Wollondilly Library and Information Service. The Age of the Infovore. Social change — Forecasting. The Zero Marginal Cost Society.
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Which trends will prevail, and which products will be in demand? The infrastructure will also be completely reshuffled, and that gives rise to a number of questions: Where will we charge these vehicles, and how long will the process take? Have we got enough raw materials for the e-batteries? Will power grids break down if all the drivers charge their cars at the same time?
And if the development of fuel cell technology makes decisive progress, what happens next? Even though these scenarios may never take place percent as described, they are very valuable for companies, because they make it possible to prepare for what could happen. The world is becoming more fast-paced and complex, and companies are adapting to these changes.
But sometimes companies find it difficult to look ahead. What would happen if autonomously driving vehicles were available in the future?
This technology would enable businesses to make goods transportation more efficient. It could also reinforce the trend toward the shared use of private cars. The materials that would be used in the robo-taxis of the future would have to meet new requirements.
Above all, it requires an ability to think in holistic terms. Theis studied ethnology before deciding to focus on researching the future. Digitalization is one of the themes it investigates. But what does this mean for Evonik in concrete terms? To find out, Foresight team members talk to experts who are investigating the various facets of the digital transformation. What will be the impact of artificial intelligence in the future?
What kind of work will it do? And where will it be used? What roles will robotics, cryptocurrencies, and virtual reality play in the chemical industry? Countless factors have to be analyzed and connected with one another.
Futurologists have spent decades developing methods for identifying and analyzing trends. Only if several weak signals come together do they slowly develop into a trend. Is this a flash in the pan, or will the demonstrations grow into a global movement? The Foresight team has developed five scenarios for the period between now and Each variant is based on plausible and very well-founded assumptions and is logically deduced in four steps see the graphic on the right.
The scenario project began with a question: What major forces will have an impact on specialty chemicals companies over the long term? To this end, the team spent the past months interviewing over in-house and external experts from the fields of science, politics, and business, assessing future studies, and conducting workshops. Their work resulted in a list of more than factors that will have a profound impact on the specialty chemicals sector.
In the second step, the experts reduced the multitude of influencing factors by selecting the key factors from the list according to certain specific criteria. These factors will have a substantial impact on the specialty chemicals sector. However, in many cases their future development is extremely uncertain, and they are also interacting with many other factors.
The 25 factors that will have the strongest impact and form the basic framework of the scenarios were comprehensively analyzed and described. They include factors such as population growth, artificial intelligence, and climate change.
Between two and four future projections were derived for each key factor. In some cases, conflicting developments are possible. Finally, in the fourth step the projections were connected with one another and assigned different weights. Within a network of stable and plausible relationships between the projections, the five computer-supported scenarios were created. Later on, companies including Motorola, General Electric, and UPS also assigned researchers the task of making it easier to calculate the future.
In the s, corporate foresight created a genuine competitive advantage for the Shell Oil Company. When OPEC imposed an embargo on oil deliveries to various industrialized nations in , Shell was prepared and could react promptly.
Back then, this success spurred other companies to also try their luck with the scenario method. However, many of these attempts were discontinued. It was evidently difficult to find the right path between methodological overengineering and superficiality.
Since that time, however, the methods have been considerably refined. Rohrbeck believes there are three main reasons why even well-meaning managers are not drawing the necessary conclusions. Many companies are overstretched by the rapid speed of change in markets and customer wishes. In addition, companies often behave like supertankers: It takes them a long time to change course, especially if the change means calling currently profitable business areas into question without any guarantee of success.
Surveying the context Which influencing factors will determine the future of the specialty chemicals sector? Analyzing the key factors Which factors have the most influence, and what are the relevant theme areas?
Developing projections How could the individual factors develop in the future? Creating scenarios What do consistent combinations of projections look like, and how do they coalesce into scenarios? Chief Innovation Officer Dr. After all, they provide a basis for strategies that respond to the largest possible number of eventualities. If the world becomes less globally integrated, what will our future business relationships with customers, dealers, and suppliers look like? Do long-term contracts still have a future, or will contract terms become shorter?
The discussion of the possibilities in itself already creates added value for the participants. As a foresight manager at Evonik, he long ago stopped needing to persuade people that his approach was useful. But they can only do that if they know what options they have. Until the end of the ancient world, a cyclical view of history predominated.
Instead of expecting progress, people believed in the eternal repetition of the past. In the Middle Ages, people conceived of the future as the descent of God from heaven.
The Renaissance brought with it a rational concept of the future, marked by the works of Leonardo da Vinci. Powered by the Enlightenment, modern thought in the West is still shaped today by the belief that the future develops linearly and brings progress.
Renaissance: The epoch of European culture in the 15th and 16th centuries, at the boundary between the Middle Ages and the modern era. There have been no drastic shifts in geopolitics, technology or social conditions.
That has meant stability, robust economic growth, and business as usual. At the same time, the search for solutions to the major global problems has been repeatedly postponed, and as a result the negative consequences have become even more dire. Initially, everything stayed the same. China did not manage to replace the USA as the dominant superpower. Global trade flourished, and the elimination of trade barriers led to a further increase of global value chains.
This enabled numerous developing nations to attain relative prosperity during the past 20 years. The global middle class has increased by three billion people since Environmentally friendly concepts of consumption and mobility are playing a negligible role.
The careless use of resources, the close collaboration of the oil-exporting states, and the lack of political will to shift to renewable energy sources has ultimately led to an increase in environmental damage, and the climate goals have been missed by a large margin. The Earth has been exploited far beyond its limits. The younger generation in particular no longer wants to bear the resulting social and economic costs—and is staging worldwide protests calling for a radical change of course and strict regulations.
The established companies, including those in specialty chemicals, are in a comfortable situation at the moment because of the growing demand for their products.
The traditional business models are mostly intact. Profits are surging, and many new jobs are being created. Innovations such as 3D printing, light field displays, and service robots have become standard in many areas. However, the search for completely new technical solutions and materials and more environmentally friendly processes is secondary to aspects such as high quality at affordable prices, as well as quick and reliable delivery.
Nonetheless, as the consequences of climate change become more drastic, people and legislators are demanding with increasing urgency that companies reverse the trends that are destroying the environment. Populist and authoritarian governments have pushed back democracy, press freedom, and an independent judiciary all over the world.
The USA has lost its role as the global policeman, and no other superpower has replaced it. Nations are increasingly striving to promote their own interests, and the international community has been weakened. Instead of a free world order, there is a conflict-laden multipolar order in which global challenges such as climate change are being inadequately addressed. The internal conditions of many countries reflect this picture: Societies are strongly polarized in their thinking, and they offer clashing ideologies concerning the right path to the future.
Nongovernmental organizations exert massive influence on political decisions. Technical progress is increasingly regarded as a threat: People are resisting the negative effects of automation and connectivity, such as mass unemployment and the increase of cybercrime. There are no effective solutions for the consequences of digital technologies, robotics, and artificial intelligence.
In a world full of tensions, cyberwars are occurring with increasing frequency. This context poses huge challenges to business. The nationalism that is raging throughout the world is leading to trade wars and an increase of protectionism.
Significant trade agreements have expired and been replaced by bilateral contracts, and the exchange of goods and capital is strongly regulated. Champion nations are emerging in the areas of industry and business.
Companies are making all of their activities more local, ranging from research and development to production and sales. They are also trying to create even closer relationships with customers and raw material suppliers.
THE WORLD IN 2040 – SCENARIOS FOR THE FUTURE
Futurevision : scenarios for the world in 2040