Future Trends


The financial crisis of 2008 sparked what was for the majority of industries the most difficult economic downturn in decades. The tough economic conditions have no doubt shaped policies in most boardrooms, but there are many other longer term trends-demographic, technological, regulatory, to name a few-that are conspiring to shape the industrial landscape of the future. So what are these trends? The Diplomat asked leading market research firm Synovate to take an industry-by-industry look.

IT & Telecommunications

The “internet of things” (a concept first floated in 1999) will win mainstream acceptance and become a reality for many people. The internet will reach out past our homes, via portable computers and “smart” phones, and also beyond these devices to many more everyday objects, to form a network of things: appliances, cars, foodstuffs, clothing, and of course ourselves. Consequently, says Chris Michelle-Wells, Research Innovation Consultant, “the internet becomes more and more transparent, or ubiquitous, so there’s really no such thing as being offline”. Michelle-Wells explains further by saying “these networked things will either be able to communicate with each other, or if they are suitably “dumb” (i.e. a tin of peas) then their position and identity will be known to smarter connected things. And information about all these things can be gathered and sorted by key multi-purpose devices – in the near future, this device is likely to be a smart phone.”

Via these phones, we’ll be aware of what (and who) is around us, how relevant or meaningful each is to us, and have a range of ways to contact or communicate with these things. “Imagine being a tourist in another city and having your phone give you directions on where to eat, where to buy your favourite brand of shoes, and letting you know an old high-school friend happens to be three blocks away”, says Michelle-Wells. And it will tell you all this information as an “overlay” (called augmented reality) you’ll see when you look at the world through your phone’s camera (see here for an example). In the same way, using face-recognition technology, this technology can be applied to people (see here for something that will either scare or amaze you, depending on your point of view).

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Chris Ovenden, National Director – IT & Telecommunications, agrees that mobile handsets will play an increasingly central role in our social and business lives.  “The internet is no longer in the home office or wherever the PC is located in the household, it is always turned on and travels with the consumer. We will no longer have to take newspapers and magazines to coffee shops, but instead take our smart phone and surf the internet”, says Ovenden. Similarly inside the house, books are no longer the standard for night time reading, instead consumers can take their iPods and iphones and surf the internet for stories and other content.  “As a result”, says Ovenden, “media will continue to become more fragmented, publishers will continue to lose influence, and companies that own brands will continue to change the way they interact with their customers and will invest more of their advertising budgets in online media.”

Banking, Insurance and Finance

While the global financial crisis has certainly encouraged people to watch their spending, save more, and re-focus on the simpler things in life, the way we transact and bank continues to push new barriers. Geoff Reiser, National Director – Banking, Finance and Retail, says that “greater change is likely in the next few years as technology enables us to be more mobile and cashless. The use of online banking, ATMs, and electronic payments at retailers is just the beginning of hi-tech banking.” Geoff believes the future is likely to be more cashless and more mobile. Consumer confidence in security is an ongoing concern. Before too long we will all be able to use mobile phones to access account details, make payments and transfer funds. There is already great uptake of this in parts of Asia.

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