8 January 2017

Work as we know it to evolve by 2046

AliResearch, the research arm of Alibaba Group, has shared its take on what our digital future will look like. At the second Vision 2046 summit in Beijing, China, the company shared its Digital Economy 2.0 report, which predicts:

The end of corporations

By the year 2020, the majority of commerce will be conducted on digital platforms, which provides consumers and merchants the infrastructure of commerce, such as data, trade, payment, logistics and etc. In the process it will give rise to the world’s first digital platform with transaction volumes that exceed US$1 trillion.

No more eight-hour employment

By 2036, around half of the workforce will be made up of self-employed and freelance workers, putting an end to the eight-hour work days. 

Centralised commerce goes extinct

By 2046, 80% of global trade will be conducted by small businesses or individuals, as the platform model for economic development will enable them to create and trade globally and freely.

Alibaba Group works to empower small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) and individuals with the ability to transform and upgrade their businesses for the future. The company anticipates the birth of a new retail industry driven by the integration of online, offline, logistics and data across a single value chain. Alibaba is also a keen advocate for the establishment of an Electronic World Trade Platform (eWTP) which encourages nations to implement free and fair trade for their SME constituents.

A report by Boston Consulting Group (BCG), also released at the summit, predicts that by 2035, China’s eGDP, a monetised measurement of the digital economy, will grow to around US$16 trillion with a penetration rate of around 48% of the wider economy, compared to US$1.4 trillion and a penetration rate of 13% in 2015. The digital economy will create some 415 million jobs, with Alibaba’s ecosystem contributing over 100 million of the job opportunities.

In the era of what it calls 'New Retail', BCG foresees that low-skill, repetitive tasks in offline stores will be replaced by high-tech equipment like touch screens, mobile apps or robots, while omnichannel sales talent will be highly valued by online and offline enterprises. Meanwhile, a 'New Manufacturing' industry will arise in which worker efficiency is greatly enhanced by the increasing use of robotics. The BCG report predicts a large number of new jobs will be created as intelligent manufacturing in China booms.

Source: AliResearch. China Foresight Forum, a new thinktank comprising 10 founding institutions including AliResearch, has been established to focus on research about the future economy.
Source: AliResearch. China Foresight Forum, a new thinktank comprising 10 founding institutions including AliResearch, has been established to focus on research about the future economy. 

"2046 may seem like a distant future but what AliResearch is initiating today, in collaboration with our peers, is nonetheless meaningful. We are in the midst of a great transformation that requires us to imagine beyond industry boundaries, geographic borders and the limitation of time. The insights emerging from our discussions today will ensure that we foresee and are better-prepared for the future and assist us to leverage the necessary platforms to maximise the socioeconomical values of the Digital Economy 2.0,” said Gao Hongbing, Dean of AliResearch and VP of Alibaba Group.

China Foresight Forum, a new thinktank initiated by 10 founding institutions including AliResearch and Chinese Academy of Social Science was established at the event to promote the sharing of learning between different think tanks with a focus on the studies of the future economy.