that most people retire at 65. In reality people will already begin living as long as 150 to 200 years within our lifetime. From this will spring to a whole new world of service delivery, generational issues and industries. It will also change resource consumption patterns, wealth patterns and the general approach to education and development.
- Rethinking Talent, Education and Training
Talent is changing. It may not exist right now, or it may be waiting in South America. Models unlike some of the early ones that we have seen for contributing to solutions and execution will emerge. Crowdsourcing is one such strategy. However, when we start seeing proprietary cloud structures emerging, the possibilities become much more radical. We have seen business models like Groupon, Pinterest, FormSpring and other businesses emerging overnight and changing the way that companies market, consumers consume and people work. All of a sudden, the retailer seated at the grocery-store counter is busy uploading specials onto a system while a person sitting at home is running their own reseller of products and services.
This will fundamentally change how talent is managed, how education and training is done and when and where people consume information relevant to their being skilled in evermore on-demand learning styles. Regenesys believes that, through our eLearning and mobile offerings, we will continue to provide new and innovative ways to accelerate workforce readiness and development.
The digital divide will soon be more of reality than ever before, with those who can access knowledge and utilise it effectively speeding on ahead, while those who do not rapidly fall further and further behind.
- Global Expansion of Electronic Media
The evolution of technology has already reached the point where, with one compact mobile device, you can manage your entire life. This way of life is only going to grow more fine-tuned and ubiquitous. One device to rule them all? Who knows? At this point, anything is possible. As nano-technology advances and cloud computing becomes a reality, we will also soon be able to package nearly any level of functionality into any format or form factor. What does this all mean? Don’t be surprised, in the near future, if you find yourself watching TV on your coffee cup, then stripping it off your cup and sticking it onto your fridge, before crumpling it into your pocket so that you can pull it out at work and to use for your desktop computing.
- A Society in Transition
As we transition into this new global society, many traditional institutions will change significantly if they don´t disappear entirely. Many tough questions will have to be answered by clashes, crises, scandal and legal shifts on an epic scale. This has and will increasingly lead to high ethical and legal standards, a loss in faith in traditional institutions and a reshaping of a future world of work. The information age has moved NGOs into a new business model often described as “social entrepreneurship”. Businesses have taken on more social responsibility and governments, rather than being the primary movers in creating progress, have increasingly had to find ways simply to stay out of the way.
- Natural Resource Challenges
There are currently seven billion people on Earth. A number which is likely to double by 2060. This means a couple of things: Much more production – bigger markets and bigger challenges – and much more waste. Smarter materials will be required to cope with both the manufacturing and the recycling needs of this new era. At this very moment, there are major initiatives in progress in most countries to increase recycling capacities. The mines of the future are the dumps of today.
FastFuture published a report on the careers that we can expect to exist in this new world. What will going into the office be like in 2020-2030? Have you considered becoming a body part maker, or maybe an old age wellness manager? The world of work is about to see some dramatic changes. (For a list of some interesting possible jobs of the future, click here.)
In South Africa, the view is emerging that we will become an industrialised knowledge economy and that our future lies in building our skills and knowledge around creating and managing innovation.
The question that needs to be posed is: Are we are looking forward far enough into the skills that may be required tomorrow and starting to build those today?
At Regenesys, we are constantly considering how to empower the managers and leaders of today and tomorrow to deal with this ever more complex society.