It’s hard for us to believe we are in the midst of a new decade. In January, the phrase “The ’20s”, no longer refers to Prohibition and Flappers. It can be used instead to refer to Robotics or Artificial Intelligence.
First, let us say goodbye to the most volatile and transformative decade in the 21st century. This decade has certainly set the scene for our cultural and business priorities for the remainder of the century. These things have been the defining features of this decade, and will continue to shape trends for many years.
1. Millennials are now consumers and business leaders.
Pew Research found that Millennials surpassed Gen X to become the largest generation in the U.S. workforce in 2015. They accounted for 56 million people in 2016. As we noted recently, Millennials are also driving business purchasing decisions. B2B and B2C firms must adapt to Millennials, and better align with the values and priorities of these customers.
2. Businesses are more responsible than ever for their social and environmental impacts.
Customers are now looking beyond the products and services they buy to make their decision. Customers want to know the origins of their products, the impact they have on the environment, and the values of the companies providing them.
The new values-driven approach to business and consumer purchasing will require companies to change everything they do, from how they invest and get the energy to how they source materials and labor.
3. We are woefully inept for cyberattacks of any kind, and even future threats.
If there is one thing that the past 10 years have taught us about cybersecurity it’s that many businesses are not adequately prepared. It wouldn’t be unreasonable to conclude that cybercriminals can take advantage of many institutions.
2018 saw a 350% rise in ransomware attacks. Meanwhile, large-scale attacks have caused massive losses and exposed sensitive consumer data. In the past, we have placed responsibility on consumers for protecting themselves. However, this is no sustainable model for companies who want to be trusted with their data.
4. Consumers have control.
With digital tools, consumers can mobilize to support and oppose brands more easily than ever. There are many examples of their success. Harvard Business Review reports that 67% of company values are now “intangible”. This means that the company’s value is beyond its control and can be accessed by consumers and the general public.
5. Security of personal data is now a top priority.
Apple, which was once heavily criticized for its collection of customer data, now stands out as a “tech company you trust with your personal information”. Brands are now making personal data protection a key selling point.
As they seek to distinguish themselves in this area of growing concern, companies will look to align personal security with branding. Consumers will react by choosing certain brands to satisfy their data security needs.
6. Artificial intelligence (AI) and automation will improve the employee experience.
AI was just a pipedream 20 years back. AI is now part of every aspect of business, from customer services to industrial manufacturing.
However, employees were concerned for years about how the machines would replace their jobs. We are now beginning to realize that AI is best used to augment human intelligence and not replace it. Automation, AI, and other technologies will lead to the loss of some jobs. However, there will be new opportunities.
The future decade will be determined by how we prepare our workforce to share space with intelligent machines.
7. Our collective future will be shaped by personal tech.
As companies invest in automation and AI to improve their internal technology infrastructure, personal technologies empower everyday people more than ever. With personal technology, a new generation is emerging with the ability to access hardware and software that was once restricted to elites and professionals.
How will it shape their future expectations?
8. Video games have become an integral part of mainstream media.
Millennials and, to a lesser extent, Gen X were the first generation of people to have video games as a child. They enjoyed them so much that they still play them as adults. It doesn’t matter if you play video games on your smartphone or you participate in a league of televised video gamers, it is more common to have video games at home if you are a resident in the United States.