As a business leader, I find statistics like this exciting: “65% of children in primary schools today will work in jobs that don’t exist yet.”
As a parent, I find it sets my pulse racing in quite a different way. How am I — how are any of us — supposed to prepare our children for a future that is so unpredictable?
The digital revolution
Every day, I see the realities of disruption: we are on the cusp of a technology revolution that will change our world as much as the industrial revolution transformed the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Similar to the industrial revolution, it’s going to bring about seismic shifts in everything from geopolitics to business to our daily lives.
Recently, I gave a speech on this topic at my daughter’s school. Two things that struck me from the questions I was asked were just how keen other parents were to understand this revolution, and how concerned they were at how it will affect the world our children will live in.
The accelerating pace of change
Think about how fast apps catch on now. The huge mobile game craze, Pokémon GO, took just 60 days to reach 50 million users. And it reportedly earned more than US$1b in revenue by the end of its first year.
New companies are blazing to success with increasing speed. There are two businesses that didn’t exist when I became a parent; now they’re worth billions. The first is the world’s largest room booking service, which doesn’t own any hotels. The second is the world’s largest taxi service, which doesn’t own any taxis (though that model may change with driverless taxis).
Along with skyrocketing success comes an equally fast fall from grace. Research by Richard Foster, a lecturer at the Yale School of Management, revealed that the average lifespan of a Standard & Poor’s company has shrunk from 67 years in the 1920s to 15 years today. Just 15 years. At this rate, 75% of today’s big companies — 75% of the names you know — won’t be around in 2027.
As I explored in my blogs on innovation and the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting of the New Champions in China, there are a host of new technologies and accelerators taking us into new terrain. These include robotics, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, blockchain, the Internet of Things, nanotechnology and 3D printing, to name just a few.
The greater speed and connectedness of the future will change how the next generation interact, how they learn, how they live and what jobs they hold.