The only thing we know about the future is that it will be different.
-Peter F. Drucker
The routines and priorities of today’s society are radically different from those of our parents.
Advancements in technology are changing the way we live. Shifting demographics and social norms are transforming the way we interact.
Tomorrow’s reality is emerging today.
While most people have clear predictions of what they expect the future to be like, few have identified the macro-trends that will help define that future. Therefore, I’ll take a swing at it.
Here are five statistics that I believe will shape the way we live and interact in the near future:
1. Only 2.5 billion of the world’s 7 billion people have access to internet today
Why should you care? This reality will change fast. While Americans have largely taken internet accessibility for granted, developing nations are striving to quickly catch up.
As the next 5 billion join the connected world, the gap between the developed and developing worlds will shrink drastically.
Information will become more ubiquitous.
A larger internet consumer base will require new products with wider varieties of functions and features.
This will also yield increased competition from populations and nations that were previously non-existent within certain industries.
People who have access to information begin to have more opportunities to compete at the world stage, creating a larger and more competitive marketplace.
Get ready to have your consumer demands compete with that of countries of which you may have never heard of. [Statistic source found here]
2. Nearly 6,000 Americans turn 65 years old every day.
Why should you care? This trend, which will not slow down any time soon, describes an aging population and aging workforce. Retirement will being pushed back for many Americans, many of which are due to economic reasons.
The cascading effect of larger societal needs for healthcare, home-care and well-being services will quickly follow suit.
Some estimates claim that nearly 10,000 will be exiting the workforce each day.
How will that affect consumer spending?
How will this affect future elections? Isn’t it true that older citizens vote disproportionally more than younger Americans?
How will private and public financial markets be affected?
While many of these questions are unanswered today, we will soon see how things transpire.
As much as we claim to see the growth of the ‘graying generation,’ I wonder if we realize just how much things will change as a result of this shift. [Statistic source found here]
3. By the end of 2014, mobile is expected exceed desktop internet usage
Why should you care? Because this may be the single-biggest factor that transforms how people access, request, receive and interact with information and other people.
The manner in which we searched for information was, and for many still is, limited to a computer that sits idle on a desk.
Having access to the right information at the right time (on the go) will change how we get things done, both at a personal and commercial level.
Mobile data allows us to tap into deep insights of location, communication habits, searching trends and personal interests.
For many, this has been the reality for a long time. For others, this is just burgeoning.
On the commercial front, proximity data gained from mobile will enhance our consumer experiences so that shopping feels more personalized.
We will no longer be forced to or limited to desktop devices for information, both as consumers and as employees of companies.
Undoubtedly, technology companies are increasingly taking a ‘mobile-first’ approach to product development because this is the only way they will stay relevant.
This is one of the trends that we should all embrace as we strive for a more efficient and enjoyable daily experience. [Statistic source found here]
4. Peer-to-peer marketplaces are now estimated to be worth more than $110 billion
Why should you care? The way you shop, travel and learn could eventually shift from established institutions and corporations to hyper-local small businesses and individuals.
Need to get around town? Services like Lyft, Uber or Sidecar could soon be your first choice. Traveling out of town? You may soon select a room within a family’s house via Airbnb instead of the nearest Embassy Suites.
Interested in purchasing jewelry, clothes and household items that are not mass produced?
You may decide to turn to Etsy and other DIY designers.
Want a high-quality education for free? Consider leveraging the services of emerging free educational platforms.
The underlying concept and trend capitalized by these companies is known as the ‘sharing economy.’
In the cases of companies like AirBNB, GetAround and others, existing resources that are under-utilized (bedrooms, car seats) are being sold for short durations, often within minutes of request, in exchange for money.
This new economic model offers additional revenue streams for people while also decreasing the environmental impact that is otherwise caused by new construction, manufacturing and development. [Statistic source found here]
5. Nearly 75% of Americans have fallen or will fall victim to online cyber crime related to hacking
Why should you care? The probability that your online data gets compromised (in some form) is drastically increasing.
It is likely that you currently have tons of social communications, financial data, health information and purchasing habits that exist in some form online. Your reliance on websites and mobile apps isn’t going away anytime soon.
The advancements of online security, or lack thereof, will partially dictate how we do things in the future.
Searching, communicating and shopping are just the beginning.
Picture this: Your bank announces they’ve had their data centers compromised. Two weeks later, your healthcare provider discloses that your personal health records may have been hacked into.
Finally, the social network of your choice informs you that you may have been included in the list of millions of customers who’ve had their accounts hacked.
What would you do?
3 in 4 Americans have been in this category at one point or another.
The first question you ask is what data was actually revealed and how damaging it could be. How much can you fix?
At the same time, you begin to ask yourself whether you use the same password for other accounts. If so, your problem just compounded.
With all that said, I would actually argue that these negatives will lead us into a better direction.
This reality will force us to change the level of trust and scrutiny we put in institutions. We will become less patient and less accepting of systemic errors.
Better-secured platforms will emerge.
Or from a more extreme perspective, a push for a wide-scale anonymizing of data will occur, causing all organizations to remove identity and just focusing on leveraging the data. [Statistic source found here]
I would love to hear what other interesting and relevant statistics you think will play a major role in our future. Much of what I mentioned is loosely tied in with technology, but I recognize that additional factors exist outside the scope of technology.
Here are a few other areas where I think we will see some interesting figures around in the coming months and years:
- Statistical shifts of social norms/viewpoints in the US and abroad
- Generational changes in the perception of ‘The American Dream’
- Changes in the way people manage their own healthcare and finances
Thanks for reading and feel free to share this content with others.