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19 Trends for 2019

The future is a vast and complex issue, and one that covers so many potential topics.

Since I speak in virtually every industry, from agriculture to healthcare, banking to technology, transportation to energy, it’s always been difficult to come up with a good concise end of years trends preview list!

And so this year, I’ve done something different! Working with my overseas producer, I’ve filmed 19 trends videos on a wide range of different topics. They are all short in length – 45 seconds to just under 2 minutes – and are combined with a similarly short extract from one of my keynotes on stage of the same topic.

They aren’t designed to give you a comprehensive view into everything that you need to know about the future, but rather, to get your creative trends machine in good working order. Consider them a little bit of energy to get your own personal futurist thinking cap on!

When I’m up on the stage, it’s my job to help you to see the things that you might not see – or to view the things that you are already seeing, but in a bit of a different way.

The trends that I cover are by no means definitive; they are not extraordinary in their scope, or on the edge with their craziness. They are simply the types of things that I have been talking about onstage through the last year, and I thought provide a good overview of what is happening in this time, which I call “The Era of Acceleration.”

And so every workday morning during January, I’ll be rolling out one of my “19 Trends for 2019.” I hope you like them! Watch this page, my blog, Twitter feed or other social media to keep up to date!

#1 – The Acceleration of Biomaterial Science

There is a furious rate of scientific advance with the science of bio-materials – and the use of living tissue for medical implants and procedures will be here sooner than you think! Some experts within the industry think it is only a matter of years, not decades, before we can grow living arms and legs for transplant.

I’ve been speaking about this on stage at numerous medical and health care conferences. Here’s a clip!

#2 – The Emergence of Radical New Ideas

In almost every single industry, there are people who are thinking big and bold about the opportunities that surround them. This includes completely rethinking about the nature of the product that they are bringing to the marketplace or the service that they might offer.

The energy and transportation provides the perfect example : a world in which your electric vehicle actually becomes a key component of the energy grid.

Energy is one sector where we have seen the emergence of a tremendous number of radical new ideas – even, for example, ’24 hour solar power plants’, or the ability to grow solar panels from plants.

Vehicle-to-grid connectivity? It’s a new, fast emerging trend, and you might find that within but 10 years, most cars are part of the energy system. I ran out to a local Tesla Supercharging station to film a little clip to explore the concept in more depth.

#3 – The Era of Agility

As a futurist, I’m often called on by Fortune 1000 organizations to speak at their global leadership meetings, you get a sense as to what CEO’s and senior executives are concentrating on.

Key trend? 10 years ago, the concept of ‘collaboration’ was not. No more – now, it’s speed. And specifically, agility in the executive offices and leadership team. That’s why this is my 3rd trend for 2019 is “The Era of Agility.”

Organizations must now deal with the emergence of new issues, challenges and opportunities faster than ever before. Shortly after I spoke at a retail conference in Las Vegas, I was interviewed on the issue of leadership agility.

It’s a frequent topic on stage – here’s a clip in which I spin the story as to how the concept of ‘agile’ has transitioned from the world of software to the boardroom.

If you’re an IT person, you get it. CEO’s are getting it too.

#4 – The Acceleration of Brain Health Science

One of the most significant challenges of our time has to do with seniors care – but there is a chance that what we did with heart health in the 20th century, we can repeat with brain health in the 21st century.

The numbers are staggering. In the US, the number of Alzheimer’s patients is set to triple to 16 million by 2050. The typical Alzheimer patient is disabled for 9 to 20 years – and this will increase to 40- to 50 years as medical advances continue and life expectancy continues to grow. We are set to see a 10X increase in the cost of care. We need big thinking to deal with the scope of the challenge!

How might it come about? Maybe through the acceleration of the science of brain-health technology, my 4th trend to watch in 2019.

#5 – The Impact of Massive Urbanization

Simply put, megacities are the future. This results in new careers, new infrastructure, new innovation, new trends! Cities own the future, and the impact will be everywhere. One example? The acceleration of vertical farming concepts!

But there is a bigger trend at work here: and that is, by watching the big trends, you can discover how the essence of innovation within an industry is changing. With that, I bring you the impact of vertical farming.

Much of the vertical farming innovation is occurring in megacities, in Africa and elsewhere. Here’s a clip from December 2018, where I’m on stage at an agricultural conference, talking about vertical framing, desert farming, and floating cow farms!

Why does this trend matter? Because mega trends matter! Megatrends drive mega change, and no where is this seen than with the growth of urban cities. That’s trend #5 for today.

Watch the big trends, and you get a real sense of how the source of innovation is shifting. Such as within the world of agriculture.

Simply put, megacities are the future. This results in new careers, new infrastructure, new innovation, new trends! Cities own the future, and the impact will be everywhere. One example? The acceleration of vertical farming concepts!

Much of the vertical farming innovation is occurring in megacities, in Africa and elsewhere. Here’s a clip from December 2018, where I’m on stage at an agricultural conference, talking about vertical framing, desert farming, and floating cow farms!

Worldwide, there is a massive migration of urban populations to cities; the majority of the world’s population will live in less than 30 mega-cities by 2025. With that trend comes fascinating challenges with water, waste treatment, energy and other infrastructure. We can expect accelerating R&D in each of these fields as global society steps up to the challenge presented by ‘hyper-urbanization,’ and the birth of entire new lines of business involving “mega-city’ infrastructure support services.”

Why is this trend important? Because a lot of money will go into redefining these megacities for the future. Those trends will leak everywhere else… and so a farmer in Iowa will find that his or her future is, to a degree, being determined by the fact that a farmer in Ghana, Africa, will increasing be in a city, and will define one of the biggest trends in the world of farming.

There’s an important lesson in innovation from all of this – specifically, ‘your future might no longer be invented here!” It’s by watching the big trends, learning what they mean, and how they are accelerating change, that you can discover new pathways to the future!

#6 – The Gaming Generation Redefines the Future of Work

Farmville redefines farming. Fortnite leads to virtual welding. League of Legends leads to digital twin virtual surgery. These kids accelerate virtual tech, because the skills they have picked up within the gaming world come into the workplace, and redefine the world of work. Gaming and virtual reality collide with robotics and more.

In many of my events, I talk about the real significance of the gaming generation while on stage. You see them playing Fortnite – I see them developing skills for our virtual world and the virtualization of industries.

#7 – The Future of Skills is Found with Penguins

What’s the essence of the trend? Simply put, you likely don’t have the skills that you need to get into our faster, more complicated future. You’ve got machine operators, but you need 3D printing experts; land surveyors when you require location intelligence professionals; or gas engine designers when you need experts in penguin behaviour.

The issue of having the right skills at the right time for the right purpose has long been one of  my key mantras from the stage.

The impact? Find your penguins! 

You never knew that you’d need to find the specialized skills who know the things that you never knew you needed to know! Here’s a few clips from the stage where I’m speaking to the issue of specialized skills.

Why penguins? Penguins hunt in groups & synchronize their dives to catch fish.  

Studying how they do so could provide invaluable insight into the evolution of self-driving cars. Self-driving cars are connected by telemetry, LIDAR and other technologies, and will operate in a pack mentality to coordinate their efforts. 

This permits the emergence of ‘pelotons’ — connected ‘trains’ of vehicles in communication with each other, and in communication with intelligent, connected smart highway technology. 

Penguins are great in travelling in packs, so why not learn how they do it, and engineer that into autonomous vehicle technology…. and so studying how nature does this will provide deep insight into what to do this with cars and trucks.

Do you know what penguin experts you’ll need?

#8 – You Are What You Eat. Soon, You’ll Eat Who You Are

When four industries come together to pursue a trend, you’ve got something big happening. And that’s what’s going on as healthcare, the food industry, the agricultural and technology industries come together to pursue one of the biggest trends of our time.

A hot trend? We are seeing the birth of an industry of customizable, programmable, AI based, real time food planning based on instant health assessment!

Yup, that’s a thing, and it’s going to be a big thing.


Increasingly, you’ll be eating food that aligns to your particular DNA, and based on real time body insight. It will be highly customized. As I state on stage, my glycemic index for an apple might be different from yours.

I spoke at Benefit 2018 recently – it’s a conference dedicated to functional foods and more. In my pre-keynote video overview, spoke about the significance of this trend.

Want to have some fun? Watch the multi-billion dollar investments that major food, science, healthcare and tech companies are making within this new, fast exploding sector. Here’s a hint – look up Nutrino. Go!

#9 – Acceleration of Science and New Materials

Follow the trend involving the exponentiation of pure science, and we might soon be able to architect aircraft that are lighter than air – just like that of Wonder Woman’s jet! That’s where the fast emerging trend of new materials science might potentially lead us.

I’ve been covering this trend extensively within the many manufacturing conferences that I’ve been doing through the last year. When the trend is combined with the innovation offered by 3d printing, magic happens! Get a sense of what is going on with this short clip.

A few months ago, I found myself in Heathrow Airport, and while needing to kill some time before a flight, found a perfect opportunity to speak about the impact of this trend within the world of aerospace.

#10 – Continual Reinvention 

You won’t be selling tomorrow what you sell today. You’ll either be selling something very, very different, or you won’t be selling anything at all. You need to reinvent, continuously, and quickly.

How big is this trend? Big enough that it is a major focus of almost every talk I do for every industry – whether manufacturing, consumer products, agriculture, healthcare and even legal services!

So I went and got a haircut. And so Fehmi, the owner, (“my hair guy”) at Prelude Salon and Spa, even needs to reinvent on a regular basis – and so I filmed a bit while there! Why? Faster fashion, faster influencers = faster reinvention!

#11 – Spatial Intelligence and Life in 3 Dimensions

We’re moving from a world of two-dimensional ‘location intelligence’ – think of all the things involving GPS technology – to a world of 3D spatial intelligence – and the this will lead the birth of several new “next” billion dollar industries

The opportunities are pretty significant. Location intelligence had us mapping in 2 dimensions; spatial intelligence will have us doing the same with 3dimensions. The trend will involve the data used by self-driving cars to ‘see’ around them; cobots or “cooperative robots” working in 3d dimensions to interact with other robots and humans around them; virtual operations using 3D insight headsets, and so much more!

The possibilities are limitless and the opportunities are endless, particularly if we combine smart clothing, spatial intelligence, mobile technology, sensor technology and gamification! To explain, I went to the gym!

#12 – The Issue of Timing

As they say, timing is everything, particularly when it comes to the issue of getting involved in any particular trend. In the era of acceleration, it becomes even more critical. You’d better make sure you are ready with any trend of importance and relevance, because the future might happen before you know it.

I spend a lot of time on stage talking about the issue of timing on stage, particularly in the context of the “Gartner Hypecycle.” It’s been a key go-to on my client innovation guidance for well over 15 years. The interesting thing is that it’s really risen to the forefront in the last year, particularly as technology journalists have trie to explain the rise and fall of the BitCoin bubble.

The other thing about timing? The future is staggered and uneven – it doesn’t happen everywhere all at once. It’s phased by location, sector, and other discrete perspectives. Think about self=driving vehicles – we’ll see them happen in some ways faster, and in other ways, slower. I was in New Orleans, saw some crowded streets, and it was the perfect opportunity to talk about the issue of timing.

Any new technology, trend or idea goes along a curve – it appears, then hits the time of excessive hype and expectations. That is followed by the inevitable collapse of enthusiasm as people realize that it takes a lot of time and effort to implement the future, and determine the opportunity that comes from it. But inevitably, both the expectations, idea and capabilities mature, and the trend becomes a key component for innovation and so much more.

The timing issue? As Kevin Kelly, the founder of Wired noted, “the future happens slowly, and then, all at once.” Any particular trend can bubble along for a time, seemingly inconsequential and of little impact. And then, all of a sudden, it can ‘go supernova’, explode in importance and significance – and suddenly, be everywhere!

That’s why my mantra to “think big, start small, scale fast” gives a key shoutout to timing. “Start small” implies that you should be on board with any particular trend, despite the potential immaturity it might have, because you want to make sure that you understand it, have experience with it, know how to work with it – and are ready to go when it “goes supernova!”

#13 – The Acceleration of Legal Risk

Over the last few years, 3 of the world’s largest global legal firms have asked me in for a talk on the new risks and challenges they are faced with in the era of acceleration.  In addition, another one invited me for a similar talk in Dallas and Chicago for their major clients – a vast collection of chief legal officers from global Fortune 500 companies.

The challenge? Our new world of hyper connectivity, driven by technology, the Internet of Things, accelerating science and other issues is leading us quickly into a new world of unforeseen legal challenges. Somehow, we need to minimize our risk from legal issues which we do not yet know exist. That’s a pretty tall order.

Here’s a quick little video I filmed which puts a concise perspective on these new challenges..

The acceleration of legal and other forms of new risk has been a component of my keynotes for several years – not just for legal firms, but for the many corporations and association events I speak at.

How do you mitigate against risk when you don’t know what that risk might be? How do you guard against legal issues that don’t even yet exist? How do you guard intellectual property for products you don’t even yet know you will invent? That’s the challenging reality of our new world of risk today.

Want some fun? At one of these events, I put up a list of 40 new areas of legal risk management that did not exist 10 years ago. Protecting shared 3D printing models of your new products that could be easily counterfeited. Drone technology and surveillance law. Genetic counselling laws, LGBTQ issues, fantasy sports league management, organic certification, and laws involving cannabis use in the workplace and place of business.

That’s a short list. There’s lots more!

#14 – The end of the era of oil

Some of my 19 trends for 2019 aren’t profound, in that people are already aware of them. What is important is acknowledging the speed and reality of the trend, and in 2019, the acceleration is real.  So here’s the thing: despite the current moment of political idiocy around us involving 19th coal, there is one undeniable fact going into the future : oil and carbon is over.

As the CEO of one global energy company said on stage before my keynote for a global energy conference, “we have one last oil boom left. Then that’s it.” Oil will always be with us, but it is now on the decline and alternatives are clearly on the ascendant.

The acceleration of the science that leads to the end of oil is undeniable. Batteries EV’s, solar, wind, biomass – you name it, and in the long run, science wins.

I was in Oman last November, keynoting a global transportation conference. The Middle East region, the world’s largest oil producer, has known for a while that the industry is inevitably in decline. There will always be sunshine. Ride the trends!

#15 – The Acceleration of Generational Transformation

All your base are being to us!” That’s what happens with the transfer of control of the future from idea-tired, change-resistant, policy-weak and narrow-thinking baby boomers to the first adult generation weaned on the Internet.

We’re witnessing the impact right now in US politics. I don’t know about you, but I’m with the 28 year old politician.

In 2019 the generational transition will take on far more significance than ever before. It’s important to understand why: we are a technological world, and many baby boomers grew up in a time that simply has not equipped them with the tools to cope. All you need to do is watch folks in the US Senate quiz tech-industry executives at a hearing to understand how far out of depth they are. I always have a lot of fun with this generation (of which I am a member) on stage.

The next generation? They are unlike any that we have ever seen before. Take a look at how I frame this reality on stage!

All Your Base Are Belong to Us“? The generation who understands the significance of the phrase are the ones who will reshape our world with the oxygen of the connectivity that they have inhaled since birth. In 2019 and beyond, they own the future. The old folks don’t.

We are in the midst of a vast, sweeping and profound generational transition, and it is one of the defining trends of our time.

All your base are belong to us”? It originated as a bad translation in a Japanese video game in 1991 but the phrase went viral in 2001, years before the arrival of viral social networks.

It’s a statement of power; it’s a comment that indicates someone knows more than you know; it’s a phrase of the next generation. Study the zeitgeist, and you would have seen it emerge at the time, and understand its’ significance. I remember seeing it emerge and go viral; I get the context whenever it has been used since.

Boomers struggle with tech – they grew up with Basic, COBOL and punch cards. My kids are 23 and 25, and they laugh at the fact I actually sold close to a million books in the ’90’s that explained the Internet to people.

I’ve been online since 1982 – I started with a 300 baud acoustic coupler. (Look it up). Even back then, I understood that connectivity would change the world. And it has, both good and bad.

But what happens when the politician who can’t manage their iPhone retires and leaves power – and the Nintendo generation takes over?  It’s happening right now. The first generation in power is mostly white, old, technologically incompetent. The next generation is diverse, connected, entrepreneurial, fast, collaborative and global.

I don’t know about you, but my hopes are with the latter.

#16 – Innovating in the Face of Relentless Volatility

A futurist must always be a relentless optimist, particularly on stage. We’ve been engaged to provide a tour of the future that provides our audience a sense of hope and opportunity. As I will often joke, I can’t go in front of a 1,000 people and start out by saying, “Guess what! Your  future sucks!”

Unless it does. Then you spin the message in a different way.So here’s the thing: in 2019, you’ll see lots of volatility rock your world. We’re in the tail end of one of the longest economic expansions of history, and it won’t last.

With that, you need to be in a mindset as to how you can innovate as this new era of uncertainty envelopes your life. Fortunately, history provides us a path and guidance.

March 2009 was the absolute bottom of the last downturn. Coincidentally, I found myself Las Vegas with my largest ever audiences from two global companies, speaking about the future and innovation. The CEO of both organizations wanted me to help people understand that they needed to focus on the future, not the present, NOW. Revisit this video through the year. You’ll need it.

The focus of these two talks became a key part of my stage focus over the next several years – I actually built a pretty successful business simply “talking people away from the edge.” It really became a motivational keynote on coping with the new era of volatility.

Keep this clip too. You’ll need it in 2019.

How surreal was it in the depths of the downturn? 10 years ago this month, I found myself speaking at a small, private event for a global consulting firm. In the room were the Chief Operating and Chief Information Officers for 15 global insurance companies. The biggest ones in the world. Theirs was a world of doom and gloom – big organizations were disappearing, financial structures were collapsing, layoffs were accelerating, initiative was dying.

There really was a sense within the room that the future was over; that the economic malaise was so bad that much of the future would be put on hold for an extended period of time.

I vividly remember taking them on a tour of the scientific, technological, disruptive and other trends that would continue to provide massive opportunity going forward. My message was laser like: “you can choose freeze and stop and let aggressive indecision rule your world, or you can choose innovate, change and adapt!” History has taught us that those who choose the latter were those who win.

It was my highest rated talk ever!

#17 Human-to-Computer Augmentation & Off-Brain Storage

Have ever watched a 2 year old go from an iPad to a flat-screen TV in the living room? They try to get the TV to respond in the same way by touching the screen, and are kind of mystified. Another take – one executive that booked me told the story of their 3 year old wandering around the house talking to all kinds of devices – and wondering why didn’t respond back like the Amazon Echo devices in their home.

I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty certain that the 2 year old of today is living in a different world than I do – and that being immersed in the era of acceleration, their brain synapses are evolving very quickly, in an entirely different way. Add to that the acceleration of HCI – or Human-Computer Interface technology — and you’ve got trend #17 of ’19 Trends for 2019.’

In other words, storing a part of our minds, memory, knowledge in some sort of computer hard drive!

Take this to the logical conclusion – we are seeing rapid advances in research that marries our minds to off brain storage.

How might we do it? I spoke about on stage at the World Government Summit in Dubai, we might end up combining the science of data storage with optical science – and take advantage of the fact that we have learned how to stop light in in tracks!

In doing so, maybe we can put our mind inside a yottabit ball!

#18 – Intelligent infrastructure gains traction

Do you ever stop and stare at streetlights and wondering how they are changing in the era of acceleration? I do!

Intelligent infrastructure is the Rodney Dangerfield of the age of autonomy, and doesn’t get any respect. But in this era in which everyone is paying attention to the self-driving vehicle trend, few are watching an equally significant development : the era of intelligent infrastructure.

The road you drive on and the bridge that you cross are also becoming intelligent, connected, aware and data-gathering. The impact everywhere is significant: everyone from construction companies to architectural design firms will be impacted. Here’s a bit of a hint of what I’ve covered on stage on this trend just in the last year.

Sometimes, it’s best to comprehend a trend, by observing it. So I went out and played by some traffic!

#19 – The End of the Concept of Inventory Changes Everything

Supply chains? They’ll start to disappear as we move the physical production of product closer to the consumer with 3D printing, end of runway manufacturing, and tremendous innovations in last mile delivery!

I covered this trend in Muscat, Oman, when I headlined the International Roads Union conference; in this case, speaking to the significance of the innovations occurring with last mile delivery.

Think about what I’m saying here: the innovations occurring with last mile delivery are going to lead to a LOT of new innovative ideas. Watch this!

This trend doesn’t impact not just how we manufacture, and last mile delivery innovations.

The reality is that it sees the birth of entirely new companies who are busy chasing the side opportunities and innovations that come from the trend.  Such as the development of battery technology, home design, and so much more. I was busy skiing the day before posting this trend, and headed over to the local Amazon warehouse to film this clip to put this into perspective what happens as we see last mile delivery innovations.

Warning – HELMET HAIR!

#20 – A Child Alive!

Spinal Tap went to 11 – why can’t I go to 20?

Why not do one more trend and bend your mind a bit! With that, here’s trend #20 of my ‘19 Trends for 2019′ – ‘A Child Alive!’ 

Can you imagine what the world of 2062 – the year the Jetsons’ TV show was set in – might look like for a child alive today? 

I find it hard to do so, given that the pace of change is accelerating so quickly. We will probably see advances with science, technology, society and more that we can barely begin to comprehend. And yet, there are also warning signs. What we do right now has the good chance to destroy the world that they might find themselves in.

And yet there is no doubt these children will live in a fascinating, wonderful world if *we* do the right things.

A child alive today? Consider my buddy Chase! His dad had a brief visit with my son and I in the home office to ‘talk shop’, and he brought Chase along. I had to keep Chase busy while his dad worked on a technical issue with my son, and so I put him in front of my home studio green screen. In moments, he understood it, and Chase went travelling!

What types of travels might he have in the future? Will he actually go to space? Will he be able to time travel? Will he have virtual reality travels that are incomprehensible today?

Or consider Ivan! He’s a precocious 10 year old who I had the good fortune to discover just before I keynoted a global event for Godiva Chocolates in London, England. Watch this clip!  It’s a great, fun story – but consider this: we are in a world in which 10 year olds have food video blogs. What will happen when these kids – who show so much initiative at the age of 10 – grow up and are in the workforce?

They will probably be working in jobs and careers that do not yet exist, utilizing knowledge not yet generated, with scientific discoveries not yet discovered. A few years ago, I went into the Grade 5 class of my good friend Ian Bates – and we did a project to encourage the children to think about the careers that they might work in at some point in the future.

The simple fact is – there is a child alive today who will do the amazing science fiction like things that we find unimaginable – and yet which they find routine!

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