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10 potentially worrying trends that could change the world, from Ford’s global head of futuring

Technology & Data

10 potentially worrying trends that could change the world, from Ford’s global head of futuring


Sheryl Connelly, head of global trends and futuring at Ford Motor Company presented her 10 trends that could change the world at Ad:tech NY 2013 last week, and many of them raise questions about the world’s readiness to adapt.

Opening the conference with that old Henry Ford quote (“If I asked consumers what they wanted, they would have said faster horses”), Connelly declared that now this sentiment is equally true for digital print. She spoke of the need for mobility as a critical component to freedom and innovation. She spoke of the difference between trends and fads – blue jeans went from work wear to fashion wear so it’s a trend, while different styles such as acid wash are fads.

Earlier this year Connelly was named one of Fast Company‘s 2013 Top 100 Most Creative People in Business.

As she revealed her predictions of a largely bleak future, the depressing and far from optimistic truths came thick and fast. She did however offer some hope, closing with some positive affirmations for the future digital marketer.

10 (distressing) trends that will change the world

1. The global population will be 11 billion by 2050 – “Can our planet support this?”

2. Falling fertility rates

3. Aging population

4. Few workers to support elderly

5. BRIC impact on global economics, particularly India and China

6. Urbanisation

7. Global talent shortage – in 2011, 26% of Euro employers couldn’t fill positions due to lack of talent

8. Growing power of women

9. Information addiction, and

10. Information overload (some trends have countertrends).


While trends one to seven are widely recognised and to be expected, eight, nine and 10 seemed the big revelations to the frenzied Twittersphere at Ad:tech during her address to New York’s digital marketers. According to Connelly, “When you give people too much choice, too much information, they make no decision at all.”

‘Information addiction’ is a critical global trend – but ‘information overload’ is its counter point. The implications of this trend are already surfacing as she pleaded, “We live in a world that’s 24/7. No down-time. People are using technology to combat loneliness, stop watching YouTube, and say hi to the person next to you!” Connelly pondered, “If we never get accustomed to being with our own thoughts, what kind of future will we see?”

Connelly’s parting advice to the audience: if you think these trends are upsetting, think about what you can do to change the tide. Consider the alternatives, what are you most excited about in the future? As a mother, Connelly says she is most excited about the opportunities for girls and women worldwide, girl power and the era of the female entrepreneur. By 2050 there will be more female billionaires than male billionaires. She looks forward to seeing the ROI on ‘female investment’. I’m sure The Ford Motor Company does too.


@missmaplestone #adtechNY


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