Using Global Trends to Chart Our Course

by Andrew Bolwell, Global Head, Technology Vision and HP Ventures, HP
Aug 26, 2016 11:45 AM ET

HP Innovation Journal

There’s so much change happening around us these days that it’s easy to forget the speed at which things are changing.

We now have more computing power in our pocket than all of NASA had in 1969 to put the first man on the moon. India sent a spacecraft to Mars for less money than it took Hollywood to make the movie Gravity.1 It took Uber a mere four years to hit $10 Billion in gross revenue.2 And Artificial Intelligence took just 42 hours to solve the 100-year-old mystery of how flatworms regenerate body parts.3

This pace of change will continue to accelerate at warp speed, with more change expected in the next 15 years than in all of human history to date.

So how does a company like HP stay ahead of all this change, to innovate, adapt, reinvent and engineer experiences for a future that promises to look very different from today?

While we can’t know what the future will hold, we can look to the major socio-economic, demographic and technological trends occurring across the globe to help guide us: megatrends that we believe will have a sustained, transformative impact on the world in the years ahead - on businesses, societies, economies, cultures and our personal lives.

At HP, we’ve identified four major megatrends: Rapid UrbanizationChanging DemographicsHyper Globalization, and Accelerated Innovation.

And as people move to cities, our cities will get larger, and we’ll have more of them, including megacities in places many of us have never heard of today. In 1990 there were only 10 cities with more than 10 million people,7 but by 2030 we will have 41 such megacities.8 Meanwhile, the area of urbanized land could triple globally from 2000 to 2030. This is equivalent to adding an area bigger than Manhattan every single day.9

With bigger cities come major economic growth. By 2025, urbanization will welcome an additional 1.8B consumers to the world economy, 95% of them in emerging markets.10 And consumers in emerging markets are forecast to spend $30T in 2025, up from $12T in 2010.11 However, urbanization is not only driving economic growth, it is also changing how we buy and consume products and services, propelling the sharing economy and convenience-based services.

But urbanization is also having a toll on the environment. If nothing changes by 2030, mankind would need the resources of two planets to sustain its current lifestyle.12 And so sustainability becomes an even more important theme, for consumers and businesses alike.

How can HP address some of the opportunities and challenges posed by rapid urbanization? Given that city economies are becoming as big as country economies, should HP consider putting in place City Managers for top tier cities of the future? How can we reduce the energy used across the lifetime of our products? How can we offer people living in cities more convenience through new services?

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