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The best of 2020 predictions

With insights from founders, futurists, and bestselling authors

5 Minute Read

What’s going to happen in 2020? We reflected on that question ourselves and shared it with entrepreneurs, investors, futurists, and Trends members.

Here are some of the best responses, along with a few curated predictions:

Brian Breslin, Trends member: I think we will see advances in insurance and health providers aimed at freelancers and gig workers. We will also see more tools to support remote work teams. That is becoming more and more normalized.

Jacky Chou, Trends member: TikTok will overtake Instagram.

Daniel Pink, bestselling author, most recently, of WHEN: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing: The aging population will affect the design of goods and services (which will become kinder to squinty eyes and creaky backs, perhaps benefitting us all), and will present challenges and opportunities in every corner of health care — from pharmaceuticals to medical devices to insurance to personal care.

Jonah Berger, bestselling author of Contagious and Invisible Influence: From social media posts and customer service calls to job applications and employee reviews, a huge amount of textual data is being produced. And now, using natural language processing and machine learning, companies are just starting to begin to understand how to parse this data for behavioral insight, from transcribing customer service calls to figure out language agents use that boost satisfaction to mining online content to figure out what drives longer reads.

Amy Webb, founder of the Future Today Institute: Hundreds of artificial intelligence applications are coming to market that will drastically shift how we interact with the world, from smart shopping carts that automatically mine and analyze our biometric data in real-time, to smart cameras that will eliminate the need for us to carry boarding cards through airpots and train stations. We are literally entangled with AI, because it is our data that is being used to train AI systems, to build future applications, and to make millions of decisions on our behalf.

Deb Knobelman, neuroscientist and entrepreneur: In the next 12-24 months, more people will use digital stethoscopes to record their heart or lung sounds from home. Then health care providers (and ultimately, AI) can provide more support for chronic disease patients. More frequent monitoring of chronic illnesses such as congestive heart failure or asthma will provide major health benefits to patients.  It could also lead to significant cost reductions related to care for these patients.

Mankiran Chowhan, managing director SAP Concur (originally on Entrepreneur): Demand for AI will increase rapidly in the workplace as millennials, who are more comfortable with AI, continue moving into higher-ranking positions.

Sarah Hill, CEO of Healium (originally on Inc.): The wearables market will expand and, with the use of biometrics, inform people’s decisions and actions. And AR and VR will aid people with meditation. (See more predictions on Inc.)

Kayla Marci, retail analyst (on Edited): Concept and pop-up stores will continue to replace traditional brick-and-mortar setups, and stores will be connected to apps that help customers shop before they arrive in person.

Warwick Mihaly, Trends member: The climate crisis will start seeing software solutions emerge that help businesses and consumers manage and measure emissions/trade carbon credits/verify quality carbon neutral schemes etc.

Leo Resig, co-owner and CEO of Resignation Media: A few trends that I think will start or become more popular:

  • With brands able to hyper-target their products to the right consumers paired with how fast and easy it is to buy on mobile that credit card debt will become an issue and consumer spending will go down. But on the bright-side, the need for financial literacy will become a mega-trend.
  • Cord-cutting with all ages and demographics of consumers will increase in velocity
  • Sports Gambling

Kjartan Rist, Forbes contributor and tech investor: “B2B industries will see considerable change and present big opportunities in the coming 12 months,” especially in insurance, logistics, and insurance technology. (Rist had several more predictions here).

Jack Smith, co-founder Vungle and startup advisor: Trends that I’m expecting may make (tiny) steps of further progress in 2020 will be interacting with audio (i.e. Amazon Alexa) via games and advertisements.

Jim Wheeler, Trends member: Machine learning will continue to be a rising wave. Think of a real problem that it hasn’t yet been applied to. 

The Trends Team

Mark Dent: One or two heavily funded DTC companies will fail and we’ll see it as the beginning of the DTC market starting to thin out and consolidate. Some companies have struggled or failed in recent years, but the addition of so many new companies and the increase of customer acquisition costs leaves DTC more vulnerable than ever. 

Steph Smith: I’m bullish on Shopify plugins. Even though it’s a crowded marketplace, there are only ~3k Shopify plugins as compared to something like ~188k Chrome extensions. What is more appealing about Shopify as opposed to the Chrome web store is that you’re directly supporting people who are trying to make money.

Brad Wolverton: Smart tech companies, sick of being portrayed as bad actors, will start investing more money into solving society’s biggest problems. Three areas where we’ll see more innovation: tools to stop robocalls; apps that help people with severe anxiety, addiction, and depression; and new ways to help young people consumed by student loan debt.

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