Digitalization has been spinning for many years, yet it's still on top of the megatrends list.
When you come to a business school, you hear about the trends that shape our lives since the very first class: if they shape our lives, the shape the markets and change the way businesses operate. Definitely, in a law school, students look at the data mining and privacy questions, which wasn't the case just a few decades ago. Should I even mention the IT students? We don't realize how many jobs were enabled by the technological advancements and the digital revolution.
Lives became faster. Seeing a person without a phone nowadays most probably means he/she lost it. Nowadays, one click finds information that used to take hours or even days to find. In one click, you can order items from abroad, see your friends who leave abroad without spending too much money, do business...We all know about the pro's of digitalization. In addition to everything discussed above, it improves the learning accessibility and indirectly teaches us about other cultures and tolerance. 👍
Undeniably, the world is still changing. In some 10 years, we'll probably have more 'wack-y' career opportunities that come from the need to support and increase the impact of digitalization. And people dig it 😉
...So far so good?
So, what is bad and usually not discussed? Ok, fake news and data leaks are widely described everywhere, we all know it.
Let's see what faster and more accessible products mean for the economics. Practically, has there ever been a better tool for capitalism? Amazon alone shipped 5 billion items in 2014. What we are talking about are:
--> increased consumer power
--> increased international trade
--> increased need for shipping
-->The average amount of CO2 commercial ships are responsible for is 866 million tons a year (2007-2012). Long-term consequences are obvious, because if the trend continues to grow, 50% of increase in these emissions will be the “best” outcome (it can grow up to 250%) by 2050.
Practically, to exaggerate a little, it means increased corporate power and a great influence on the economics. While the online shopping numbers only grow, the markets are not infinite and the resources are limited. In fact, they are decreasing every day. So, while we looked at a simple example, we also discovered a possible shortcoming of capitalism as a whole. When products become more accessible - we want them. Every few months, what we have already seems not enough. While economics might be positively affected by the growth of consumer power, the over-use of resources makes the growth temporary and questions the economics in the future.
Well, this is rather an interesting thought for you..😉
People think that digitalization is necessarily sustainable. *BOOM* - not completely! While we decrease the need for paper, which is definitely one of the major thoughts about digitalization&environment, we consume great amounts of electricity. Storing on clouds might make you skip photo-printing, but cloud services and databases consumer electricity every second.
In my opinion, the best easy-to-read source that describes this phenomenon is here: https://www.theguardian.com/global/blog/2015/nov/13/digital-revolution-environmental-sustainable. No need for us to paraphrase it.
Digitalization or no? Nobody really asked: we are connected, and there's no way/need to alter it. We need to learn how to utilize digitalization properly and read more about the growing digital world. It will help everyone be aware of how it works, what rights we have, what other consequences it implies, and how to utilize it in the good way.
To put it simply, urbanization means the tendency towards moving from rural to urban areas. Oh well, as you could already guess, the 'tendency' long ago turned into a megatrend that doesn't seem to stop in the near future. In fact, the UN has estimated the urban population to grow 1.8% per year between 2007 and 2025.
So, what are the reasons for people to give up the rural areas and move into the city? Let's brainstorm together. Education, job opportunities(!) even proximity to entertainment come up to the table.
Now, we are going to focus on the employment opportunities - one of the most probable reasons to move for the adult population. Let's face it: people move from one city to another for higher wages, since 1) there's no bad time to have extra money and career growth 2) economies always change and make us question the future we can have with the current salaries. Or maybe there's better work security - there are plenty of reasons with each individual situation. We'll just call it 'value-added' opportunities. Whatever this 'value' means for you.
To a great extent, it was caused by industrialization (when agricultural economics turns to manufacturing). Just think of when people moved into cities where factories were established. Now, industrialization proved to offer wide selection of jobs and luring career opportunities. Of course, it has caused many-many problems with the environment, especially when people didn't even know about the ecological issues linked to the production. I would be happy to say it's different today, but the population in some countries either doesn't know about it or doesn't want to think about it in return for a stable job (but we better talk about this issue in another blog post).
It might seem like 'that's it', but no. There's way more to account for urbanization. Take the commerce, for example. Do you have a wide selection of supermarket chains (consequently, better product selection), vegan corner shops, 1000000 bakeries, fashion streets and entrertainment centres in the rural areas? With the ads constantly running on TV, social media influence, and even banners around the sport games areas, our materialistic culture wants to own different things. It's a constant argument whether we've always been materialistic or we turned this way after the industrial revolution, but it doesn't alter the fact that we have more options in the cities. What about experiencing things? Being able to go out for an after-work and choose different places for a take-out? We change our lifestyles and we want to have experiences because of modernization - look it up. What I'm saying is, instead of driving many hours, lot's of people prefer moving into the urban areas and have everything on-hand.
I think there's no need to explain about education. Find me a rural area with various schools offering different emphases. Are you a university student? I'm not a stalker, but I can say you don't study in a rural area. Please prove me wrong, but most of the campuses nowadays are located in towns or cities.
Last not least, urban areas tend to have better facilities around. What do you need? A bank on every corner? Huge medical centers? Again, no need to explain. As we already found out from above, urbanization has positive effects and enhances economical and technological advancements.
In this case, with the good things come bad things :
Bite me if I'm wrong, but it's basic maths. More people in the same area = increased density. More people can now buy stuff they couldn't buy before, more people drive cars in the same area, more people use public transport...You know where I'm leading? Fumes. (And also damn traffic jams that e.g. take up 91h per person in Moscow annually).
Oh, don't forget that with everything so close and available, an average American produces 4.4 pounds of trash per day and wastes 40% of food. You know where I'm leading? Waste. Reduse-Reuse-Recycle would help save millions of lives. To be precise, World Health Organization estimates that pollution is responsible for 7 million premature deaths annually. If you ask how the heck urbanization is linked to this, re-read the above paragraph please. We didn't even touch many other contributing factors, such as growing energy use. People want to indulge themselves and many forget about everything else once they get the chance to do so...
...If they have the chance to. You see, job opportunities sound very good. They really do, and so many people moved from rural areas in an ongoing search for a job. Unfortunately, lack of qualifications or jobs in a particular sector create unemployment problems. This one leads to the increased poverty, inequality, counterfeit markets, crime rates etc. The cost of living is high in the cities, and getting jobs can take years. This can lead to many other problems, such as inability to provide children with higher education or (worst-case scenario) creation of the volatile areas and even slums.
Really, urbanization does help the economy to some extent if managed well. In any case, it's extremely hard to deal with overcrwoding and the new incoming city dwellers. Think, for example, where to find an apartment for everyone looking to settle in the area? That's why cities expand. Go to the newer city-line areas, and you'll probably find young families moving to the fresh apartment blocks. To enable that, urban planners and the government do a great deal of work to not only build as fast as possible, but also provide same quality facilities and transportation. Think of the sewage systems. New systems, old systems - you have to control their condition in every exisitng and prospective neighborhood to prevent both the discomfort and water-related health issues.
Last not least, germs. They are everywhere. Viruses spread fast enough that we can't even notice, since the exposed population is increasing. While there are several medical centers and private clinics in the cities, they always have patients. Sometimes, people don't even know about having a flu yet or feel too fashionable to wear a mask. Add up the lower immune system because of the fumes. What I'm saying is, it's easier to get sick in the city.
To sum up, urbanization knocked in our doors a long time ago. Depending on how we manage our lives and how the responsible government manages the city, good or bad consequences will prevail. No standard case as always, choose your cities and lifestyles wisely 😉