Well, right from the start, something peculiar went down at the US Capitol. And then we lost power in most of Texas for a week. There was a moment when we thought Covid might finally get left behind before it proved, yet again, that persistence is key to survival. A few wealthy individuals left earth this year via passenger spaceships. While SpaceX sent the first passengers into space without professional astronauts. The delayed 2020 Summer Olympics took place in Japan with heightened restrictions and minimized audiences. The 2020 World Expo opened in Dubai too. El Salvador became the first country in the world to adopt bitcoin as legal tender. Squid Games took over Netflix. Britney Spears is finally free. At Culture Pilot, our brand strategist Zsu had a baby, and our co-founder, Tim is adding to the population as well. That’s right, we’re multiplying.
It’s always interesting taking a look back, and in the spirit of 2021 coming to a close, our team took time out to explore what may come next. Look into our crystal ball and walk with us into the future. Perhaps imperfect, the sentiment remains pretty optimistic about our time ahead.
We jumped ship from our brick and mortar office in 2014 which felt a little bit scary at the time. Now seven years later, it’s obvious remote workforces are growing rapidly and here to stay. What implications does this have for society? We’ll see fewer information silos, better software, higher efficiency employees, more measurable workplaces, and fewer corporate office spaces which are already impacting real estate. We’re looking at a greater need for free or drastically reduced-cost access to internet as a utility. Fewer people on the road have already proven better for environmental impact and we’ll certainly be looking forward to more self-driving cars to continue this trend.
If remote work leads to less commuting and driving, we may be looking at smarter infrastructure to support growing populations that prefer walkability. Does this provide an opportunity to revive independent establishments or will Amazon continue to steal market share? Only time will tell, but the opportunity exists to create multi-use buildings to serve both residents and small business store owners. No matter what happens, small business owners must continue to become savvier with online and delivery offerings. Direct to consumer tools combined with brand ambassadorship can lead to less reliance on big-box retailers. The software market for e-commerce, delivery (and return) solutions has plenty of room for growth and we believe increased accessibility will allow mom & pops to survive, thrive, and continue to compete.
Remote work is here to stay (deja-vu) and it’s already proving to increase the quality of life for our hyper-busy lifestyles. Over the past decade, we’ve seen a rapid rise in quantified self and biometrics (Fitbit, Apple Watch, 23andMe) which has opened up new markets and helped raise awareness for the importance of tracking our health. In recent years we’ve seen a rise in telehealth / telemedicine, self-care, and the importance of mental wellness has become commonplace, particularly as we all cope with stress and anxiety more openly. We predict this will impact several industries with new methodologies such as healthcare memberships, more informed healthcare professionals, more accessible wellbeing clinics, mainstream pharmaceutical compounding, better health tracking devices, and maybe even personalized health scores that affect insurance. Opportunities in the clothing and accessory market will expand as biometric technology costs reduce. Athletes may lead the way here.
As individual consumers increasingly gain power in commerce, we’re also gaining more influence to affect positive change. With the massive rise in microplastics found in… everything… by 2030, we’re predicted to reach a point when climate change becomes irreversible. Many cities and independent establishments are taking action by refusing to offer single-use plastics – plastic bags, plastic straws, plastic bottles – and while life without plastic may seem impossible at this point, consumers can refuse purchases when plastic is the only option. We predict increases in monetary fines for plastic usage and new government-funded incentives to recycle or halt plastic offerings in commercial industries. The alternative materials space is ripe for new packaging solutions in the next several years.
Remember when meat was grown on farms? That was so yesterday. As infamous restaurateur David Chang showed us in The Next Thing You Eat, it’s clear the taste and texture of what’s already possible is truly amazing. And while it’s no surprise this is a more ethical approach to protein consumption, it also drastically impacts environmental concerns, using less land, less water, and producing fewer greenhouse emissions. We also benefit from avoiding growth hormones and animal antibiotics. We predict this trend will eventually influence additional lab-based solutions toward solving world hunger as systems improve and costs reduce. The decrease of Earth’s fish population will reverse and land will free up as livestock needs are also reduced. Theoretically, this should provide additional green space or area for alternative energy developments to further power new protein labs and vertical farming.
But what does it mean? We’ve officially entered the next phase of the world wide web – the composable and decentralized web – putting more power in the hands of creators. The past 15 years saw a rapid rise in content creation but the majority of that content exists within the confines and ownership of just a few companies (think: Facebook …errrr Meta… Google, Apple, Spotify). Now Web 3 is putting web monetization, privacy, and data ownership at the forefront, instead of the need to give up personal data in exchange for access to content. More recently we’ve seen new models gain popularity like Patreon, which allows content creators far better opportunities to get paid for their hard work. In Web 3, we’ll see ongoing solutions that enable creators to deal directly with consumers, we’ll see blockchain become more accessible, and NFTs continue to rise as creators find new ways to offer value in more than just artwork. Web 3 is a wide-open space with opportunities we can’t even quite fathom just yet, but like any new era, we’re eager to see what comes next.
Artificial Intelligence – it’s already affecting our lives in countless ways. Our devices respond to voice prompts, creative writing and visuals are more easily driven by algorithms (fun fact, the images above were all generated by AI), and IoT has exploded the past decade. But please don’t let the robots kill us all. Pretty please. Self-Driving Cars – they’ve been promised for years, they’re making headway (Dominos even has a pizza delivery robot in Houston) but we’re still some time away from seeing 100% humanless driving on our roads. Life Extension – we’re excited to see this space continue to grow albeit we’re still very early. For now, we’re taking comfort knowing there are even companies working on pet life extension too.
What do you think we’ll see in the years ahead? We’d love to hear your thoughts, even if it’s just to say hello. From all of us at Culture Pilot, we’re looking forward to what comes next, we hope you have a wonderful end to this year and an even better start to 2022.
Onward to brighter futures,