Looking Ahead 10 Years for Tech Predictions

There’s a new report out by the Institute for the Future that purports to look ahead to the year 2025 and what technology will be like both good and bad. It’s a trends report worth reading.

According to USA Today, the report is called Information Generation: Transforming the Future Today. It was commissioned by cloud-storage company EMC, with quantitative research conducted by Vanson Bourne (and is available for download as a pdf).

According to the paper, the major trends include machine learning will spur information and communication systems that can learn from data rather than follow explicitly programmed instructions. And linked data and interconnectivity of devices will improve the integration of multiple data streams and knowledge silos.”

The report says as the new technologies gain wider acceptance and become the norm rather than the exception, they will work side-by-side with current mega-trends. It says, “They will enable information ecosystems to become increasingly more intuitive, anticipatory, transparent and personalized, driving the convergence of existing and emerging technologies with new social practices and cultural expectations.”

The five key trends will be:

  1. Information Economy: Useful, standards-based information will be sold, donated and traded on open exchanges
  2. Networked Ecosystems: Our environments will become more aware, responsive and connected
  3. Augmented Decision-making: Artificial intelligence systems will support decision-making like never before
  4. Multi-sensory Communication: Information will be communicated and absorbed through multiple human senses
  5. Privacy-enhancing Tech: Consumer-directed tools will help achieve privacy fairness

The report says there will be four mega-tech trends worth following in the next decade that will affect future trends: big data, always-connected mobile devices, social networking and cloud computing. They are currently reshaping industries, redefining experiences and fortifying sustainable businesses, according to the report.

Heard of the Millennials? Well, they might be better called the Information Generation, the report observes. It defines this generation (not necessarily quantified by age) as a community of digital citizens living in a global network, always connected with the world’s information at our fingertips. “We are engaged online more than ever before and have become significant contributors to a vast and growing information ecosystem, a world unlike any we’ve known before,” the report proclaims.

USA Today interprets the report this way, “We humans will be walking, running, sleeping data streams pumping out constantly updated metrics that will be both safeguarded and valuable. We’ll do our jobs with the assistance of artificial intelligence to achieve better results faster. And we’ll leverage technological breakthroughs to create digital gatekeepers that tame the information-overload beast.”

The Institute for the Future says there are five business trends that will dominate in the next decade:

  • Predictively spot new opportunities: Deliberate, creative use of data to upend status quo thinking, react and adapt in real time, redefining strategic direction.
  • Innovate in an agile way: Nimble use of information and resources from inside and out to better inform the design of products and services that differentiate and distinguish, in a flash.
  • Demonstrate transparency & trust: Open, ethical conduct in both use of data and engagement with people that makes an unambiguous statement of corporate commitment to employees, customers and the larger community.
  • Deliver a unique, personalized experience: Adherence to a simple promise with every customer based on a data-driven understanding of the need and information-driven delivery of a custom solution.
  • Always on, operating in real time: 24 / 7 availability and relentless accountability that delights customers and leaves the competition in the dust

There is going to be an ongoing risk of security breaches in the coming decade, though. The report states, “With more data flowing across diverse networks and a multitude of devices, the risks of data leaks and breaches only grow. In fact, putting value on data may increase the chances of it being stolen.”

In effect, a black market may grow for date. The report continues, “Successful markets depend on active buyers and sellers who are equipped with adequate information to make sound decisions. Without marked improvements in security and transparency of how data moves from individuals to companies and governments, the true potential of an active information economy will not be realized over the next decade.”

This research was conducted between November 2014 and January 2015 by Vanson Bourne. The firm surveyed 3,600 leaders in 18 countries across eight major industries, including  Financial Services, Insurance, Retail, Manufacturing, Media and Entertainment, Life Sciences and Biotech, Telecommunications and Mobile Service Providers, Oil and Gas, and other. Half of the respondents (1,800) worked in firms with between 250 and 1,000 employees, and 1,800 respondents worked in firms with over 1,000 employees.

Keith Griffin
Keith Griffin is an award-winning business writer and editor with more than 30 years experience as a journalist. His work has been published in The Boston Globe, Medical Economist, Good Housekeeping, About.com, the Hartford Courant, CT Law Tribune and numerous other regional publications.