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macrotrend

Contributor(s): Ivy Wigmore

A macrotrend is a pervasive and persistent shift in the direction of some phenomenon on a global level. Examples of current macro trends include urbanization, automation and changing demographics.

Within IT (information technology), cloud computing, social media and the internet of things (IoT) can all be considered macrotrends. None of the three is likely to go away, although they may all reach a point where they are fully realized and no longer considered trends but just characteristics of the tech environment.

Trends are often characterized in terms of their longevity. The most pervasive and persistent phenomena are megatrends. The Copenhagen Institute for Future Studies defines megatrends as developing trends that predict “the probable future – or express what we know with great confidence about the future. Megatrends are certainties.” Global warming, for example, is a mega trend: something that is ongoing and almost certain to continue unless some unforeseen event forestalls worsening of the greenhouse effect.

At the low end of the scale are fads: widespread but briefly prevalent phenomena, typically lasting a few years or less. The Pokémon GO craze circa 2016 is one example. The augmented reality game achieved widespread popularity following its release; however, it is unlikely that users will be hunting Pikachu and Weedle in 2026.

Somewhere between fads and macrotrends are microtrends, which are influential in a given sphere and tend to last a few years. Microtrends are common in business. One example is the flexible workforce, in which a business retains a minimal staff and contracts out as much work as possible. Inherent drawbacks to such microtrends often become apparent in practice, leading to a trend in the opposite direction.

 

This was last updated in September 2016

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