“If you dislike change, you’re going to dislike irrelevance even more.” —General Eric Shinseki
When the calendar flips over from December to January, it’s common to pause, take a breath, and look ahead at what the future may hold.
To that end, we hosted our 28th webinar in the New Tomorrow Community Conversations series last Thursday where we were joined by a very special guest: Mauro Guillén, holder of the Zandman Endowed Professorship in International Management at the Wharton School of Business (University of Pennsylvania) and Director of the Penn Lauder Center for International Business.
Besides being a sociologist and political economist, Mr. Guillén is an internationally renowned author who recently published 2030: How Today’s Biggest Trends Will Collide and Reshape the Future of Everything.
After opening remarks from AZA President/CEO Dan Ashe and WAZA President Dr. Martin Zordan, Guillén shared his prognostication on what the next ten years may look like and the key trends that will affect zoos and aquariums.
Takeaways from the conversation included:
We’re on the cusp of the biggest set of societal transformations since World War II.
When change happens, it happens very quickly, and we’re on the precipice of massive shifts that will affect every organization in three key areas: demographics, philanthropic funding, and technology.
Follow the babies.
It may seem obvious, but the simplest way to make predictions about the constituents and consumers of tomorrow is to track the babies of today. Demographics worldwide will have shifted significantly—by 2030, for the first time, over half of young people will be members of groups that we currently refer to as “minorities.” So, if you’re a business targeting people with children, you need to be prepared for that! Another prediction from Mr. Guillén: by 2030, there will be, for the first time, more grandparents than grandchildren. While zoos and aquariums have traditionally thought of young families as their primary constituents, these organizations are going to have to reevaluate that strategy or risk missing out on a huge chunk of the market.
Gender dynamics and philanthropy.
As of today, married women in the United States earn more than their partners in about 40% of households. By 2030, for the first time, that number will exceed 50%. Women’s education and earnings are growing by leaps and bounds. The number of high net-worth individuals has doubled since 2007, and we’re already at the point where about 50% of them are women. In short, control of wealth is shifting. This indicates a major shift in terms of the gender source of fundraising efforts! Guillén cited research showing that women have different priorities than their male counterparts when it comes to philanthropy. What’s most important to them? Education, healthcare, and security. The fundraisers of tomorrow need to adjust their strategies to appeal to the changing fabric of the major donors of the future.
Embrace technology or be overtaken by it.
It goes without saying that technology is advancing at breakneck speed, and it’s also becoming more integrated in our daily lives with every passing day. As we sit here in early 2021, we’ve all but physically merged with computers—you could say we’re just barely “pre-cyborg.” Previously fringe curiosities like virtual reality and robotics are now more common (and more advanced) than ever, and that trend is only continuing. Zoos and aquariums need to figure out how to strike a balance between the natural world and technology—how to make sure “real experiences” are enriched by technology as opposed to replacing them. Otherwise, these “real experiences” risk becoming “retro.”
If you missed this webinar, make sure to check out the recording here, and visit our New Tomorrow Community Conversations page to register for upcoming webinars.