To maintain sustainability a company must be aware of what key future trends can affect their business model.
In his new book, Future, Inc.: How Businesses Can Anticipate and Profit from What's Next, Eric Garland identifies the top eight drivers of the future that executives should start preparing for now.
- Aging. Within a couple of decades, the majority of people in America, Europe, Japan and China will be over age 65. Business implications: Invest in products and services to keep older people mobile, entertained and connected to society. Consider creating an onsite "eldercare" center for employees.
- Information technology. The next IT revolution will be marked by falling prices for small, powerful, maintenance-free devices. Business implications: Focus on service, not technology. The real killer application is solving people's problems - and for that, the human touch is always the best.
- Healthcare. Medical costs and distrust of doctors are both increasing at a dramatic rate. Business implications: Prevention is far cheaper than the current system of care. Start exploring opportunities for encouraging healthy habits.
- Biotechnology. We're just scratching the surface of mining the secrets of life, from genetically-modified crops to the promise of stem-cell research. Business implications: Consider products that can be customized to a person's genes and prepare to deal with the ethical choices and consequences.
- Energy. Increased demand for energy from developing economies is dangerously converging with increased scarcity of global supply of traditional sources. Business implications: Look at life-cycle costs when it comes to renewable energy. Investing in a new green office space could yield a competitive edge.
- Nanotechnology. The ability to manipulate matter at the level of a billionth of a meter is bound to open all sorts of new possibilities. Business implications: For large businesses, investing R&D in nanotech is imperative.
- Media and Communications. Network broadcasts and commercials will soon be history. The future of media is digital, portable, customizable and micro. Business implications: Get used to being honest and polite. Establishing personal relationships will be required to advertise to the next generation.
- Ecology and Sustainability. With six billion humans and counting, the success of our species comes at a high price to the environment. Business implications: Determine how to measure what the company does in terms of money, social responsibility and ecological impact, equally and consistently.