4 Digital Megatrends

I think the four Digital Megatrends of the past decade have been cloud computing, mobility, social media, and big data. What about the next decade?

At a job interview some years ago I was asked, “With so much continuous change and news about the IT industry, how do you keep up-to-date? How do you make sure you know everything to do the job?”

Making up the answer on the spot, it was along these lines: One of the biggest dangers facing people in the IT industry is to keep chasing the next big thing. Always feeling the pressure of falling behind the latest developments, we actually end up missing the really important (the forest) for the daily news (the trees). What matters for any IT job is to know, understand and apply the big trends rather than get lost in the latest and greatest advance.

From the look on the interviewer’s face, that was the wrong answer. I still think it’s right, or at least, along the right lines.

Over the years, I’ve found building a mental picture of the Megatrends helpful. These are trends that look like they will last many years and make it through the hype cycle to make fundamental change. That way I have context for looking at the latest and greatest- either as a component of one of the Megatrends or as a potential to become one.

Megatrends are also my check-list to look at business opportunities and challenges from multiple perspectives. That way it’s more likely my thinking will be aligned to the medium-term scenario. It also accounts for my view that most Megatrends over-promise in the short term but are under-appreciated in the long term.

The four Digital Megatrends from the past decade will certainly continue. Not only will they continue but by becoming “normal” they will start delivering that under-appreciated fundamental impact. They will be less news and more action.

Megatrends for the next decade

I’ll stick with four. There’s nothing magical or special about that number but it works best for me. Others have said they need a larger number, say ten, to really capture the massive change we are living through.

So here are my three of the four:

  • Internet of Things / ubiquitous computing (including wearables)
  • Virtual / Augmented Reality (including 3D)
  • Artificial Intelligence

What about the fourth one? Actually, I still haven’t made up my mind on that. There are a number of possibilities. Something to do with space? Smart cities/transport/energy? Something to do with nanotech and biotech? Robotics? Perhaps something that meets a basic human need like affection or understanding or identity. One that should be on the list but, sadly, won’t is security & privacy.

If you have any views on the fourth Digital Megatrend for the next decade, or disagree with my three, please leave a comment below.



5 thoughts on “4 Digital Megatrends

  1. Not a megatrend as such, but I suspect we’ll see a breakthrough in battery technology sometime in the next decade. Or if not massively improved batteries, technologies that’ll keep devices away from fixed power sources for much longer than the day-if-you’re-lucky we get today. I wouldn’t underestimate what a huge difference that will make.

  2. I’m hoping that the fourth trend will be a renewably hosted Internet — that everything travelling via the internet — web, email and datacentres, VOiP streaming media and whatever else is added — that it all will be powered by green sources — hydro, solar, wind, tidal, making the world a much cleaner, less carbon-producing place.
    see http://www.thegreenwebfoundation.org for more about this dream

  3. Artifical intelligence would need to be handled very carefully. Some have made an arguable case that such intelligence, should it become aware, could do fatal harm to human civilisation.

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