Business eyes on future trends

We gathered a plethora of expections from people in diverse industries. The idea is that multiple perspectives converge to form a representative portrait of 2016 and beyond.

Alas, these multiple modernistic abstractions await unity in the mind of the beholder.

Future Predictions from Mary Meehan of Panoramix Global
Future Predictions from Rosemary Sundin of Orman Guidance
Market Predictions for Health Care: Minnesota, the U.S. and Global
Digital trends from Yoshi Suzuki-Lambrecht at MIRUM
Classic Trend Quotes

Future Predictions from Mary Meehan of Panoramix Global

Mary Meehan spends so much time in the future for Panoramix Global, it must seem old hat to her. Luckily, she returns to the present to tell us what it all means.

1. Demography, Diversity, Diaspora: We’ve been mixing it up since we crawled out of the ooze, but the pace and scale of change is now exponential. The global population of 7.3 billion will grow to 8.5 billion by 2030. Africa may double in 90 years. By 2050 (outside Africa) 25% of the population will be 60 or older and many countries will see their population fall by 15%. Add to this the largest migration since WWII.

Business: Germany sees the influx of young, educated, motivated migrants as a plus for their skills-starved economy. How will your HR adjust to an aging, diverse, dense, mobile population? How will your product serve an older population? Or will you focus on youth outside the U.S.?

2. Last Habitat For Humanity: Losses from natural disasters are in the trillions of dollars and climbing. The mega-drought in the west is the worst in 1,000 years. Natural resource-caused conflict will define peace and security in the future. Even if you don’t believe in climate change, business needs a plan B.

Business: For companies in energy or with products that are highly climate-dependent, sustainability is changing how they plan. Leaders like General Mills have made commitments to reduce greenhouse emissions. Unilever will source 100% of raw materials sustainably by 2020. Cisco, Google, Phillips and others are embracing a Circular Economy strategy to repurpose, reuse and restrict to eliminate waste AND trim costs.

3. Power Play: Sharing, collaborating, on demand. Mini-gigs, nano-gigs. Bootcamps, nano-degrees. Makers, fixers. Tubers, Instagramers. Any companies out there that still think brands will tell consumers what to wear, buy, eat or how to get fit, put on makeup, or get ahead in life — are mistaken. Consumer control has never been more powerful and it’s affecting work, school, home and play.

Business: Technology has changed up the power differential and it’s here to stay. Brands no longer direct consumers, but act as a vehicle for fulfilling our needs.

4. Culture Shock: Read the news and it seems like the world is out of control. People are scared, fed up and mad as hell. As more icons and institutions fail us, the more we look for extreme solutions. That a reality TV star and a socialist are being considered for president is evidence of a frustrated and angry populace.

Business: Be sure you do what you say and say what you mean. People expect even more from the brands they support and the companies they work for, and now have the tools to find out if you’re hiding something, or worse, lying.

5. Tech Transformation: Industries, categories and lives are all in tech transition. By 2020 there will be 80 billion connected devices worldwide. If it’s possible, we’ll become even more dependent on them as our vital assistants. Uber and AirBnB are now famous as disruptors but more change is on the horizon. Apple is starting to block ads scaring marketers everywhere and adding to the list of long-entrenched industries starting to shift. And our devices are the key to being part of the transformation.

Business: Upheaval is now on every business’s agenda. How will you plan for what’s coming down the road?

6. Reemergence of the Tribe: For awhile in the early- and mid-2000s, publishing your every thought online felt freeing. But what we decide to make public has changed. From personal group chat (on Snapchat or GroupMe) to ad hoc work and social groups (on Slack), people still pour their hearts out online, but they’re connected more tightly with small groups of friends and less willing to let it all hang out.

Business: Peer groups are more important influencers than ever. Word-of-mouth has been made incredibly efficient.

7. Prime Time AI: Artificial Intelligence is seeping into everyday life and presenting new opportunities for business. From Amazon’s Alexa (a speaker that listens to your conversations and helps you out around the house) to Google’s self-driving cars, to more practical applications like use in healthcare, AI is finally hitting prime time.

Business: Big data is just the beginning. Companies on the cutting edge of health care and financial services are focused on the leading edge, machine learning.

Future Predictions from Rosemary Sundin of Orman Guidance

Here are eight industry trends that Orman Guidance expects to research and experience in Minnesota in 2016, by Rosemary Sundin, president.


We see an ongoing trend toward outcome-based-education models (OBE) that connect the relevance of the education program to the wants, needs and demands of employers and the workforce. Colleges, universities and tech schools will compete to develop programs that provide college credits for work & life experience.

Health care:

The focus will be on nimble engagement systems, including mobile applications and the development of “kiosk” type health service centers. Integrated care, transitional care, and health care that focuses on patient engagement through alternative therapies rank among key focus opportunities.

Financial Services:

Consumers will keep migrating to companies that demonstrate concern for their financial well-being. The smartest companies will see that women are a huge opportunity for engagement through education. The top marketing priorities are consumers’ greatest needs — housing and transportation. Mobile banking solutions that offer ongoing, competitive upgrades will separate “financial brands” from “financial communities that care about me.”


Community-based models like Uber will continue to fascinate consumers for myriad reasons. On the other end of the spectrum, the councils that govern public transportation have (so far) either mixed results or outright failed at consumer engagement with that service. Very little has been published on the utilization rates of public transportation. A boost in research budgets to understand consumer preferences would create many opportunities for higher utilization rates and a GREEN ripple effect.


This sector will keep trying to get its act together via “SMAC” (social media engagement, mobile, analytics [i.e. big data] and cloud systems). Industry Week says it’s what manufacturers need to balance infrastructure changes to heighten consumer engagement and growth. It is another example of the arbitrary value companies place on such models — without the benefit of study into how well the consumer is engaged.

Retail & Brands :

Sectors of retail are in trouble because more and more consumers visit physical locations only to verify what they’ve already learned online. They return to the Internet to shop best deals and benefit from free shipping and no sales tax. So, retailers must explore innovative consumer engagement methods that go beyond the brand experience (e.g. ties to charities, childhood education, peer-performance ratings). As someone said, “Thanks to the Internet and consumer reviews, the brand is no longer a badge/shield. It’s a window.”

Marketing Research:

2016 hopefully represents the last gasp of the effort to establish “big data” as the engine of the Internet — because without clarified consumer insights it reduces the opportunity for actionable outcomes. The consumer is not fearful of contributing toward stored data, but we must pay them for the privilege.


Wearables will continue to be under-utilized if consumer preferences are not established first. Steve Jobs famously said, “The consumer doesn’t know what they want until you show it to them.” We would add to that, “…unless you’re making them wear it. Then you’d better establish preferences, first.”

Market Predictions for Health Care: Minnesota, the U.S. and Global

By Daniel K. Zismer, Ph.D., Wegmiller Professor, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota

1. The number of health systems in the United States will be reduced by 50% over the next 10 years due to consolidation (mergers and acquisitions). Pressures on price, use of services and rising operating costs will cause smaller players to seek shelter in larger, better capitalized systems of care.

2. Most physicians will work for health systems. Market dynamics, regulation and pressured economics will render private practice less attractive for all but a few clinical specialties who are able to exploit niche markets.

3. Market disruptors can exploit profitable niche opportunities with innovations beyond the capabilities of large, less nimble health systems. Risk capital will flow freely to the best ideas, favoring such innovations as self-monitoring of health status and physiological function, wellness, high-value care methods and environments, (including the home) — and reductions of inefficiencies, redundancies and unnecessary procedures.

4. Cost, quality, safety and value transparencies and increased out-of-pocket payments will drive consumerism. Consumerism will drive provider-side competition for patients. Patients will be armed with reliable data to make informed choices on quality, safety, cost and experience.

5. The number of health insurers in the United States will be reduced through consolidation. The federal government will become the largest single payer. The U.S. government and a small handful of payers will control the majority of payments to health care providers.

6. Virtual care will expand; acute and chronic conditions can be managed without patients and providers needing to be in the same place at the same time.

7. The focus will be weighted to prevention of problems and keeping you as healthy as possible if you have a chronic condition. 

8. Provider work force skills and competencies will shift. New skills will include information analytics, information technologies management, virtual care support systems and related apps. Clinicians will be trained as members of interprofessional teams — expanding beyond one nurse working with one doctor.

9. Upwards of one third of all health care provided in the United States will be identified as unnecessary and, perhaps, potentially harmful. Top health systems will build their brands, in part, on delivery of evidence-based best practices. 

10. Leading medical centers will build brand value based on designer therapeutics — such as customized approaches based upon patients’ genomic signatures. 

11. Medical tourism will become more common-place; global travel for perceived best care/best value will increase. The big names in United States health care will promote and export their brands globally.

Classic Trend Quotes

“Don’t follow trends, start trends.”
—Frank Capra, film director

“Trends, like horses, are easier to ride in the direction they are going.”
—John Naisbitt, author, Megatrends

“I don’t set trends. I just find out what they are and exploit them.”
—Dick Clark, producer

“I became interested in long-term trends because an invention has to make sense in the world in which it is finished, not the world in which it started.”
—Ray Kurzwell, inventor

“Trends can tyrannize; trends are traps. A new direction is the only direction.”
—George Lois, designer

“My interest is in the future because I am going to spend the rest of my life there.”
—Charles Kettering, inventor

Freelance Nation
"There is a significant move toward outsourcing administrative and operational requirements. This has been prevalent on both coasts and will become more prevalent here in Minnesota."
Mike Brommelkamp, Olson, Thielen & Co

Workplace Shift
"There will be more emphasis on redefining the office for the modern work force. They have a desire for work-life balance, seeking to live in a natural state BUT with the toys of technology that can take them away from the natural state. Look out for businesses that can handle this polarization."
—Tony Barranco, Ryan Companies

Out-of-the-box offices
"There will be continued renovation of urban structures for creative offices."
—Bill Katter, United Properties

Trophy Homes
"The traditional “trophies” of success have a diminishing value, so there will be less emphasis on the home. Home characteristics will show up in workplace designs."
—Myrna Marofsky, Red Book

Minneapolis Booms
"There is a new urbanism in downtown Minneapolis, which will emerge as a regional destination hub."
—Dan Collison, East Downtown Council

Spendy Stuff
"The market for luxury products will increase. The wealthy are getting wealthier.
—Marc Grossfield, Aviv 613 Vodka

Brand Bust
"The traditional brand building infrastructure is collapsing. New ways of thinking and responding must be applied. To activate a brand, there must be a union of “say” and “do.” It’s about more than preaching, also participation."
—Lili Hall, Knock Inc.

Fewer Auto Owners
"Lower levels of car ownership will have a major impact on businesses in all sectors if transportation costs are variable."
—Thompson Anderinkomi, Retrace Health

"I foresee a growing desire for nontraditional schedules and work arrangements. Not everyone wants 40-60 hours in an office."
—Leslie Holman, Pinnacle Performance Group

"Firms that do not have a diversity strategy will be punished by the marketplace."
—Thompson Anderinkomi, Retrace Health

Skill Shortage
"The leadership challenge is to attract, develop and retain talent. There is a shortage of skilled labor."
—Bill Gray, Uponor North America

Election Economy
"The economy is usually very good in an election year. Presidents can’t afford to campaign in a bad economy."
—Rob Holt, Super Radiator Coils

Hello, Startups
"We’re going to see more value-based startups getting attention."
—Al Baker, Reemo

Combo Fitness
"We will see more hybrid concepts like Pilates/spin studios or yoga/boot camp. Boutique studios will grow as consumers seek a quality fitness experience."
—Michael Jones, Alchemy

Intergenerational Training
"We see a gap in social media skills for Baby Boomers and strategic marketing skills for entry level communicators. We foresee a need for intergenerational training."
—Amee Tomlinson McDonald, Jabber Logic

Special Dates
"Online dating will have more niches. I’ve seen FarmersOnly.com, websites specific to doctors, Ivy Leaguers, even one for people in “the death industry,” deadmeet.com."
—Tony Kramer, Spark Starter

More B-Corps
"Public-benefit corporations are both profitable and provide value to society through their mission. This is what customers are demanding, and industry will change to meet this demand."
—Joy McBrien, Fairanita

More For Less
"Health care costs are escalating, while employee satisfaction with health benefits is declining."
—Dave Dickey, Second Story Sales

3D Demand
"3D printing will have an impact on manufacturing and the whole supply chain."
—Bill Gray, Uponor North America

More M&As
"Mergers and acquisitions will be on the rise. It’s slowly forcing smaller companies to join the M&A activity or shift their market focus."
—Jaime Nolan, Intrinxec Management

Developing World
"The world population has not declined since China’s economy slowed down. This population still needs all kinds of commodities."
—Ameeta Jaiswal, Pulsar Technologies