Global Megatrends and Industry Division S
This industry is the perhaps the underappreciated type of connective tissue that helps our cities and homes to functional well. For the range of services covered by this division are all non-tradable. It’s the hairdressers and the local chamber of commerce, it covers religious organisations and the local dry cleaner, it’s the businesses that repair and service the cars we drive and even the musical instruments we play.
And change has come to this industry as well. Better tools for hairdressers, the displacement of physical networking in business groups by social media, a wider range of message delivery methods for churches, and more complexity in a car’s under-the-hood components. And change is what this article is canvassing. Its about what could happen in terms of careers and business. It is a futurist’s take on how things might pan out over the next 10 years or so.
Specifically, though, the future of this industry is viewed through the lens of climate change and computerisation. For these are the two global megatrends that are shaping much of the world as we know it. There are other global megatrends, in areas such as increasing pluralism in society and shifting demographic balances, but their influence on the Other Services industry is not as significant.
About the global megatrend of climate change
The energy that Earth receives from the Sun is central to how our climate works. The Earth and the atmosphere operate just like the greenhouses used in certain types of farming (eg. market gardeners that grow tomatoes in glass houses). In both cases, light and heat from the Sun is used to stabilise the climatic conditions. For Earth, incoming solar energy is transferred back upwards through reflection (ie. from areas of sand, snow and ice), evaporation (returning as precipitation), and infrared radiation (from areas of land, water and vegetation). It is the physics of this last form of energy, infrared radiation from the Earth’s surface back into space, that causes climate change.
For just as the walls of a market gardener’s glass house traps heat, so too does carbon dioxide and methane in Earth’s atmosphere. Hence, the greater the concentration of these green house gases in the atmosphere, the greater the greenhouse affect upon the Earth.
For the centuries prior to 1950, the concentration of the dominant greenhouse gas (carbon dioxide) has been measured at less the 300 parts per million. Since that time, CO2 concentration has risen about 40%.
The impact of this rising greenhouse effect, which will continue well into the future across all eco-systems, has been understood by the scientific community for many years. Because of the set of well-established scientific physical principles, the record of the distant past found in nature, the data from 150 years of scientific measurements, and the development of increasingly accurate computer-based climate models, scientists are well aware of what climate change will do to the Earth and its inhabitants
About the global megatrend of computerisation
Just as computers have become more complex and relevant to increasingly wider variety of situations, so too has computer education.
Today, there is vocational education to teach topics such database management, networking and software development. And there are undergraduate and graduate programs covering subjects such as artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, data forensics and information systems.
But at the dawn of the computing age, in the post World War 2 period, relevant education was limited and primitive. While some universities added units to what their engineering faculties taught, most of the training available was delivered by the companies designing and building computers.
As the decades rolled on, and computing went from a thing of fascination to widespread use, the treatment of the different sub-fields of computing changed. For example, programming was first seen as an art form, early educators were mostly self-taught, and the world of computing took many years to be recognised as an academic field of study in its own right.
And today, not only is computing taught in schools, colleges and universities, but educators in a wide range of non-computing subjects use the technology to teach their students.
The impact of these two influences
What of the impact of climate change upon the Other Services industry?
The primary source of the impact will come from industry participants moving toward more energy efficient operations. Hairdressers and beauty service providers, for example, will shift to cleaner and greener sources of electricity. Whether by an initiative of the landlord, or the selection of salons.
Funeral directors may shift to environmentally friendly cremations (ie. water cremations). Places of worship may be attracted by the operational and reputational benefits of solar power and batteries. More community groups will seek grants to support a transition to energy efficiency for the places where they meet.
Travel arrangements for business and labour associations are likely to be affected. Long distance air travel to meetings and conferences could well be replaced by either rail or by video and/or virtual reality conferencing technology. A similar impact could be felt by people who need to travel to religious services, events and conferences.
Another outcome that will be realised is in an increase in the number and size of climate-change related community groups. For example, as electric vehicles become more common place, it is would be unsurprising to see the establishment of local electric vehicle associations, or chapters of such national and/or international bodies. Another example could be groups that focus on climate refugees with sister cities. Or scientific clubs devoted to observing and collecting data about environmental conditions and the status of fauna and flora. Or even groupings of concerned citizens offering counselling and human resilience training to help the community cope with effects of the changing climate.
A third way that this megatrend will influence this industry division is in through its repair and maintenance subdivision. As more sub-sectors of the economy move away from a linear approach to value creation to a circular approach, the narrative and practice of “repairing is better than replacing” will take hold.
Secondly, what of the impact of increasing computerisation upon the Other Services industry?
Consumers have benefited from the increased computerisation of manufacturing. Especially in the market of domestic goods. One benefit is lower prices due to improvements in production efficiency. Another benefit is improvements in relative quality due to better monitoring and consistency in the production process.
However, because of these improvements a consumer’s replace-repair calculation increasingly tips to the replace side of the equation. The flow-on is a reduction in the use local domestic goods repair shops – a trend that will continue.
A similar trend will continue in the automotive space – a consolidation in the market for those delivering maintenance and crash repair services. In the case of maintenance, with a rising portion of cars being powered by computer-rich electric engines rather than combustion chambers, fewer moving parts means fewer people needed to service the domestic fleet. Add in the transition of the ordinary passenger vehicle to what can be called a “computer-on-wheels” and the conditions are ripe for this contraction in the number of businesses and people serving this market. A trend that is magnified by certification requirements limiting access to spare parts, by the cost of diagnostic machines, and by the level of expertise required to maintain them.
For crash repair services, improvements in handling and collision avoidance technology will similarly reduce the demand. Considering how vehicle manufacturers have been progressing through the Society of Automotive Engineer’s six levels of autonomy (driver assistance through conditional automation, to full automation), it is easy to conceive that at some point we will experience lower frequency of road trauma because of a critical mass of automated road transport.
All service providers in this industry division have benefited from computerisation in terms of marketing opportunities. Including social media, web-sites and search engines. As digital technology continues to create new marketing channels, local providers will benefit as well.
Some of this industry’s service will benefit from improvements in virtual and augmented reality – just like other industries have. One example is in the hairdressing and beauty services sub-sector, where virtual overlays of new hairstyles, facial makeup and nail colour can be offered. Another, although squeamish, example could be some form of “last words” virtual presence (built from photos and videos from their online activity) of the person being honoured at a funeral home service. A third application could be in the form of key speakers attending business association meetings or religious services through a holographic presence.
Another aspect of life that this industry division will increasingly offer services in are the ongoing management of individual and organisational assets. When a person passes away, perhaps it will be those offering funeral services who assist in the upkeep or dispersal of private digital assets. When it comes to the commercial digital assets of a local small-business owner who passes away, the range of potential stakeholders can be quite disparate. Situations like these may be beyond the ken of funeral service providers, and thus a new set of providers may appear.
In summary, as with other industry divisions, we can see that the global megatrends of climate change and computerisation will continue to have an impact the Other Services industry for the foreseeable future. Climate change will primarily be felt in terms of how participants in local events and consumers of local services respond to any perceived and real environmental impacts of that participation and consumption. Computerisation will mainly have an impact upon how value-add is achieved in each of the sub-sectors. Ideas and actions from other industry divisions will flow into the Other Services industry.
What are your prospects
From the preceding, and from a career perspective, there are several observations that can be made:
If you are more the “get it done” type: you’ll be maintaining and/or using equipment with greater digital functionality, and you’ll be more environmentally conscious about the services you provide
If you are more the “thinking” type: there’ll be more demand for you to analyse what is happening in other industries and apply it where feasible
If you are more the “creative” type: there’ll be opportunities to enhance service delivery with advances in digital technology
If you are more the “helper” type: you’ll be needed to guide local business owners across the industry grapple with the environmental and digital changes that seem to be being forced upon them
If you are more the “leader” type: you’ll be actively seeking for industry sub-division best practice, and looking for ways to implement these best practices
If you are more the “structure” type: you’ll be faced with not only changing regulations, but also changing market dynamics
Overall, from a career perspective, in the years ahead you’ll need to comfortable with an industry that in many ways is being challenged by these two global megatrends. While the challenge will come from within the industry, what happens in other industries will flow through to it.
And from a business perspective, like with other industries, when it comes to responding to climate change it is all about mitigation (ie. shifting focus to reduce risk) and resilience (ie. fortification to handle risk). And, when it comes to computerisation, its all about software and using data. So, for those operating within the retail industry, likely business prospects are along the following lines:
Mitigation: diversify service offering, integrate into circular economy
Resilience: expand climate-affected capacity, expand business network
Software: create value-add services, use leading edge marketing technology
Data analysis: examine market consolidation prospects, examine customer sentiment
Overall, and quite obviously, for businesses there are both risks to be aware of and opportunities to exploit in the change that is happening.
The Other Services industry, like all other sectors of any economy, is being affected by the global megatrends of climate change and computerisation. Not only will these phenomena continue to change the industry, but because this industry is in many ways affected by other industries – what happens in other sectors will influence it. Competition, as a result of the actions other local industry units to these megatrends, will cause change from within. Whereas change will flow through to this the industry from other external sectors.
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