As a futurist speaker and consultant for more than 1,500 brands, I’m often asked: What’s coming next in the world of business and technology? The short answer: an unprecedented amount of change and disruption. Credit a host of new advancements such as AI, automation and machine learning, all of which promise to usher in an age of exponential evolution and growth. Finding success won’t be so much about preparing ourselves to greet a new normal, per se, as a series of next normal. A number of new and emerging trends that promise to define the coming year and beyond include these:
More Self-Aware Devices
It’s no surprise that AI and machine learning have become the fastest-growing technologies ever. And with giants from Google, Amazon and Meta to Microsoft and Samsung now investing billions in the technology, it’s not hard to anticipate continued growth in the space. To put things in perspective: It took ChatGPT two months to rack up 100 million users—a feat that took TikTok nine months and Instagram roughly two and a half years to achieve. Looking ahead, virtually every interaction that we have with companies from customer service to distribution functions will soon be customized and intelligently fielded in context. Mind you: This is all before so-called AI agents sweep the market. Going forward, it’s clear that the future belongs to men and machines working more closely in tandem.
AR, VR and Spatial Computing Take Over
Imagine donning eyewear equipped with digital pop-up views to remotely meet with clients, survey worksites or manipulate vehicles, construction tools or pieces of industrial equipment from afar. Now picture putting on a virtual-reality headset to see through the eyes of drones as you survey worksites, perform delicate tasks or provide service or support from a distance. Cyber-ready goggles, gloves and biometric accessories promise to allow us to build, manipulate and edit objects in 3D going forward. Or, for that matter, leverage computer-generated models to design better buildings and medical devices with the flick of a finger. Hybrid Work Becomes the Norm Even as workers overwhelmingly say they prefer greater flexibility and more distant work opportunities, a middle ground is quickly emerging in the modern workspace. We’re seeing more organizations adopt hybrid models where staffers appear on-site two to three days weekly to perform more collaborative tasks, while otherwise online collaboration tools and cloud-based apps allow your desktop to travel with you. Companies are reembracing the value of personal face time, even as they’re recognizing that flexible work setups and schedules have a role to play in defining the shape of tomorrow’s commercial world.
Gen Z Takes Center Stage
Among the largest generations now in the workforce, Gen Z—born between 1997 and 2012—is increasingly making its influence felt. Members don’t only gravitate toward positions that favor the use of new technologies and tools and those that offer greater work-life balance. It’s also important to keep in mind that young hires want prospective employers’ core mission and values to align with their own. If you’re looking to recruit and retain tomorrow’s leaders, it’s not only important to foster more positive workplace cultures. It’s also critical to build environments where younger team members derive a sense of meaning from their work and can quickly see the impact that they’re making on the job. In effect, younger generations want more feedback, insight, mentoring and education—but they also want to feel like they’re making a positive impact on their communities. All are important points to remember as you consider how to shape HR and work policy.
Award-winning professional speaker, management consultant and trends expert Scott Steinberg is the creator of The Future Is Yours—a new board game that can teach anyone to be more creative, innovative and resilient. His website is futuristsspeakers.com