The World in 2025
An interview with Jim Carroll
Four trends driving change towards 2025 are...
- Impact of technology, especially digital
- The next workforce generation has a fundamentally different outlook
- Growth potential across many markets thanks to economic volatility
- Quicker prototyping, designing and testing to reduce time to market
The world is changing at a rapid pace, bringing uncertainty as well as untapped opportunities across all sectors and geographies. In this article, IN speaks to renowned global futurist Jim Carroll about the trends shaping the world, and specifically the packaging industry of tomorrow. What will the world look like in 2025?
10 years is a long time with the potential for many changes –how do you see the current “norm” changing over time?
We are witnessing massive transformations across every single market, industry and profession. The rate of change is accelerating dramatically compared to past decades, a trend we expect to see continue.
The impact of technology and the acceleration of science are having a huge impact on this. In addition, our collaborative global community is enabling ever-faster discovery and implementation of new ideas. The power of the next generation shouldn’t be underestimated – as a generation they are highly skilled at seeing and implementing new ways of doing things – in addition to the emergence of new industry competitors.
One of the biggest drivers impacting many industries will come from a shift in control, with Silicon Valley driving the pace of change and innovation more than ever. Industry now has no choice but to act and innovate at the same speed to stay ahead of the game.
Consequently, tomorrow’s world is going to be an entirely different place. In fact, I think it’s fair to say, it will be completely transformed. We’re on the edge of absolutely massive change! Below, Carroll outlines what he sees as top trends.
Africa will have ceased to be a rural continent
By 2025, the majority of the world’s population will live in less than 30 mega-cities demonstrating a continued trend towards global urbanization, driven in part by greater economic security and an ever increasing global middle class.
There are great opportunities for the development of business involving “mega-city infrastructure support services”, for example – transport, water, and energy “micro-grids”. As you can imagine, the support system for a city of 20-40 million people is vastly different to that of a small city.
It’s great to see so many innovators out there already looking for viable solutions, for example, how do we generate energy for such cities? We can see technology emerging to facilitate this switch, just two examples being glass buildings generating solar energy and vertical farming – if we can build skyscrapers for people why can’t we do this for our food supply?
Much of the world will have “gone up”
Because of mass urbanization we are running out of space leaving two solutions: dig down or build up. Towering buildings incorporating innovations in construction will be one of the business growth stories in the years leading up to 2025.
Many pioneering thinkers are now looking at how we can best use the limited space we have left. For example, we are now able to build structures out of wood that are eight to 10 stories high because of our deeper understanding of science, methodologies and architecture. This is providing urban areas with lots of new potential. This innovative “skyscraper” technology is going to be a big trend leading into 2025, with new jobs emerging as a result (for example, vertical farming infrastructure managers).
A dichotomy of life-expectancy will be the new normal
Rapid advancements in medical science in the western hemisphere, the impact of lifestyle changes, and a new “super-health” diet will lead to the first human living to 140. Yet, at the same time, society could be grappling with a decline in life expectancy in Asia, Africa and the Middle East as sectors of the population develop the same lifestyle diseases as North America and Europe.
We are going to see big changes in the pharmaceutical industry, both in packaging and the product. Accessible and intelligent packaging – with packaging becoming part of the product – will see a big tech-up. In theory, a pill will have the power to transmit information from the body to the package and to the doctor. Tiny bio-sensors will be embedded in all kinds of packaging. Packaging will also help verify counterfeits and we will be increasingly able to track our wellness through mobile devices and bioconnected medical devices, including small chips under the skin that feed critical data back.
Sub-Saharan Africa will have emerged as the world’s new China
This area holds a wealth of opportunities, for example, in infrastructure development. We have seen this happen previously in the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China) as they transitioned into middle class. Consequently, it now costs substantially more to produce goods in these countries compared to 10-20 years ago and companies are starting to explore where the next big business opportunities exist. Naturally they are being drawn to these new regions which have huge unlocked potential – not forgetting, we will see almost a billion new consumers entering the global market in the next decade! We are also seeing an increase of “in-sourcing” with companies taking production and bringing it back locally as it is no longer cost effective to manufacture overseas.