Shaping the Future of Production: Four Contrasting Perspectives in 2030

The transformative potential of technology in production systems is widely recognized, even while the precise configuration and extent of the possible transformation remain unknown. Production fundamentally impacts the economic structure at global, regional, national and local levels, on the levels and nature of employment, and is now inextricable from environmental and sustainability initiatives.

Scenarios challenge us to think differently about the future, revealing forces of change and uncertainty that might take us in unexpected directions. Scenarios are not predictions; instead, they serve as illustrative stories. They provoke us to question our assumptions and go beyond a default future that many of us carry in our minds. Imagining how future scenarios could develop sheds light on our blind spots, enriches our understanding and helps us to make better choices today to shape the future we aspire to achieve.

This white paper, prepared in collaboration with A.T. Kearney, contains four contrasting perspectives on the future of production. These scenarios can help us to explore assumptions about how, and how fast, technologies will transform the way we design, manufacture, distribute, service and use products; and how trends in the contextual environment – from consumer expectations to regulation and trade and investment patterns – will impact production systems. They are intended to generate responsive and responsible choices, and alignment on an action agenda to shape our future for the better.

31 March 2017