2009 Trends Map

“What is the use of a book thought Alice, without pictures or conversations?” – Alice in Wonderland.

In the spirit of images and debate here’s the link for the 2009 Trend Blend.



2009 Trends Map

Here, at last, is my 2009 trend blend map. Here’s how it works. The main body of the map contains the mega-trends. These are, in no particular order:

Global connectivity
Power shift Eastwards
GRIN technologies
Climate change

There are then eight arms, which represent the following sectors or areas:


The circles (or disc-like suckers in giant octopus speak) on each arm are the sector trends and the size of he circle is related to the likely impact of the trend over the next twelve months or so. Finally, there is a selection of global risks, some of which are deadly serious and some of which are not. Then again, everything is subjective. Some people might regard EMF radiation as a more serious global risk than Nicole Kidman winning another Oscar but I’m not so sure. Enjoy! ☺

PS – The map will appear at nowandnext.com under ‘trend maps’ shortly and will also have a hyperlink attached to it within 24-hrs.

Scenarios for 2009+

The 2009 trends map is coming very soon but in the meantime here is something else I’ve been working on with Oliver Freeman and Wayde Bull. The drivers of change used here are the general level of optimism and whether or not people will become socially active or passive. Top of mind is the environment in the broadest sense. I will post more about each of the four future worlds over the coming weeks.

Yet Another Case of Bad Language

Remember an Australian band from the 1980s called Midnight Oil? For those of you not familiar with Australian politics the front man, Peter Garrett, is now Federal Arts Minister. You’d think that this would be a good thing, but it appears that his once pithy lyrics have been put through an automated buzzword generator. Unveiling a financial assistance package for the National Academy of Music he had this to say: ” This is an exciting development that will ensure future students of ANAM will have the opportunity to realize their full potential while enhancing the intensity and quality of the unique performance experience that a refocused ANAM will provide.”

Well the time has come
a facts a fact
the words don’t belong
let’s give ’em back

The Robots are Coming

A few years ago a Japanese computer scientist called Hiroshi Ishiguro built what he claimed was the world’s most humanlike and attractive robot. The female android, modelled on a famous Japanese newscaster, was painstakingly created to appear human, not just in looks, but in mannerisms and movements as well. Indeed, from a distance the only thing that really gave the porcelain-faced robot away was the fact that it looked a bit too much like a Japanese version of Nicole Kidman.

But here’s the really weird bit. The robot’s creator found that whilst most adults found the robot to be very disturbing, some people, especially small children and elderly people took it at face value. It was merely a human looking interface that could be used for entertainment and communication purposes (so perhaps a bit like Nicole again?). Adults were disturbed by the robot because it looked too similar to a real person, whereas our more mellow members of society saw it as another amusing toy or a useful gadget.

According to the International Federation of Robotics, there were 610,000 robots in service worldwide in 2004. There are now 6.5 million and this figure is expected to reach 18 million by the year 2011. In other words, we are on the cusp of robots becoming quite common, not just in factories, but in schools, hospitals and even at home.

Back in Japan there are robotic security guards at the Aqua City shopping mall in Tokyo. The so-called Reborg-Q security robot weighs 90kg and is 130com tall. More worrying is a robot that is currently being evaluated by NEC in Japan. The PaPeRo (Partner-type Personal Robot) is not especially humanoid but again small children seem to regard it as friendly and have no difficulty becoming friends with it.

What’s especially spooky about this particular robot though is that the applications NEC is looking at include child-care centres and kindergartens. This fact isn’t in itself a worry because human carers would also be present but there is no reason why the robot can’t also be used by busy parents to look after their children late at night.

The PaPeRo robot comes with a camera, face-recognition software, microphones and wireless communication via a mobile phone. Parents can therefore see and communicate with their children through the robot via another mobile phone. So, in theory, you could go back to the office and do a few extra hours work or pop down the road for a meal with friends and leave your child in the care of a small ‘bot.

Is this something that we want to happen? Also on the horizon are robots in aged-care facilities and the US military is already using robots for surveillance purposes in Afghanistan and battlefield robots aren’t far away. Maybe they should make them look like our Nicole Kidman. That would be really scary.

2009 Consumer Trends

It’s almost time. This won’t be the final list but it will be close. My report 2009+ Ten Trends is almost done and I have another of the now infamous Trend Blend trend maps almost ready to go too.
Ten Trends for 2009

1. Anxiety
2. Anger
3. Seriousness
4. De-leveraging
5. Back to basics
6. Un-plugging
7. We Not Me
8. IMBY’s
9. Eco-cynics
10. The brain

Work Trends

In the 1980s Jobs were predictable. So were people. Work was structured around 8-hour days and 40-hour weeks and pay related to experience. Getting into the office early and staying late was therefore the way to the corner office with a potted plant.

I was talking to the marketing director of a big food company recently and she was lamenting the fact that after 5.30pm her office was empty. Her exact words were: “You have absolutely no idea what it’s like”. The reason for this is that her office is full (or rather it isn’t) of aged twenty-something members of Generation Y (people born after 1980) and they have much better things to do.

Similarly, I recently heard about company that had hired a member of Gen Y as a receptionist. After two weeks the director in charge received a text message that simply read, “I quit ☹ ”. Ridiculous? Of course. It’s called Instant Digital Gratification. But then there’s a firm of accountants I work with that sends prospective graduate recruits acceptance/rejection letters by text so perhaps we have only ourselves (and them) to blame.

So what is going on here?

First of all the economy has changed. Talent is in great demand and in most industries demand for Gen Y employees outstrips supply. Hence Gen Y is in the driving seat and they are behaving just like anyone would given a powerful new car and no driving lessons. This has recently changed due to the economic situation but things could soon return to normal.

However, I think there is more to it than this. Gen Y is promiscuous because they don’t want to get screwed. If you are old enough to remember your mum or dad being sacked or made redundant (retrenched, downsized or de-layered) you will do anything in your power to avoid the same fate. Corporations might be playing the tree hugging loyalty card right now but it wasn’t too long ago that unwanted employees were thrown to the wind with no more than a backward glance.

So what goes around blows around.

But the real reason for Gen Y behaving like it does is technology. Gen Y employees are good workers. They are diligent and task oriented but they are not concerned about time or place. Hence, if the work is done, why hang around? Moreover,Gen Y is famed for their ability to multi-task and to collaborate within networks.This means that they can do some things quicker. So, if you can do your work on a laptop at 11.45pm at home what’s with the 5.30pm physical presence thing?

And this, whether you like it or not, is part of the future of work. Offices will become drop-in centres (40% of IBM’s current 386,500 employees have no official office) and remuneration will be piecemeal. Individuals will not be paid for their time, but for what they produce. Contracts will become more flexible and telecommuting will be an option for those that want it, so some people will become digital nomads.

Technology will revolutionise work in other ways too. At simplyhired.com you can view job postings but you can also click to receive information about salaries in similar jobs and hyper-link to networking sites where you can find someone you know who already works for the company that you are interested in. Mash this up with Google maps and you will soon be able to check out potential commuting routes, travel times and even the proximity of friends and local shopping malls.

Things like this may seem revolutionary but to Gen Y it’s just how things are.
Gen Y has grown up with rapid technological change and this makes them expect change and speed as a matter of course. They have zero attention spans and get bored easily. They also have less loyalty to organisations, especially when the organisation seem not to care (about them or the wider environment) or fails to provide a quick and hassle-free route to the top within the next 36-months.

Those last two points are actually quite serious. It is well known that Gen Y is concerned about social and environmental issues. Hence a job with meaning is de rigor these days. But it is also a common Gen Y desire to accumulate as much money as quickly as possible. This means that Gen Y is ambitious and optimistic. But they are also debt ridden and anxious. They expect things to work out but there is no Plan-B, C or D if they do not.

According to the World Health Organisation, depression will be the most significant condition in the year 2020. Do they know something we don’t?

The World in 2009

I should probably be promoting my own 2009 Trends report but I haven’t written it yet. Actually that’s not quite true. I’ve written it four times but things keep changing. In the meantime I thoroughly recommend The World in 2009 published by the Economist and, especially, the accompanying blog at economist.com/blogs/theworldin2009/

Here’s an excerpt, which I wish I had written myself:

“As I roamed the building site under the tower, what I noticed most was the smell. It was abiotic with cement and sand, sure, and shimmering, as if the heat had a stink of its own (which it did—it was the smell of buildings and roads baking in the sun, and oil flares, and bulldozer exhaust fumes), but then it occurred to me: it’s not the building site you’re smelling, it’s the absence of living things, the subtraction of what you took for granted before you arrived. Finally I understood: it was the smell of the future, of a tomorrow as it will be lived in many places when my children are grown up.”

Future Files (US Edition)

I’ve rather forgotten to mention that my book ‘Future Files’ got launched in America last week, having been launched in the UK two months earlier. If you didn’t know already the whole of the first chapter is available as a free download at futuretrendsbook.com.

The other news is that last week I got the go-ahead to write another book. Yipee.

In the meantime there is also a secret publishing thing that I’m involved with starting on January 1 but, like I say, it’s secret! (clue: it’s not a book).