In the grand scheme of life, a decade isn’t too substantial an amount of time.
Guillén is the author of the recently released book “2030: How Today’s Biggest Trends Will Collide and Reshape the Future of Everything,” and holds the Zandman Professorship in International Management at Wharton. He presented research and projections from his book at a virtual event hosted by CreateXChange Tuesday night, attended by educators, futurists, researchers and members of the public and private sector.
Nicole Carville, architect and design manager at Haworth, told attendees at the top of the event that “these past few months have given us a lot of time to think about where we’ve been and where we’re going.”
About seven years ago, Guillén said, he noticed that people were becoming anxious about how quickly things in the world were changing, especially when it came to the major themes he explores in his book: population trends, market trends and changes in technology.
“I needed to provide people with a roadmap for these changes and address that anxiety,” Guillén said. “I think every threat can be an opportunity. I see a lot of opportunities in these trends.”
Currently, a population shift is happening and will become clearer by 2030, Guillén said. He coins the term “Grey is the new black” to talk about how much of the market’s current focus is on catering to millennials, but with growing life expectancies, we’ll get to a point where people over 60 will be the largest population group. There will be more grandparents than grandchildren, he said.
“We need to abandon idea that people over 60 are old,” Guillén said. “The meaning of old and young is changing and we need to abandon that conception. There are people in 60s and 70s having a full life, and they want quality of life. And companies and organizations will have to acknowledge that.”
And this changes how we think about working, too, he said. Before, many people had two or three jobs in their lifetime, but as we live longer, we see our lives split up into different segments. Now, it’s common to have two or three careers. Folks are stretching their working and educating years over the course of their lifetimes, Guillén said.
This folds into another theme we’ll see emerging: women’s wealth and equity. Gullien said more women are gaining wealth, more women are graduating from college and more women are gaining positions of power. (Look for a future episode of Technical.ly’s Off the Sidelines podcast to address the women and wealth issue, too.)
There are still major equity issues, he acknowledged, especially for women of color, and for women in different parts of the world. But current studies show that in 41% of American households that are shared by a married, heterosexual couples, the wife is making more money. And the projection is that by 2030, more than half of American households will be in this position.
“That is a tipping point,” Guillén said. “That will change quite a few things.”
Technological changes have touched just about every part of life. One of the biggest impacts of technology, the professor claimed, is that some greatly benefit from emerging technologies (hello, our entire tech community) while others have lost out (like, say, losing human jobs to robotics or automation). It’s easy to see why there’s resentment, he said.
“The way of the future is to innovate without leaving Americans behind,” Guillén said, calling out solutions like workforce training programs or a minimum income for folks who’ve been pushed out of their positions. “I think that’s why there’s so much resentment.”
Guillén and conversation host Karen Copeland, of CreateXChange both acknowledged that they could talk about these trends for days, but wanted to touch on a realization that’s come over the last few months: While Guillén and other futurist’s predications about these global trends initially seemed to peak a decade from now, in 2030, the pandemic has expedited many of them. This may be our reality sooner, they said.
“The pandemic might bring it by 2028,” Guillén said.
We’ve already seen technological solutions or robots being used as an answer in some labor markets to avoid human contact, the wealth gap and inequity is opening up wider due to growing unemployment and available resources, and a global crisis is likely making adults second-guess their family planning.
“It’s accelerating the trends,” Guillén said. “The future we’re all waiting for is arriving faster.”-30-