Fraunhofer Study on the Future Examines Five Areas of Human Life: Our Everyday Lives in 2027
Which trends will be relevant to our lives in ten years’ time? Which technologies will change our everyday lives – and how? These are some of the questions examined by a study conducted by the Fraunhofer Institute entitled “Zukunftsstudie 2027 #ichinzehnjahren,” literally “Future Study 2027 #meintenyears”. It examined five areas of people’s daily lives.
“Work,” “Information and Media,” “Private Life Management,” “People and the Environment,” and “Consumption” – these are the five areas of people’s lives that the Fraunhofer study looks at in detail. Close to 3,000 individuals aged 14 and over participated, rating hypotheses about the future. Alongside the detailed analysis of the responses, a brief vision of what will become important in each area is provided to convey an idea of what daily life may be like in the year 2027.
1. Everyday life at work in the future
The digital transformation has the potential to bring about fundamental changes for jobs. But what do the people with jobs think about that? They believe that video chats, authentication technologies, and process automation will form essential parts of the everyday working lives of tomorrow. For example, 68 percent of respondents think video chats and augmented reality are likely to replace on-site meetings to a large extent within ten years. And 67 percent want to identify themselves through face and voice recognition in future rather than entering passwords manually. There are virtually no concerns about the misuse of biometric data – on the contrary, most respondents are enthusiastic about these technologies. Two-thirds of respondents assume that routine processes will be automated. But only 40 percent of them believe that digital assistants – the successors of Alexa, Cortana, and Siri – will filter the flood of information at work and tell staff what they need to know or do.
What will be important for people’s working lives:
- Inflexible working hours and fixed workplaces will disappear.
- Collaboration between employees or customers will often take place in a virtual environment.
- Depending on the type of work, people will be assisted by robots, bots, and digital assistants.
- Algorithms will select staff.
- Employees will organize their own work and enjoy doing it; the employer will look after the health and satisfaction of the workforce.
2. Use of information and digital media
Digital media have become an integral part of people’s everyday lives, allowing everybody to publish and share information. How will we obtain and produce information in the future? The respondents believe that the trend of time-shifted TV viewing and individual “program scheduling” will continue: 66 percent said that in the future, they will watch a program at a time that suits them. And 60 percent stated that they would only access content via digital media that is relevant to them in the future. This was the case even though many of them realize that you can only get an integrated picture of the facts if you are aware of different points of view. 48 percent no longer want to have a public online profile in future. Particularly under data and security aspects, the respondents voice skepticism towards social media and emphasize the loss of real social networks. At the same time, they stress the future importance of professional networks such as Xing and LinkedIn for people’s working lives.
What will be important for information and digital media:
- There is widespread agreement that people must pay for well-researched information.
- Excursions into virtual worlds will be a popular pastime.
- Augmented reality will have come to be accepted as a useful tool in the business environment.
- Speech input of text and data will be widespread.
- Controlling objects via thought will become a new way of interacting.
3. Private life management
How will digitization influence the way people manage their private lives in the future? 71 percent of respondents intend to utilize data networking to optimize their electricity consumption and heating, for example. Almost the same proportion assume that the personal cloud will become ubiquitous and that their data – photos, music, etc. – will be available to them wherever they are. The subject of privacy is consequently important: 68 percent would pay money for digital security in future. The use of digital options for personal health is viewed with more skepticism: only 35 of respondents can image using a wearable device in the future that will provide optimum support for their preventive healthcare and medical treatment. 29 percent believe that many services currently provided by doctors will be replaced by sensors, virtual doctor’s appointments, and artificial intelligence.
What will be important for the way people manage their private lives:
- Shared use of autonomous vehicles will replace privately owned cars.
- Autonomous vehicles and vehicles driven by people will share the road.
- Robots will provide assistance with personal care.
- People will pay money for data security.
- Healthcare services will be enhanced through the use of sensors, virtual doctor’s appointments, and artificial intelligence.
4. People and the environment
What will become important to people personally by 2027? How will they interact with their environment? Three quarters of respondents stated that they will pay greater attention to their health, for instance through regular checkups or by making healthier diet choices. And almost two-thirds assumed that even important mail will be sent exclusively by digital means. According to 58 percent of respondents, the previously mentioned new technologies, working practices, and mobility solutions will mean that it will be increasingly irrelevant whether you live in a rural or urban area. Lifelong learning will also be independent of location: half the respondents intend to use online programs for their further education in the future.
What will be important in the area of “People and the Environment”:
- Technology will create new freedom and, in the ideal scenario, integrate seamlessly with people’s lives.
- Community and living together will take top priority.
- Civil participation through online coordination will be ubiquitous.
- People will remain active into old age – on all levels.
- A healthy diet will play an important role.
5. Customized, self-determined consumption
Digital shopping centers and e-commerce have already changed the purchasing process fundamentally. What will the consumer experience be like in ten years’ time? Once again, the security aspect will play an important role, as 82 percent of respondents believe that it will be important to secure their electronic devices. That comes as no surprise: 58 percent of respondents assume that they will be making payments by mobile means or online – i.e., via their devices – and that cash will no longer be important. Consumers intend to use the opportunities offered by digitization to customize products (55 percent) or to try on clothes in a virtual dressing room before purchasing them online (44 percent).
What will be important during consumption:
- The customizing of consumer goods.
- 3D printing and associated services.
- Artificial intelligence will assist with data protection by learning from users’ data sharing behavior.
- Cashless payment will be ubiquitous even for the smallest amounts; cash will continue to play a role in areas where anonymity is valued in connection with making payments, for instance in the medical sector.
How can businesses make themselves futureproof?
What do the study’s findings mean for businesses that want to put measures in place today to be able to cope with tomorrow’s changes? For example, that they will need to radically orient their products and services to their customers’ requirements. Because customers – like their own employees – will expect better services based on new technologies. Routine processes or tasks can be transferred to systems with artificial intelligence in order to allow the scope of services offered to customers to be expanded and to give the staff greater scope of freedom to perform more complex tasks.
Businesses must enable their staff to keep pace with the cultural transformation that digitization will trigger. Agility, customer focus, and creativity are values that need to be embedded in the corporate culture. Companies in classic industries are establishing digital units to this end. In 2013, SAP founded AppHouses, in which the company works on projects in collaboration with customers, but which also offer space for start-ups.
Instead of copying the methods used by start-ups, as is frequently the case today, businesses could collaborate more effectively with them in future – even though there are some hurdles to overcome in the process. See the article on digital disruption. The insurance company Axa, for instance, acts simultaneously as an investor and an insurer for start-ups on its Innovation Campus.
The networking and openness that will be required within companies can also extend beyond their boundaries. To make it easier for start-ups to access technical know-how from Silicon Valley and German hardware expertise, car manufacturer Daimler set up an innovation platform called “STARTUP AUTOBAHN” that is truly open – competitor Porsche is one of the partners.
You can access the study here (in German): https://www.e-business.iao.fraunhofer.de/de/publikationen/zukunftsstudie.html
Author: Editorial team Future. Customer.
Image: enisismagilov – Adobe Stock