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FUTURE 4.0 - How Clear is Your Member's Crystal Ball

As we approach the coming decade, many members

in associations are uncertain about the

future. The 2020 elections are hitting high gear. Ripping the airways are numerous economists that are predicting the economy will fall into another recession, everyone is wondering where are all the workers that they need to hire, and change is happening at a record pace.

These four key elements are weighing heavy on every member, causing their crystal ball of the future to be in a fog.

Associations that rise above that fog into what I call FUTURE 4.0 are going to be the associations who have members that thrive in the next decade of the 20's. Think about it...thriving members means a thriving association. Uncertainty leads to no investment into the association or the future, which means members simply try to survive. I don't know about you, but as an association CEO and futurist, I want members who THRIVE...not just survive.

The decade of the 20's will be the most prosperous decade in our history for those who engage the principles of FUTURE 4.0 and outpace the change racing at them.

The following are a core set of principles of FUTURE 4.0 that every association and member needs to adopt in order to thrive and create clarity in their future. Clarity brings certainty, which pushes your members to engage and invest in the growth of your industry.


Forbes is predicting that 40% of all Fortune 500 companies here today will not be here in 2029 due to disruptive market forces. Change will happen at speeds never before seen because of the combination of three dynamic forces noted in the next principle. New business models like UBER, Amazon, Zillow, and AirBnB are taking over major industries in record fashion. When it comes to change, it is important that your members understand what I call "C.U.T."

"C" is for CONSTANT. Change is NOT something that we get to at some point. It is racing at your members faster than ever before. "U" is for URGENCY. It is critical that every employee in your member companies has an urgency to change in constant motion. Everything is in real-time and companies need to adapt. "T" is for TIME. Because change is happening so fast, you do not have the luxury of time on your side. Looking at your business plan once a year is not good enough. You must be analyzing it at least quarterly to make adjustments in real-time, and stay ahead of the competitive forces noted in the next principle.


In today's economy, three driving forces are working together to cause the perfect storm of change. Interconnectivity has caused the supply chain to shift dramatically in every industry. You used to be able to worry only about your customer and supplier one step up or down in the supply chain. Now, because of how fast change impacts the entire supply chain, you need to know the demands of the entire supply chain, because changes up and down stream can influence your business model so fast. The three forces driving change now and over the next 20 years are:


With the two largest generations hitting the ages of 73 (baby boomers) and 33 years (Millennials), the U.S. economy, in the 20's, will boom like never before. You have more Boomers living into their 90's, spending their retirement money, and over 100 million Millennials hitting their 30's (prime spending years) in the next 25 years. If your members make or sell any product that are bought by anyone in their 70's or 30's, they can expect record volumes the next 10 to 15 years.


The decade of the 20's will bring more change in ten years in technology than the previous 50 years combined. Market disruption and unlimited funding for new, innovative technologies have eliminated the barriers of entry at any age for new market-changing technology. Four emerging technologies will change everything about the future:

  • Automated Self-Driving Vehicles

  • Additive Manufacturing - 3D Printing

  • Artificial Intelligence - Robotics

  • Blockchain

While there are numerous technologies, these four are going to disrupt how everything in our society evolves.


Consumer buying habits are a game changer now because your brand is not what a company tells the consumer it is. Emerging habits like rentals, sharing, subscriptions, and swap commerce are all changing how your members must go to market. Your brand is what a consumer tells another consumer it is. Consumers, through social media, have dictated how consumer buying habits are changing. Every market on earth can change in an instant based on how connected consumers are to one another. In the decade of the 20's, CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE will be everything. With consumers able to rate, review, and recommend companies within seconds, it is critical that your members are fully customer-centric in everything they do.

The bottom line is, these three forces will drive change in every industry in 2020 and beyond. Do your members know the inside keys to leveraging them in order to prosper? They should.


No company will be successful without embracing the Internet of Things and Industry 4.0. With the labor shortage being a huge issue through 2029, companies who want to maximize throughput, productivity, and sales are going to have to automate and connect five key areas of their operations:

  • People

  • Machines

  • Processes

  • Technology

  • Information

Whether you are a one person business or a multinational company, the ones who move products and services from inquiry, receiving, to shipping with the least amount of human labor will be the ones who win in the future. Don't get me wrong...automation isn't about eliminating jobs, but it is about capacity expansion. Automation is about growing your company without adding more people, who aren't there to hire anyway. Those who embrace automation to expand capacity with current levels of employees will see great growth opportunities over the next 20 years.

So there you have it...FUTURE 4.0 is the key to your members thriving in 2020 and beyond. As an association, you need to ask yourself, "Are you driving the information and conversation to your members so they know what they need to know in order to own their future?" I hope so, because thriving members drive thriving associations!

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