Megatrends update – Digitisation

Last week I ran a Megatrends session with a group at global corporation.  Some of the feedback was that although they were peripherally aware of some of these developments, they had not understood their significance for their business or their careers.
As I have said before, we have already embarked on at least three globally transformational social experiments (described in my Megatrends blog) that will affect all our lives and businesses in profound ways.  Businesses that are ready will flourish, businesses that are not will struggle.

Digitisation is one of the fastest moving and probably most immediately significant for most businesses.  The fundamental shift is that everything that can be automated or digital will be.

EVERYTHING that can be automated or digital will be.

Two examples are autonomous vehicles and digital assistants.

Early autonomous vehicles are likely to include private cars, taxis and delivery vehicles (both surface and flying).  It is quite plausible to project that cities and urban areas will start to prioritise electric autonomous vehicles over driven, ICE (Internal combustion engine) ones. It may not be long before ICE vehicles are banned from parts of cities for both safety and air quality reasons.  If this seems a little far fetched – note that prototype autonomous taxis will be in public testing in four locations around the UK from July this year  and Uber are already working on their own autonomous taxis.

Going further ahead autonomous cars raise big questions for car manufacturers.  It seems likely that the majority of urban passenger usage will be fully autonomous utility vehicles that pick you up and deliver you to your destination and then go off to their next passenger (freeing up masses of parking space).  It seems plausible that private car ownership will become somewhat more of a niche area, for those who particularly want to own, and sometimes even drive their own car.  This will give rise to three classes of vehicle – autonomous only/shared use, autonomous/driven hybrids/owned and driven/owned leisure only.

It also seems likely that autonomous delivery services will flourish with vehicles that are capable of direct delivery using some sort of smaller robotic vehicle, wheeled or flying, to go from roadside to destination.  Delivery services will flourish because the migration away from physical shopping will accelerate.  Physical shopping will continue, but focussed as a leisure activity with the utility part being more and more automated.

Our primary interface to our utility services will be voice, think upgraded versions of Siri, Amazon Echo and Google.  Think of natural voice robots from fiction like C3PO, Hal from 2001 or Eddie and Marvin from HHG2G.  These digital voice assistants will have designed in personality, some will have autonomous physical form others will be in devices like phones or watches.  The big difference from their fictional counterparts is that they will be online and therefore permanently connected to everything else.

As Artificial Intelligence (AI) develops these assistants will become vastly more capable than today, capable of distinguishing instructions from background noise and completely aware of your personal preferences and habits.  You will, for example, be able to ask for more yogurt and your assistant will know which particular yoghurt is your default preference.  The yoghurt will then be delivered by the autonomous vehicle/drone combo with your next batch of utility products, unless you specify urgency – in which case you may be able to pay a little extra to have it flown directly to you (wherever you happen to be).

All of this will completely challenge existing marketing practice:  How does a brand get in front of consumers when the primary interface is your own robot?  Marketing will become more and more “permission” and “tribal”.  In permission marketing customers will agree to exchange a certain amount of product promotion from their robot for discounts or value add.  So, with your permission, when you ask for more yoghurt your robot might ask you if you would like to try an alternative brand this week.  In tribal marketing brands will carefully position themselves to align with particular “tribes” and will associate their brand and products with interests of that tribe, through sponsorship and product placement.  Red Bull have been particularly good at tribal marketing for years both through sponsorship and content creation.  Your fully connected robot will have “Shazam” like abilities to source products that you see in movies and even in online videos.  “ I would really like to know what camera that guy was using in that crazy mountain bike video I saw earlier”…

All of this clearly has big implications for jobs; key skills will be the ability to create things of value, entrepreneurialism and the ability to lead and influence.
Music, art and video will be key tribal content channels and the ability to create compelling content will be highly prized by marketers looking to maintain regular contact with their customers. It is already possible to be a professional wing suit flyer because of this dynamic.  Equally it has never been easier to start a business, there is so much support available through accelerators and incubators, but the technology also makes it easier than ever before to get your niche ideas out to a global audience.

Leadership is the topic closest to my heart.  Many established businesses have enjoyed decades of relatively stable prosperity through effective management of processes.  When things don’t change to much corporations have been able to rely on management for a steady flow of profitability.  In this time of great change and upheaval over reliance on management will lead to failure.  For organisations to be able to transform their products, systems and messages fast enough to keep up, leadership will be required.  This leadership will not be the autocratic, controlling model of the past, but leadership that is capable of inspiring individuals and teams to achieve more than they imagined they were capable of.

Is your business ready for the changes implied by the three Megatrends of Digitisation, Decarbonisation and Ageing? All of us will be affected by them. If you want to explore the effects on your own business and sector Holos offers a standalone Megatrends session to help you to explore and begin the adaptation process.

At Holos we have been studying change leadership and leadership training in the crucible of reality for years. We know what great leadership looks like and we know the journey to achieve it.

Holos has a wealth of specialist leadership and culture coaches and consultants with decades of experience working with a huge variety of leaders. Holos can help you or your organisation to upgrade it’s leadership to flourish even in a challenging business environment.

Please share your ideas, comment and discuss here – click on the blog title and scroll to the bottom to find the comment box.

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Neil Crofts

+447803 774239

About Neil Crofts

Writer, coach and consultant on authentic business and authentic leadership. Neil has inspired and motivated hundreds organisations and thousands of individuals to their highest potential. Neil has written three published books and numerous e-books. Neil is a coach, facilitator and consultant helping people and businesses find their authentic purpose and use it to inspire and motivate them to be everything that they can be. Neil has raced cars, been self-employed, run a company and sold it, been employed by large companies, experienced growth and contraction at the heart of the dotcom boom, tried changing companies from the inside and from the outside as European Head of Strategy at internet consultancy/rock band Razorfish. Neil has been independent for over 10 years and delivered his Authentic Leadership message to a diverse range of business audiences including people at BP, Shell, Microsoft, Kraft Foods, MSN, Jamie Oliver, South Gloucestershire Council, National Blood Transfusion Service, KaosPilots Business School, Fashion company By Malene Birger, German technology company Eleven.
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2 Responses to Megatrends update – Digitisation

  1. denamcio says:

    Great article Neil. I would love to hear what effect you believe this will have on Housing, which – together with food production – seems to be the biggest challenge facing the ballooning World population during the period you refer to above. How and where will people live and what will the solutions be for building well-designed, energy efficient, yet affordable housing look like?

    • Neil Crofts says:

      Lovely to hear from you and a fascinating question. The interesting bit about housing is that the housing problem is quite local – so Japan and Spain are already depopulating and have excess housing stock. The really big housing issues will fall in sub sahara Africa and to a lesser extent India. One option would be for enough land for permaculture type farming to be made available at a reasonable cost, directly (not through developers) and then for mass produced and autonomous (generate their own power, collect their own water and recycle their own waste) kit houses, like the ones that IKEA make, to be made available for self or assisted build in rural areas. In urban areas a different and higher density approach is needed and this probably involves hight and some quite clever building techniques to minimise infrastructure requirements and maximise local resources – to do this there are some principles – green or solar roofs, solar PV windows, integrated wind turbines, water collection, waste water recycling, window, roof and local food growing and so on – all of the technology exists, what is in short supply is leadership with vision.

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