Opinion: The ‘megatrends’ that will help shape travel by 2025

Opinion: The ‘megatrends’ that will help shape travel by 2025

By John Moavenzadeh, senior director, head of mobility industries, World Economic Forum; Thea Chiesa, director, aviation & travel industries, World Economic Forum; Philipp Sayler, senior manager, automotive industry, World Economic Forum; Mark Maczat, project leader, The Boston Consulting Group; Alison Sander, director of the center for sensing & mining the future, The Boston Consulting Group

The increased velocity, complexity, transparency and interdependency of today’s society is creating transformation on an unprecedented scale.

Driving this disruption is the impact of hyperconnectivity – the interconnecting of everyone with everything – which fundamentally redefines how individuals, enterprises, systems and governments relate with each other.

Hyperconnectivity is also transforming the travel and transportation ecosystem, changing the experience and configuration of travel, transportation and supply chains.

What will the travel and transport landscape look like in 2025? Will driverless e-cars bring us to our workplace or will we all use mobility on-demand vehicle systems? Will we be able to book or change a trip via our smartphone and receive one digital ticket for the fastest route by plane, high-speed train and taxi?

The World Economic Forum is addressing these questions through the Connected World project, which brings together many leading companies, thought leaders and governments to identify which megatrends will be changing and shifting the transportation, travel and supply chains of tomorrow, and building scenarios to derive the implications of these changes.

Although it is impossible to know definitively how the travel and transportation ecosystem will look in 2025, it is possible to identify megatrends that may have a substantial impact on this ecosystem.

Of the different trends that have been identified, we see them cluster around four main groups: changing customer needs, new mobility frontiers, new technology vectors and key capabilities for the future.

Changing Customer Needs

With life expectancy becoming longer, countries – especially developed countries – are seeing and will continue to see increasingly ageing populations.

These individuals will require different modes of transport and travel, and different means of distribution of goods. Global migration to cities will see the emergence of new megacities, fostering the need for better urban infrastructure and planning to cater for overcrowding and congestion.

The shift to rapidly developing economies, such as in China, India and Brazil, will change global demand for products and services.

Globalisation will continue at a rate that will require the re-thinking of manufacturing locations and distribution points, possibly changing migration patterns to new centres of production and distribution while at the same time re-shaping the supply chain.

More convenience and time compression will play out in a society in which people need to juggle their career and private life and the challenge to be “always on”.

New Mobility Frontiers

Increased trade, travel and urbanisation will drive the need for new and adequate infrastructure, which will be able to address new needs of customer and goods mobility.

Huge financial investments will be necessary to avoid bottlenecks in infrastructure and service requirement. New job creation opportunities could spur the private and public sector to look at new innovative financing mechanisms, addressing the challenge that many governments face in these economic uncertain times.

Creative investment in alternative energies will also need to be addressed by the private and public sector, as energy prices continue to soar and remain a source of concern for all transportation companies.

Increased interconnectedness of the different parts of the sector will also heighten security concerns, as cybercrimes increase, and transportation and supply chain networks become more vulnerable to systemic attacks and failures.

With growing sensitivity for the environment, there will be more policies to incentivise environmental protection and growing demand for green technologies. The last mobility frontier is the continuous demand of customers to access information and entertainment everywhere while travelling, regardless of whether it’s in a plane, train or car.

New Technology Vectors

Cloud solutions are currently transforming how and where the rapidly increasing amount of digitised data can be processed for travel, transport and logistics. This will have important implications on pricing, optimised routing and scheduling, customer profiling, privacy and security protection, among other areas.

With e-commerce and m-commerce growing exponentially, coupled with an increased usage of mobile devices, companies will have multiple new sales channels, allowing new solutions for intermodal travel and transport booking to emerge.

Active web and social media communities will integrate into transportation and transform the travel and transportation experience. New technology will see the implementation of smart transport and M2M technologies, which will have the potential to not only include self-driving cars, but also the ability for more agile and resilient supply chain management.

Key Capabilities for the Future

Through constant innovation customers will finally be able to customise and control their travel or transportation experience.

The seamless, consistent and flawless user experience will no longer be a dream, but a reality. Companies are facing the need to become more dynamic and flexible with agile supply chains and new alliances or collaboration across sectors.

New challengers will arise in the value chain, which leverage information and communication technologies.

Next Steps – From Megatrends to Future Scenarios

As megatrends alone cannot provide answers of how travel and transportation will look in 2025, the World Economic Forum is developing scenarios, which can help understand the implications of a changing sector and recommend actions for stakeholder groups.

The final report is expected to be released in January during the Forum’s Annual Meeting 2013 in Davos, Switzerland.


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