Briefs: Business Trends

The Future of Gamification


Gamification is the addition of gamelike elements to tasks or activities in the workplace, in points of business-consumer interaction, and in people’s daily lives. It is seen as a way to increase consumer and employee engagement and enlist emotion, and thereby change behaviors or motivate people to act. Any activity that can be tracked or measured can be gamified.

Some respondents to a Pew Internet & American Life Project survey on the topic felt that gamification’s ability to engage and motivate would make it important to education, even if there are limitations to how far it might spread into other parts of everyday life.

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Wildcard: GPS Failure


The Global Positioning System (GPS) maintained by the US government is one of several Global Navigational Satellite Systems (GNSS). GNSS technology, including GPS, provides positional, navigational, and timing (PNT) data and supports a wide array of critical systems in transport, communications, finance, natural resources, safety and emergency services, location-based services, and the military.

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The Business of Doing Good: The New Responsibility

The Good Business of Doing Good

Eco-products. 100% organic. Ecologically friendly. All-natural. Fair trade. Locally grown. Green. These labels — which indicate a company’s, brand’s, or product’s commitment to social responsibility — are rampant. Although the meaning of these labels is not always formally defined, or even entirely clear, a broad and growing base of consumers now look for, and buy, products that proclaim their virtue.

In June 2014, the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) published “An Imperative for Consumer Companies to Go Green,” an article that addressed growing consumer concerns about responsible consumption.

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A Dozen Surprises About the Future of Work

Eye-Tracking Peter_Sheik_Flickr

By Dr. Andy Hines

1. Hey, that’s cheating. Augmented or enhanced human characteristics will present challenges for organizations and individual talent.

2. Emerging markets rewrite the rules of work and work culture. As emerging markets improve their positions, they will influence the culture of work.

3. Intelligence shows up in unusual places. Information technology (IT) will create new forms of intelligence that will migrate into infrastructure, devices — or persons (wearables or implants), or all of the above.Read more…

Biometrics Go Live: Applications for Consumers


Biometrics in the most general sense is the statistical study of biological phenomena. Biometric identification, often called simply “biometrics,” is a specific application of biometrics for determining or verifying the identity of an individual. Long described as an emerging technology, biometrics is now being implemented in a wide variety of applications and settings.

While there remains some skepticism about the scalability of biometrics to large numbers of users, biometrics is already in widespread use.

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Will We All Be Using Bitcoin in the Future?


The virtual currency Bitcoin is a mere speculative bubble or a force set to transform the financial world, depending on whom one asks.

Created in 2009, Bitcoin is clearly in its early stages — and its future remains unclear. This brief explores three potential scenarios for Bitcoin, which range from outright suppression by governments to success as a mainstream currency, with the current marginal existence as a third outcome.

Because outcomes are uncertain, it is too early to say whether Bitcoin is important in the future of business. The drivers and indicators that accompany each of the three scenarios will help to suggest whether this is changing.Read more…

Millennials and Money: A Generation of Savers?

Money!by Vincent Diamante

The Millennial generation is earning, saving, and spending more money every year.

The oldest Millennials, now in their mid-30s, are entering their prime earning years, while younger Millennials — many of them well-educated and with high earning potential — are still joining the workforce. Millennials already account for 21 percent of consumer discretionary spending — pumping $1.3 trillion into the economy. And by 2017, the Millennial generation is projected to surpass the boomer generation in spending power — and become the most active spenders of the first half of the 21st century.

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Personalized Pricing: Dynamic Pricing at the Point of Sale

Money_by Tax Credits

Personalization has slowly become the norm in a variety of industries. Advances in manufacturing, real-time customer service, recommendation engines, and other developments across the supply chain have set high expectations of personalized products and services for customers. Now, advances in analytics Paths to personalized pricing 2 and pricing algorithms are making it possible for companies to deliver personalized pricing to their customers as well.

In coming years, personalized pricing could become more common. It holds the potential to build customer loyalty, increase revenues, and give companies both more control over the price that different customers pay and the ability to base prices on a Related forecasts 10 variety of contextual data points.

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Digital Payment Futures

Moneyby _J_D_R_

There is a push underway to digitize consumer payments, led by those seeking to make the mobile phone and other personal devices into digital wallets.

To help monitor this trend and the evolving opinions about its future, we analyzed the results of a recent survey about the future of device-based payment systems conducted by the Pew Research Center. This brief presents some of the key themes that emerged from the Pew survey and synthesizes them with material from other sources to explore the future of digital money and explore implications for businesses and other organizations.

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The Future of Portable Batteries: Li-Ions and Beyond

batteriesby Rob Nunn

Despite persistent attempts to improve ways to store electric energy in portable forms, very little has changed in battery technology over the last six decades.

Yet research and development focused on enhancing battery capabilities and improving battery performance—conducted in both university and corporate labs—remains a top priority. Driven by the flood of new mobile electronic devices on the market and in development, the demand for better ways to power those devices continues to rise.

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E-Sports: The Rise of Professional Gaming

Gamergy_by artubr

In little more than a dozen years, a new spectator sport has climbed from relative obscurity to worldwide popularity, attracting the interest of millions of fans, who on average devote more than an hour a day to watching their favorite players engage in their favorite sport: competitive gaming.

Also known as e-sports, competitive gaming now features professional players vying for million-dollar prize purses, a college circuit that offers scholarships to “student athletes,” tournaments before sold-out stadium crowds, and a global viewing audience projected to surpass 140 million by 2017.

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The Future of Cities: Smarter, Greener

flickr_Trey Ratcliff

Propelled by drivers in all five STEEP categories (social, technological, environmental, economic, and political), many of the world’s cities are striving to become greener and smarter.

A rising number of cities are pursuing environmental sustainability and embracing intelligent systems not only for their own sake (to cut costs, to run more efficiently, and to better serve their residents), but also for the sake of the greater world (to reduce carbon emissions and to inspire other cities to do the same).

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Rising Giants: Companies Welcome

Gabriel White flickr

The landscape of global business is changing. While World 1 economies still dominate the global business landscape, more and more companies based in World 2 and even World 3 are making their presence known on a worldwide scale.

These rising giants are not only serving — and in some cases dominating — their home markets, but they also are increasingly seeking to expand into other markets, both from other emerging economies and from developed economies. The growth and expansion of companies from emerging economies will dramatically transform the global business landscape in the next two decades.

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Global Shale Gas: Redrawing the Energy Supply Map


ver the last decade, exploration and development of shale gas has transformed the US energy profile. The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) has called it “a ‘gamechanger’ for the US natural gas market”—due to the vast new resources of domestic gas that shale deposits represent.

But the US is not the only country betting on fracked shale gas to be a more important part of its energy future. Across the globe— from Argentina to China—countries are scrambling to explore and develop shale gas deposits. Although it will take years to fully catalog the exact size of these resources, the emerging evidence suggests that shale gas could have as much impact on the global energy supply as it has already had on the US energy supply.

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Technology Disruptions through 2025


Technology has always been a major driver of change, even disruption, in human affairs. Through 2025, it is poised to do so in significant new ways—impacting areas ranging from energy to consumer lifestyles to World 3 development to warfare—thanks to revolutionary advances now in the wings.

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Microbiomics: 100 Trillion Little Friends?


Trillions of organisms live in and on each human being, making up 90% of the cells in a human body, and some estimate that the typical person carries two to six pounds of bacteria. Commonly viewed as parasites or invaders in the past, they are increasingly seen as crucial determiners of health and disease, central to many basic functions.

Study of the microbiome—the collection of microbes living on humans—has expanded rapidly over the last 15 years. With rising media coverage, popular awareness of the concept is spreading, and reaching the level of mainstream products, with probiotic foods the most prominent examples. This is likely just the beginning, as the field promises breakthroughs in health, and is likely to shift thinking in that area and beyond.

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The EU Chemical Sector: To 2030

EUChem_Maarten Takens

European chemical companies face a more challenging environment in the future as Asian economies—and emerging- market chemical companies—grow more important to the global chemical sector.

This will force firms in the EU chemical sector to adapt, innovate, and forge new relationships with a variety of players in the chemical industry value chain—or face increasing pressure from Asian and Middle Eastern firms. Even if EU firms do adapt to the change in the operating environment, the chemical sector of 2030 will look quite different than today, with some two-thirds of global sales coming from Asia, compared to about 50% today.

These and other forecasts were developed by the chemical practices at A.T. Kearney and presented in its Chemical Industry Vision 2030 report.

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The Future of the Auto Industry

Image: Marianna, Flickr creative commons for commercial use

Over the last century, the auto industry has put more than 1 billion vehicles on the world’s roadways—and continues to add more. Over the last five decades, the industry has averaged sales growth of 3% per year—double the growth of the world’s population over that period.

Yet the automobile industry is undergoing a dramatic transformation. Sales in what have traditionally been the industry’s strongest markets have leveled off in recent decades, but they continue to grow rapidly in emerging markets, especially China.

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The Future of Low-Carbon Vehicles

Image: pictruck340, flickr creative commons for commercial use

In Europe and most advanced economies, government regulation and growing consumer interest are driving the development and deployment of vehicles that reduce the consumption of fossil fuels and resultant carbon emissions.

While the expanding market for more sustainable vehicles does not yet signal the imminent demise of the internal combustion engine, the combination of consumer demand and regulatory pressure will accelerate the shift toward hybrid, electric, and alternative-fuel vehicles over the next two to three decades.

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Media and Telecom Trends 2015

Mike Mozart

Each year, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited identifies what it sees as the most important trends in technology, media, and telecommunications (TMT). For the most part, Deloitte confines its forecasts in the annual TMT report to the near term, looking forward just 12 to 18 months.

Yet these near-term forecasts focus on areas that are likely to have significant medium- to long-term impacts for companies in TMT and other industries. For this reason, the Technology, Media, & Telecommunications Predictions 2015 report serves as a useful leading indicator of changes in tech-dependent industries that may have far-reaching implications.Read more…

Latin America’s Rising Middle Class


New studies reveal that in the 2000s, the middle classes of Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) grew by a striking 50 percent. As of 2009, the LAC middle class had expanded to at least 152 million consumers, comprising almost a third (29%) of the region’s population. Moreover, this trend has proven resilient to the global economic downturn. The result is that for the first time in history, LAC has nearly as many middle-class people as poor ones.

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Smarter Roads: Innovations in Roadway Infrastructure

Highways Agency

The wealth of time and interest devoted to the development of smart cars in recent years often overshadows equally significant advancements in a related sector: the roadways that such cars will navigate. Smarter roads may not have received as much attention as the advent of smart cars; however, governments, entrepreneurs, and innovative companies have been allocating substantial research and development resources toward their creation.

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China in Africa: Seeking Resources and Markets


China is rapidly increasing its presence in Africa through private and public investment, economic aid, and trade. It is outdoing the developed world in several respects: size of investments and aid packages, scale of infrastructure-building and resource acquisitions, and the sheer numbers of people involved on the ground.

As a result, China will help to reshape Africa as a competitive environment and as a market. This brief examines drivers of China’s interest and activity in Africa, explores some of the likely outcomes, and analyzes the implications of these changes for businesses and other organizations.

China’s Middle Class: The Rise that Transformed the Country


The rise of the Chinese middle class has transformed the country in the last several decades — reducing poverty and sparking new consumer behaviors. It has also led organizations from food companies to automakers to invest in the growing — and future — consumption by Chinese consumers.

For example, Volkswagen plans to open 10 new automotive plants in the near future, seven of which will be located in China. Research by McKinsey suggests several important trajectories as the middle class continues to grow and evolve over the next decade.

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China + Aging: Economic, Social, Policy Implications

China Aging Update

China faces an aging problem characterized by a number of interrelated components: A rising median age, a failing social safety net, the one-child policy introduced in 1979 to curb population growth, and a gender imbalance brought on directly by the one-child policy and a cultural preference for boys.

According to Yuan Xin, a professor and director of the Aging Development Strategy Research Center at Nankai University, “There is no country in the world that is facing such a big aging population problem.”

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Australian E-Readiness: Meet the World 1 Leader

Australian E-Readiness

Australia’s e-readiness falls squarely within World 1 standards. In many ways the country is among the world’s leaders in terms of technology adoption, with a large majority of Australians accessing the Web regularly, and mobile phone penetration standing at 96% in 2006. The country is ranked fourth in the world for e-readiness by the Economist Intelligence Unit, but nevertheless is at a crossroads regarding Internet infrastructure and future development.

The combination of vast geographic distances between major cities and concentration of the country’s 20 million people in the coastal areas makes it at once easy and difficult to provide connectivity to all Australians. Infrastructure in coastal Australia is nearly ubiquitous, but somewhat outdated and slow. Read more…

The Future of International Science: Four Scenarios


The International Council for Science (ICSU), an organization that includes national scientific bodies from from 140 nations as well as international scientific unions, published International Science in 2031—Exploratory Scenarios, which offers outlines of four distinct scenarios on the possible future of international science.

These scenarios describe four plausible yet very different futures, were the culmination of two years of foresight analysis that invited input from all of ICSU’s members. The focus of the foresight process was to identify the key drivers that will influence international science over the next two decades and to develop strategies to support international science collaboration in a way that advances progress and benefits society.

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UK Biodiversity: Future Threats and Opportunities


A two-day exercise in horizon scanning among UK policymakers, environmental scientists, science journalists and environmental NGOs has identified a list of 25 new potential challenges to UK biodiversity before 2050. Most of the issues present both hazards and opportunities for biodiversity. Read more…

Eurozone Breakup: Possible Consequences


When the euro began circulating in 2002, it was seen as a great step forward in the economic and fiscal integration of EU members. Now it is a source of great divisiveness, as the EU struggles to manage economic crises within the confines of the euro.

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The Future of Home Furnishings: Integrating Tech While Saving Space

homefurnishing_brett jordan_flickr

Changes in global lifestyles are posing new opportunities and challenges for manufacturers of consumer products. Shifts in where people are living and how they are living their lives, as well as the growing centrality of technology, for example, have altered their relationships with the objects in their homes, redefining what they want and need. What will happen over the next decade?

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Argentine Consumer Life: Five Trends


Argentina is an upper-middle-income nation with aspirations to join the ranks of high-income economies over the course of the next two decades. It has already recovered significantly from the 2001 government default and the subsequent economic collapse that plunged more than half of its people into poverty in 2002.

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Middle Eastern Entrepreneurs: A Start-Up Revolution?

MiddleEastEntrep_Alexandria Hackerspace Meetup - Mitch Altman

The Middle East is undergoing something of a revolution… an entrepreneurial revolution. Clusters of small, tech-focused startups are popping up in cities across the region in Amman, Beirut, Cairo, Dubai, Riyadh, and Gaza City.

This provides a bit of good news for the region amid its many longstanding challenges— ranging from political instability and the war in Syria, to high levels of unemployment and widespread corruption.

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The Connected Family: Technology Is the Tie That Binds


The modern American family is increasingly reliant on technology for internal communication, coordination, entertainment, and household management. As digital devices, applications, and media multiply, acquisition costs fall, and market penetration grows, each family member — from the youngest to the oldest — is more and more able, and likely, to choose his or her own digital road when it comes to spending time at home.

Digital technology is also helping to ease household management for busy families, as well as stretching the boundaries of the physical household and making it easier to seamlessly integrate distant grandparents or kids away at college into everyday family life.Read more…

The Future of Organizational Practices: Four Forecasts for 2025

flickr_Tony Frantz

There are a wide variety of visions for how work and the workplace will change in coming decades. Some focus on technology — e.g., on how new devices or big data will change workers’ lives — while others analyze the way in which Millennials and other generations will mix to create the workforce of the future. One area often left out of the conversation is how changes underway in organizational culture will help transform work.Read more…

Digital Health Monitoring: Home, Remote, and Mobile Care


US consumers continue to take a more proactive role in personal and family healthcare decisions. The convergence of consumer values and technological developments is creating a new type of patient—the e-patient. What will the future of the “instrumented, interconnected, and intelligent” health-monitoring environment look like? What is emerging at the device and application level?

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Health and the City


Public health concerns played an important role in the way in which our modern cities were originally built. The desire to improve public health and safety compelled cities to establish safe water supplies and sewerage infrastructures.

However, for at least half a century, health concerns have taken a backseat to a focus on mobility as planners have sought to optimize the city for drivers. In recent years, the relevance of urban design to health has reemerged, with a growing awareness that urban design is contributing to lifestyle diseases that diminish the health of World 1 and, increasingly, World 2.Read more…

The Transformation of Healthcare: From Volume to Value


Even as politicians wrangle over the future of healthcare, new approaches are emerging at the grassroots level — and this is starting to push 21st-century healthcare from a volume-driven, high-tech, acute-care paradigm toward a value-driven approach oriented to wellness, prevention, and optimal outcomes.

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Medical Tourism: Healthy Outcomes

William Cho_FLickr

Medical tourism — the practice of consumers traveling outside their home countries for healthcare — is moving from the medical fringes to mainstream status as a sophisticated, globally accepted approach to care. Read more…

How Technology Will Change Business: Disruptions Through 2020


New developments in information technology have had a profound effect on the way organizations operate. In what spheres of business and government will technology have the greatest impact over the next decade? Which parts of organization life will undergo the greatest changes? Will technology be even more disruptive going forward, or has the impact of IT plateaued?

To answer these questions, the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) interviewed a number of well-known technology and business leaders and thinkers about the impact of technology on business over the next decade. The EIU also surveyed 500 senior executives from a wide variety of industry and government organizations in more than 25 countries. The results paint a broad picture of ongoing, even accelerating, technology-enabled change.Read more…

Fabricated Food: In the Lab, Factory, at Home


Movies and other depictions of the future have often included visions of what people will eat and drink. Popular tropes have included the ubiquitous food “pill” that provides all of a day’s required nutrients in a single capsule; food delivered in metallic packets and tubes (inspired by space innovations); machines that materialize dinner on demand; and, of course, robot farming. Reality, of course, has unfolded differently.Read more…

The Good Business of Doing Good: The New Responsibility Imperative


Eco-products. 100% organic. Ecologically friendly. All-natural. Fair trade. Locally grown. Green. Labels like these that indicate the commitment of a company, brand, or product to social responsibility are rampant. Although the meaning of these labels is not always formally defined, or even entirely clear, a broad and growing base of consumers now looks for — and buys — products that proclaim their virtue.Read more…