April 16, 2021

Talking About the Future of Everything

A lot can change in a year, but imagine what can happen in 10 years.

That was the topic of conversation during the third Annual Forum, hosted virtually by the Center for Global Business (CGB) at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business. Mauro Guillén, author of "2030: How Today's Biggest Trends Will Collide and Reshape the Future of Everything," spoke with CGB Academic Director Kislaya Prasad about how the pandemic has accelerated trends, especially with regard to technological advancements.

These are five trends Guillén recommends for everyone to keep in mind before then:

Expand your idea of the typical consumer. Brands have long thought about products with European and U.S. consumers in mind, but the most successful brands now must cater to customers around the world, Guillén said. Asian consumers, in particular, should garner more attention from brands. “The largest markets will be China and India, so we shouldn’t be surprised if companies from those countries become the largest in the world because they already control market share in their own countries and can appeal to U.S. and European consumers.”

Watch women make their move. Women are playing a role in the economy that’s far different from previous decades, Guillén said. In major countries, women are accumulating wealth at a faster rate than men because of greater access to education. Citing census data, he projected that by 2030 more than half of U.S. households with a man and woman will see the woman earning more than their male partners. “It will change financial markets and the world of investing. Women are more risk-averse in investing and stick to their choices, whereas men are more willing to change strategies – that we know isn’t the best strategy,” said Guillén.

Let technology do its thing. Technology is continuing its rapid march into the future, transforming countries and industries around the world, Guillén said. For farmers in Africa and Asia, increased cell service for phones and computers will enable greater access to information and inform purchasing decisions. Earlier stage technologies like 3D printing and virtual reality will continue to evolve. “I am a big believer in 3D printing, especially for helping isolated communities secure items they need. Virtual reality, on the other hand, is going to make digital platforms even more useful. Like for therapy for people with disabilities or diseases like dementia,” said Guillén.

Embrace the sharing economy. For the longest time, the economy has been built on the concept of ownership for assets, houses and cars. But what happens when there is less ownership and more sharing? It’s an important question for the future, Guillén said. Between advancements to urban transportation, increased remote work and the shifting hospitality industry, the sharing economy could shake things up, he said. “If we use digital platforms to create more secondhand markets and recycled markets, that would be a great thing. It has the potential to revolutionize everything.”

Be ready to pivot. The world is rapidly changing, Guillén said. Don’t wait for the clock to turn back – it never will. Instead, he said, embrace change and begin making decisions that help prepare for an ambiguous future. “Never make a decision that is irreversible; every decision has to allow for course correction. If you don’t have an escape plan, you’ll find yourself in a corner of the future you didn’t anticipate with no way out.”

This event is sponsored in part by CIBE, a Title VI grant administered by the U.S. Department of Education.

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About the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business

The Robert H. Smith School of Business is an internationally recognized leader in management education and research. One of 12 colleges and schools at the University of Maryland, College Park, the Smith School offers undergraduate, full-time and flex MBA, executive MBA, online MBA, business master’s, PhD and executive education programs, as well as outreach services to the corporate community. The school offers its degree, custom and certification programs in learning locations in North America and Asia.

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