The Trend System for your business

Dr. Pero Mićić

Why a Trend System? Whether it’s Tesla, Apple, or Salesforce. Every great success of a company is largely based on the fact that they recognized trends or potential trends earlier than others. And then created their own trend. That’s how new markets and successful companies are created. What do you have to do with trends and trends with you? You with your enterprise and your job must, or at least should align yourselves with the coming changes. Best yet use them to your advantage. And also if you invest in equities for your retirement. Trends are guides to growth. Professionally managed companies systematically observe and use future trends. And you can do the same. Quite easily, in fact. I will show you how!

At the end of this article you can download an updated PDF of the Trend System. Text and video show an earlier version.

What exactly is a trend? A trend is a directional change of one or more variables. Global population growth, population shrinkage in certain countries, growth in global wealth, decrease in the absolute number of hungry people, or digitalization. These are all trends. A change is taking place in a direction that is at least roughly discernible.

Wouldn’t it be useful if you could see all the major trends at a glance? In a meaningfully structured Trend System? So that you feel orientated, so that you stand on safe ground? That way, your job and your business model will be fit for the future, and your decisions will be better! I will provide you with a Trend System that originates from practical experience. From my and our work at FutureManagementGroup. We have been developing the future strategies of renowned companies for 30 years. This Trend System is taken from just such projects. This video is episode 1 with an overview of all the major trends. A quick overview to get you started, just with a couple of examples of powerful trends. Otherwise, the video will be several hours long. You’ll find a link to the description of all trends in the info text, and a download of the Trend System as a PDF. I will go into detail in subsequent videos, showing examples, sub-trends, and surprises, the exact opposite of trends. So subscribing might be worth it for you.

The FMG Trend System

We present the trends like a periodic table of elements. Because these trends are the elements that will make up the future of your business, your job and your life. We don’t call them “megatrends,” by the way. For several reasons, which I explain in one of the coming videos. We structure the trends into domains. So biosphere, technology, society, politics, economy. We do this mainly because technologies need to be considered separately. They are the fastest and, next to human motives, the strongest forces of change. If you only have a list of megatrends, you would have to mention digitalization and artificial intelligence, for example, with every single trend. Therefore, let’s look at the individual elements of change. Of course, the assignments of trends to areas are never entirely clear-cut, because virtually every issue is composed of many of these trends.

The future factors

In the Trend System, you will first find the future factors, i.e., the drivers that trigger the trends in the first place. For example, advances in basic technologies. A new technology emerges, such as CRISPR Cas9, a procedure in genetic engineering, and it triggers a development through which more and more changes are made to the genetic material of plants, animals and ultimately even humans. Whether we want this or not is another question. The technology is the future factor, the spread and increase of applications of the technology is the trend. It is similar with social trends, which are also triggered by future factors. The war in Syria has led to the refugee crisis in Europe, and this in turn has strengthened right-wing populist tendencies. But the war in Syria did not just happen without any causes. Religion, oil and many other factors play a role. As you can see, future factors for social, political and economic trends are by no means as clearly describable in cause-and-effect relationships as technological trends.

Biospheric trends

Our living space is the biosphere in which we live and which we also influence with our actions.

That climate change is real, hardly anyone is questioning. Whether and to what extent humans are responsible for it is a matter of clear majority opinion, but there are also skeptics. We have undoubtedly blown a lot of CO2 into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels and coal. We would do well to reverse this, for example by taking carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere to produce fuels and materials.

Despite great progress, humankind is placing an increasing burden on the environment. Some natural resources are becoming visibly more scarce. But it is also a question of definition what we consider a resource and whether we have to limit ourselves to the resources of the earth. After all, there are first companies that want to mine resources on asteroids. It is not so much the resources of the planet that are scarce as the rationality and intelligence of humankind.

Technological trends

Along with human motives, technologies are the most powerful drivers of change. We use our tools to shape the world, predominantly to our advantage. Let’s take a few examples:

Digitization has been going on for over 70 years, but it is only in recent years that many have become aware of how strong and profound this technological trend really is. And we have only just begun to digitize the world in which we live.

Intelligentization is what we call the advancement of the performance and the increasing application of artificial intelligence to virtually all disciplines. This trend has been developing since the 1950s. AI will bring drastic changes over the next years and decades. Sooner or later, everything that humans can do cognitively, AI will do better, But for now, only as very specialized AI, so called narrow AI.

Analogous to AI, robotization has the potential to change our lives from the ground up. For decades, futurologists have been telling us that robots will do our jobs, even off the production lines in factories. But it’s only now that things are really starting to happen. Everything that humans can do physically, robots can do today, or will soon do better.

Spatial Internet, the spatial Internet, is an emerging trend that the Internet, which until now has been virtually flat because it hides behind displays and screens, is coming into our three-dimensional world. We will be able to use the Internet without looking at displays, we will use it without even realizing it. Many sub-trends are part of this, from the Internet of Things to Mixed Reality.

Virtualization describes the process of more and more of what used to be physical, what was touchable, becoming dematerialized. From books and recordings to all sorts of devices that we used to have as individual devices, cameras, mixers, and knobs in cars. It also describes the virtualization of schools and universities, business communications and even recreational experiences. Software is eating the world, is the famous summary.

Automation is an overarching trend that started with the automatic loom in the 18th century. Today, we are automating not only machines, but also software processes with AI, smart contracts, i.e. if-this-then-that algorithms, and with blockchains.

You have heard about additive manufacturing, it is also called 3D printing. It’s often hard to believe what’s already being 3D printed today, from spare parts for large machines to functioning hearts. 4D printing is the next dimension, when printed objects can change their shape even further after production.

Life and health technologies encompass medicine, biotechnologies, food innovations as well as IT-based innovations. The combination of these technologies is creating solutions that will enable us to live significantly healthier and longer. This is a huge and promising field for future markets.

Human enhancement, i.e., the expansion of human capabilities, we capture quite prominently here, because when we expand our capabilities, it has enormous consequences. Humans improve cognitively, that is, in their thinking, physically, that is, in their physical abilities, and also sensory, that is, in their ability to perceive the world.

New mobility: How we get around will change dramatically in the coming years and decades. Some sub-trends are electromobility, autonomous vehicles, drones and also hyperloops, which will allow us to travel at 1,200 km/h.

New materials are driving innovation in many areas. Products are becoming lighter, cheaper, harder, more durable, more comfortable, easier to care for. They are even becoming more intelligent, including programmable matter. They are also becoming more environmentally friendly.

For everything we do, we need energy. The development and spread of new energy technologies is therefore a key trend. Renewable energy is a significant sub-trend, but so are new forms of energy storage and yes, alternative forms of nuclear power.

Societal trends

Societies worldwide are changing in size, structure and behavior.

The strongest trend is still the growth of the global population. In the form of an S-curve, humanity will still grow to 9 to 10 billion people by 2050, possibly beyond. It is not so much the planet’s resources that are in short supply for this as human rationality and intelligence.

Aging is currently a tangible trend in only some societies, such as Germany, Italy and Japan. In the long term, however, aging is an almost inevitable consequence of progress, worldwide.

An eternal recurring trend pattern is the change of generations. From the silent generation born before and during World War II, the baby boomers and Generatoines X, Y and Z, and now Generation alpha of those born since 2010. They all have different life experiences and use them to shape their value hierarchies and their behavior.

Increasing pressure from migration from poor regions to rich regions, for example from Africa to Europe, will pose even tougher challenges than before. If we do not change our strategies.

Individualization is a multifaceted trend. It refers to phenomena as diverse as the loss of a common media reality, the tailoring of products, and mass customization.

The increasing diversity of life concepts but also of cultural backgrounds within countries is what we call pluralization. Societies are becoming more and more diverse. This also includes the dissolution of male-dominated societies toward feminization.

At the same time, societies are polarizing. The economic polarization between the top and bottom of incomes and wealth is one side. The polarization we have seen more recently is socio-political. In the extreme, this can be experienced in the U.S..

Urbanization: More than half of the world’s people live in cities today. By 2050, that figure will be two-thirds. The number of megacities is growing rapidly. Cities are sources of social innovation. But they also pose enormous challenges in terms of transportation, utilities, the environment, energy and health. In addition, urbanization leads to higher disaster risks. The Covid19 pandemic may slow urbanization.

Many of the trends in this Trend System have made the world far more complex than it was 20 or 30 years ago. And back then, it was already thought to be complex. Increasing complexity will continue to challenge and overwhelm many people even more. The massive spread of conspiracy ideologies is just one of the consequences. We will have to find ways and means to deal with complexity.

Political trends

Politics acts and reacts to societies and people and in turn shapes them.

Global value chains are being reconsidered and production brought back into close proximity, but globalization is not over. In addition, there is integration, i.e. the growing together, especially of economic areas, as in Asia in particular. In the EU, however, we are going in the opposite direction.

The world used to be a simpler place politically. Today, however, and even more so in the future, the world is multipolar. Countries and regions are gaining in importance that previously played hardly any role on the political and economic world stage, above all China, but also India and Indonesia.

Over centuries, virtually since the Magna Carta and at least since the U.S. Declaration of Independence, a process of gradual democratization has been going on worldwide. Until a few years ago, the trend was unbroken. We assume that it will continue, but for some years now we have been experiencing what we hope is a temporary crisis of democracy, even to the point of rising authoritarianism.

In virtually all economies, the social systems are in a critical state. In many places, the demands of citizens can hardly be financed. When all the baby boomers retire, there is even a threat of the pension systems collapsing, or of ever-increasing government debt, which is actually only delaying the collapse.

Economic trends

Last but not least, economic trends are shaping our future.

Global prosperity has been increasing for centuries and will continue to do so. The number of people living in extreme poverty has been cut in half since the mid-1990s, in absolute terms, although many more people live on this planet. The big challenge is to make economic growth ecologically sustainable and more beneficial to the poorer sections of the population. Ultimately, it’s not about more and more material things, but about a better quality of life.

The old world of work was simple. The few thought, the many others did what they were told. Command and obedience, as in the military. In an increasingly complex world, this has not been working anymore for a long time. The winners are those who work in a more agile, fast and flexible way. And at the same time offer meaning and appreciate people as they are. The spread of new work and communication technologies is strengthening this trend enormously.

The increasing automation of even complicated and complex tasks, especially through artificial intelligence and robotics, will successively lead to a labour crisis. The crisis of labour means that many jobs will disappear faster than new jobs will be created. Those who lose their relatively simple tasks to intelligent machines will in many cases not be able or willing to retrain quickly enough.

The financial and monetary systems are increasingly plunged into existential crisis. The short-sightedness of the financial markets leads to crashes time and again. The euro has design flaws. Virtually no government budget is truly healthy. The trend has many sub-trends, but all in all, the situation is becoming more and more critical.

The behavior of customers and consumers is changing continuously and in several directions. This trend is just a collective term for many individual trends, from sustainable consumption to frugalism, experience orientation and gamification, to the change in preferences for car drives.

The 21st century will be Asian. We call Asianization the process of the world’s economic, political and also cultural center of gravity shifting toward Asia. Above all, China’s consistent and aggressively driven development from the workbench of the world to the leading high-tech player poses growing challenges for Western countries and companies.

Your Trend System

The FMG Trend System provides you with a clear first overview. Put the Trend System on the wall at your workplace. The Trend System is a first step, a template that you can and should adapt and specify to your market and business area. These 35 trends and 5 factors represent the first level. One level downwards are 100 to 200 more trends, often industry-specific.

Trend System: Download as a poster for your office

Keep an eye on global trends. Download the Trend System, print it out and hang it on your wall where you see it every day.


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