How will life be at the end of this decade? How are our lives becoming? These thoughts have been on my mind after recently reading 2029: Guide to the Future by futurist Oleg Tumarkin.
In the book, Tumarkin predicts life just a few short years away. Interestingly, he wrote this book in 2018. This is pre-COVID, but even more curious is that most of the changes he predicted are already happening, with many exacerbated by the pandemic. Actually, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic served as a strong impetus for moving things forward much more rapidly.
Here are some of Tumarkin’s predictions (keeping in mind that he was thinking 10 years ahead).
Collaboration of organizations: Companies will trend toward working together rather than competing with one another. Companies will be aligned much closer with their values and ways of doing things.
Engagement formats: Traditional careers will decline and be associated with larger bureaucracies such as government. The traditional career path will be more focused on the individual over the organization. It’s what Tom Peters called “You Incorporated,” with a focus on personal careers rather than the organizational career path.
Freelance “gig” economy: This type of economy will continue to gain ground, and right now, more rapidly than ever. This goes hand in hand with the concept of “You Incorporated.” More people will become independent contractors, starting their own companies based on their own skills. Personally, I see this happening in our electronics industry where we are starting to see CAM/front end professionals starting their own independent companies from home offices while serving three, four, or even five companies to provide them with engineering services. Expect to see much more of this going forward, especially as we feel the decline of qualified professionals who are less willing to start moving around the country.
Key skill sets: Operations, engineering, quality, and sales will all become much more specialized. Professionals will be highly skilled in their particular field. They will become true experts. As I mentioned, they will start their own firms selling their services to several companies rather than being beholden to just one.
Complete product solutions: Rather than companies building only one part of a product we can expect to see them provide the entire product by coordinating with other partners. This is one prediction that is being realized as we write this. In our industry our customers are expecting companies to provide them with a complete solution. In our case, this is from design to completed product. This allows a cooperative effort between designers and PCB/PCBA companies. In some cases, companies are doing all of it themselves under one roof or corporate umbrella.
Ease of product and service acquisitions: Customers want easy and frictionless transactions. The true success of companies like Amazon and Ali Baba is how easy it is to find and purchase products, then get those products delivered. Customers are so accustomed to this type of service they are shocked if something takes more than 48 hours to arrive. This trend will continue and will spread to all products. As we have seen in our business, companies are already being tasked with providing products from concept to reality to delivery in shorter and shorter times. This trend will continue not only for B2B but commercially as well.
The world will get smaller: I will go out on an optimistic limb here and say that the countries of the world, because of the global economy, will start working together better. I know that it does not feel like this right now, but it is inevitable that the time will come and it’s just around that proverbial corner. The war in Ukraine is not only stupid, but hopelessly outdated. People don’t want wars; they want to do business and they want to do it globally. There will rapidly come a time when the world will be forced by its citizenry to get along so they can do business, and the xenophobes will lose their grip on their country’s political direction.
Innovation cooperation: This will prevail. COVID caused the world to come up with solutions, to innovate more than ever before. This happened because people all over the world decided to demolish their silos and work together. The examples that this cooperative initiative established will not be lost on the more sensible people of each country thus opening the doors to global borderless innovation when it comes to products that benefit all mankind. Look for this to be the direction we head in as we move toward 2029.
Actually, most of the “predictions” listed here are not really predictions, so to speak. They are actually a list of trends that will continue to grow as we move rapidly into the future that will be 2029. That future is here today and we are merely working at getting better at it.
It’s only common sense.
Dan Beaulieu is president of D.B. Management Group.