For many years, I have been successfully helping German companies with technology scouting, investigating the start-up scene for innovative ideas, analyzing disruptive business models and initiating cross-industry opportunities, especially for German SMEs.
So why do I now focus on trend scouting, which is known to require good, well-founded information on possible trends, future developments and their effects and helps answer questions such as which changes, trends and mega-trends shape our present and which conclusions can be drawn for the future?
My research is based on some of the megatrends identified by local universities, such as Singularity University, Stanford and UC Berkeley, but also by the German Future Institute Frankfurt (Quelle), which I have listed here, in particular:
Today, the megatrend of individualization is still very much selfish. In the future, however, it will increasingly rely on tribes, community and collective intelligence. Individualization is changing and expressing itself in a new we-culture. Communities, collaborations and cooperations are moving into focus instead of the ego. For companies, this has a major impact on the way teams work together and how organizations are managed.
- Silver Society
Everything is concentrating on new technologies at the moment. The aging society stands in the shadows and is completely underestimated. But even if pro-aging is currently still undervalued, entrepreneurs are well advised to tap this potential. The Silver Society means a re-coding of the economy, which will clearly become apparent in the coming decade. People in the second half of life have a different view of performance, growth and innovation than younger people. In addition, they have a different perception of what is important and right in companies. These experienced people are an incredible treasure trove of experience and a haven of serenity. Although the ageing of society is largely seen as a problem, it can, especially in companies, contribute to its vitalization.
We live in a network of networks. Everyone is connected to everyone and everything, always and everywhere. This circumstance challenges us technologically, but above all socially, in our attitude and our thinking. The interaction between people and technology, the handling of new possibilities, will develop in a trend-setting way in the 2020s, when the current technological hype will be understood more comprehensively. When it emerges how and where we can and want to use technology efficiently, there will be enormous potential for increasing efficiency and for new business models.
Due to the worldwide increasing population of the cities and new economic principles for production and logistics, the urban area as a production site becomes more interesting again. Today, knowledge is mainly produced in cities, but 3D printing, urban farming and the like show that the production of goods is once again finding its place in the city.
- Knowledge culture
In our complex world, knowledge is fluid, so the focus is on implicit skills that allow us to be agile and respond to changes and surprises. Holistic, systemic thinking, context formation and observation of the second order become core competences just as deeply as (inter-)human qualities. They are especially important for managers in order to communicate with the organization and the employees.
Perhaps it is the fact that I have had my home in Silicon Valley and my cultural home in Germany for almost twenty years. This is how I recognize megatrends much earlier in a part of the world that is not only considered one of the most innovative but also one of the most expensive parts of the world. There’s no other way to explain how German SMEs in particular often turn a blind eye to trends. This may be due to a still large number of orders and deals, but that could soon be over: conflicts in world trade and the shortage of skilled workers threaten the German economy, say the experts. The chairman of the German Council of Economic Experts, Christoph Schmidt, explained the worsened outlook with several factors. “The uncertain future of the global economic order and demographic change pose major challenges for the German economy”. He spoke of important economic policy decisions facing the Federal Republic of Germany.
At the moment, the big generation of baby boomers is generating record income from social insurance. But this is only a short breathing space. The ratio of the number of people aged over 64 to those aged between 20 and 64 is currently 35%. However, it will rise to 50% by 2030. Just the fact that we are all getting older, want to stay longer in the work process and stay healthy longer poses interesting questions for trend scouts like myself and requires an analysis of the needs of the market and society.
Uwe Wagner, Partner German Silicon Valley Innovators Inc.