Global trends for the next ten years part 1

The first industrial revolution was the transition from manual production to machine-driven production by the invention of the steam engine. At that time, many workers are illiterate but the requirements for workers to operate the steam machine were the ability to read and write so many people had to complete elementary school to get a job. The second industrial revolution was the transition from small shops to massive factories or industrialization due to the invention of electricity. The requirements for most workers at that time besides reading and writing were some knowledge of arithmetic and scientific so many workers had to get a high- school level of education. The third industrial revolution was the use of electronics and computers in manufacturing and businesses to increase efficiency and productivity. To get a good job, most workers needed to have a college education.

Today, we are in the fourth revolution, where everything is impacted by the advance of technology. To get a good job, workers must have a college education in Science, technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) but more than that, they must develop a lifelong learning attitude so they can learn and adjust to changes. In the past few years, technology has changed quickly and everything is becoming more complex than before which push all workers to the limit. There is no place for complacency because the competition is fierce. As the Internet connects everything, every country, and every business, the whole world becomes ONE LARGE JOB MARKET with huge opportunities for skilled workers who know how to take advantage of these changes.

It is difficult for some people to understand the impact of a global economy and what will happen in the next ten years. Many theories, models, principles of the past have become obsolete. Without opening their mind to new thinking, new knowledge, new models, people will be more confused. For example, people who worked with wired phones never anticipate the rapid change of mobile phones technology. Many hesitated and afraid of this new technology. As they did not take proper action, most lost their job. (98% of the traditional wired phone companies in the world are no longer exist.) People who worked with big computer systems (mainframe) were shocked by Apple Computer. Many did not believe that a personal computer can do any harm to their job since they were working for many largest companies in the world. However, within ten years, all mainframe computer companies were gone, except IBM and most of them lost their job.

By looking back at the beginning of the 20th century, we can see that 500 of the largest companies in the world were no longer exist. If we look closer, we can see that many largest companies created after world war 2 are also showing a sign of decline. At the same time, we can see many newly formed companies are rising fast. (i.e., Apple is a trillion dollars company, Amazon is the largest online company in the world.) Today, there are as more billion-dollar companies than ever before. Most of them just started in the past fifteen years but all share a common thing: They are technology companies or relying on technology to do business.

Today there are 4.5 Billion smartphones users in the world. That is more than 80% of the population in a world. Smartphone opens a new way to do business that most people did not even think of a few years ago. For example, Buying and selling online or learning and teaching online. As countries are moving from 4G to 5G technology, the new bandwidth will open more business opportunities with faster connectivity and transaction. Smartphones technologies will open opportunities for more applications and these applications open new ways for companies to do more with their customers.

The new global market has barely begun with more opportunities than ever before. The question is: “As students, are you readied to take advantage of these new opportunities?”


  • Blogs of Prof. John Vu, Carnegie Mellon University