The McKinsey Quarterly has Ten trends to watch in 2006 by Ian Davis and Elizabeth Stephenson, which are really trends to watch over the next decade. Each of the trends gets a paragraph and then some links to deeper articles from McKinsey Quarterly.
What are the currents that will make the world of 2015 a very different place to do business from the world of today? Predicting short-term changes or shocks is often a fool's errand. But forecasting long-term directional change is possible by identifying trends through an analysis of deep history rather than of the shallow past. Even the Internet took more than 30 years to become an overnight phenomenon.
Several of the trends ring for me.
- Ubiquitous access to information is changing the economics of knowledge.
This one is right in line with my interests in knowledge management. People and businesses can be deluged with information with very little effort. We need to develop smart approaches to understanding what information is most important to help sift through it all. I also expect technologies to continue developing for better text mining, filtering and aggregation of all this information. I also expect that we will have ever more stuff to handle. The question is whether which will win the smart people/tools, or the deluge?
- Management will go from art to science.
The trail of business books might tell a different story. Along with all the information we have and being smart about it, there is some science behind taking action with the information we have. One reason I have been so interested in Theory of Constraints is that it lays out some sound principles for managing and measuring business. I was happy to note that my recently-MBA cousin has been exposed to TOC in his business school courses. (I'd be even happier to note a big PR push from companies who are thrilled with the results of applying TOC to their businesses.)
- Technological connectivity will transform the way people live and interact.
This one is obvious: technology is going to keep changing, and we will change with it. But then there is more to it, and the linked article on The next revolution in interactions takes you there in detail. (Speaking of new interactions, I note that the article is available as an audio file for listening on the go.) One of the central ideas of this particular trend has to do with the increasing amount of tacit-based work as routine work gets outsourced and automated. From this perspective, interactions between people gain a heightened importance as that is where a lot of tacit work happens: between people. Certainly, in distributed organizations, technology has to support those human interactions.
- Public-sector activities will balloon, making productivity gains essential.
This one has an interesting perspective. Not only are public services getting more expensive (healthcare), but the demographics of the consumers of public services are shifting. There will be more people demanding the services and fewer working at government and other public-sector agencies to provide those services. As a result, productivity must improve. I think this ties to a number of the other trends in terms of being smart about information, management science and new technologies for interaction.
Note: I see that Jay Cross has also commented on this article, Ch-ch-changes.