Intelligent World 2030: A New Age of Productivity for Business


In our Intelligent World 2030 report, we discuss how technology will change almost every aspect of life, focusing on “8 Outlooks” that will unfold over the next decade. In part 7 of this series, we look how new technologies will create a productivity goldmine through trackable and resilient supply chains and automated processes.


Pessimists sometimes envision dystopian visions of the future factory production line.

Robots, automation, and digitalization are seen by some as threats to traditional jobs in manufacturing, leading to mass unemployment and a world without work. However, with a rapidly ageing population and shift to knowledge-based work around the world, the reality is that there is likely to be a global labor shortage of almost 8 million semi-skilled workers by 2030.

With a rapidly ageing population and shift to knowledge-based work around the world, the reality is that there is likely to be a global labor shortage of almost 8 million semi-skilled workers by 2030.

This would lead to an unrealized annual output of over US$600 billion of production – equivalent to the loss of GDP from a medium sized country like Sweden.

If falling productivity weren’t enough of a challenge, rapidly changing customer demands are also making traditional manufacturing methods obsolete. Customers now expect more customization options, input into product design, and faster production turnaround.

Not only would bespoke products be hard to make at scale, but supply chain problems would also be exponentially more complicated. Imagine having to source thousands of different components with different quantities to make hundreds of products to different timescales – it would be a production and logistical nightmare prone to error and failure.

With current methods, we have problems in productivity, limitations in flexibility, and exposure to supply chain risks. So what’s the answer?

Unmanned operations: Meet your new AI-powered colleague

The first solution is robots. Not a terminator-style evil robot, but rather, a smart and useful one. In fact, in a decade, 1 in 25 of workers could have a robot working with them on a daily basis.

Collaborative robots

These fixed position bots could be sitting anywhere in factories, laboratories, shops, or offices performing a set number of tasks carefully, quickly, and efficiently.



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