Today, almost every strategic discussion with a senior executive starts by addressing the paramount impact of technological transformation, sustainability, and most recently, the turmoil in geopolitics. Megatrends create a shared mental space for analysing the operational environment. They allow positioning the strategy in a wider context and bringing an outside-in perspective. No matter how familiar megatrends may feel, they are always there.
Personally, I have a love and hate relationship with megatrends, and probably I am not the only one. I love them because they are a crucial building block of any forward-looking strategic thinking. I hate them because they rarely surprise me at first glance.
However, megatrends are not meant to surprise anyone. If they surprise you, you are probably already in trouble. Megatrends are not fads or seasonal fashion. Furthermore, they may actually challenge you if you spend time with them.
In the uncertain and complex world, megatrends might be the most stable and trustable element in our strategic thinking. A business based on megatrends is unlikely to fail.
Getting serious with megatrends requires walking the extra mile, which is often neglected in strategy processes. Megatrends have to be deeply contextualised and connected to the challenge at hand. There is further research to be done. As megatrends evolve over long periods, a vast amount of data is available for analysing them.
Let’s take a glance at urbanisation, for example. The numbers are clear. The global proportion of the population in cities is forecast to grow steadily from the current 56% to 63% in 2050. The most significant projected increase is in India, where the urban population will be 415 million people larger in 2050. In developed regions and high-income countries, the vast majority of people, from 80% to 100%, already live in cities.
The development is not purely linear, however. During the COVID-19 pandemic, second-tier cities have been rising as people escape the expensive global hotspots such as New York and London for more affordable and less dense yet culturally diverse cities. Cities are becoming technologically smarter, but also more human-centric in urban planning. Extreme weather events caused by climate change demand resilience from cities’ infrastructure. The electrification of transport and reduction of private vehicles are major challenges for every big city. Creative urbanists develop 15-minute cities with micro-forests, multi-purpose neighbourhoods and off-grid power systems. Smart city utopias provoke our current thinking of what is possible in cities.
All of these sub-trends and counter-trends within the broader megatrend of urbanisation have implications for businesses. In the uncertain and complex world, megatrends might be the most stable and trustable element in our strategic thinking. A business based on megatrends is unlikely to fail.
Getting serious with megatrends requires walking the extra mile, which is often neglected in strategy processes.
In VTT’s Megatrends report: Leading towards a better future our leading experts in business intelligence and strategic foresight present an overview on some of the essential megatrends impacting businesses in the upcoming decade. We have summarized these trends in an easily digestible – yet thoroughly researched – overview to help you as a decision-maker to crystallise your direction for the upcoming decade.
Click here to download your copy of the Megatrends report. Enjoy!
Corporate Foresight & Strategy
Gensler (2020): The Rise of Second-Tier Cities. https://www.gensler.com/blog/the-rise-of-second-tier-cities
Statista (2021): Global megacities.