As I’ve virtually travelled across the UK and Europe to deliver my thoughts on the future of healthcare and teaching, I’ve been challenged to consider the future of different industries, especially the future of strategy.
That’s an exciting question and here is my vision of the future. Several megatrends are at play right now that will ultimately affect the business of business, three are particularly notable and there is a wildcard on the horizon that could fundamentally overturn how leaders operate.
Marketplace disruption and the proliferation of microbusinesses and hustler mentality will continue to challenge traditional business and industry
As the cost of entry is driven down through technology and the growing levels of education and innovation disrupt the power base of large Western-led multinationals so we’ll see corporates being repeatedly disrupted. Not a brand new shift in the market but certainly one that will begin to disrupt every industry. Business education being democratised through a growing appetite for informal, bitesize learning such as The Power MBA, and MOOCS offered by heavyweight business schools are pushing confidence and knowledge to the masses. Corporates may find a double challenge of competition for consumers' attention in the marketplace and a of competition for talent in their structures as start-ups and scale-ups offer an inclusive, exciting and rewarding environment for workers.
Investment shifts towards purpose-led business
The last two years have seen a shift in investment and rhetoric towards businesses adopting a more purpose-led approach. Movements such as Conscious Capitalism and Inclusive Capitalism and the Singularity University are gaining critical mass followed by a demonstrable shift in investment into businesses that are aware of the impact they are having on communities and the planet.
Growing corporate activism will continue and will need to shift further into the fabric of business strategy, into the ego of business leaders. Fake purpose will be increasingly called out and the damage will last longer than attention spans. Pressure from workers and retirees alike will bring a pivotal moment when ethical investments will become the norm. This broader social movement will bring life into regions and disrupt the megacity power base. Increasingly, political and social power will shift to support disenfranchised communities where manufacturing for example has been offshored and this renaissance will be bolstered as more and more thought workers work remotely.
Technology accelerates further towards singularity and the use of AI and big data becomes the next pocket tool.
Just as accounting firms such as Sage and Xero are putting the finance team in your pocket, so developers will mimic other key professionals in marketing, strategy, and learning and development so that even more start-ups will have decision support tools from an early stage. This won’t necessarily breed a legion of unicorns. These exemplary businesses will still rely on creative spark and hunch for their success. It will however shift the normal curve for innovation success. These tools provide access for many more entrepreneurs who in turn gain more clarity and will accelerate the process of innovation. This will attract earlier investment or encourage weaker start-up concepts to pivot or close sooner.
And a true wildcard……
As big technology firms including Facebook invest in wearables that respond to neurological triggers so the technology of telepathy becomes viable with the right devices and consents. Communication between people is utterly transformed as negotiation quickens, trust intensifies significantly. The creative process of brainstorming is less demanding as the deeper levels of thought come through more quickly and with inhibition out of the way more thoughts are built out in multiple directions. Innovation explodes with ideas ready to be tested through digital twin environments that test viability.
Several megatrends are colliding that influence the future of strategy and management.
Social trends are highlighting (a wider) purpose as mission-critical for businesses – profit-making or otherwise. Also, the acceleration of tech and ease of start-up is disrupting industries and workforce talent as more and more people take on their destiny without the bureaucracy or costs. And finally, big data and AI are automating many business processes. It’s a maelstrom for managers.
What an exciting time to be alive!