To stay relevant in the long term, organisations need to anticipate and respond to the trends and ideas that will shape future environments and transform the way we do business.
One person who realises the importance (and also the benefits) of ‘futureproofing’ is General Manager of CommBank’s global Innovation Lab network, Tiziana Bianco.
“Uncertainty and ambiguity are two words that excite me,” Tiziana says.
“The ability to explore new possibilities, help shape future business models, and explore emerging trends and technologies springs me out of bed every day,” she says.
So, what trends do the business women of today need to think about for the future? What new technology can be predicted and what will change?
Tiziana says we should be thinking about the following, for a start…
Overarching trends that are transforming the world demographically, economically and environmentally:
- Demographic change – the ageing population in the Western world and growing youthful population in Africa
- Economic power shift – the growing market in China and India and shifting of global power from West to East
- Rapid urbanisation and a rising middle class, leading to greater demand for participation in government and public decision making
- The steady increase in the number of women working and who are financially independent
- Increased mobile phone access – the Future State 2030 report (KPMG International in collaboration with the Mowat Centre of the University of Toronto, 2014) suggests 75% of the world’s population will have access to a mobile phone by 2030
- Climate change and resource scarcity, leading to the need for smarter resource management
Trends that will determine the technology we have access to, and also how we use it:
- The rise of the virtual and connected worlds, connected living and omnipresent cloud services, and products that can sense, process, report and take corrective action, as well as connect with one another – the wearables market is now estimated to be worth $30bn.
- Digital security and privacy concerns and an increased need to protect security systems against cyberattacks
- Preference for video, with the Cisco Visual Networking Index (VNI) (updated, 2017) predicting more than 80% of all the traffic on the internet will be video by the end of 2019
- The use of robotics and artificial intelligence (AI), agile robots with cognitive systems
- The expansion of the world’s data storage and shift to reliance on systems of engagement rather than systems of record, enabling real-time data use
- Continued growth in spend on mobile advertising, with the MAGNA Mobile Advertising Forecast (2017) predicting mobile will account for as much as 72% of all digital ad spend in Australia by 2022.
Trends that are shaping what consumers want and how they will interact with businesses:
- Personalisation of products and services, and increased demand for high quality customer experiences
- Increased data sharing, with more users open to sharing rich data in exchange for personal benefit/convenience and speed
- The need for immediacy and ‘on-demand’ services, with customers looking for seamless experiences and self-service options that enable 24/7 consumption
- The rise of social networks, with users creating marketplaces to facilitate exchanges between one another from opposite sides of the world
- ‘People over profit’, for purpose enterprise and increase in skilled workers choosing careers aligned with their values and social impacts
- The shared economy, including the growth of freelancing and Airbnb-style services with flexible models for work
Feeling more anxious than excited about some of these emerging trends? Tiziana has three tips to help you channel your inner innovator and futureproof your business:
1. Challenge your personal status quo and that of your company
“Continuously ask, ‘What if, everything that I know to be true is not the case?’,” Tiziana suggests.
“Challenge old assumptions about your business model and its current mode of operations… ‘What if?’ is the perfect way to start that thinking.”
It’s also important to challenge your own status quo. “We often come to work with our own biases and experiences, and our personal status quo needs to be challenged,” she says.
“Pick one thing you know to be true about yourself that acts as a roadblock, and really challenge it,” she says. This will help you to continually grow and learn.
Finally, Tiziana strongly believes in being highly trusting in employees. “Establishing an environment of trust enables greater willingness to try new ways of doing things,” she says.
2. Embrace your weirdos
Diversity in thinking is critical for new ideas and innovation. Tiziana recommends including a diverse range of people in both your professional and personal tribe.
“Build a team with different skills, points of views and experiences, and never be afraid to respectively challenge each other,” Tiziana says.
Provided that you have individual brilliance, a shared set of inflexible values and a common goal, this diversity will help propel your business forward.
3. Stay curious
“More and more, we cannot rely on historical patterns alone to help predict the future,” Tiziana says.
Tiziana stresses that perception is not reality – rather, it is a set of unproven biases. So, instead of basing your decision-making on experiences you already have, or on the limited information that you currently bring to the table, take the time to further educate and extend yourself – “you might just find a different way to answer that question,” Tiziana suggests.