Corporate Eye

Future Business Trends

Economists like to tell some jokes about trying to discern the future —

It is very difficult to forecast, especially about the future.

He who lives by the crystal ball soon learns to eat ground glass.

Jokes aside, the current business landscape is increasingly complex and rapidly changing. A serious look at the future is essential.

First, before you look at future trends, you should enhance your trend watching skills. Thanks to TrendWatching (a great site –visit it for a further description of these tips, sign up for their newsletter) here are some tips —

  • Know why you are tracking trends
  • Make sure you acquire a point of view about the world around you. The more trends you spot and track, and the more skilled you are at putting these trends into context, the more guidance you’ll have.
  • Celebrate the incredible wealth of trend resources at your fingertips, many of them free or dirt cheap! (Yes indeed, more on this below)
  • Have a Trend Framework: basically a long list of all the trends we’ve spotted over the years.
  • Every company should have its own Trend Group. Even if that “group” is just you. The Trend Group is not some multimillion dollar/euro/pound affair. It doesn’t have to employ a dozen staff (though that would be nice ;-). It’s more a state of mind. It can be low-cost, unauthorized and grass roots if need be. Don’t wait for permission, make the Trend Group a fait accompli.

Ok, now let’s look at some trends. The first list is from Ernst & Young’s 2009 Global Megatrends

For a comprehensive discussion of these trends visit E&Y’s website. This is one of the best resources on future business trends.

Next, visit A Thousand Tomorrows. This is a most unusual “blog”. The company that publishes this resource, Pantopicon, calls this a blog, but it is much more than a blog. There is rich content here. Be warned, topics go beyond future trends, you might find yourself captivated by the breath of topics covered.

Another worthy resource is the downloads section of  Z_punkt and download “Megatrends–A survey of the top twenty megatrends shaping tomorrow’s business.” Here you will find other good references such as, “Ten Trend Setting Products”, “Rethinking Business” and more.

A look at the future would not be complete without a view of Risks. The Global Competitiveness Forum offers 2009 Global Risks.

A good site that I’ve used for many years, ManyWorlds, has a Futures section. Finally,  a discussion about the Future must include the World Future Society. This a membership site but many no-cost references are offered. Be sure to see their “Top 10 Forecast For 2009 and Beyond“.

There are more good resources, feel free to post and share them.

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Ed Konczal has an MBA from New York University's Stern School of Business (with distinction). He has spent the last 10 years as an executive consultant focusing on human resources, leadership, market research, and business planning. Ed has over 10 years of top-level experience from AT&T in the areas of new ventures and business planning. He is co-author of the book "Simple Stories for Leadership Insight," published by University Press of America.
 
Comments

Sometimes the best way to predict the future of business trends is to look at current trends. I found some really great research surveys on the state of the business world. Here’s the web address: http://www.tatumllc.com/perspectives/survey-of-business-conditions.asp

Eric,

Thanks for the link. Always looking for good resources.

Ed

Great post! I think you are spot on with a lot of these trends for down the road. My small office is always trying to stay on top of business trends to keep ahead of our competitors. We are always looking for ways to cut costs and improve efficiency. Thanks for all the great links!

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