2018 TECH TRENDS REPORT — from the Future Today Institute
Emerging technology trends that will influence business, government, education, media and society in the coming year.


The Future Today Institute’s 11th annual Tech Trends Report identifies 235 tantalizing advancements in emerging technologies—artificial intelligence, biotech, autonomous robots, green energy and space travel—that will begin to enter the mainstream and fundamentally disrupt business, geopolitics and everyday life around the world. Our annual report has garnered more than six million cumulative views, and this edition is our largest to date.

Helping organizations see change early and calculate the impact of new trends is why we publish our annual Emerging Tech Trends Report, which focuses on mid- to late-stage emerging technologies that are on a growth trajectory.

In this edition of the FTI Tech Trends Report, we’ve included several new features and sections:

  • a list and map of the world’s smartest cities
  • a calendar of events that will shape technology this year
  • detailed near-future scenarios for several of the technologies
  • a new framework to help organizations decide when to take action on trends
  • an interactive table of contents, which will allow you to more easily navigate the report from the bookmarks bar in your PDF reader



01 How does this trend impact our industry and all of its parts?
02 How might global events — politics, climate change, economic shifts – impact this trend, and as a result, our organization?
03 What are the second, third, fourth, and fifth-order implications of this trend as it evolves, both in our organization and our industry?
04 What are the consequences if our organization fails to take action on this trend?
05 Does this trend signal emerging disruption to our traditional business practices and cherished beliefs?
06 Does this trend indicate a future disruption to the established roles and responsibilities within our organization? If so, how do we reverse-engineer that disruption and deal with it in the present day?
07 How are the organizations in adjacent spaces addressing this trend? What can we learn from their failures and best practices?
08 How will the wants, needs and expectations of our consumers/ constituents change as a result of this trend?
09 Where does this trend create potential new partners or collaborators for us?
10 How does this trend inspire us to think about the future of our organization?




AT&T’s $1 billion gambit: Retraining nearly half its workforce for jobs of the future — from cnbc.com by Susan Caminiti

Excerpts (emphasis DSC):

  • AT&T initiated a massive retraining effort after discovering that nearly half of its 250,000 employees lacked the necessary skills needed to keep the company competitive.
  • Ninety percent of maturing companies expect digital disruption, but only 44 percent are adequately preparing for it.
  • Despite the federal government’s investment in job-retraining efforts, most are deemed ineffective.


The discovery presented AT&T with two daunting options, explains Bill Blase, senior executive vice president of human resources. “We could go out and try to hire all these software and engineering people and probably pay through the nose to get them, but even that wouldn’t have been adequate,” he explains. “Or we could try to reskill our existing workforce so they could be competent in the technology and the skills required to run the business going forward.”


In a world where technology advances are measured in months, not years, companies selling everything from computers and cellphones to cereal and sneakers are trying desperately to adapt. A recent research report by the Society for Human Resource Management states that nearly 40 percent of hiring managers cite lack of technical skills among the reasons why they can’t fill job openings.

And the message isn’t lost on workers, either. A 2016 Pew Research Center survey shows that more than half of the adults in the workforce today realize that it will be essential for them to get training and develop new skills throughout their career in order to keep up with changes in the workplace.

In fact, according to Willis Towers Watson, 90 percent of maturing companies expect digital disruption, but only 44 percent are adequately preparing for it — and getting the right people to get the work done remains a challenge for most.

AT&T’s massive global retraining program — the company prefers to call it “reskilling” — is perhaps corporate America’s boldest response to this war for talent. Known inside the company as Future Ready, the initiative is a $1 billion web-based, multiyear effort that includes online courses; collaborations with Coursera, Udacity and leading universities; and a career center that allows employees to identify and train for the kinds of jobs the company needs today and down the road. An online portal called Career Intelligence lets workers see what jobs are available, the skills required for each, the potential salary range and whether that particular area is projected to grow or shrink in the years ahead. In short, it gives them a roadmap to get from where they are today to where the company needs them to be in the future.



From DSC:
This article is encouraging in at least a couple of ways to me:

  • A large company is choosing to retrain its employees, helping them to learn and grow — to reinvent themselves and to stay relevant
  • A large company is recognizing the exponential pace of change that we’re now on. The question is, are we ready for it?




On Change and Relevance for Higher Education — from campustechnology.com by Mary Grush and Phil Long
A Q&A with Phil Long


Mary Grush: You’ve been connected to scores of technology leaders and have watched trends in higher education for more than 30 years. What is the central, or most important concern you are hearing from institutional leadership now?

Phil Long: Higher ed institutions are facing some serious challenges to stay relevant in a world that is diversifying and changing rapidly. They want to make sure that the experiences they have designed for students will carry the next generation forward to be productive citizens and workers. But institutions’ abilities to keep up in our changing environment have begun to lag to a sufficient degree, such that alternatives to the traditional university are being considered, both by the institutions themselves and by their constituents and colleagues throughout the education sector.

Grush: What are a few of the more specific areas in which institutions may find it difficult to navigate?

Long: Just from a very high level view, I’d include on that list: big data and the increasing sophistication of algorithms, with the associated benefits and risks; artificial intelligence with all its implications for good… and for peril; and perhaps most importantly, new applications and practices that support how we recognize learning.



“The pace of change never seems to slow down. And the issues and implications of the technologies we use are actually getting broader and more profound every day.” — Phil Long




The number of Americans working for themselves could triple by 2020 — from work.qz.com by Amy Wang

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

Americans are as eager to work as ever. Just no longer for somebody else.

According to FreshBooks, a cloud-based accounting company that has conducted a study on self-employment for two years, the number of Americans working for themselves looks to triple—to 42 million people—by 2020.

The trend, gauged in a survey of more than 2,700 full-time US workers in traditional, independent, and small business roles about their career plans, is largely being driven by millennial workers. FreshBooks estimates that of the next 27 million independent workers, 42% will be millennials. The survey, conducted with Research Now, also finds that Americans who already work for themselves are suddenly very content to keep doing so, with 97% of independent workers (up 10% from 2016) reporting no desire to return to traditional work.



From DSC:
With the continued trend towards more freelancing and the growth of a more contingent workforce…have our students had enough practice in selling themselves and their businesses to be successful in this new, developing landscape?

We need to start offering more courses, advice, and opportunities for practicing these types of skills — and the sooner the better!  I’m serious. Our students will be far more successful with these types of skills under their belt. Conversely, they won’t be able to persuade others and sell themselves and their businesses without such skills.




Michelle Weise: ‘We Need to Design the Learning Ecosystem of the Future’ — from edsurge.com  by Michelle Weise


These days, education reformers, evangelists and foundations pay a lot of lip service to the notion of lifelong learning, but we do little to invest in the systems, architecture and infrastructure needed to facilitate seamless movements in and out of learning and work.

Talk of lifelong learning doesn’t translate into action. In fact, resources and funding are often geared toward the traditional 17- to 22-year-old college-going population and less often to working adults, our growing new-traditional student population.

We’ll need a different investment thesis: For most adults, taking time off work to attend classes at a local, brick-and-mortar community college or a four-year institution will not be the answer. The opportunity costs will be too high. Our current system of traditional higher education is ill-suited to facilitate flexible, seamless cost-effective learning pathways for these students to keep up with the emergent demands of the workforce.

Many adults may have no interest in coming back to college. Out of the 37 million Americans with some college and no degree, many have already failed one or twice before and will be wholly uninterested in experiencing more educational trauma.We can’t just say, “Here’s a MOOC, or here’s an online degree, or a 6- to 12-week immersive bootcamp.”


We have to do better. Let’s begin seeding the foundational elements of a learning ecosystem of the future—flexible enough for adults to move consistently in and out of learning and work. Enough talk about lifelong learning: Let’s build the foundations of that learning ecosystem of the future.



From DSC:
I couldn’t agree more with Michelle that we need a new learning ecosystem of the future. In fact, I have been calling such an effort “Learning from the Living [Class] Room — and it outlines a next generation learning platform that aims to deliver everything Michelle talks about in her solid article out at edsurge.com.

The Living [Class] Room -- by Daniel Christian -- July 2012 -- a second device used in conjunction with a Smart/Connected TV


Along these lines…I just saw that Amazon is building out more cashierless stores (and Walmart is also at work on introducing more cashierless stores.) Now, let’s say that you are currently a cashier. 2-5 years from now (depending upon where you’re currently working and which stores are in your community), what are you going to do? The opportunities for such a position will be fewer and fewer. Who can help you do what Michelle mentioned here:

Working learners will also need help articulating their learning goals and envisioning a future for themselves. People don’t know how to translate their skills from one industry to another. How does a student begin to understand that 30% of what they already know could be channeled into a totally different and potentially promising pathway they never even knew was within reach?

And that cashier may have had a tough time with K-12 education and/or with higher education. As Michelle writes:

Many adults may have no interest in coming back to college. Out of the 37 million Americans with some college and no degree, many have already failed one or twice before and will be wholly uninterested in experiencing more educational trauma. We can’t just say, “Here’s a MOOC, or here’s an online degree, or a 6- to 12-week immersive bootcamp.”

And like the cashier in this example…we are quickly approaching an era where, I believe, many of us will need to reinvent ourselves in order to:

  • stay marketable
  • keep bread and butter on the table
  • continue to have a sense of purpose and meaning in our lives

Higher ed, if it wants to remain relevant, must pick up the pace of experimentation and increase the willingness to innovate, and to develop new business models — to develop new “learning channels” so to speak. Such channels need to be:

  • Up-to-date
  • Serving relevant data and information– especially regarding the job market and which jobs appear to be safe for the next 5-10 years
  • Inexpensive/affordable
  • Highly convenient




From DSC:
My comments below are not meant to bash anyone at the Institute for the Future (which I really respect) nor at MIT Technology Review, in fact I recently posted an item from the latter organization that I thought was great. But l
ooking at the list below, I can’t help but think, “Oh…that should be no problem!  Geez that’s easy! ………NOT!”

As people lose their jobs to AI, robots, bots, algorithms, automation and the like — and try to reinvent themselves — many people won’t have the skills, interests, aptitudes, funding, background/prior knowledge, etc. to carve out their niches, to find out how to build teams that utilize robots and AI, and to make sense of complex systems. How many of us truly understand the world we’re living in these days? No one does.

Again, no problem on mastering these 5 peak performance zones. Easy peazy lemon squeezy. Geeez.  (Please hear the intense sarcasm dripping off my comments.)

How unrealistic can we get? It’s like saying, “Everyone can learn to code. No problem.”  That’s not true at all, especially given the current state of computer programming. Many (most?) people simply don’t think that way. That’s why programmers are always in demand and they are often highly paid. Why? Because most people don’t want to do it, can’t do it, or choose not to do it.

Please, let’s get realistic.


From the 2/22/18 e-newsletter from MIT Technology Review

The five skills you need for jobs of the future

The Palo Alto-based think tank Institute for the Future partnered with software company Cornerstone OnDemand to produce a report that identifies 15 skills that workers need to succeed in the workplace of tomorrow. They fall into five main buckets:

  1. Make yourself known through reputation management: Carve out your niche and brand across a variety of platforms to distinguish yourself from the crowd.
  2. Master human and machine collaboration: Know how to build teams that utilize robots and AI, as well as humans.
  3. Build your tribe: Personal networks and social connections will take you to the next level in a tech-focused world.
  4. Make sense of complex systems: The ability to be creative and connect the dots between different industries and organizations will be rewarded.
  5. Build resilience in extreme environments: Learn to thrive in more a risk prone society and build yourself new safety nets.



“To be fit for this future, you need to master five peak performance zones. These are the basics of future fitness for everyone. No matter what your own personal mission in life is, these are the workout zones that will get you ready to face whatever comes next.”






Mapping the Trends on Our Doorstep: The Pace of Change Has Changed — from an article that I did out at — and with — evoLLLution.com [where LLL stands for lifelong learning]; my thanks to Mr. Amrit Ahluwalia, Managing Editor out at evolllution.com and to his staff as well!
The higher education industry has changed significantly over the past decade, and given the pace and significance of change hitting other industries as a result of technological advances, it’s fair to say the postsecondary space is ripe for further transformation.


From DSC:
From the perspective of those of us working within higher education, we see massive changes occurring in the corporate world, and we see innovations and changes also occurring in the world of K-12. Higher education should also be adapting, changing, questioning, and reflecting upon how we can best prepare our students for a rapidly changing workplace.

Below is another interesting item that I believe gives credence to the idea that we are now on an exponential pace of change. Companies are coming and going on the S&P Index…at an ever faster pace.

The 33-year average tenure of companies on the S&P 500 in 1964 narrowed to 24 years by 2016 and is forecast to shrink to just 12 years by 2027 (Chart 1).


Here is the video:

This is the transcript with the original graphs in it.

This is a nice PDF file from evoLLLution.com with the transcript, with some different graphics and some other





From DSC:
Here’s a quote that has been excerpted from the announcement below…and it’s the type of service that will be offered in our future learning ecosystems — our next generation learning platforms:


Career Insight™ enables prospective students to identify programs of study which can help them land the careers they want: Career Insight™ describes labor market opportunities associated with programs of study to prospective students. The recommendation engine also matches prospective students to programs based on specific career interests.


But in addition to our future learning platforms pointing new/prospective students to physical campuses, the recommendation engines will also provide immediate access to digital playlists for the prospective students/learners to pursue from their living rooms (or as they are out and about…i.e., mobile access).


The Living [Class] Room -- by Daniel Christian -- July 2012 -- a second device used in conjunction with a Smart/Connected TV



Artificial intelligence working with enormous databases to build/update recommendation engines…yup, I could see that. Lifelong learning. Helping people know what to reinvent themselves to.




Career Insight™ Lets Prospective Students Connect Academic Program Choices to Career Goals — from burning-glass.com; also from Hadley Dreibelbis from Finn Partners
New Burning Glass Technologies Product Brings Job Data into Enrollment Decisions

BOSTON—Burning Glass Technologies announces the launch of Career Insight™, the first tool to show prospective students exactly how course enrollment will advance their careers.

Embedded in institutional sites and powered by Burning Glass’ unparalleled job market data, Career Insight’s personalized recommendation engine matches prospective students with programs based on their interests and goals. Career Insight will enable students to make smarter decisions, as well as improve conversion and retention rates for postsecondary institutions.

“A recent Gallup survey found that 58% of students say career outcomes are the most important reason to continue their education,” Burning Glass CEO Matthew Sigelman said. “That’s particularly true for the working learners who are now the norm on college campuses. Career Insight™ is a major step in making sure that colleges and universities can speak their language from the very first.”

Beginning an educational program with a firm, realistic career goal can help students persist in their studies. Currently only 29% of students in two-year colleges and 59% of those in four-year institutions complete their degrees within six years.

Career Insight™ enables prospective students to identify programs of study which can help them land the careers they want:

  • Career Insight™ describes labor market opportunities associated with programs of study to prospective students. The recommendation engine also matches prospective students to programs based on specific career interests.
  • The application provides insights to enrollment, advising, and marketing teams into what motivates prospective students, analysis that will guide the institution in improving program offerings and boosting conversion.
  • Enrollment advisors can also walk students through different career and program scenarios in real time.

Career Insight™ is driven by the Burning Glass database of a billion job postings and career histories, collected from more than 40,000 online sources daily. The database, powered by a proprietary analytic taxonomy, provides insight into what employers need much faster and in more detail than any other sources.

Career Insight™ is powered by the same rich dataset Burning Glass delivers to hundreds of leading corporate and education customers – from Microsoft and Accenture to Harvard University and Coursera.

More information is available at http://burning-glass.com/career-insight.





What these firms all have in common are powerful digital platforms that provide the scale and scope to expand into new growth markets and geographies at speeds never before possible.



From DSC:
To me, the item below provides another example of the exponential pace of change that we are beginning to experience:

Corporate Longevity Forecast: The Pace of Creative Destruction is Accelerating — from innosight.com by Scott Anthony, S. Patrick Viguerie, Evan Schwartz and John Van Landeghem

Excerpt/Executive Summary:

Few companies are immune to the forces of creative destruction. Our corporate longevity forecast of S&P 500 companies anticipates average tenure on the list growing shorter and shorter over the next decade.

Key insights include:

  • The 33-year average tenure of companies on the S&P 500 in 1964 narrowed to 24 years by 2016 and is forecast to shrink to just 12 years by 2027 (Chart 1).
  • Record private equity activity, a robust M&A market, and the growth of startups with billion-dollar valuations are leading indicators of future turbulence.
  • A gale force warning to leaders: at the current churn rate, about half of S&P 500 companies will be replaced over the next ten years.
  • Retailers were especially hit hard by disruptive forces, and there are strong signs of restructuring in financial services, healthcare, energy, travel, and real estate.
  • The turbulence points to the need for companies to embrace a dual transformation, to focus on changing customer needs, and other strategic interventions.


Are Corporations Ready for Increased Turbulence?

Viewed as a larger picture, S&P 500 turnover serves as a barometer for marketplace change. Shrinking lifespans of companies on the list are in part driven by a complex combination of technology shifts and economic shocks, some of which are beyond the control of corporate leaders. But frequently, companies miss opportunities to adapt or take advantage of these changes. For example, they continue to apply existing business models to new markets, are slow to respond to disruptive competitors in low-profit segments, or fail to adequately envision and invest in new growth areas which often takes a decade or longer to pay off.

At the same time, we’ve seen the rise of other companies take their place on the list by creating new products, business models, and serving new customers. Some of the market forces driving these exits and entries include the mass disruption in retail, the rising dominance of digital technology platforms, the downward pressure on energy prices, strength in global travel and real estate, as well as the failure of stock buyback efforts to improve performance.





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