Forecasting The Future – a Fascinating ChallengeFebruary 14, 19
Since I am moving on today and, sadly, leaving IDEX, it occurred to me that a look at future trends might be in order.
For the diamond industry – as with every other trade – knowing where the world is heading is always useful. Unfortunately, it's a little more complicated than that. However, there are general trends that can be identified about the way we live – and the way we are going to live decades from now. Some of them are already apparent, but others might be a little surprising.
In an inter-connected world, the decline in costs of technology and connectivity costs is a no-brainer. It has been happening for the last 20 years at a terrifying pace – terrifying for telephone and Internet companies at least, and great for consumers. Innovation and economies of scale mean this trend will obviously continue.
Similarly, mobile access to the Internet is a given, especially with the continuous rise in volume of sales transactions taking place on mobiles. With more SIM cards in the world than there are people, the need to provide more widespread and powerful web access is clear.
If we think the pace and scale of online sales today is dizzying, in another decade trillions of individual goods will be available, as the digital world expands beyond anything we can imagine today.
Part of the reason for that is that within two decades there will soon be one billion children in the world. It just so happens that this is the first time in the history of humanity that the world will be home to so many children. The implications for advertising and lifestyle in general are clearly eye-popping. I was going to write TV advertising, but who knows if TV will still be around in 2040? TV stations are already now in a tough fight with advertising on social media, and losing the battle.
If modern life teaches us anything, it is that nothing can be taken for granted and that you just have to follow the money. There's no room for sentimentality. From time to time, when an historic event takes place, I put a copy of the newspaper in a box to look at years down the road. I have a feeling that although I may find it fascinating to look through those old papers in 20 years or so, my grandchildren are going to wonder what on earth I'm doing.
Take those 1 billion children having children themselves and all wanting a solid middle class lifestyle with education and health care, we arrive in mid-century approximately at a global population of around 10 billion which is seen peaking at 11 billion in 2060.
Life expectancy is growing at a pace that is difficult to comprehend, even without improvements brought about by medical technology and improved health care. Indeed, even in the poorest nations, life expectancy is growing by leaps and bounds.
And another statistic to bear in mind is that most of the world's inhabitants will be living in emerging market countries in just a decade from now – 80% of them. How will that affect global investment and immigration flows?
Clearly, the world will move from being centered on Western influences to the East with the United States and Europe falling behind as global players.
And on that note, the further ascent of China and India is all but guaranteed. Their local markets, with populations of around 1.5 billion each in the coming decades, will replace the loss of some of their Western markets. Indeed, such a move will increase their global power hugely since they will be considerably less dependent on exports of goods or services to the First World.
Will global trade become even more fractionalized as companies offering a vast new range of services pop up on a daily basis, and trading blocs such as the European Union disintegrate? Or will inter-connectedness expand and huge corporations become even more powerful, sucking up their smaller competitors.
Competition is great and to be encouraged, but how many airlines will there be in 30 years from now, or mobile phone companies, or computer manufacturers, car makers and pharmaceutical companies? And in our industry, will the thousands of companies in the diamond and jewelry industries remain.
What does all this mean for jobs and political stability? Will governments be able to stand up to public anger if wages are collapsing due to the changes mentioned – and the further impact of technological change, such as artificial intelligence replacing human workers.
Forecasting the world of the future is a fascinating subject and provides an incredible amount of food for thought.
As for me, as I mentioned at the beginning of this article, I am moving on. It's been a pleasure writing for IDEX.
May I wish you all a wonderful and relaxing weekend.