The Year 2011 = Annus Seven Billion
Bert Wolfs, Ph.D., Dean
SBS Swiss Business School, Zurich
By the beginning of the year, students always ask me: “What will this year bring? What changes do I expect?” Well, I am not a prophet who pretends to know what the future will bring, but I have some thoughts that I would like to share with you. Believe it or not, this year the world population will hit the number of 7 billion individuals. This means there are going to be too many people for this small world. Governments will be confronted with this reality and its consequences.
Progress in Operation
The African continent keeps growing, but the road towards development is still long. Women play a crucial role and this has to be reviewed. Education is the key to success. An army of women and children live today in Africa and they all need to receive a proper education. It is only through education that African citizens will improve their living conditions. It is through education that poverty can be overcome and numerous problems may be solved.
This year will see again a growing trend in urbanization. In 2010 we have heard a lot about green cities and sustainable urbanization. We will hear more. The United Nations are investing energy and money in the battle for a green and responsible urbanization. Its policies and guide lines will be progressively adopted by authorities at middle and local level. Green cities are becoming a reality, not only in Western European countries as more Asian and American cities follow suit.
Expressions such as urban mining and urban greening will become part of our common language. The global economy scenario will register in 2011 a persistence of the Eastern Hemisphere growth. The Chinese giant will keep its positive economic performance gaining additional political influence in the international arena. We need to be prepared to understand the way China works.
Which currency will lead our markets? I am confident that, after a turbulent year, the Euro will perform well and maintain a prominent position in the so called “currency war”. Oil and energy alternatives: the price per oil barrel will touch 84 USD. Here I would like to call your attention to the fact that higher raw material prices can also bring something positive to our society.
We generally perceive it only as a negative indicator for the global economy, but I do not agree. High prices mean that we will be forced to consume less; governments will have to start to rethink about waste design and innovative energies. Indeed, less is more! In the computer market tablets are likely to become the new leading product with a decline of the notebook.
Toward a More Hopeful Future
The market of apps keeps growing. Apple Ipad 2 and Samsung Galaxy will revolution one more time the way we phone, take pictures and surf on internet during our day-today life. After the Smartphones, SmartTV will follow too, meaning a television set with an internet connection. Prices for this equipment will slowly drop. This will lead to an increasing popularity and positive trends in sales. Mobile phones will be likely used as remote controls for the TV.
The way we communicate is becoming more and more immediate, in the future we will e mail less and chat more. New means to have instant communications and feedback will therefore arise. The financial crisis has deeply affected the way we consume and we approach goods. Its effects are faraway to be over; therefore in 2011 the Consumer will remain a Crisis Consumer. Companies must keep that in mind when studying new modalities to approach their targets.
But potential new consumer groups are today in emerging economies such as BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) and CIVETS (Colombia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Egypt, Turkey and South Africa) countries. It will be crucial to study and understand these new markets in order to acquire relevant shares. To conclude I would like to mention possible developments and trends in the education panorama.
Individuals will look more and more for personalized and customized learning options. The e-learning choice will keep increasing supported by new technologies. Will e-books replace definitely traditional ones in 2011? This is hard to say but their unbeatable monetary convenience will surely play a role. The concept of mass education is over: schools and universities have to adjust programs to the needs of potential students, adapting their offer to the contemporary world.
Hence, I wish you a wonderful Year and we will wait until next December 31, the end of this current year 2011 to see how right or wrong these statements are. Keep on having learning fun!