The pandemic has brought about more disruption, change and shock to the systems on which our collective and individual personas rely than anything in my lifetime.
For instance, I’ve realised that our Prime Minister Boris Johnson – a man in his late 50s – has attended more parties in two years than I did in the last 10!
Politics aside, we’ve entered a decade when the pace of technological development will bring more change to how we live, work, travel, socialise, manufacture, and are treated for illness in the next 10 years, than we witnessed in the previous 100.
There may be challenges ahead but there are also great opportunities to architect new systems. What excites me at C8 is that many of our clients are already working in some of these areas – providing solutions that will benefit society as it transitions towards an era of technological revolution.
The tech trends emerging now tell a story of people and their relationships with the planet, health, work, brands, and each other.
We used to say, “Our world is verydifferent from the one our grandparents knew”. Now, it’s more like, “Our world is very different from the one last Tuesday”. Everything is changing faster than our ability to process it.
In the words of Marvin Gaye, “What’s goingon?”
Hybrid work practices
As employers reopened their offices without any indication yet of what the new work place normal will be, many wrestled with if and how best to make workers feel safe and willing to come back. This uncertainty around the future of where people work makes the availability of alternatives even more important. Organisations are grappling with the impact of having a workforce that’s been physically apart for so long, affecting team dynamics, effective innovation, and collaborative working. There’s a tension between employees’ growing preference to decide where they want to be, versus an employers’ take on what’s best for business.
Employers now need to balance the flexibility they offer to individuals with the needs of the team,and work towards the greater good of the organization so that creativity, diversity, and trust-building can thrive.
Climate change has been another key catalyst — people are (finally) starting to see and understand the impact of abundance thinking on the planet. Throughout 2021, this impact was felt through a series of natural disasters from unseasonal flooding to devastating wildfires.
People are being confronted with the impact they’re having on the planet, and some are accepting they cannot go on behaving as though we’re separate from nature.
Events of the past year also revealed how interconnected and interdependent our commercial infrastructure is, which is something shoppers might have not been aware of before.
The choices we make in the next 10 years might impact our world and its structure in more ways than we can imagine.
The metaverse has burst onto the scene. It is evolving digital culture and promises to deliver people and brands to a new place to interact, create, consume, and earn. We have more questions than answers, but the metaverse is a new convergence of physical and digital worlds and embodies the next stage of how physical interacts with digital.
The notion of place is important. People do “visit” apps and websites, but they may not have a sense of actually going anywhere. In the metaverse, people can virtually go to a place with its own architectural/spatial logic. This new system of place will radically shift culture and digital behaviour because it’s a very different mental model than we’re used to.
Historically, major cultural shifts tended to start in a place — Renaissance Florence, Vienna in the 1900s, and London in the late 1960s, for example. The location for the next one is probably going to be the online. It will change how we experience art, music, films, and interact with the brands that take part. We can’t predict exactly what shape it will take, but we know it’s coming.
The pandemic has forced mass adoption and acceptance of technology for healthcare and wellbeing.Telemedicine has rapidly accelerated in recent years, with more medical consultations done remotely. For a lot of people, this has made access to medical care easier.
Our acceptance for using tech for care was further accelerated by the inevitable use of Covid-19 passes in many countries. Out of collective responsibility to those that are vulnerable in society, people have started to exchange health information about their vaccination status for access to public spaces like restaurants, theatres,and airports, usually using a smartphone. It also signals another important behavioural change which is the sharing of previously private health information, publicly. Comfort levels on sharing this information vary fromperson to person, but a majority are doing now doing it and if personal data is secure and protected, more will follow.
Change is the only certainty
Many existing technologies are far from mature. Electric cars account for less than 8% of total global sales and the limit on battery lives are a bottleneck in the adoption of renewable energy and many other technologies.
Small-scale nuclear power stations have yet to be rolled out, while the efficiency of solar panels is low and the installation cost high. Incremental advances in pharmaceutical and instrument technology for the treatment of cancer, heart disease and senile dementia have much further to go.
In 20 years’, some technologies that are now just pipe dreams will be taken for granted while others will still be pipe dreams.
The adoption of technological innovation across industry sectors like the ones I have just highlighted proves that we have already started to reflect, rethink, and reimagine a better future. Whether it be in the way we work, shop, or receive our healthcare, these transformative changes have forever shifted society to a new digital era. And it is one which will require us to change, often.