3M looks at trends shaping our future into 2030 and beyond
Jan 7, 2021

 Whether we have noticed or not, there are persisting forces shaping the world around us. These megatrends enable us to consider our world 5 to 10 years – or more – into the future to help us make more-informed decisions now. Although events like the COVID-19 pandemic will cause short-term headwinds to some key trends, and tailwinds to others, these megatrends are expected to persist into the future.

So, what will the world look like in 2030 and beyond? 3M is exploring this question and the impact enduring megatrends could have on our ever-evolving world, as well as the role we have in adapting to and influencing them.

Technological breakthroughs
Technology has long been a measure of human advancement and power. Today, the next technological revolution is well underway, and the world is rushing to adapt to the rising speed of development. What feels like incremental change today is truly exponential compared with the past, and expectations continue to rise. Disruption is the new normal and will drive relentless change. The unintentional consequences of technical progress will continue to accelerate and draw greater attention and scrutiny from governments and the public. Staying ahead in this environment will require agility, foresight and courage. How must we plan, invest and execute in a rapidly advancing world?

Changing climates and resources
Disruptive changes to the natural environment are causing fundamental shifts in behavior and raising concerns about the future health of the planet and its inhabitants. Investment in alternative energy continues to rise, but prevention of climate change is a waning option, with adaptation becoming the new focus. Ensuring access to clean air, water and food are rising priorities for governments, and a waste-management crisis is hitting developed countries. What role can we play to bring about a brighter future?

Shifting demographics and social change
Demographic and social change is foundational, affecting all other trends. People’s relationships to society, community and government evolve at different rates and in different ways around the globe, but common trends still emerge. Cities continue to attract a larger percentage of the global population. “Work” is taking new forms and requiring new skill sets. Workforces are becoming increasingly insecure as technologies displace workers and governments recognize the unsustainability of their social safety nets. The foundation is shifting. How can we prepare?

The rebalancing world
Influence can come in the form of a crisis or event but can also develop over time. The same can be said about influence’s decline. The world is entering another decade of geopolitical and economic change that will certainly rebalance the world’s influencers. International governing bodies are experiencing increasing levels of infighting and ineffectiveness. What must we do to keep a steady footing as the world rebalances?

The rise of the individual
The rising influence of individuals is transforming economies and societies. The demands of personalization and shifting corporate expectations have put exceptional pressure on companies to adapt, leaving many of them vulnerable to disruption by new technologies and business models. The increasing strength of individuals’ digital voices has empowered the masses to seek change and demand more from those who serve them, but these digital tools are double-edged, and society is currently confronting the damage being done in what many call the “war on truth.” How must we respond to thrive in this new environment?

Learn more about megatrends shaping our world at 3m.com/megatrends.

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