Welcome to the future: three key takeaways

Key findings from our recent innovation webinar

Already, 2020 has been a challenging year. But with challenge, comes opportunity – a chance to stop, rethink and get creative. After all, some of the most innovative and successful businesses were born in a recession, including Netflix, Airbnb and Slack.

But what must businesses do to make sure they are one of the success stories?

Recently, we teamed up with acclaimed Futurist, Richard van Hooijdonk, to host an innovation webinar entitled ‘Welcome to the future: a new reality’. The session brought together more than 300 individuals to explore how businesses can stay successful in challenging times, as well as some of the technologies and trends we should be embracing in the near future. Here are our top three takeaways:

Future trends
Covid-19 is certain to have a long-lasting impact on every aspect of our lives. According to Richard, the next 5 years won’t be about profit, but about managing uncertainty, and this will likely shape several trends.

During the pandemic, supply chains have been interrupted by international restrictions on the movements of people and goods. At the same time, there has been a huge demand for essential supplies such as PPE, to be distributed globally. Richard predicts that we’ll start to see manufacturing ‘come home’ in order to shorten supply chains and ensure ease of access.

Another key trend is re-urbanization, which will see people leaving cities to move back to the country. Richard believes that high speed, and potentially autonomous, transport will enable everyone to live in rural or suburban areas and use cities solely to work. This will be supported by the extension of flexible and remote working, allowing people to work where they like and collaborate with colleagues virtually.

Advancements in VR, AR and video calling will help us stay connected from a distance. Richard predicts a rise in robotics, to enforce social distancing and perform operational tasks such as delivering medicine in hospitals. He also forecast major disruption in MedTech, including VR to assist in operations, and nanobots which can be inserted into the body to measure early-stage cancer.

Investing in innovation
Richard envisages there will be no ‘business as usual’ going forward. The market is changing faster than ever, and businesses cannot simply wait and react – we need to get ahead of change. Businesses must be dynamic, flexible, and fast to reinvent. It’s no longer enough to change in cycles; companies need to be evolving every single day.

Three key things companies can focus on to ensure they match the pace of change are:

  • Reinvesting. All profit during the next 5 years should be reinvested into risk-proofing against future scenarios. For example, Richard recommends investing or working in collaboration with several start-ups, who will each produce different business ideas and innovations. Or, alternatively look to create a ‘future-proofing lab’, where your business can experiment and come up with new ideas.
  • Collaborating with others. Companies need to learn where they have gaps in innovation and work with businesses, scientists and other brilliant minds to help solve any challenges they face. The companies who build a quality ecosystem are the ones which will not just survive, but thrive.
  • Bringing in new skills. Teams need to be a mix of all types of minds, from leaders, to magicians, to mavericks. Bring people on board who are passionate and adaptable to change.


Embrace the future
If you’re going to talk about the future, you have to be a part of it. Richard had an RFID chip implanted in his body that made him part of the Internet of Things (IoT). It allows him to unlock his car and pay for his morning coffee, all with his own arm!

Of course, if this sounds a little too extreme, there are lots of other ways companies can embrace the future including bringing in young people who can offer reverse mentoring to more experienced colleagues. Every modern CEO should have a 20-something beside them who can provide their view on current challenges and what the future will look like from a different perspective.

Businesses need to anticipate upcoming trends and ensure they have future-proofed against them through investment and collaboration. This allows companies to be ready for whatever comes next.

At APS we have heavily invested in our own innovation program designed to aide our range of clients. We work to help solve their operational and strategic challenges through a tailored program of innovation that is designed to unlock new ways or thinking. To request a recording of the recent webinar or for more information on any of our services please contact us at marketing@theapsgroup.com