Sydney Business Insights is a University of Sydney Business School initiative aiming to provide the business community and public, including our students, alumni and partners with a deeper understanding of major issues and trends around the future of business. We bring together insights from our researchers with insights from leading thinkers in industry, government and community. We start our journey by identifying six megatrends with complex impacts on business, economies, individuals and society: impactful technology, evolving communities, rapid urbanisation, empowering individuals, economic power shift and resource security.

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Sandra Peter: We are witnessing times of profound change that promise to fundamentally alter the way we do business, work and live. This is a time of uncertainty but also a time of opportunity and at the Business School we have a responsibility to help others understand and respond to the complex forces of change enveloping all of us. This is no small task. One of the biggest challenges we face is understanding the profound changes that are underway, their range, speed and potential impact on individuals, business and society. We also have a responsibility to create, shape, build and indeed lead the future of business, so it can be empowering to individuals, businesses and communities. And finally, to truly lead, we must dare to imagine a radically different future.

Introduction: From the University of Sydney Business School, this is Sydney Business Insights. The podcast that explores the future of business.

Professor Whitwell: Sydney Business Insights is a University of Sydney Business School initiative that aims to understand, create and indeed imagine the future of business. Our focus is grounded in the global megatrends whose influence will have an enormous impact of the world in which we live in and a tremendous influence on the future of business.

Sandra: That was Professor Greg Whitwell, Dean of The University of Sydney Business School, and I'm Sandra Peter.

Megatrends, first introduced by John Naisbitt in his 1982 book, “Megatrends”, are large, transformative processes with ‘global reach, broad scope, and a fundamental and dramatic impact’. And as the CSIRO put it “Voice to throw companies, individuals and societies into freefall”. We have identified six megatrends - impactful technology, evolving communities, rapid urbanisation, empowering individuals, economic power shift and resource security with complex impact on business, economies, individuals and society. Let's take a closer look at these megatrends.

Impactful technology: “The fourth industrial revolution”, “the second machine age” or “Industry 4.0”, artificial intelligence and machine learning, cloud and quantum computing, drones and autonomous vehicles, virtual reality, 3D printing, robotics, connected devices and the internet of things. How can we ensure they can be empowering to individuals, businesses and the community?

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Evolving communities: A growing world population is projected to reach 9 billion people over the next 25 years. People across the world are having fewer children and living longer. We need to understand and address changing global needs around healthcare, retirement, flexible recruitment, lifelong learning and calls for more women to join the workforce.

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Rapid urbanisation: 1.5 million people are moving to urban areas each week. By 2030, it is believed that 61% of the world’s population will live in cities. What will this mean for our infrastructure? For food, water, energy and resources? Or for the increasing amount of people living in poverty?

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Empowering individuals: Tremendous technological advances, ubiquitous connectivity, improvements in access to education and health are empowering individuals across the world. Social platforms have fundamentally changed the way people communicate, interact and organise their lives. Entrepreneurship is driven by opportunity rather than necessity.

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Economic power shift(s): The ascendancy of countries like China and India will continue as they keep making gains in productivity whilst having the world’s largest populations. Over the coming years we will see a restructuring of the global economy with emerging economies representing more than 50% of global GDP by 2025.

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Resource security: By 2050 we will need to produce 70% more food and in a little more than a decade, demand for water will increase by 40% and the demand for energy by 50%. We need over 60 rare metals for wind and solar fuel generation, lighting, making batteries, to build electric and hybrid cars, smartphones and tablets. How do we address impending critical shortfalls?

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Sandra: We use the megatrends to identify and start important conversations. We start from the megatrends but seek to uncover, understand and shape their concrete manifestations as they impact individuals, organisations, industries and markets. How do we create hubs for innovation? How do we optimise health with wearable devices? How do ensure diversity in our organisations? How can we reduce inequality? How will blockchain change agribusiness? What if a trip to Mars was the same price of a new car? Should smartphones be free? Sydney Business Insights will help you to understand the profound changes that are influencing the future of business, individuals and society.

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Professor Whitwell: What we are doing is bringing together our researchers as well as the powerful insights from industry, government and the community. We’re creating, we’re co-developing resources that expose our students, our alumni and the broader community to inform research and critical thinking on major issues and trends as they impact the future of business.

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Sandra: Join us. The future is of our own making. Welcome to Sydney Business Insights.

Outro: You’ve been listening to Sydney Business Insights, the University of Sydney Business School podcast about the future of business. You can subscribe to our podcasts on iTunes, Soundcloud or wherever you get your podcasts, and you can visit us at sbi.sydney.edu.au and hear our entire podcast archive, read articles and watch video content that explore the future of business.

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