2020 trends

By Gary C. Bizzo, IRIS

We’ve seen many innovations in this past decade that anyone in the 1960s or 1970s would have deemed impossible. 2020 will usher in enhancements and disruptions that will piggyback upon the changes in the last five years.

These top ten 2020 trends may not be a surprise to everyone, but most people will notice a change in the way we do business and entertain ourselves.

1. Quantum technology will change the way scientific discoveries are discovered and defined

A 200-second use of the Google 53-qubit Quantum computer named Sycamore performed calculations that the IBM Super Computer would take 10,000 years to accomplish. The Sycamore performed 1.5 trillion times faster and 10 million times more efficiently in terms of power usage.

With these numbers, imagine work on complex physics and math problems, formulas and equations. Simply optimizing aspects of chemistry, pharmaceuticals and engineering or enabling the creation of fusion technology will have a profound effect.

2. Nanotechnology revolution

Nanotechnology is the understanding of subatomic structures where molecular machine systems are possible. Quantum theory enables these machines to function unseen by the human eye.

Engineers are making circuit boards smaller using nanotech, surgeons are using nanomachines to fix intricate health problems and airplanes and cars are being made lighter with nanotube carbon technologies. In 2020, my company will revolutionize the energy sector using nanoparticles.

3. Streaming video is the future of entertainment

I always felt this was because of the popularity of YouTube. However, as much as we all love YouTube, its censorship and cavalier approach to monetization for creators is having a negative effect on viewers. YouTube needs to fix itself, or it will be replaced.

The Netflix platform, albeit the reigning leader of quality programming versus user-created content, is facing strong competition from Apple and Disney. With their deep pockets, watch for a war for dominance.

I’ve discounted anything from the cable networks that used to provide entertainment. When they realized “60 Minutes” could generate money for them, they switched to content and opinion as “news.” Could this be the reason CNN, ABC, MSNBC, etc. are seeing drastically diminishing viewership? People want to be entertained and informed, not fed opinion on a regular basis.

4. Retail & autonomous AI Shopping introduced by Amazon is coming faster than expected

I like to go through the line to the human cashier but often wonder how inefficient they are versus machines. I love the personal interaction but often try the automated checkout. Every time I use the automated one, it fails for some reason — and, no, I don’t think it’s user error!

Enter Amazon’s cashierless store model in which you are accessed digitally through face recognition and your selections are added to your digital account and billed to your credit card as you exit the store. No cashier, no muss or fuss!

5. Online shopping will explode

It’s growing so fast that the global online shopping market size is predicted to hit 4 trillion in 2020, according to Statista. And in the US alone, it is expected that there will be 300 million online shoppers in 2023. That’s 91% of the entire US population!

Amazon is leading the way again with one-day delivery service. That seems almost impossible but true. They are beating the heck out of established retailers like Best Buy and others. I bought a hard drive from Best Buy, but, after waiting a month, I was told I would be refunded because they lost the item in transit. That doesn’t happen with Amazon. Your biggest concern should be porch pirates (hmm, another trend?) and not the originating delivery from the vendor.

There is a dark side of Amazon’s rise. Will it take over too much of our lives? Will it make us dependent on Amazon for everything? Some say 2020 could be the year that governments place regulations on Amazon’s growth and monopoly. There is a certainty that we can’t allow super giant corporations to control us without limitations.

6. Cannabis bust in Canada

The downfall is already entrenched with the failed “experiment” in legal marijuana sales. A poor government roll-out, crazy pricing and store scarcity while product inventory is high is the root cause of its failure. A Financial Post article says, “Cannabis industry insiders are bracing for a slew of bankruptcies in 2020 as small and medium-sized companies low on cash struggle to raise funds in the downtrodden sector.”

For Narbe Alexandrian, CEO of Canopy Rivers Inc., the venture capital arm of Canopy Growth Corp., the ongoing lack of institutional investor interest is the sector’s biggest red flag going into 2020. “There’s just no money coming in, so if you have a low cash balance, you might be in trouble,” Alexandrian said. Watch for some form of Cannabis beverage in 2020 considering Canopy is 38% owned by beer company Corona.

Black market sales of weed continues to be strong at 75%, while retail growth was over-predicted with an increase of only 3% because if its new legal status.

Edibles may be a popular trend as they are supposed to be legalized in 2020. I can’t see drug dealers making brownies and Gummy Bears any time soon, and people do want some sort of consistency to the effects when they use edibles.

7. Business travel will be forever changed in 2020

With people like Greta Thunberg shaming government and celebrities, major corporations, in an effort to appear more climate conscious, will decrease business air travel in favor of virtual meetings. Personally, I like to use WhatsApp or Signal for “face-to-face” meetings — I like my cozy office.

8. The remote workplace becomes reality for many

Watch for it to ramp up in 2020 with products like Slack, Asana and Google Drive giving employees and teams more flexibility in working at home or offices in diverse geographic locations. Sure, it gives the employee more flexibility and freedom, but it also makes people more accountable because everything is measured and observed in the apps.

9. Content publishers get smarter

They are dear to my heart, both as a writer and marketer. We’ve tried for years to find the right call to action, the right content and the right systems to bring people to read quality content. Using machine learning and AI, marketers will be able to provide more relevant and better content totally suited to what we are looking for without trying to force us to buy it.

If you try to read any of the major newspapers, they will give you a taste before telling you that their premium content needs to be purchased. Machine learning will allow marketers to predict what complimentary content will give you a reason to subscribe without using blind walls to bar you from the rest of their valuable content.

10. Finite Concrete

It’s not technological per se, or sexy, but with China using 3/4 of the world’s concrete (30 billion tonnes) according to the Financial Post, there has been a run on sand. If you think that’s not a problem, much of the world’s 50 billion tonnes of annual dredged sand for concrete comes from Cambodia and Vietnam. The Mekong River’s bed has been lowered by several meters causing erosion and other problems because of the dredging.

A team of scientists in the UK has developed a biodegradable construction material made from desert sand, a resource that has until now been useless for construction. Called Finite, the material was developed by a group from Imperial College London. It is as strong as concrete but has half the carbon footprint and is abundant.

I think we will find that 2020 will bring changes that will only enhance our life. It will make it easier to accomplish tasks, save us time and improve our lives.


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Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC (LRPC) Monday Morning Minute is crafted to provide decision-makers with important information about the economy, investments and corporate retirement plans in a format that allows a reader to consume the information in less than 60 seconds. As an independent, objective investment adviser, LRPC has access to many sources of research and shares the best and most relevant information with its readers each week.

About Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC

Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC (LRPC) is a Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based independent, objective Registered Investment Adviser (RIA) providing investment advisory, fiduciary compliance, employee education, provider management and plan design services to employer retirement plan sponsors. The firm specializes in Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) strategies for retirement plans and is a pioneer in the field. LRPC currently has contracts in place to provide consulting services on nearly a half billion dollars in plan assets. For more information, please contact Robert C. Lawton at (414) 828-4015 or bob@lawtonrpc.com or visit the firm’s website at https://www.lawtonrpc.com. Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC is a Wisconsin Registered Investment Adviser.

Important Disclosures

This information was developed as a general guide to educate plan sponsors and is not intended as authoritative guidance, tax, legal or investment advice. Each plan has unique requirements and you should consult your attorney or tax adviser for guidance on your specific situation. In no way does Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC assure that, by using the information provided, a plan sponsor will be in compliance with ERISA regulations. Investors should carefully consider investment objectives, risks, charges, and expenses. The statements in this publication are the opinions and beliefs of the commentator expressed when the commentary was made and are not intended to represent that person’s opinions and beliefs at any other time. The commentary does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC and should not be construed as recommendations or investment advice. Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC offers no tax, legal or accounting advice and any advice contained herein is not specific to any individual, entity or retirement plan, but rather general in nature and, therefore, should not be relied upon for specific investment situations. Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC is a Wisconsin Registered Investment Adviser and accepts clients outside of Wisconsin based upon applicable state registration regulations and the “de minimus” exception.