I am a trends hunter, constantly tracking trends and looking at how these trends are driving many social, political and economical changes and making our lives ‘more digital’.
All these changes are generating huge transformational forces that have a tremendous effect on people, societies, cultures and what the future world will look like. We refer to these forces as megatrends which are formed by a complex concurrence of many trends that have been emerging in recent years, are growing in intensity today and will continue rising in the future. One of our recent market analysis projects, “Megatrends: a wave of change impacting the future”, discusses the phenomenon of being connected 7×24, the acceleration of digital natives, demographic changes like the increasing aging population, the imperative of sustainability, neo-urbanization – the blurring of urban and rural, education evolving towards a more individual centered learning and the empowerment of citizens.
I come from Venezuela, live in England and in a recent holiday to Hong Kong I couldn’t stop discovering the expression of the megatrends around me, comparing different manifestations of these megatrends in different geographical and social surroundings.
Venezuela – Being connected is vital for citizen empowerment
In Venezuela, an emerging country in Latin America, people face increasing challenges in terms of political and economical stability, struggling with inefficient transport, electricity blackouts and personal security in their day-to-day lives. Adapting fast to many difficult eventualities and also adopting any available tools to overcome them is a must.
Mobile penetration is above 100% and more than a third of broadband subscriptions are mobile. Usage of internet banking applications, SMS, free instant messaging applications like instant messaging from on BlackBerry® or WhatsApp messenger and social media applications like twitter is higher than other countries in the region. The President actively communicates with his cabinet and citizens via twitter. Equally, citizens get around government censorship of broadcast media by using social media and the Internet. People are connected 24×7 and use various communication options, often two or three different mobiles to overcome the lack of fixed broadband or mobile coverage in areas outside the capital.
Connectivity is a way of coping with political and social uncertainty and vital for Venezuelans empowerment giving a sense of security and community, making their lives easier.
Hong Kong – Digital Life fully embraced throughout society
Travelling in Hong Kong with my family, a densely populated area with the second longest life expectancy in the world and a mobile penetration above 130% was a fascinating experience.
Hong Kong has an advanced fixed and mobile broadband coverage which provides easy access to high bandwidth services like mobile music, video and Facebook on the move.
Whilst travelling there I relied not only on being connected to plan our day’s outings, where to eat, train timings, etc. but also to keep in touch and share almost in real time my experiences with my family back in Venezuela without making a single call. It was captivating seeing how extensively people embrace mobile connectivity, smart devices and applications in this part of the world. Most people are out until late in the night and spend a lot of time on public transport, either MTR or bus, always with their phones, mainly smartphones, talking, playing, listening to music and even reading while they walk. Young kids sitting in parks are doing their homework using their laptops and phones. In spite of its high density and the intensive use of public transportation, Hong Kong is one of the most eco-sustainable urban cities in Asia providing citizens high quality of life without harming the environment. This makes Hong Kong an eco-smart city as identified in a recent market analysis Getting smart about smart cities (PDF file).
England – Embedded Digital Living
Living in England my experience in a digital life is similar in a totally different environment; I live in a little village in the countryside, with good fixed and mobile broadband access. I work from home and have access to eight connected devices around my house. I am able to work, do my food shopping, search for information, communicate with my son’s school and access many services from various devices – enabling multi-tasking. The ability to do all from home allows me to have a better life and work balance. My son, who has been around technology all his life does his homework online interacting with other children around the world, shares content around the house with different devices and is totally embedded in this digital life.
My personal experience made me realise how profound are the effects of these megatrends on us, no matter where you go, you will find manifestations of them, demonstrating how deeply engrained being connected and having immediate access to information is in our modern lives.
Although it is very difficult to see the future, the long time span of these megatrends can help us visualise ahead of time what the future may look like. The many ways people, businesses, governments and societies are adapting as a result of these megatrends are creating an even more complex and interconnected world. Understanding these changes, the drivers and how they are developing in various parts of the world is crucial for us so that we can identify new strategic directions and opportunities for Alcatel-Lucent and our customers.
I invite you to explore the Megatrends report, follow a series of blogs from my colleagues who will be sharing their perspectives on megatrends during the coming weeks and discover how megatrends are transforming your life, your family and friends’ lives, your community and the world around you.
And I would love to hear your experiences, so feel free to share your insights here.