Page 1

November 2009

HEALTHCARE: Incentivised Wellness Push may come to shove and soon your employer could be influencing what you eat, whether you smoke and how much you exercise. Obesity = Public Health Enemy Number One

➔ Globally, there are more than 1 billion overweight adults; at least 300 million of them are obese.

➔ Obesity and overweight pose a major risk for chronic diseases, including type-2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension and stroke, and certain forms of cancer.

➔ The key causes are increased consumption of energy-dense foods high in saturated fats and sugars, and reduced physical activity.

➔ A recent study estimated that 63% of heart attacks in

Companies Now Weighing into the Debate

➔ The checklist is growing for what is deemed unhealthy and increasing numbers of people are being flagged as potential hazards in regards to health insurance coverage and workplace health.

➔ This is just the beginning. Employers started with smokers. Now if you like doughnuts or have a guilty pleasure for a Big Mac you will most likely find yourself in the future battling high levels of scrutiny from your employer and health insurance company.

➔ The trend of paying employees to lose weight or quit smoking is growing fast. According to one source, 80% of big companies now offer financial incentives for participating in wellness programmes, up from 40% three years ago.

➔ Some US companies have been rewarding employees for losing weight for about five years already and saving themselves an average 10% of health care costs year on year.


CSR/CONSUMER: Plastic’s not Fantastic Plastic exists in multiple forms and has become ubiquitous in our daily lives. However, a growing movement against plastic will unite a large segment of values-based consumers concerned about the impact on the environment and the health of their families. Are we moving towards a Post-Plastic Society? Drowning in an Ocean of Bags

➔ In spite of a trend towards encouraging recycling and reusable canvas bags, plastic bags are still omnipresent in our daily lives and have a harsh environmental impact on our ecosystems.

➔ Every year, approximately 500 billion plastic bags are used worldwide and billions of those are dumped into the oceans. Countless wildlife, including sea-lions, whales, birds and turtles ingest the plastic bags and die every year. Graphic images of polluted oceans and affected wildlife arouse strong emotions & allow activists to put their arguments across in powerful fashion.

Western Europe and 28% of heart attacks in Central and Eastern Europe are due to abdominal obesity (a high waist to hip ratio), and those with abdominal obesity are at over twice the risk of a heart attack compared to those without.

➔ In the UK alone, it is claimed that seven million people have

➔ From Australia to the UK & across the USA, politicians

pre-diabetes, an under-diagnosed condition that makes them up to 15 times more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes. But pre-diabetes can often be reversed by losing a moderate amount of weight, adopting a healthy, balanced diet and increasing physical activity levels.

and corporations are actively pondering banning or taxing plastic bags. One of the most profound signals of this shift is the decision by the Chinese government to ban plastic bags in China, shutting down a $300 million dollar plastic-bag manufacturer overnight.

➔ It is such a huge problem that governments fear they will no longer have the funds to deal with it.

Consumer Shifts

➔ Despite the numerous negative consequences of the


global economic downturn, recession makes everybody – consumers included – more efficient and it is this necessity that can boost green behaviour and lead to less waste. While sustainable packaging is not yet the main reason for purchasing a product, it is increasingly becoming a consumer expectation.

➔ The value of the language industry within the EU was recently estimated at 8.4 billion € for 2008. This comprises the industry sectors of translation, interpreting, software localisation & website globalisation, language technology tool development, language teaching, consultancy in linguistic issues and organisation of international conferences with multilingual requirements. This entire industry is, however, at risk from technological progress.

including ethics, economics and environmentalism that is driving consumer choice.

➔ Many consumers claim to have altered purchasing patterns in response to packaging concerns. Boycotting products could be the next – more successful – tactic deployed.

➔ Although a British keypad cannot transform into a Russian

The Human Cost

one, a touch screen keypad can, rendering the process of switching from one language to another all the more easy.

➔ Plastic bags are more of a danger to wildlife than humans but a ubiquitous compound in plastics - Bisphenol A (BPA) is of increasing concern to consumers. This chemical has become a key building block of plastics from polycarbonate to polyester. To give an idea of scale, the U.S. alone manufactures more than 2.3 billion pounds (1.04 million metric tonnes) annually. food contamination; it also makes plastic cups and baby and other bottles transparent and shatterproof.

➔ BPA has been linked to human health impacts, such as heart disease, as well as developmental and reproductive disorders in animals.

➔ A new E.U. law (Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemical Substances, or REACH), requires that chemicals, such as BPA, be proved safe. Currently it continues to be used in Europe, although certain States in the US have managed to ban it.

➔ This is not science fiction - by 2013 a supercomputer will be built that exceeds the computational capabilities of the human brain. Google already claims "automatic and correct" translation in 10,664 language pairs. Microsoft allows you to integrate its translation technology into Office 2007 to translate whole documents.

➔ Sustainability is one of a growing number of issues -

➔ BPA is routinely used to line cans to prevent corrosion and

Technology at the Forefront

➔ Voice recognition software is advancing in leaps and bounds and there is the real possibility of a scenario where we will no longer need to take language classes or employ translators. There are already multilingual Text-to-Speech translators on the market.

TECHNOLOGY: Polyglot Internet Will the potential shift from a predominantly Anglo-Saxon web have a dramatic effect on the way global issues are perceived and communicated? And how soon until it becomes unnecessary to learn another language other than your mother tongue?

➔ The polyglot internet is a rapidly developing animal and as more and more tools and systems are built to bridge the gap between languages - we can expect to see a massive change in the function of language on the net.

➔ That in itself will probably also have a pervasive effect of changing language itself (as has already happened with SMS).

Anglo-Saxon Dominance May End Soon

➔ The globalisation of the Internet has brought connectivity


to almost 1.3 billion people thus rendering it profoundly polyglot. Wikipedia is now available in more than 210 languages. Weblog search engine Technorati sees at least as many blog posts in Japanese as in English, and some scholars speculate that there may be as much Chinese content created on sites like Sina and QQ as on all English-language blogs combined.

The working environment is undergoing profound change, driven both by automation, connectivity and also by a shift in personal values away from presenteeism towards flexibility and public service. Freedom for the Workers

➔ In one of the biggest changes since the internet became

➔ Currently millions of workers freelance around the globe.

popularized in the early 1990s, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or Icann, has very recently opted to allow 17 other scripts to be used for Web addresses. The new alphabets include Chinese (both traditional and simplified), Hebrew, Tamil and Amharic.

While the recession is driving these numbers ever upwards, it is not the only reason for this rise. There is a definite move towards a better work-life balance and the opportunity to freelance allows greater scope to work non-standard hours than most workplaces have traditionally envisaged.

➔ There is conflicting evidence as to what percentage of the Internet is in English. Latest research suggest 80% but this data needs to be updated and made freely available in order to monitor any tipping point from one language to another.

➔ However, smart companies are instituting shorter working weeks and highly flexible schedules and have actually seen increases in productivity as a result. This can be explained in part by advances in technology and a degree of constant connectivity that enables us to be working even whilst participating in family activities. Significant advances such as cloud computing enable access to data that was historically only available on a local server. And less workplace-related stress makes for a happier, healthier workforce.

➔ The Internet is the medium through which information is found, communicated and combined into knowledge. And if we assume that knowledge feeds policy decisions and politics, then it is not a stretch to say that the current English dominance on the Internet favours Anglo-Saxon ways of looking at the world, at global politics and at global culture. But for how much longer and, if it does not stay that way, is there a risk of fragmentation?

➔ Of course, some types of work such as those in the

Do You Speak My Language?

manufacturing industry necessitate much more regimented working hours and worker presence. But it cannot be long before increasing automation reduces this need too.

➔ Crucially, 52% of consumers will only buy something from a Web site in their own language, according to a survey of more than 2,400 consumers in eight countries. In France and Japan, that figure increased to more than 60%. Consumers who did not speak any English were six times more likely to avoid English Web sites altogether.


Influence of Millennials

➔ The workplace has also started to be highly influenced by Millennials. This generation is not motivated by the same values as previous ones; they want to be successful but often in ways driven by the chance to make a difference. In the UK, public sector jobs are the top choice for graduates and there is a notable turning away from some big-money sectors. Millennials are also highly interested in a looser, more flexible attitude to working lifestyles.

Jobs of the Future

➔ A glance into the not-so-distant future throws light on a totally new set of careers that do not even exist today. It is not hard to imagine - given the addictive nature of Twitter that we might eventually need a Social Network Worker to help those marginalized or traumatized by social media? We can equally easily see the need for a Virtual Clutter Organiser to help us manage our increasingly complex electronic lives. Waste & privacy are concerns for all and there is sure to be a pressing need for Waste Data Handlers who specialise in secure data disposal.

those who have been over exposed to information in the course of their life and simply can no longer take on any more information. Due to the huge advances being made in bio-tissues, robotics and plastics, the creation of body parts from organs to limbs - will soon be possible, requiring Body Part Makers, Body Part Stores and Body Part Repair Shops.

➔ And, to regulate all of the above, Virtual Lawyers will be required to resolve legal disputes which could involve citizens resident in different legal jurisdictions.


To request further information, give feedback or suggest a future topic for the newsletter, please contact: Elaine Cameron Strategic Research & Innovation Group, EMEA And don’t forget to follow on Twitter:

➔ As the threats and impacts of climate change increase, a new breed of Climate Change Reversal Engineer-Scientists will be required to help reduce or reverse the effects of climate change on particular locations. This in turn could necessitate the role of Weather Modification Police will need to control and monitor who is allowed to shoot rockets containing silver iodine into the air - a way to provoke rainfall from passing clouds.

➔ As the world’s population grows older, Old Age Wellness Specialists will emerge, drawing on a range of medical, pharmaceutical, prosthetic, psychiatric, natural and fitness solutions to help manage the various health and personal needs of the aging population. Memory Augmentation Surgeons will be needed to add extra memory to people who want to increase their memory capacity and to help


Future Perspective - November 2009  

Future Perspective - November 2009