Three megatrends of Digitisation, Decarbonisation and Aging will change our lives more over the next ten years than in the previous fifty.
We have already seen digitisation transform many aspects of our lives, but three of the most significant areas have thus far resisted change. They are banking, health and home. By 2025 all of these will have been through a digital makeover every bit as transformational as that we have seen in music, retail and advertising.
By 2025 cash and bank branches will be endangered species. The smart banks will have redefined themselves as guardians of not just our physical assets, but also of our identity and our data, possibly even helping us to earn income by negotiating with companies who currently use our data for free (like Facebook).
New technology (like Blockchain the tech behind Bitcoin) will see the cost of transactions and banking plummeting towards zero. New competitors will dive into less regulated banking services like lending. The user interface for finance and many other services will be our own virtual assistant like Apple’s Siri or Amazon Echo. We won’t choose an institution and ask them for a loan – we will simply ask our assistant to find a car for us and the assistant will suggest that a loan might be a good way to to finance it.
Banks will shrink dramatically in workforce with all of their manual processes being automated. Lots of historically safe middle class jobs will disappear. Artificial Intelligence (AI) will do much of the analysis for credit applications and investments, tracking many, many more variables, social media for example, to make better and faster decisions.
In healthcare the advance of wearables, implants and other health trackers will move medicine from remedial, problem solving towards predictive and preventative. At the same time augmentations like light weight, powered exo-skeletons, 3D printing and nano technology will come of age to help in recovery from serious injury.
Video calls, real time voice translation and wearables will move many doctor visits from a physical location to a call, meaning that the doctor could be anywhere and not even use the same language as the patient. AI will emerge in health care as well, tracking data from wearables and implants and assessing it against massive meta data in the cloud. AI will advise doctors and patients helping with diagnosis and treatment. Conformance with medicine, exercise or dietary regimes will also be measured by devices, giving patients and doctors real rather than anecdotal evidence.
Homes will become smarter too with many moving off grid with their own generation and storage solutions. Energy use and efficiently will be routinely monitored for improvement. Security, entertainment, lighting and temperature will be far more automated or remotely controlled.
Even shopping, gardening and cleaning will become more automated with automated deliveries, drones and robots becoming more and more common.
Another endangered species by 2025 will be the petrol station. Classic car owners may even have to have petrol delivered to their home as the business model for widely available petrol stations will be disappearing.
Disappearing petrol stations will only be one sign of the rapid decarbonisation of society. Falling costs of solar PV and batteries and new technologies like graphene capacitors will see issues of “intermittency”, “range anxiety” and price overcome.
Within ten years fully electric vehicles will be the norm they will be cheaper to buy and run than combustion engines and regulation and taxation will favour them. Solar PV will be so cheap and so adaptable that all sorts of flat surfaces will be covered in them – like the solar cycle path that was installed in the Netherlands earlier this year. Transparent solar PV will cover windows and cheap solar PV matting will cover roofs.
Domestic and utility scale batteries will put homes and communities off grid and energy independence will come down to a single home scale. This energy independence will transform the geopolitical map. Smart middle East countries are already diversifying their economies away from oil, but others will be left stranded without a sufficient income. The global influence of fossil fuel nations will diminish.
Oil and gas companies will see the asset base on which their companies are valued trapped under ground. Unless they are able to harness their engineering skills to drill for geothermal energy and build for off shore wind and tidal generation they will close down (after a grand round of consolidation).
Also by 2025 over 20 countries (mostly in Europe) will have over 20% of their population over 65, by 2030 it will be 34 countries. The only large country to have a youthful population is India. India, with its well educated, democratic and young population, will be the powerhouse economy of the middle of the mid century. The only thing that will inhibit this will be India’s terrible infrastructure – however solar PV and battery technology means that India can leapfrog directly to a decentralised energy system.
Japan with it’s low birth and immigration rates is already suffering the consequences of an ageing and shrinking population. Over a quarter of the population is over 65 already. The zero growth economy they have been in over the last 20 years has been largely because of this. Some small towns are already depopulating drastically.
Smaller working populations and larger retired populations will neatly match the rise in automation and the mass disappearance of jobs. Future careers will be built on technology development and value adding services.
In Europe immigration from Africa and the Middle East will help to delay the worst effects of an ageing population, but most of us already accept that we will be working far longer than our parents did and our children will work longer still.
The implications of all of this is that both businesses and individuals will need to spend far more time planning for the future. Many sectors have been successful over centuries by basing the future on the past. They have been able to focus on getting really good at what they do, rather than getting good enough and moving on.
Effectively every sector will become the tech sector, whether it is banking, retail, pharmacy or energy everything will shift to “Moore’s Law” and thus will be driven by ever lowering costs and ever increasing efficency.
There will be massive social and political implications of all of this change as well. Governments too will need to become far more agile in thinking about social care, resource deployment and law making.
Holos believes that “Change is Easy” or at least it can be when it is done well. Holos has the resources and the skill to help organisations of any size to flourish in the future.
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