Futures Report Outlines Top Trends Impacting Global Economy, Society and Technology

05 Apr 2021

Alem Tedeneke, Public Engagement, World Economic Forum, ated@weforum.org, +1 646 204 9191

  • The Technology Futures report outlines new ways for leaders to predict future trends
  • It provides a framework for leaders to assign probability to trends and forecast risks, and uses speculative fiction to bring these to life
  • The new model should help leaders with scenario planning exercises, enabling them to capitalize on opportunities faster

New York, USA, 5 April 2021 — The new technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, such as artificial intelligence (AI), the cloud and robotics, are changing the way we live, learn and do business at a rate unprecedented in human history. This seismic shift is playing out in a world characterized by unreliable political landscapes and increasing environmental instability.

Scenario planning in this environment can be very difficult for businesses, affecting their ability to plan for the future, and properly assess the risks and opportunities that may present themselves. The Technology Futures report, released in collaboration with Deloitte, provides leaders with data analysis tools to scenario plan and forecast future technology trends.

“The rapid pace of technological change, alongside the global crisis caused by COVID-19, means that leaders today need new tools to understand challenges and develop strategies in the face of an increasingly uncertain future. This report provides three new analytical tools for business leaders to think about the future in a dynamic environment,” said Ruth Hickin, Strategy and Impact Lead, Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, World Economic Forum.

“We are delighted to collaborate with the World Economic Forum to take a disciplined look into the future, particularly as we emerge from a world-altering event, like COVID-19,” said Mike Bechtel, Managing Director and Chief Futurist, US Consulting, Deloitte, and lead author of the report. “We hope that by providing a clearer picture of how today’s nascent technologies will impact our future, we can play a meaningful part in driving innovation, collaboration and economic growth that improves life for all people.”

The report breaks down future trends into four categories for business leaders and provides some examples of what is likely to remain constant in the years ahead.

  • Information: With the volume of accessible data exploding and more of our personal lives lived online, the report projects the probable implications for remote learning, remote working and healthcare.
  • Locality: Since the onset of COVID-19, even more of our interpersonal interaction is virtual and physical experiences have dwindled. The report projects more niche, readily available virtual experiences available to consumers.
  • Economy: The report forecasts a growing likelihood that flexible and clean energy production will continue rising.
  • Education: Personalized education will likely grow, along with the availability of digitized and virtualized content.

In addition to strategic modelling, the report gives leaders a baseline history of how the Fourth Industrial Revolution has progressed. It highlights just how fast technology is evolving and outlines one way risk management could evolve to better address and adapt to it.

The World Economic Forum’s inaugural Global Technology Governance Summit on 6-7 April 2021 will convene leaders from more than 125 governments and more than 360 member companies worldwide. The summit will enable participants to share perspectives on our ability to harness and disseminate the Fourth Industrial Revolution’s new technologies. These technologies will play a key role in ensuring our recovery from the pandemic and avoiding future crises. The Government of Japan will host the summit and leverage the Forum’s Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution Network.

Note to Editors
Stephanie Gray, Deloitte Services LP, stepgray@deloitte.com, +1 773 220 2733

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