Everywhere you look in the sustainability world, megatrends are being identified, analyzed and prioritized. PwC, for example, has spotlighted a set of megatrends that it is using to inform all of its work. Many of the firm's peers and consultancies have done similar trend analysis.
Why this surge of interest? Perhaps the most obvious reason is that as the pace of change accelerates in technology, society, geopolitics — and even the natural world — it’s ever more important to understand the direction and drivers of that change. The current focus on disruptive innovation is also a natural fit with megatrend analysis. As organizations of all sizes embrace the idea (if not always the reality) of disruption, it’s essential to understand what the disruptive forces are and how they will influence winners and losers in the marketplace.
Megatrends are also making their way into sustainability communications and reporting. Companies ranging from DSM to Bosch are articulating how megatrends are shaping their business.
At Ford Motor Company, chief futurist and megatrend guru Sheryl Connelly has been identifying consumer-related trends for years and sharing her insights publicly through a trend report book. For the Ford 2014/15 Sustainability Report, BuzzWord developed an innovative method for using megatrends to inform and “amplify” the materiality analysis used to shape the company’s sustainability strategy and reporting. The same report identifies the mobility megatrends that are guiding Ford’s thinking as it develops sustainable solutions for future global mobility.
Are megatrends a trend that will last? Most trends wax and wane, but unless the pace of change slows, identifying important changes in the world will continue to offer important insights to inform sustainability strategies and initiatives.