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Foresight 2020

Economic, Industry and Corporate Trends - une enquête de The Economist mars 2006


Une enquête publiée par The Economist en mars 2006, auprès de 1 656 dirigeants d’entreprises de toutes tailles et secteurs dans le monde, dégageant les grandes tendances economiques, managériales pour 2020


Executive summary

A lot can happen in 15 years. At the start of the 1990s, China was largely a planned economy, and the Soviet Union still existed. Few people had heard of the Internet and e-mail seemed closer to science fiction than reality.

The next 15 years will bring further massive changes to the shape of the world economy, to the landscape of major industries and to the workings of the company. The major findings of the Foresight 2020 survey are summarised overleaf, but the principal trends identified in this report include the following :

1 Globalisation. It’s too early to talk of Asia’s century, but there will be a redistribution of economic power. Emerging markets, and China and India in particular, will take a greater slice of the world economy. Non-OECD markets will account for a higher share of revenue growth between now and 2020 than OECD economies. Labour-intensive production processes will continue to shift to lower-cost economies, which will still enjoy a massive wage advantage over developed markets.

2 Demographics. Population shifts will have a significant impact on economies, companies and customers. The favourable demographic profile of the US will help to spur growth ; ageing populations in Europe will inhibit it. Industries will target more products and services at ageing populations, from investment advice to low-cost, functional cars. Workforces in more mature markets will become older and more female.

3 Atomisation. Globalisation and networking technologies will enable firms to use the world as their supply base for talent and materials. Processes, firms, customers and supply chains will fragment as companies expand overseas, as work flows to where it is best done and as information digitises. As a result, effective collaboration will become more important. The boundaries between different functions, organisations and even industries will blur. Data formats and technologies will standardise.

4 Personalisation. Price and quality will matter as much as ever, but customers in developed and developing markets will place more emphasis on personalisation. Products and services will be customisable, leading firms to design products in a modular fashion and, in the case of manufacturers, assemble them in response to specific customer orders. Customers and suppliers will be treated in different ways, depending on their personal preferences and their importance to the business.

5 Knowledge management. Products are easily commoditised ; automation of simple processes is increasingly widespread. Instead, the focus of management attention will be on the areas of the business, from innovation to customer service, where personal chemistry or creative insight matter more than rules and processes. Improving the productivity of knowledge workers through technology, training and organisational change will be the major boardroom challenge of the next 15 years.


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