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  7. The World in 2030: Business Leaders Call for a Global Co-ordinated Response to Technology Driven Change

The World in 2030: Business Leaders Call for a Global Co-ordinated Response to Technology Driven Change

News facts:
  • Survey reveals 84 percent of global businesses are in favour of a co-ordinated global response to prepare for change, led by intergovernmental bodies and governments
  • Key trends believed to have biggest impact on businesses by 2030 listed as the world online (70% of the world will have internet access), automation (including robotics and Artificial Intelligence) and the ageing population 
  • Timeline 2030 report outlines threat of mass unemployment and inequality by 2030 without coordinated response to change
Munich, January 25, 2018 – Business leaders around the world are looking for a co-ordinated global response to the change that is being driven by technology advancements, according to research on 1,400 business leaders from around the world. An overwhelming 84 percent of leaders are in favour of this, with half believing this response should be led by intergovernmental bodies (such as the United Nations), followed closely by individual governments (46%), businesses themselves (37%) and industry bodies (35%). Worryingly 76 percent of global business leaders do not feel that their own or other international governments are currently doing enough to plan effectively for the impact of technology driven change.

The World in 2030

These concerns from business leaders have been unveiled alongside Fujitsu’s Timeline 2030, developed in partnership with Trajectory. Timeline 2030 sheds some light on what the world around us might look like in 2030 as a result of key change factors such as advances in artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics, the ageing population, digital citizenship and Internet regulation. The Timeline 2030 report outlines a positive (The Path to Prosperity) and a negative (The Road to Regression) scenario based on the choices made by business and government leaders, societies and individuals between now and then.
The trends were identified through a robust horizon scanning process; this involved the analysis of broad range of trends to understand the drivers of technology demand, social change, business and globalisation, as well as other key factors. When reviewing these trends, business leaders highlighted automation (86%) as the most significant by some margin (86%), followed by perpetual learning and digital citizenship (73% each). Overall 59% believe that the impact of technological development will be positive by 2030. But as the call for a global co-ordinated response shows, they acknowledge that action is required.
“Rapid technological change is causing enormous shockwaves, and its disruptive impact on the world of business is already being seen,” said Duncan Tait, Corporate Executive Officer, SEVP and Head of Americas and EMEIA at Fujitsu. “But there’s another side to the story – the human one – as technology begins to fundamentally change our lives, at home and at work. We have already seen some of the early implications of technological change, from rapidly making traditional skills out-dated to even undermining faith in traditional institutions. We must acknowledge and engage with the challenges that this presents, as well as the opportunities. Otherwise, technology may very well leave people behind.”

Responding to change

Business leaders believe that the starting point for preparing for technology driven change is a focus on the changing skillset required; nearly half (46%) believe upskilling the current workforce would be the most valuable measure, followed closely by 41 percent who are looking for a change to the education curriculum. 37 percent believe that investment in technology infrastructure (such as high speed Internet) is key while 36 percent think that business and technology specialists need to form stronger partnerships.
Specifically within their own organizations, business leaders expect the most impactful trends in the next 15 years to be the world online (37%), automation (30%) and the ageing population (24%). However, over half of business leaders admitted that they are not doing enough to prepare their businesses for the level of change anticipated. Just under half are investing in innovation and 44 percent are focused on upskilling existing employees. Currently only 28 percent of businesses are altering their business strategy to plan for the impact of technology.
Duncan Tait continued, “We are at a crossroads: we have the choice to take action now and use technology to take us on a path to prosperity, or otherwise face the consequences. While the transformative power of automation is huge, if we move too quickly and replace workers on a large scale, we will see high levels of unemployment and labour unrest. By contrast, if businesses take a steady approach and work with governments to invest in STEM, creative and soft skills, we can implement automation in a way that frees workers to do more valuable – and engaging – work. Equally, we must adopt a new approach to education, ensuring not only that our young people have the right balance of technical and soft skills, but that workers of all ages engage in lifelong learning to adopt to new technologies.
“In every major challenge that we face – whether that be an ageing population, sustainability or urbanization – we need to take a coordinated and considered approach to the role of technology. Timely and co-ordinated action across global governments, business, education and society as a whole will ensure that we have the right leadership, skills and workforce to embrace change and prosper. We must ensure that as technology advances and we enter the next digital paradigm, it is to the benefit of everyone.”

Notes to editors

About Timeline 2030

Timeline 2030 was developed using a four-step process: 

  1. Horizon scanning – analysis of broad range of trends to understand the drivers of technology demand, social change, business and globalisation, as well as other key factors. 
  2. Expert interviews – interviews with leading experts to review the trends and drivers
  3. Trends mapping – rating of trends for likelihood and impact by the network of experts.
  4. Scenario creation – the development of scenarios based on the ‘key trends’ identified and the insight from the experts 

The trends that were rated as ‘key’ to the way the world will transform by 2030 were: 

  1. Automation – technology developments combine to reshape work and economies
  2. The World Online – more than 70% of the world’s population have internet access
  3. Ageing – global population reaches more than 8.5bn, with 1 in 8 people over 65
  4. Urbanization – almost two-thirds of the world’s population live in towns and cities
  5. Globalization – driven by emerging markets, globalised economic systems dominate
  6. Perpetual learning – pace of change and longer working lives drive constant training
  7. Digital citizenship – public services increasing digitised to maximise efficiency
  8. Flexibility – consumer technology adds unprecedented flexibility to daily lives
  9. Internet regulation – governments exert more control, and multi-tiered access is the norm
  10. Food for all – little progress on sustainability, with food systems under huge pressure

Scenario summaries: 

The Path to Prosperity – the world welcomes the digital paradigm 

  • Technology advances reshape society, propelling global growth and creating opportunities
  • National and international governments and business leaders anticipated the challenges of this new digital paradigm and have worked to ensure these new developments benefit business, society and the economy
  • Internet access accelerates, with 90% of the population online
  • Businesses embrace automation but also invest in upskilling of workforce
  • The sophistication of digital technology is leading to the death of distance and reshaping the work-life balance

The Road to Regression – the world fails to react 

  • Technology advances reshape society, causing enormous disruption
  • A lack of long-term thinking about the future impact of advancements in robotics and machine intelligence mean that automation has led to widespread job losses and major economic implications
  • The period to 2030 is defined by slow progress, missed opportunities and stagnant growth
  • Advanced markets are on the verge of collapse, with governments not coping with falling tax receipts, a shrinking workforce and an ageing population

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Date: 25 January, 2018
City: Munich