Mega trends are tracked by businesses and investors to predict future opportunity and threat and although specific industry sectors may place a different emphasis on individual issues many of the 2019 assessments indicate the following key issues:
Global growth shifts
Industry disruption by technology and innovation.
Societal fairness and equality
Demographic issues including the rise of importance of generation X
Political and policy changes
Whatever the origin of the phrase “May you live in interesting times” it would certainly seem that from a political, economic, environmental and social justice perspective today is definitely a time of great interest.
In the UK the ongoing issue of Brexit is affecting businesses and many organisations are working hard to ensure that they are forecasting and compensating for these impacts. Brexit has also highlighted the dangers of such prediction and forward planning as many companies are facing huge costs associated with storage and stockpiling associated with the original 29th March Brexit date.
A megatrend is any important shift in the progress of a society or of any other particular field or activity. It is typically a global, sustained and macroeconomic force that could impact business, society and everyday life.
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Typical megatrends affecting UK business.
Megatrends should ideally be considered by the senior management team as they are an essential component in several elements of ISO 14001:2015. In particular, they could be considered regarding clauses:
4.1 Understanding the organisation and its context
4.2 Understanding the needs and expectation of interested parties
6.1 Actions to address risks and opportunities
6.1.3 Compliance Obligations
8.1 Operational Planning and control
considering each life cycle stage and the impacts upon product development, facilities, utilities, finance, marketing and procurement activities.
8.2 Emergency preparedness and response (e.g. climate change mitigation)
Trying to accurately predict trends that will impact on a business will always be severely limited by lack of data, imprecision and assumption. However, if the adage “The trend is your friend” continues (with questionable success) to be applied as a rule by many investors, there may still be value for the manager to try to identify and apply some of these trends within their business planning, particularly regarding environmental and sustainability issues.
The art of prediction has its limitations, after all, who would have predicted that a 16 year old girl would become a climate change hero, or that a pink boat would have been parked at Oxford Circus in 2019. But if organisations can identify relevant trends and apply a strategy that meets with their corporate values it can ensure that long term objectives will be consistent with the organisation’s environmental or sustainability values.
As the old song goes: “For the times they are a-changin’” and it would be a lost opportunity if a responsible business failed to identify and respond to foreseeable environmental or social changes.
The views presented here are purely that of the author (Dr Dawn Pope) and this briefing note can be no substitution for reading the source text on these issues. Sources from IEMA, UN and investment houses should be considered before making any significant business changes in response to megatrend analysis.