GT BRIEFING February 2015 The Water Challenge

February 2015: Demand for many resources already exceeds what the planet can supply. A rapidly growing global population and rising incomes in many parts of the world means more people, consuming more resources: Food, water, and energy, as well as goods and services. Already we are well past the point where the Earth can replenish the resources we consume and if current consumption trends continue, by the mid-2030s analysts suggest the world’s population will demand twice as many resources as the planet can supply – risking disasters and conflicts as people and nations compete for ever scarcer resources.

Water is now being referred to as the “new oil.” Increased per capita use in rapidly developing economies (RDEs) and greater scarcity of freshwater worldwide, exacerbated by pollution and climate change, means individuals and businesses will need to reassess the value of what has been to date a “free” resource. There will likely be increased geopolitical tensions over control of water supplies, given that well over half the world’s countries share critical water resources with other nations. In this briefing we explore the challenges around increasing water scarcity as well as some innovative ways that these are being tackled.





Also see our slideshow presentation of The Water Challenge

Looking Ahead: The Best of 2015 Trends

January 2015: The only constant in the 21st century is change.Geopolitical turbulence and technological advances will be just some of the factors shaping the year ahead. Creating a point of view about ongoing and future trends is increasingly important to thrive in an ever more complex and competitive world. In 2011, when we typed Trends for 2011 into Google on January 1st 2011 it gave us around 46 million results. As we typed Trends for 2015 in January 1st 2015 it gave us 579 million results. The number and diversity of opinions about what’s in store for the forthcoming year is exploding – making it harder to sift the important from the irrelevant, and to develop that critical point of view.

Looking ahead to the next year, and even further, here’s our annual round-up of where you can find some of the more interesting and useful trend forecasts and ideas for 2015. As always, treat them as directional and informed opinions that can supplement your own thinking on what might be possible, feasible and desirable. The biggest challenge for leaders is not finding the most accurate predictions. Rather, it is about developing a broad and open understanding of the trends reshaping the world, translating these into an informed point of view on the future and what it means for your organization and, and most importantly, taking actions today to begin to prepare. The biggest risk is not being wrong in your point of view about the future, but beginning to take action too late.

So let’s take a look.

GT BRIEFING December 2014 10 Trends to Watch for 2015

December 2014: It’s been a turbulent year, with geopolitical crises dominating world headlines. Rising nationalism and separatism has created power vacuums in the developed world; power plays in Ukraine, the Middle East and the South China Sea have threatened broader conflicts while the possibility of a new era of religious crusades is daunting. The issue for the year ahead is whether global leaders will step up to collaborate on real, lasting solutions.

Other major factors that will shape the world in 2015 are the sluggish global economy – hardly news at this stage, but still relevant – crashing oil prices, and climate change’s return to the agenda. Technology has its part to play, of course, and there are plenty of exciting developments on the horizon, although in the past twelve months it has been security breaches and cyber-criminals’ apparent ability to hack every aspect of the connected world.

Against this backdrop we see 10 key trends to watch in the next year.


Also see our slideshow presentation of 10 Trends to Watch for 2015


GT BRIEFING November 2014 Wearables: Fab, fashion or functional?

November 2014: Technology is moving off the desktop and on to the body. While technology already plays an essential role in our daily lives, new wearable technologies have the ability to take the relationship between people and technology even further. These emerging technologies could allow people to interact better with technology and, at the same time, enable more meaningful experiences by extending the reach of interpersonal and machine-to-person communication. The advantages of this new generation of wearables are many, e.g. they are hands-free, always-on, environmentally-aware, constantly connected, and attention-getting, there are also many drawbacks such as the constant urge to check the information the devices are providing. Even more important are the significant concerns regarding data privacy as well as moral, social and ethical issues.

Wearable skeleton 1Widely proclaimed as “the next new thing,” in reality, the wearable concept is nothing new.For centuries, human beings have adorned their bodies with gadgets, whether for utility or show or both. While it has existed for decades, the concept of “wearables” did not really take off before 2011 when Google developed its first prototype of what is now known as Google Glass.

Today, the next generation of wearable technologies encompasses a wide range of devices and products, e.g. wristbands, rings, glasses and watches, and chances are that in the not too distant future you will be able to buy, for instance, clothing and footwear that tells you the weather or sends you a message to remind you to work out. Wearables have the ability to give us far more control over our lives and in particular our health – but we need to be aware of the challenges.

NEW: Also see our slideshow presentation of Wearables: Fab, fashion or functional?  


October 2014: Affluence, consumption, and waste go hand-in-hand. Countries are becoming richer, urbanization is exploding, new technologies are constantly being launched, and the global middle class is growing, all of which is changing the global waste landscape. More money buys more products, increasing garbage from packaging material, to broken toys, to electronic devices and appliances. Make, use, and throw away has become the mindset of the generations following the Industrial Revolution.

Global waste has increased ten-fold in the last century. The urban lifestyle, in particular, is rapidly changing how much waste is generated as urban-dwellers produce four times as much waste as people in rural areas. While today the developed world is the biggest producer of waste, the developing world is rapidly urbanizing, getting richer, and consuming more as populations also grow. Already East Asia has the dubious role of being the world's fastest growing region for waste but this is likely to be ceded to South Asia (mainly India) by 2025, and then to sub-Saharan Africa around 2050. (Source: Nature)

Current levels of consumption and waste generation are clearly not sustainable long term. As we fill up, in many cases already overflowing landfills, the environment is suffering. Waste-driven environmental hazards are becoming a huge headache for many countries as toxic leakages from landfills and plastic in oceans and rivers damage – if not destroy – the world’s ecosystems.

However, trashing our planet is not the only reason that it is critical to reduce the piles of waste accumulating around the world. With an insatiable demand for the “new,” world consumption patterns are draining our natural resources while health epidemics emerge as a consequence of affluence. Think obesity, diabetes and other lifestyle illnesses.

The most effective solution to solve the world’s waste problem is not to waste at all – societies worldwide are demanding that companies, governments, and communities take action to reduce current and future trash piles. An increasing number of organizations, both private and public sector, are taking on the challenge by using and developing new technologies, as well as rethinking production processes and product design. However, the biggest challenge of all will be to change the mindset of the modern consumer towards wasting less by recycling and reusing, and ultimately by consuming less and smarter.

NEW: Also see our slideshow presentation of Waste: Avoiding, Managing or Designing it Out

GT BRIEFING September 2014 The Robots are Coming


September 2014: Rapid advancement in technology is one of the greatest forces reshaping the world. Nanotechnology, biotechnology, neuroscience, genomics, clean technologies, space sciences, smart materials, ubiquitous computers and sensors, artificial intelligence, geoengineering, and information technology are driving innovations that help the world address critical issues such as resource constraints, food security, water access, pandemics, infant mortality, and climate change. They are also the fuel igniting changes in the way we live, work and organize our societies.

Robotics and automation, including use of smart machines and the rise of the internet of things, is entering a new phase as these technologies advance. In its initial stages, this emerging industry of the future has been largely built on passionate researcher and visionary advocates. However, it has become obvious that robotics technology is no longer for the few but a technology permeating our world.

One important reason is changes in global demographics, which are creating imbalances in the global workforce. Despite the fact that the global population projected to grow to 7.6 billion by 2020, many countries are expected to see a decline in the working-age population. In Japan more people are already leaving the labor force than there are people prepared to take over, a challenge that is shared with countries such as the U.S., Russia, Canada, South Korea, China, and many European countries. The healthcare industry, for instance, is already experiencing a lack of healthcare professionals and, according to the WHO, the world will be short of 12.9 million health-care workers by 2035; today, that figure stands at 7.2 million. The need for more workers in some industries is critical and may be alleviated by technological advances in automation and robotics.

Even though these new technologies can empower individuals, businesses and societies there are fears that the human race, in the long term, will be outnumbered, outdated, and outthought by the next generation of robots and smart machines. In this briefing, based on our forthcoming report, “Industries of the Future: Robotics,” we consider:

  • How robotic technology is impacting existing industries and markets.
  • How innovative robotic technologies could impact jobs and skills required for the future.

How is your organization preparing for an age of robotic workers and smart machines?

NEW: Also see our slideshow presentation of The Robots are Coming

NEW: See the report Industries of the Future: Robotics which takes a deeper look at how the robotics industry is evolving and impacting sectors including agriculture, healthcare, defense and logistics, as well as our lives and work more broadly.

GT Briefing July/August 2014: The 21st Century Consumer: What Matters?

July/August 2014: Consumers are living and breathing technology and there is no sign of it slowing down. Today’s world is so digitally connected and full of information that choices can sometimes be overwhelming and opaque. However, more choice, along with information means greater power and freedom to influence your life and environment. Consumers have never been savvier, more demanding, value conscious, and connected. But bear in mind that while today’s consumers are almost always connected, future consumers will most likely be always connected as technologies become wearable and even implanted in the body.

Channels to market are also undergoing fundamental shifts as technologies drive new routes to market (both physical and digital) as well as new purchase behaviors, from “view in store, buy online” to self-scan check-outs, and mobile payment systems that could replace the cash register completely. Smart devices are radically changing the purchase process, and ultimately mean fewer shoppers in store. In this environment, businesses and channel intermediaries face an increasing threat of losing direct relationships with the consumer or customer. The challenge: how to be where your customers are and deliver value that is relevant to them where and when they want it.

In this briefing we take a journey into the minds of 21st century consumers to see what is important for them, as well as to see what changes are necessary in the business environment to respond to the fundamental changes taking place in the world’s consumption behaviors. Business as usual is simply not option.

NEW: Also see our slideshow presentation of The 21st Century Consumer: What Matters?

GT Briefing June 2014: The purpose-driven economy


June 2014: Though it feels like the information economy has only just begun, there’s another type of economy emerging. This new economy – the purpose-driven economy – is changing what we do in and with our professional lives. It is being also increasingly highlighted in events such as the Inclusive Capitalism Conference in London.

The purpose-driven economy has its roots in both corporate purpose statements and the non-profit sector. But it is not about fighting for a certain cause but more about finding a way of living and working where the purpose of what you are doing is an important driver shaping your decisions, actions and ways of working. It is evident that an increasing number of people and organizations are following this path, developing new business models that reflect the shift in mindset from pure profit to profit and purpose, or even the 3Ps (people, profit, planet). Examples include the rise of B Corporations, hybrid non-profit and for-profit organizations, philanthrocapitalism, social entrepreneurship, and crowd-driven philanthropy. Collaboration and innovation are at the heart of many of these business models, allowing ordinary people to do “big things” while also making money.

Driven by trends including increasing globalization, new technologies, geopolitical events, cross-industry competition, and new generational mindsets, expect more individuals, businesses and organizations to jump on the bandwagon and join the purpose-driven economy.

In the newly released book The purpose economy: How desire for impact, personal growth and community is changing the world Aron Hurst, who is a globally recognized entrepreneur, founder of Taproot Foundation and CEO of Imperative, describes the purpose economy as an economy that “…is defined by the quest for people to have more purpose in their lives. It is an economy where value lies in establishing purpose for employees and customers – through serving needs greater than their own, enabling personal growth, and building community.”

In this briefing we take a look at how this new mindset is changing our future economies. How are businesses and organizations using purpose to create value? Which markets do they impact? What is driving this emerging economy? Are these changes for real?


NEW: Also see our slideshow presentation of The purpose-driven economy here

GT Briefing May 2014: Preparing for a new generation of learners and workers


NEW: Also see the slideshow presentation of Preparing for a new generation of learners and workers pdf thumb

May 2014: Education is a basic need. Economic and social development depends on it; the ability for individuals to reach their full potential depends on it; business success depends on it. However while governments, businesses, non-governmental and other private institutions play a tremendous role in educating our current and future workforce, educational institutions remain the cornerstone of knowledge and innovation.

Globally education systems aim to prepare young (and not so young) people to be successful and productive members of society, providing people with the appropriate knowledge and skills to enable them to do well in life and to support societal progress. Yet there is increasing criticism of many education systems and institutions across the globe, as youth unemployment reaches critical levels in many countries and businesses protest that the next generations entering the workforce do not have the right skills. In fact, some leaders suggest that whole swathes of young people are unemployable because education systems around the world fail to invest in up-to-date education and their students.

The new generation of learners is adigital generation thriving on flexibility, mobility and immediacy. Their digital attitudes and behaviors are permeating every facet of life and work, embracing the virtual, living in real time. They are coexisting with, if not thriving on, social networking, the cloud, and cyberspace demands that are often seen as overwhelming and beyond the "normal" human capacities of many in older generations. The mindset of younger generations is challenging our society’s conventional and stationary learning patterns meaning that the education system needs to focus on new, more flexible and mobile ways of learning to motivate and engage these new learners.

The good news is that disruptive forces are already changing the landscape of education as traditional face-to-face learning moves towards virtual and interactive learning, However, educational institutions – whether primary, secondary or tertiary – need to step out of their comfort zones to reflect an increasingly complex world. Constantly developing technology, the mindsets of the new digital natives and future skills challenges demand radical shifts both in educational content and delivery.

So what will it take to reshape the education “industry” and prepare our educational systems and institutions for the future – in fact, who should the educators be?

GT Briefing April 2014: A new world of hubonomics and smart megacities


April 2014: Global mass markets are giving way to millions of niche markets of consumers demanding local customization if not personalization. As production and consumption become more distributed, hubs will characterize the next wave of “globalization.” They will specialize to support the needs of growing regional trade, emerging city states, on-line communities of choice, and the next generation of flexible workers and entrepreneurs.

Think of hubs as vibrant centers of knowledge, art, science, politics, technology, religion, skills, exploration, and economic growth that lead the development of the hinterland around them. Around for millennia, from Ancient Egypt to Renaissance Italy, they were typically few and far between. Over recent centuries, transport, communications and scientific advances have allowed companies and governments to harness and distribute the learning, talent, and advances from these hubs much more broadly. Yet the need for scale has meant that many hubs have operated at a global or national level.

Now the redistribution of production and consumption means that many more hubs are springing up, within regions, cities and communities. It’s an increasingly multipolar world in terms of economic growth and geopolitical power, with the rise of the BRICS and beyond. Separatist movements are trying to create their own hubs based on ethnicity, culture and religion, from Spain to India. Multiple megacities are growing in many countries – some even aspiring to be city-states.R&D hubs are sprouting globally, moving closer to the needs of different markets. Silicon Valley has many new rivals worldwide for being the preeminent hub of internet technology. Entrepreneurs have their own hubs to work from while communities of choice are building hubs virtually.

This is a time when the tensions of globalization and fragmentation are being felt. But it’s not globalization in reverse. Underpinning the rise of these hubs are global knowledge networks and the increasing mobility around the world of assets, people and capital. The challenge for businesses, governments and communities is developing new business and governance models based on hubonomics™, that leverage global assets and hub strengths to deliver local value.