All those wearables that we tote around do a lot for us - monitor our heart rate, watch over our training and sleeping patterns, keep us safe by tagging our geographic locations and sending them to our loved ones’ phones. So consumers who have already been there, done it are now looking for that extra zing from their brands, and companies will have to capture and create value in new ways. Companies that do this and stay ahead of the curve will see rewards coming their way.
So let’s look at the ways technology will step in and disrupt various facets of our lives. Chatbots will make shopping decisions for us with the help of machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies. These platforms will pull reams of data that will help parse, predict and preempt consumer behaviours. This also means that intermedieries that provide transaction services may end up becoming superfluous. So will terms like ‘fulfillment’ and ‘brands’, which may not mean much.
This also means people will disengage from a lot of brands and engage with a select few. Since 47 percent of shoppers are anyway fine with chatbots buying stuff for them. More than half the consumers also stated, in an E&Y report ‘ Eight forces that Will Shape the Future of Consumers’ that they were fine with sharing their personal data if they got good deals as a result of it. Brands will exist but a few of them will gain traction because they resonate with shoppers about who they are. While the majority of the consumer brands will become commoditised. No need to own assets
In future, people will not feel the need to own assets like an earlier generation had to because services like Uber and Ola didn’t exist. So today people can move around without owning a car and pay for it, as they use it. Similarly with movies and music. We don’t need to own records and DVDs because streaming is available at our fingertips, whenever we want it. Consumers will actually prefer this convenience that is built around flexibility and a focus on keeping them happy.
The same will happen to our homes and workspaces. It will reflect the number of people living and working there. The United Nations predicts that by 2030, urban areas are projected to house 60 percent of people globally, which means one in every three people will live in cities. This will definitely impact a lot of consumer trends.
Importantly, our wearables will actually do a much better job of what they are here to do, which is monitor our health. At the moment, there are too many technologies cluttering up the space, and essentially ‘dumbing’ devices. But once that is sorted out, we can entrust our data to tech providers and connect to a sophisticated ecosystem of technologies that automatically monitors our health in real-time. Needless to say, this will improve and maintain our well-being.
It’s really children who will see a lot of benefit from an early age, because a detailed analysis of their genome will be mapped out. This map will be updated as they grow taking into account nutritional needs and the physical activities they undertake. In turn, services and products they use will adapt to their evolving health needs. So meals will look like edible food, but will be “actually 3D-printed plant proteins containing vitamins and nanomedicines” designed specifically for a person’s body. This has excited the US government, which is already spending $1.2 billion a year toward nanotechnology research
Smart technology will be so pervasive that it will take into account our exercise needs, social activities, meal plans and preventative therapies, and we will be given a holistic and personalised plan that will encompass every area of our lives. Today, we still have to trade off between taste, convenience and wellness. But not so in the future. Then you can eat healthy food that is convenient and also tastes great and reflects your ethical values. A recent global survey stated that nearly 90 percent of consumers would be willing to pay a premium for products with added health and wellness benefits.
A future smart world will become frictionless and even with nearly 20 billion “connected things” expected to be in use by 2020, many of the technology interactions we experience today will become invisible. A time might come when we never have to carry IDs, bank cards or door keys.
A forecast even suggests that 10 percent of global GDP will be stored on blockchain by 2027. This has positive repercussions for businesses, governments and other organisations, as costs could be much lower, and new kinds of product/service could also become available. For companies to optimise their supply chains that are impossible today, a level of integration has to happen between different platforms, so they can collaborate and exchange information with one another in seconds. Also, automatic, negotiated interaction will need to be highly intelligent and people will need to learn to trust an AI to make decisions on their behalf.
In future, many young consumers will enjoy playing at work and something cool called “productive creativity” will show up as everyday jargon. That’s because many young people living in countries with a gaming culture, spend an average 10,000 hours playing online games by age 21. That’s about the same time they will have spent in compulsory education.
Augmented and virtual realities will become a routine and interactive part of everyday life. Media will merge into e-commerce as our ‘brand experiences’ and become a growing source of entertainment and most of this content will be created by the consumers themselves. This is already happening with YouTube and Instagram where influencers are making substantial money out of their hobbies and interests.
The notion that there is will be a ‘job for life’ is over, and the fact is that 65 percent of children starting school this year, will assume careers in jobs that don’t yet exist. And 57 percent of jobs in OECD countries are at risk of being replaced by automation. In future, people will develop a completely new form of career involving a range of eclectic work experiences, which will help to meet their personal, developmental and financial needs. More people will become contractors or freelancers through ‘cognitive network’ platforms. Not many 9-5-ers down the line!
These platforms will do everything and more than what humans do today, and they will do it better. They will use AI and user data to match projects with people based on their expertise, time and wage expectations. They will facilitate personal development and manage administrative processes of payment, tax and HR.
Virtual reality and AI bots will enable people to perform remote work seamlessly. But future workers will often choose shared workspaces to maintain social and professional relationships. Employers will benefit from being able to take on a greater variety of tasks, while at the same time reducing their administrative costs. Governments will use the ‘cognitive network’ platforms to ensure worker rights, keep their eye on the economy and also implementing automated taxation systems.
All this connected network concept can feel slightly overwhelming and the fear of personal data being misused will be a major concern. But the E&Y report states that citizens will have control of their data and will be able to use it to do as they wish. Even move easily between any transport mode available, within the city or the region. Companies moving goods can do the same and this data exchange will enable cities to manage traffic flows on a real-time basis. There is potential for transport authorities to see travel patterns and adapt tools to manage those needs efficiently.
By 2030, if one in four cars on the road is going to be autonomous, then people’s travel plans will depend a lot on each other. This could change people’s attitude to public transport. Carpooling is already underway because today, just 15 percent of millennials feel it’s ‘extremely important’ to own a car. This will likely to drop further, as time goes by.
Manali Rohinesh is a freelance writer who explores financial and non-financial subjects that pique her interest.