Every year, Fjord – Accenture Interactive’s design and innovation practice – crowdsources trends for the year ahead from its network of 1,200 people in 33 studios worldwide. With new studios opening in Japan and across Latin America, this year’s Fjord Trends are our most globally diverse. Yet, despite the diversity of regional flavors and context, there was a high level of consensus in our initial idea-gathering stage. These are also our most closely connected trends ever, telling a comprehensive story about our landscape and what’s coming next.
Economics and politics, capitalism and resources, technology and society have long been entwined, but recently the consequences of that entanglement have burst into public consciousness – ironically, driven by the very technologies that made such interconnectivity possible. The omnipresence of digital and the internet have been big (possibly decisive) factors in the prominence of President Trump and Greta Thunberg, of Amazon.com and the gig economy, smartphones and techlash and, indeed, the re-evaluation of Silicon Valley start-ups triggered by the failure of WeWork’s IPO.
Questions about capitalism’s trajectory of endless growth with profit as the sole metric have moved from shouting on the streets to conversations in the boardroom. Concerns about plastic have developed into a major climate crisis movement, which is now among voters’ top priorities in many countries. The clash between the technology industry and governments is causing widely felt tremors, as tech giants are considered to have immense power but there’s disagreement about who should be held accountable.
Two years ago, we highlighted Tensions as our meta-trend. In retrospect, that led directly to last year’s meta-trend, The search for value. Now, that search has evolved into a reevaluation of purpose and place in the world by governments, businesses and individuals alike. Meanwhile, technology continues to create change: now, it’s changing the shape of money, recognizing our bodies as a form of signature, and creating virtual doubles.
2020’s meta-trend is nothing short of a major realignment of the fundamentals. It’s tempting to misinterpret this as a gloomy picture – instead, we think this is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to innovate in business models, services and products around new definitions of value.
For companies with the courage to recognize this meta-trend, there are many opportunities – and there will also be challenges. For example, it questions the decades-old definition we’ve had of business success, which is underpinned by the philosophy of profit as the only directive.
This realignment also potentially leads to iconic innovation moving beyond start-ups in favor of more traditional businesses that will need to work together to make change happen at an industry-wide level. We might see a two-speed model emerging as the shift takes place at different paces in different markets. Emerging markets might just leapfrog western attitudes toward endless consumption and go straight for a more balanced view. Meanwhile, people continue to be ever more fluid in their behaviors, constantly shifting between traditional demographic segments in ways that seem contradictory.
However, it plays out from here, one thing is likely: those who embrace the long-term view – by starting with their impact on the world and society, and embracing the systemic complexity of the world–will emerge as winners.