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2010 – 2020: Trends Review

Jude Roberts

It’s hard not to believe that we are now at the beginning of a new era. The term “The 1920s” is no longer used to describe Prohibition and Flappers. Instead, it refers to Robotics (and Artificial Intelligence) starting in January.

We must first say goodbye to the most turbulent, transformative decade of 21st-century history. One that has set the stage for business and cultural priorities throughout the century. Here are the trends that have shaped this decade for years to follow.

1. Millennials are consumers and business leaders.
Pew Research revealed that Millennials surpassed Gen X for the number of Americans in the workforce in 2015, with 56 million people. We recently reported that Millennials are driving purchase decisions in business. B2B companies and B2C must adapt to Millennials’ customers and better align their priorities and values.

2. Businesses are more accountable for the impact they have on the environment and society.
Customers look at more than products and branding when choosing what to purchase. Customers want to understand how products are made, the environmental impact of production, and what companies provide these services.

This new approach to purchasing for businesses and consumers will change the way companies do business. It will impact everything from the way they invest and get their energy, to the methods they source their material and labor.

3. We’re horribly unprepared for cyberattacks today, let alone future threats.
The business world has not been prepared for cybersecurity over the past ten years. It is not difficult to see how many institutions are vulnerable to cybercriminals.

Ransomware attacks increased by 350% in 2018. Large-scale attacks on consumers have also led to large losses and exposure of sensitive consumer information. In the past, consumers were responsible for their own security. But that’s not sustainable for companies that want customers to trust them to handle their data.

4. The control is in the consumers’ hands.
Thanks to digital tools, it’s now easier than ever for consumers and businesses to mobilize support for and against brands. There are numerous examples of this success. Harvard Business Review says that 67% of today’s company valuations are “intangible.” This means that companies’ value is not in their immediate control but instead, it is at the disposal of the consumers and general public.

5. Data security is now a top priority to people.
Apple, once widely criticized for its use of customer data, is now claiming that it is the “tech firm you can trust” when it comes to your personal information. Personal data protection has become a major selling point for brands.

To differentiate themselves in this rapidly growing field of concern, companies will seek to link personal security and branding. To protect their data, consumers will choose certain brands as their preferred brands.

6. Artificial intelligence, automation, and other technologies will enhance employee experiences.
AI was an unrealized dream 20 years ago. AI has now entered every facet of the business, including customer service and industrial manufacturing.

Employees worried for years about the possibility that AI would replace their jobs. But we are starting to understand that AI is meant to enhance human intelligence, rather than replace it. Automation, AI, and other technologies are certain to eliminate traditional jobs but will open up new possibilities.

How we prepare our workforce for sharing their space with the intelligent machine will shape the next decade.

7. Personal technology is shaping our collective destiny.
Companies are investing in technology to automate and improve their IT infrastructure. Personal technologies, however, empower everyday people more than ever. The personal technologies of today are opening up new opportunities for people to have access to the hardware and software previously reserved only for elites and professionals.

How will it influence their future expectations and skillsets?

8. Video games are now an integral part of mainstream media.
Millennials (and, to a degree, Gen X) were the first generation that grew up with video games. They clearly loved them. In fact, they continue to play them even as adults. No matter whether you play on your mobile device occasionally or participate in one of the new televised gaming leagues, video games are more common in the U.S.