A number of emerging trends, if extrapolated into the future, provide hints on the future of innovation.

Imagine you’re a CEO in the year 2030. You are chairing a strategy meeting where someone puts up a slide with these bullet points on it.


Information overload: Increasing availability of data, which strangely makes decisions more difficult rather than easier.

Declining population: Fewer people to do the jobs, lack of skills at the right levels. Teamwork is more important than ever.

Globalization: Not only competition from other countries, but working across the globe within our organisation.

Transparency and honesty: The market demands open communication. Employees want honest leaders that support their needs.

This is the future. Innovation is going to face a strange and unfamiliar business environment shaped by the above trends. The challenge? To help people break their current work patterns and to give innovation a central role in business.

The above trends mean innovation will be more important in the future than it has ever been in the past. Consider some of the impacts on innovation of the above:

Innovation will need to be real and compelling. Repackaging old concepts with a slight change will no longer work. Consumers will be more intelligent and will see through spin and marketing more easily. This is a trend which is already happening.

Fewer people will need to do more. Innovation will become important not only in developing new products, but in driving business efficiency and saving costs. We should see innovation becoming integral in every function within a business.

Creative synthesis. With so much information available, there will be a move away from trying to obtain a unique piece of information. Instead, business will become focused on synthesizing the available information and developing unique insights.

Fierce competition, relentless commoditization. More people will be innovating and the time to market will shrink – so competition will become more fierce. What you made before will become obsolete faster. The time to commoditization will become shorter. Unless you are thinking about global competition in everything you do, you will be at risk of going out of business.

Think about where we were only 10 years ago and where we are now. Take this rate of change and project it into the future. You will begin to see the above trends developing and taking shape now. The question is – are you ready?