Trends Now Shaping the Future: Technological, Workplace, Management, and Institutional Trends
Cetron, Marvin J., Davies, Owen, The Futurist
The impacts of new technological breakthroughs--and their unexpected consequences--continue to play a major role in shaping the way we work and manage our institutions, according to Marvin J. Cetron, president of Forecasting International Ltd., and science writer Owen Davies.
For some four decades. Forecasting International has conducted an ongoing study of the forces changing our world. Forecasts stemming from these trends range from the very near term (2005-2010) to medium-range futures (up to 2050), but the authors make no attempt to speculate on very-long-range futures that may prove of little practical use. Whatever your concern, some of these trends will have a very direct impact upon it. Others will help to form the general environment in which we live and work. They all merit attention from anyone who must prepare for what lies ahead.
The authors--and the World Future Society--welcome your feedback.
* Technology increasingly dominates both the economy and society.
** New technologies are surpassing the previous state of the art in all fields, and technological obsolescence is accelerating.
** Computers are fast becoming part of our environment, rather than just tools we use for specific tasks. With wireless modems, portable computers give us access to networked data wherever we go.
** Robots are taking over more and more jobs that are routine, remote, or risky, such as repairing undersea cables or space-station components. Flexible, general-service personal robots will appear in the home by 2010, expanding on the capabilities of devices such as robotic vacuum cleaners and lawn mowers.
** Wireless connections simplify relocation of personnel, minimize delays in completing new installations, and let terminals travel with the user instead of forcing the user to seek out the terminal.
** By 2010, artificial intelligence, data mining, and virtual reality will help most companies and government agencies to assimilate data and solve problems beyond the range of today's computers. AI applications include robotics, machine vision, voice recognition, speech synthesis, electronic data processing, health and human services, administration, and airline pilot assistance.
** Superconductors operating at economically viable temperatures will be in commercial use soon after 2015.
Implications: New technologies should continue to improve the efficiency of many industries, helping to keep costs under control. However, this increased productivity retarded U.S. job creation from 2002 through early 2004. Other developed countries are likely to feel the same effect in the future.
New technologies often require a higher level of education and training to use them effectively. They also provide dozens of new opportunities to create businesses and jobs.
Automation will continue to cut the cost of many services and products, making it possible to reduce prices while still improving profits. This will be critical to business survival as the Internet continues to push the price of many products to the commodity level.
New technology also will make it easier for industry to minimize and capture its effluent. This will be a crucial ability in the environmentally conscious future.
* Research and development will play a growing role in the economy.
** Total U.S. federal outlays on R & D have grown steadily in the past three decades. Projected R & D spending in fiscal year 2005 represents 1.1% of GDP, the same proportion as in 1990 but greater than in 2000 (0.7%).
** R & D outlays in Japan have risen almost continuously, to nearly 3% of GDP.
** China has taken third place in the world's R & D spending, with a budget totaling about $60 billion in 2001, the most recent year for which the figure is available. The United States spent $282 billion on research that year, while Japan spent $104 billion. Germany, in fourth place, spent $54 billion.
** R & D spending in the European Union is just under 2% of GDP. In individual countries, it ranges from 4.27% of GDP in Sweden to just 1.8% in Britain, where it has declined steadily for more than 10 years.
** In Russia, R & D budgets fell from about 2% of GDP in 1990 to under 1% in 1997; they are believed to have recovered to about 1.1% by 2003.
** In the United States, federal funding for basic research has dwindled, as Washington focuses on military research and engineering.
** Corporate R & D in the United States also has shifted in the post-September 11 period, with less emphasis on pharmaceuticals and computer-related fields and more focus on biotechnology, nanotechnology, and security technologies.
** Western corporations are beginning to outsource R & D to foreign contractors, just as they do other functions. Russian laboratories, which are technologically sophisticated but have been hard-pressed to survive budget cuts for more than a decade, are taking on much of this work.
** U.S. jobs created by high-tech exports are more than replacing the low-tech jobs lost to competition under the North American Free Trade Agreement and similar agreements.
Implications: The demand for scientists, engineers, and technicians will continue to grow, particularly in fields where research promises an immediate business payoff.
Low-wage countries such as China will continue to take jobs from advanced industrialized countries such as the United States, but those jobs will be replaced by higher-paid jobs in technology and service industries.
Countries like India, China, and Russia may continue to suffer a brain drain as those with high-tech skills emigrate to high-demand, high-wage destinations. However, there is evidence that growing numbers of technology students and professionals are spending time in the West to learn cutting-edge skills, and then returning to their native lands to work, start companies, and teach. This trend may promote the growth of some developing countries while reducing the competitive advantages of the developed world.
By inhibiting stem-cell research, the United States has made itself a less attractive place for cutting-edge biomedical scientists. The United Kingdom is capitalizing on this to become the world's leader in stemcell research. In the process, it is reversing the brain drain that once deprived it of top scientists.
Washington's neglect of basic science is being felt in the declining fraction of patents, Nobel Prizes, and other awards going to American scientists. As other countries become more skilled in critical high-tech fields, the United States is fast losing its edge. If this trend is not reversed, it will begin to undermine the U.S. economy and shift both economic and political power to other lands.
* Advances in transportation technology will make travel and shipping faster, cheaper, and safer, by land, sea, and air.
** NASA's X-43A Scramjet, an experimental hypersonic aircraft, successfully flew at 7,000 mph (nearly 10 times the speed of sound) in November 2004. Once commercialized, such technology could whisk diplomats and other high-priority passengers across continents in less time than it takes most people to drive to the airport.
** By 2010, New York, Tokyo, and Frankfurt will emerge as transfer points for passengers of high-speed, large-capacity supersonic planes.
** Airline crashes will decline, and will involve fewer fatalities, thanks to such technical advances as safer seat design and flash-resistant fuels.
** Following European practice, the U.S. airline industry will begin to replace the spokes of its existing hub-and-spokes system with high-speed trains for journeys of 100 to 150 miles.
** Advances in automobile technology such as road-condition sensors, continuously variable transmissions, automated traffic management systems, night-vision systems, and smart seats that tailor airbag inflation to the passenger's weight will all be in common use by 2010.
** The first commercial hybrid gas-electric cars are available already. New models will begin to win market share from traditional gas guzzlers between 2005 and 2010.
** To reduce the number and severity of traffic accidents, trucks on the most heavily used highways will be exiled to car-free lanes, and the separation will be enforced.
Implications: One of the fastest-growing transport industries is trucking, in part because computers encourage just-in-time inventory management. Deliveries for Internet-based companies are an expanding market for shipping. This field will grow more efficient as GPS-based truck tracking and other new technologies spread through the industry.
More-efficient vehicles, especially with hybrid power trains, should begin to reduce the demand for oil by 2008, easing one of the few remaining sources of inflation.
By 2010, smart-car technologies will begin to reduce deaths due to auto accidents in Europe and, slightly later, the United States.
Cities increasingly will struggle to reduce auto congestion, either by limiting the use of private automobiles--as in Munich, Vienna, and Mexico City--or by encouraging the development and use of mass transit, as in Copenhagen and Curitiba, Brazil.
Technology may offer other alternatives. One proposal is "dualmode transportation," in which private cars would be used normally on short hauls but would run on automated guideways for long-distance travel.
* The pace of technological change accelerates with each new generation of discoveries and applications.
** The design and marketing cycle--idea, invention, innovation, imitation--is shrinking steadily. Thus, products must capture their market quickly, before the competition can copy them. As late as the 1940s, the product cycle stretched to 30 or 40 years. Today, it seldom lasts that long.
** Computer-aided design in the automobile and other industries shortens the lag time between idea and finished design.
** Eighty percent of the scientists, engineers, and doctors who ever lived are alive today--and exchanging ideas in real time on the Internet.
** All the technical knowledge we work with today will represent only 1% of the knowledge that will be available in 2050.
Implications: Industries will face much tighter competition based on new technologies. Those who adopt state-of-the-art methods first will prosper. Those who ignore them eventually will fail.
Lifelong learning is a necessity for anyone who works in a technical field--and for growing numbers who do not.
* Important medical advances will continue to appear almost daily.
** Genetic research has accelerated advances in medicine and in the growth of medical knowledge. Early results stemming from the Human Genome Project include possible cures for hemophilia, cystic fibrosis, familial hypercholesterolemia, a number of cancers, and AIDS. Eventually, some 4,000 hereditary disorders may be prevented or cured through genetic intervention.
** Our growing knowledge of biochemistry, aided by advanced computer modeling, has made it possible to design drugs to fit specific receptors in the cell. Drugs created through this technology often are much more effective than natural derivatives.
** New research on artificial blood shows promise for stretching the supply of blood, which is expected to fall short of demand by 4 million units per year for the next 30 years.
** Memory-enhancing drugs should reach clinical use by 2010.
** "Magic bullet" drug-delivery systems will make it possible to direct enormous doses of medication exactly where they are needed, sparing the rest of the body from possible side effects. This will improve therapeutic results in cancers and many other conditions that require the use of powerful drugs.
** Brain-cell and nerve-tissue transplants to aid victims of retardation, head trauma, and other neurological disorders will enter clinical use by 2007. Heart repairs using muscles from other parts of the body will arrive soon after. Transplanted animal organs will find their way into common use. Laboratory-grown bone, muscle, and blood cells also will be employed in transplants.
** Other transplanted tissues will come from cloning and related technologies used to grow stem cells. Radical new treatments for diabetes, Parkinson's disease, perhaps Alzheimer's, and many other disorders can be expected to arrive within the next five to 10 years. Forecasting International believes that cloning and related methods will be accepted for the treatment of disease.
** Surgeons working via the Internet will routinely operate on patients in remote areas, using robot manipulators.
** In the next 10 years, we expect to see more and better bionic limbs, hearts, and other organs; drugs that prevent disease rather than merely treating symptoms; and body monitors that warn of impending trouble. These all will reduce hospital stays.
** By 2025, the first nanotechnology-based medical therapies should reach clinical use. Microscopic machines will monitor our internal processes, remove cholesterol plaques from artery walls, and destroy cancer cells before they have a chance to form a tumor.
Implications: Even without dramatic advances in life extension, baby boomers are likely to live much longer, and in better health, than anyone now expects. This will reduce the cost of health care well below most current projections, but is likely to raise dramatically the cost of Social Security, Medicare, and the few remaining fixed-benefit pension plans.
High development and production costs for designer pharmaceuticals, computerized monitors, and artificial organs will continue to push up the cost of health care far more rapidly than the general inflation rate. Much of these expenses will be passed on to Medicare and other third-party payers.
Severe personnel shortages can be expected in high-tech medical specialties, in addition to the continuing deficit of nurses.
A growing movement to remove barriers to stem-cell research in the United States could speed progress in this critical field. This could be expected to produce new treatments for neurological disorders such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases and many other illnesses now incurable or untreatable.
* The Internet is growing, both logarithmically and geographically.
** In spring 2004, Internet users numbered around 945 million worldwide, exceeding forecasts.
** In the United States, more than 185 million people have Internet connections, while nearly 137 million are active users.
** The world's population of Internet users is expected to grow to 1.35 billion by 2007.
** One reason for this fast growth is the rapid expansion of Internet connectivity in some developing lands. India had only 170,000 Internet subscribers in 1998; by 2004, it had 39 million, more than half again as many as had been predicted just two years earlier.
** In late 2004, China's population of Internet users amounted to just under 100 million.
** More than 80% of Japanese households were online by early 2003. A year later, more than 78 million people--over 60% of Japan's population--had access to the Internet via computers, cell phones, and other devices.
** American consumers are finally adopting broadband. Some 8.3 million homes and businesses signed up for broadband service in 2003, bringing the total to 28.2 million lines. By late 2004, about 63 million people, some 51% of all home Internet users, had broadband at home.
** Most Internet communication is commercial, business-to-business, rather than personal e-mail.
** Internet-based commerce is growing rapidly. Total e-commerce revenue is expected to be about $2.7 trillion in 2004, $1 trillion in the United States alone. Business-to-business sales passed $1 trillion by the end of 2003. Online retail sales in the United States grew by 51% in 2003 and were expected to grow another 27% in 2004.
** Not long ago, the Internet was predominately English-speaking. By 2004, there were an estimated 280 million Internet users in countries where English is the dominant language, but 680 million in non-English-speaking countries.
** Americans made up 42% of the total Internet-using population in 2000, dropping to less than 20% in May 2004.
Implications: B2B sales on the Internet are dramatically reducing business expenses throughout the Internet-connected world, while giving suppliers access to customers they could never have reached by traditional means.
Internet-based operations require more sophisticated, knowledgeable workers. People with the right technical training will find a ready market for their services for at least the next 15 years, as major businesses compete to hire them. However, the specialties required in any given country will change as some skills are outsourced abroad.
Cultural, political, and social isolation has become almost impossible for countries interested in economic development. Even China's attempts to filter the Internet and shield its population from outside influences have proved relatively ineffective, as hackers elsewhere provide ways to penetrate the barriers.
However, isolationism is still possible for those who are not concerned with trade. The number of Internet users in Iran has fallen from an estimated 1 million to about 420,000 since the mullahs shut down the country's cybercafes.
Trends in Labor Force and Work
* Education and training are expanding throughout society.
** Approximately 130,000 additional K-12 teachers will be needed in the United States between 2000 and 2010, according to the National Center for Educational Statistics.
** Also needed: An annual $10 billion increase in federal spending for programs such as Head Start, aid for disadvantaged children, the Job Corps, and the Job Training Partnership Act.
** Starting salaries for teachers (as a ratio of per capita GDP) declined throughout the 1990s in most countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD); exceptions were the Netherlands and New Zealand.
** Knowledge turnover in the professions is a growing challenge that will require continuous retraining and lifelong learning. The half-life of an engineer's knowledge today is only five years; in 10 years, 90% of what an engineer knows will be available on the computer. In electronics, fully half of what a student learns as a freshman is obsolete by his senior year.
** Rapid changes in the job market and work-related technologies will necessitate increased training for virtually every worker.
** In the next 10 years, close to 10 million jobs will open up for professionals, executives, and technicians in the highly skilled service occupations.
** A substantial portion of the labor force will be in job retraining programs at any moment. Much of this will be carried out by current employers, who have come to view employee training as a good investment.
** Schools will train both children and adults around the clock. The academic day will stretch to seven hours for children; adults will use much of their remaining free time to prepare for their next job.
** We already are seeing a trend toward more adult education. One reason is the need to train for new careers as old ones are displaced or boomers grow bored with them. The other is the need of healthy, energetic people to keep active during retirement.
** In the United States, education is moving rapidly to the Internet, as small, rural grammar and high schools supplement their curricula with material from larger institutions, while universities increasingly market their programs to distant students.
Implications: Even small businesses must learn to see employee training as an investment rather than an expense. Motorola estimates that it reaps $30 in profits for each dollar it spends on training.
Both management and employees must get used to the idea of lifelong learning. It will become a significant part of work life at all levels.
As the digital divide is erased and minority and low-income house-holds buy computers and log onto the Internet, groups now disadvantaged will be increasingly able to educate and train themselves for high-tech careers.
* Specialization is spreading throughout industry and the professions.
** For doctors, lawyers, engineers, and other professionals, the size of the body of knowledge required to excel in any one area precludes excellence across all areas.
** The same principle applies to artisans. Witness the rise of post-and-beam homebuilders, oldhouse restorers, automobile electronics technicians, and mechanics trained to work on only one brand of car.
** The information-based organization depends on its teams of task-focused specialists.
** Globalization of the economy calls for the more independent specialists. For hundreds of tasks, corporations will turn to consultants and contractors who specialize more and more narrowly as markets globalize and technologies differentiate.
Implications: This trend creates endless new niche markets to be served by small businesses. It also brings more career choices, as old specialties quickly become obsolete, but new ones appear even more rapidly.
* Services are the fastest-growing sector of the global economy.
** Retail sales in the United States grew by about 12% between 1999 and 2002, according to the Census Bureau, while revenues in selected service industries rose by 14.4%. Similar trends are seen in other industrialized countries.
** Service industries accounted for 83% of private nonfarm employment in the United States in 2000, the most recent year for which figures are available, up from only 70% in 1990. In the decade ending 2010, services are expected to account for virtually the entire net gain in U.S. employment.
** Service jobs have replaced many of the well-paid positions lost in manufacturing, transportation, and agriculture. These new jobs, often part time, pay half the wages of manufacturing jobs. On the other hand, computer-related service jobs pay much more than the minimum--for workers with sound education and training.
** Some of the fastest growth is in some of the least-skilled occupations, such as cashiers and retail salespersons.
Implications: Services are now beginning to compete globally, just as manufacturing industries have done over the last 20 years. By creating competitive pressure on wages in the industrialized lands, this trend will help to keep inflation in check.
The growth of international business will act as a stabilizing force in world affairs, as most countries find that conflict is unacceptably hard on the bottom line.
* Women's salaries are approaching equality with men's--but very slowly.
** Internationally, women's average hourly pay was 81.8% of men's in 2004, up from 80.6% in 2003.
** Women's salaries in the United States have been rising faster than men's since 1975. However, there still is a long way to go. Average earnings for a man employed full time and year-round reported in the 2000 Census was about $38,000, or $10,000 more than for a woman working a comparable job. Female doctors make only 58% as much as their male colleagues.
** In Great Britain, the gender pay gap narrowed to record levels in 2004, as women's wages reached 85.7% of men's, according to U.K. National Statistics.
** Women's salaries have reached parity with men's in only five fields, nearly all of them areas where women have broken into trades long dominated by men: hazardous material removal workers, telecommunications line installers and repairers, meeting and convention planners, dining room or cafeteria workers, and construction trade helpers.
** However, women's average income could exceed men's within a generation. College graduates enjoy a significant advantage in earnings over peers whose education ended with high school. Today, some 64% of young American women enroll in college, compared with only 60% of young men.
** To the extent that experience translates as prestige and corporate value, older women should find it easier to reach upper-management positions. This will blaze the trail and help raise the pay scale for women still climbing the corporate ladder.
Implications: The fact that women's salaries are lagging despite higher academic achievement than men suggests that many college-educated women may be underemployed.
More new hires will be women, and they will expect both pay and opportunities equal to those of men.
Competition for top executive positions, once effectively limited to men, will intensify even as the corporate ladder loses many of its rungs.
The glass ceiling has been broken. One-fourth of upper executives today, and nearly 20% of corporate board members, are women. While this is still too few, it is far more than in any previous generation, and their numbers can only grow. Look for more women to reach decisionmaking levels in business and government.
* Workers are retiring later as life expectancy stretches.
** OECD data show that people are retiring earlier in the developed world, but this is only part of the picture. Americans, for instance, often return to work and delay complete retirement for several years. This trend will spread to other industrialized countries as the retirement-age population grows and the number of active workers to support them declines.
** People increasingly will work at one career, "retire" for a while (perhaps to travel) when they can afford it, return to school, begin another career, and so on in endless variations. True retirement, a permanent end to work, will be delayed until very late in life.
** By 2010, we expect the average retirement age in the United States to be delayed well into the 70s. Benefits may also continue their decline, and they will be given based on need, rather than as an entitlement.
Implications: Since the penalty on earnings of Social Security recipients was rescinded, more American retirees will return to work, and those not yet retired will be more likely to remain on the job.
Even though the Social Security program has been the "third rail" of American politics, within five years, the retirement age will be moved back at least to 70 for early retirement and full benefits at 72.
Older workers will partially make up for shortages of entry-level employees. The chance to remain in the workplace will reduce the risk of poverty for many elderly people who otherwise would have had to depend on Social Security to get by.
Retirees will act as technical aides to teachers, especially in the sciences.
In the long run, it may prove impossible to maintain the tradition of retirement, except through personal savings and investment.
* Labor unions are losing their power to secure rights for workers and to shape public policy in regard to workplace issues.
** Union membership has been falling for the past two decades. In the United States, unions enrolled 23% of employed wage and salary workers in 1980, but only 13% by 2003. Forecasting International projects further declines in the nearterm future, to below 12%, despite several recent successes in organizing, contract negotiations, and strikes.
** Public-sector workers in the United States are more likely to be unionized than private-sector employees. Membership is high among workers in education (37.7%) and protective services (36.1%). Sales and office occupations have the lowest union-membership rates (8.2%), according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
** In South Korea, where organized labor once was invincible, the government has increasingly stood up to strikes by doctors, electrical workers, car makers, and other trade groups.
** In Britain, where the Thatcher government broke union power in the 1980s, labor has yet to recover its former strength. Union membership has flattened out after falling steadily. Still, unions cover a higher proportion of British workers (26.6%) than U.S. workers, according to the U.K. Labour Force Survey.
** One reason for this decline is that companies are freely seeking and finding nonunionized workers around the world. They also contract out a growing proportion of business activities to nonunion firms.
** Increased automation can cut a company's workforce by up to onethird. The surviving workers tend to be technicians and other comparatively well-educated semiprofessionals, who always have tended to resist union membership. The growing industrial use of artificial intelligence will further this trend.
Implications: For large companies, this trend promises greater stability in employee wages and benefits.
Unions eager to regain their membership will target any substantial company with less-skilled employees to organize. This could raise labor costs for companies that unions once would have considered too small to organize.
In 10 to 15 years, American labor unions will compete with AARP to lead the battle for the rights of latelife workers and for secure retirement benefits. They face an inherent conflict between the interests of workers in what once would have been the retirement years and those of younger members, who rightly see the elderly as having saddled them with the cost of whatever benefits older generations enjoy.
Unions' political strength is also diminishing and is increasingly being surpassed by powerful blocs such as AARP, Hispanics, and African Americans.
The old paradigm of unions vs. corporations is obsolete. In today's economy, workers negotiate alongside management, winning shared bonuses.
* Second and third careers are becoming common, as more people make midlife changes in occupation.
** The fast pace of technological change makes old careers obsolete, even as new ones open up to replace them.
** Americans born at the tail end of the baby boom (1956-1964) held an average of 10 jobs between ages 18 and 38, according to BLS. These job jumpers continue to take short-duration jobs even as they approach middle age: 70% of jobs they took between ages 33 and 39 ended within five years.
** Among these late boomers, college-educated women tended to hold the most jobs overall (11.1) between ages 18 and 38, but their job jumping occurred primarily in their youth. By their middle 30s, they held on average just 2.2 jobs between the ages of 33 and 38, compared with 2.5 jobs on average for all the late boomers, and 2.7 jobs for males with less than a bachelor's degree.
** Career changing may also be increasing, though BLS does not track the phenomenon since there is not a clear definition of what constitutes a "career change"--such as when a technician becomes a manager in the same company or industry. However, Forecasting International believes that people change careers every 10 years.
** Boomers and their children will have not just two or three careers, but five or six, as dying industries are replaced by new opportunities.
** In the United States, 23% of workers surveyed by the University of Phoenix in 2004 reported being dissatisfied with their careers and were considering a change of occupation. Of these, 61% expressed a desire "to do something more fulfilling," such as entering a "helping profession."
** Seventy percent of Irish workers surveyed in 2004 said they hoped to make a career change in the near future, according to the recruitment Web site Irishjobs.ei. Women and individuals in the 26-35 age group were most likely to report the desire to change careers. "Personal fulfillment" was the biggest reason cited for making the change.
Implications: "Earn while you learn" takes on new meaning: Most people will have to study for their next occupation, even as they pursue their current career.
In many two-earner couples, one member or the other will often take a sabbatical to prepare for a new career.
Self-employment is becoming an increasingly attractive option, as being your own boss makes it easier to set aside time for career development. This is especially true for Gen X'ers and millennials.
Retirement plans must be revised, so that workers can transfer medical and pension benefits from one career to the next--a change that has long been needed.
* The work ethic is vanishing.
** More than one-third of U.S. workers reported calling in sick when they were not ill at least once in the past 12 months, and 10% had done so at least three times, according to a 2004 survey by Career-Builder.com.
** Job security and high pay are not the motivators they once were, because social mobility is high and people seek job fulfillment. Some 48% of those responding in a recent Louis Harris poll said they work because it "gives a feeling of real accomplishment."
** Fifty-five percent of the top executives interviewed in the poll say that erosion of the work ethic will have a major negative effect on corporate performance in the future.
** Ethics at the top are no better: Enron, WorldCom, Tyco International, Adelphia Cable, and ImClone just begin the list of companies under investigation for deceptive accounting practices, looting of corporate assets, and other misdeeds with dire implications for stock values.
** Seeking the root of such problems, a Zogby International poll of college seniors found that 97% said their studies had prepared them to act ethically in the future. However, 73% said professors had taught them that right and wrong are not susceptible to uniform standards, but depend on individual values and cultural norms.
Implications: The new generation of workers cannot simply be hired and ignored. They must be nurtured, paid well, and made to feel appreciated. Training is crucial. Without the opportunity to learn new skills, young people will quickly find a job that will help them to prepare for the rest of their career.
* Two-income couples are the norm. though the trend may be slowing or even reversing.
** In the United States, both the husband and the wife worked in 50.9% of married-couple families in 2003, reports the BLS Current Population Survey. This proportion has declined since 1997, when it was 53.4%. However, the proportion of married-couple families in which only the wife worked rose for the third straight year, to 6.8%, in 2003.
** The percentage of working-age women who are employed has grown steadily throughout the industrialized world. In the United States, it has grown from 46% in 1970 to 68.8% in 2000. The lowest are Italy, Spain, and Mexico, with just 40% of working-age women employed, according to OECD figures.
** This emphasis on work is one big reason the richest 25% to 50% of the U.S. population has reached zero population growth. They have no time for children and little interest in having large families.
** The number of working mothers with young children is actually declining. Only 58% of married women with children under age three held jobs in 2002, compared with 61% in 1997. At the same time, the percentage of married working women with children under a year old fell from 59% to 53%.
Implications: Demand for on-the-job child care, extended parental leave, and other family-oriented benefits can only grow. In the long run, this could erode the profitability of some companies, unless it is matched by an equal growth in productivity.
Two-career couples can afford to eat out often, take frequent short vacations, and buy new cars and other such goods. And they feel they deserve whatever time-savers and outright luxuries they can afford. This is quickly expanding the market for consumer goods and services, travel, and leisure activities.
This also promotes self-employment and entrepreneurialism, as one family member's salary can tide them over while the other works to establish a new business.
Look for families that usually have two incomes, but have frequent intervals in which one member takes a sabbatical or goes back to school to prepare for another career. As information technologies render former occupations obsolete, this will become the new norm.
* Generation X and the millennials will have major effects in the future.
** Members of generation X--roughly, the 30-plus cohort--and especially of the millennial generation, now in their 20s, have more in common with their peers throughout the world than with their parents' generation.
** There are approximately 50 million people in Europe between the ages of 15 and 24; 30 million more are between 25 and 29. The under-30 cohort represents about 22% of the European population.
** The under-20 cohort is remaining in school longer and taking longer to enter the workforce than before.
** Generation X should be renamed "generation E," for entrepreneurial. Throughout the world, they are starting new businesses at an unprecedented rate.
** The younger millennial generation is proving to be even more business-oriented, caring for little but the bottom line. Twice as many say they would prefer to own a business rather than be a top executive. Five times more would prefer to own a business rather than hold a key position in politics or government.
** Many in generation X are economically conservative. On average, those who can do so begin saving much earlier in life than their parents did in order to protect themselves against unexpected adversity. They made money in the stock market boom of the 1990s, then lost it in the "dot-bomb" contraction, but have left their money in the market. For generations X and millennial, time is still on their side.
Implications: Employers will have to adjust virtually all of their policies and practices to the values of these new and different generations, including finding new ways to motivate and reward them. Generation X and the millennials thrive on challenge, opportunity, and training--whatever will best prepare them for their next career move. Cash is just the beginning of what they expect.
For these generations, lifelong learning is nothing new; it's just the way life is. Companies that can provide diverse, cutting-edge training will have a strong recruiting advantage over competitors that offer fewer opportunities to improve their skills and knowledge base.
Generations X and millennial are well equipped for work in an increasingly high-tech world, but have little interest in their employers' needs. They also have a powerful urge to do things their way.
As both customers and employees, they will demand even more advanced telecommunications and Internet-based transactions.
* Time is becoming the world's most precious commodity.
** Computers, electronic communications, the Internet, and other technologies are making national and international economies much more competitive.
** In the United States, workers spend about 10% more time on the job than they did a decade ago. European executives and nonunionized workers face the same trend.
** In this high-pressure environment, single workers and twoincome couples are increasingly desperate for any product that offers to simplify their lives or grant them a taste of luxury--and they can afford to buy it.
** China's rapid economic development means its workers are experiencing faster-paced and timepressured lives. In a recent survey by the Chinese news portal Sina.com, 56% of respondents said they felt short of time. Sixty-four percent said they were never late and were intolerant of other people's tardiness, suggesting a new cultural challenge to the traditional Chinese concept of a leisurely existence.
Implications: Stress-related problems affecting employee morale and wellness will continue to grow. Companies must help employees balance their time at work with their family lives and need for leisure. This may reduce short-term profits but will aid profitability in the long run.
As time for shopping continues to evaporate, Internet and mail-order marketers will have a growing advantage over traditional stores.
* More entrepreneurs start new businesses every year.
** Workers under 30 would prefer to start their own company, rather than advance through the corporate ranks. Some 10% are actively trying to start their own businesses, three times as many as in previous generations.
** A large majority simply distrust large institutions. Most believe that jobs cannot provide a secure economic future in a time of rapid technological change. Examples of Silicon Valley start-ups that turned their founders into billionaires "overnight" dramatically advanced this change of values. This attitude seems to have been moderated only slightly by the failure of many dot-com companies.
** By 2006, the number of self-employed people in the United States will rise to 10.2 million, according to BLS figures. However, Forecasting International believes that figure to be too low: Expect closer to 12 million self-employed Americans in 2006.
** Women comprise a growing proportion of the self-employed in the United States, up from 26.8% in 1976 to 38.6% in 2003, according to BLS.
** More women also are starting small businesses. Many are leaving traditional jobs to go home and open businesses, even as they begin a family. At least half of the estimated 10.6 million privately held firms in the United States are owned by women, employing 19.1 million people and generating $2.46 trillion in sales annually.
** Since the 1970s, small businesses started by entrepreneurs have accounted for nearly all of the new jobs created. For much of this period, giant corporations have actually cut employment. In 1995, small, entrepreneurial businesses produced 1 million new full-time jobs vs. barely 100,000 among larger companies.
Implications: This is a self-perpetuating trend, as all those new service firms need other companies to handle chores outside their core business.
It is driven as well by the attitudes and values of generations X and millennial and by the rapid developments in technology, which create endless opportunities for new business development.
Specialty boutiques will continue to spring up on the Internet for at least the next 20 years.
This trend will help to ease the poverty of many developing countries, as it already is doing in India and China.
* Information-based organizations are quickly displacing the old command-and-control model of management.
** The typical large business is struggling to reshape itself. Soon, it will be composed of specialists who rely on information from colleagues, customers, and headquarters to guide their actions.
** Management styles will change as upper executives learn to consult these skilled workers on a wide variety of issues. Employees will gain new power with the authority to make decisions based on the data they develop.
** Information-based organizations require more specialists, who will be found in operations, not at corporate headquarters. R & D, manufacturing, and marketing specialists will work together as a team on all stages of product development rather than keeping each stage separate and distinct.
** Upper management is giving fewer detailed orders to subordinates. Instead, it sets performance expectations for the organization, its parts, and its specialists and supply the feedback necessary to determine whether results have met expectations.
Implications: This is a well-established trend. At this point, many large corporations have restructured their operations for greater flexibility. However, many others still have a long way to go.
Downsizing has spread from manufacturing industries to the service economy. Again, this process encourages the entrepreneurial trend, both to provide services for companies outsourcing their secondary functions and to provide jobs for displaced employees.
Many older workers have been displaced in this process, depriving companies of their corporate memory. Companies have replaced them with younger workers, whose experience of hard times is limited to the relatively mild recession since 2000. Many firms may discover that they need to recruit older workers to help them adapt to adversity.
* A typical large business in 2010 will have fewer than half the management levels of its counterpart in 1990, and about one-third the number of managers.
** Computers and information-management systems have stretched the manager's effective span of control from six to 21 subordinates. Information now flows from front-line workers to higher management for analysis. Thus, fewer mid-level managers are needed, flattening the corporate pyramid.
** Downsizing, restructuring, reorganization, and cutbacks of whitecollar workers will continue through 2006. Outsourcing will continue to grow until at least 2010.
** However, many companies are finding it necessary to bring back older workers, so as to preserve an effective corporate memory.
** Opportunities for advancement will be few because they will come within the narrow specialty. By 2001, only one person for every 50 was promoted, compared with one for every 20 in 1987.
** Information-based organizations will have to make a special effort to prepare professional specialists to become business executives and leaders.
Implications: Top managers will have to be computer-literate to retain their jobs and must make sure they achieve the increased span of control that computers make possible.
Finding top managers with the broad experience needed to run a major business already has become difficult and can only grow more so as the demand for specialization grows.
Executives increasingly will start their own companies, rather than trusting the old-fashioned corporate career path to provide advancement.
* Government regulations will continue to take up a growing portion of the manager's time and effort.
** In 1996, the U.S. Congress passed regulatory reform laws intended to slow the proliferation of government regulations. Nonetheless, by 2001 more than 14,000 new regulations had been enacted. Not one proposed regulation was rejected during this period.
** The Brussels bureaucrats of the European Union are churning out regulations at an even faster rate, overlaying a standard regulatory structure on all the national systems of the member countries.
** The growth of regulations is not necessarily all bad. A study by the U.S. Congressional Office of Management and Budget estimated that the annual cost of major federal regulations enacted between October 1992 and September 2002 amounted to between $38 billion and $44 billion per year. However, the estimated benefits of those regulations added up to between $135 billion and $218 billion annually.
Implications: Regulations are both necessary and unavoidable, and often beneficial. Yet it is difficult not to see them as a kind of friction that slows both current business and future economic growth.
The proliferation of regulations in the developed world could give a competitive advantage to countries such as India and China, where regulations that impede investment and capital flow are being stripped away, while health, occupational safety, and environmental codes are still rudimentary or absent.
Other lands, such as Russia, will remain at a competitive disadvantage until they can pass and enforce the regulations needed to ensure a stable, fair business environment.
* Multinational corporations are uniting the world, but also growing more exposed to its risks.
** Multinational corporations that rely on indigenous workers may be hindered by the increasing number of AIDS cases in Africa and around the world. Up to 90% of the population in parts of sub-Saharan Africa reportedly tests positive for HIV in some surveys. Thailand is equally stricken, and many other parts of Asia show signs that the AIDS epidemic is spreading among their populations.
** The continuing fragmentation of the post-Cold War world has reduced the stability of some lands where government formerly could guarantee a favorable--or at least predictable--business environment.
** One risk now declining is the threat of currency fluctuations. In Europe, at least, the adoption of the euro is making for a more stable economic environment.
Implications: It is becoming ever more difficult for business to be confident that decisions about plant location, marketing, and other critical issues will continue to appear wise even five years into the future. All long-term plans must include an even greater margin for risk management. This will encourage outsourcing, rather than investment in offshore facilities that could be endangered by sudden changes in business conditions.
Countries that can demonstrate a significant likelihood of stability will enjoy a strong competitive advantage over neighbors that cannot. Witness the rapid growth of investment in India now that deregulation and privatization have general political support, compared with other Asian lands where conditions are less predictable.
Major corporations also can help to moderate some risks in unstable countries, such as by threatening to take their business elsewhere.
* International exposure includes a greater risk of terrorist attack.
** State-sponsored terrorism appears to be on the decline, as tougher sanctions make it more trouble than it is worth. However, some rogue states may still provide logistical or technological support for independent terrorist organizations when opportunities present themselves.
** Until recently, attacks on U.S. companies were limited to rockthrowing at the local McDonald's, occasional bombings of bank branches and of U.S.-owned pipelines in South America, and kidnappings. Since September 11, U.S.-owned hotel chains have experienced several major bombings, in part because U.S. government facilities overseas have been effectively hardened against terrorist assault.
** Nothing will prevent small, local political organizations and specialinterest groups from using terror to promote their causes.
** However, as the United States has been forced to recognize, the most dangerous terrorist groups are no longer motivated by specific political goals, but by generalized, virulent hatred based on religion and culture.
** On balance, the amount of terrorist activity in the world is likely to go up, not down, in the next 10 years. This was seen in corrections to the State Department's April 2004 report on terrorism, which originally seemed to show a sharp decline in terrorist incidents and was used to claim success for the Bush administration's tactics in the "war on terror." In fact, the State Department's corrections in June 2004 showed that terrorist attacks have risen sharply since the invasion of Iraq, both in number and in severity.
** Risks of terrorism are greatest in countries with repressive governments and large numbers of unemployed, educated young men.
Implications: Western corporations may have to devote more of their resources to self-defense, while accepting smaller-than-expected profits from operations in the developing countries.
Like the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, and the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania before them, any attacks on major corporate facilities are likely to be designed for maximum destruction and casualties. Bloodshed for bloodshed's sake has become a characteristic of modern terrorism.
Where terrorism is most common, countries will find it impossible to attract foreign investment, no matter how attractive their resources.
Though Islamic terrorists form only a tiny part of the Muslim community, they have a large potential for disruption throughout the region from Turkey to the Philippines.
The economies of the industrialized nations could be thrown into recession at any time by another terrorist event on the scale of September 11. This is particularly true of the United States. The impact would be greatest if the attack discouraged travel.
The U.S. economy is being affected already by American antiterrorism measures. Since Washington began to photograph incoming travelers and required more extensive identification from them, tourism to the United States is off by some 30%. The number of foreign students coming to American universities has declined by a similar amount.
* Consumers increasingly demand social responsibility from companies and each other.
** Companies increasingly will be judged on how they treat the environment. For example, home-improvement retailers Home Depot and Lowe's have stopped buying wood from countries with endangered forests.
** Safety testing of children's products also enforces corporate responsibility. One company recently was forced to recall 7 million child car seats. Another recalled more than 440,000 pairs of children's sneakers with metal eyelets that could become detached and pose a choking hazard.
** Government intervention will supplant deregulation in the airline industry (in the interest of safety and services), financial services (to control instability and costs), electric utilities (nuclear problems), and the chemical industry (toxic wastes).
** With 5% of the world's population and 66% of the lawyers on the planet, American citizens will not hesitate to litigate if their demands are not met.
Implications: For industry, this represents one more powerful pressure to adopt environmentally friendly technologies, to work with area schools and community groups, and to participate in other local activities. It also represents an opportunity to market to environmentally concerned consumers.
As the Internet spreads Western attitudes throughout the world, environmental activists in other regions will find ways to use local court systems to promote their goals. Litigation is likely to become a global risk for companies that do not make the environment a priority.
* On average, institutions are growing more transparent in their operations, and more accountable for their misdeeds.
** China, rated by Pricewater-houseCooper as the most opaque of the major nations, was forced to open many of its records as a precondition for joining the World Trade Organization.
** In India, a country generally regarded as one of the world's most corrupt, the Central Vigilance Commission has opened the country's banking system to more effective oversight.
** In the United States, powerful forces are inspiring demands for greater transparency and accountability in large institutions. These include both the current wave of business scandals and the controversy over child abuse within the Catholic Church.
** The wave of support for government since the September 11 terrorist attacks has made Americans willing to accept greater transparency--that is, less privacy--in their personal lives.
** At the same time, the nationalist response to September 11 temporarily muted most demands for transparency in the American government. In mid-2004, this reluctance to question Washington appeared to be evaporating in the wake of the torture scandal in Iraq.
** Wars against terrorism, drug trafficking, and money laundering are opening the world's money conduits to greater scrutiny. Also opening up are the operations of nongovernmental organizations that function primarily as charitable and social-service agencies but are linked to terrorism as well.
Implications: Countries with high levels of transparency tend to be much more stable than more opaque lands.
They also tend to be much more prosperous, in part because they find it easier to attract foreign investment.
Greater transparency seems likely to reduce the operational effectiveness of the world's drug traffickers and terrorist organizations.
* Institutions are undergoing a bimodal distribution: The big get bigger, the small survive, and the midsized are squeezed out.
** By 2010, there will be only five giant automobile firms. Production and assembly will be centered in Korea, Italy, and Latin America.
** Seven domestic airlines in the United States today control 80% of the market, leaving the smaller domestic carriers with only 20%.
** Where local regulations allow, mergers and acquisitions are an international game. Witness the takeovers of the United States's MCI by WorldCom in the United Kingdom and of Chrysler by DaimlerBenz. The continuing removal of trade barriers among EU nations will keep this trend active for at least the next decade.
** We are now in the second decade of the micro-segmentation trend, as more and more highly specialized businesses and entrepreneurs search for narrower niches. These small firms will prosper, even as midsized, "plain vanilla" competitors die out. This trend extends to nearly every endeavor, from retail to agriculture.
** "Boutique" businesses that provide entertainment, financial planning, and preventive medical care for aging baby boomers will be among the fastest-growing segments of the U.S. economy.
Implications: Thus far, industries dominated by small, regional, often family-owned companies have been relatively exempt from the consolidation now transforming many other businesses. Takeovers are likely even in these industries in the next decade.
This consolidation will extend increasingly to Internet-based businesses, where well-financed companies are trying to absorb or outcompete tiny online start-ups, much as they have done in the brick-and-mortar world.
This trend leads us to believe that AT & T may be reconsolidated by 2010.
No company is too large to be a takeover target if it dominates a profitable market or has other features attractive to profit-hungry investors.
Job Hoppers in the United States Total Total 10.2 Men (all) 10.4 Men, less than high-school diploma 11.6 Men, bachelor's degree and higher 10.0 Women (all) 9.9 Women, less than high-school diploma 8.5 Women, bachelor's degree and higher 11.1 Average number of jobs for persons ages 18 to 39 in 1978-2000 Ages 18 to 22 Ages 23 to 27 Ages 28 to 32 Ages 33 to 38 4.4 3.3 2.6 2.5 4.5 3.5 2.8 2.5 4.6 3.8 3.0 2.7 4.6 3.4 2.6 2.4 4.3 3.1 2.4 2.4 3.0 2.4 2.1 2.2 5.4 3.7 2.7 2.2 Source: National Longitudinal Survey of Youth Educated women are the most-frequent job hoppers in their youth but among the least frequent as they mature.
About the Authors
Marvin J. Cetron is president of Forecasting International Ltd. in Virginia. His e-mail address is email@example.com.
Owen Davies is a former senior editor at Omni magazine and is a freelance writer specializing in science, technology, and the future.
Cetron and Davies have collaborated on many books, including most recently Hospitality 2010: The Future of Hospitality and Travel with Fred DeMicco (Prentice Hall, 2005).
This article is excerpted from their special report, "53 Trends Now Shaping the Future," published by the World Future Society and available for $8 each ($7.20 for Society members). The report is also available as a PDF file. Order online from the Futurist Bookstore, https://www.wfs.org/bkordor.htm.
Part one of this report, focusing on economic, societal, and environmental trends, appeared in the March-April issue of THE FUTURIST.…
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Article title: Trends Now Shaping the Future: Technological, Workplace, Management, and Institutional Trends. Contributors: Cetron, Marvin J. - Author, Davies, Owen - Author. Magazine title: The Futurist. Volume: 39. Issue: 3 Publication date: May-June 2005. Page number: 37+. © 1999 World Future Society. COPYRIGHT 2005 Gale Group.
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