Megatrends set to transform human experience and global order, claims new report

BY Fraser Tennant

A new era in which human augmentation such as artificial intelligence (AI), robotics and augmented and virtual reality (AR and VR) reinvent work, consumer behaviour and regulation is on the way, according to a report published this week by EY. 

In its new report – ‘What’s after what’s next? – the upside of disruption: megatrends shaping 2018 and beyond’ – EY reveals the megatrends it says are set to transform many aspects of everyday and business life. Highlighting three primary forces behind disruption – technology, globalisation and demographics – the report examines the latest developments within these forces: human augmentation (technology), populism (globalisation) and ageing (demographics) – which generate new megatrends.

The EY report also analyses the reinvention of food production, manufacturing, urbanisation and healthcare, as well as providing a framework for understanding where disruption comes from and where it is headed, giving leaders a way to anticipate, prepare and strategically respond.

“Today's corporate leaders almost universally see disruption as both an opportunity and an existential threat,” said Uschi Schreiber, EY global vice chair – markets and chair of the global accounts committee. “But to seize the opportunity and find the upside of disruption, leaders need to understand where disruption is coming from, where it is headed and what it means for them.”

In the long-term, EY envisions a broad reshaping of the political and economic landscape via: (i) a rebalanced global system – the rules for the international order will be rewritten as rising economic powers create a multipolar global system, with new norms, institutions, networks and centres of influence; (ii) renewed social contracts – in an era of digital disruption and growing income inequality, the rules organising societies will be revised to strike a more sustainable balance between the interests of individuals, institutions and governments; and (iii) superfluid markets – the rules governing firms and markets will be refashioned as disruption eliminates market frictions and creates markets for everything, and produces lean, hyper-efficient companies.

In terms of regulation, the report suggests that technologies such as AI and autonomous vehicles will challenge existing regulations, with disruptive technologies enabling new regulatory approaches that are built on open data, conducted in real-time and dynamically adapt to changing market conditions.

However, amid a constantly evolving political and economic landscape, while EY advises organisations to turn downsides into upsides and threats into opportunities, they also need to be aware that future working worlds are broad in scope and will occur on a much longer timeline than any megatrend.

Report: What’s after what’s next? – the upside of disruption: megatrends shaping 2018 and beyond

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