Want a good (but bitter) laugh? Read "Manufacturing In 2020," a new report by management consulting firm Capgemini. Apparently, trends from two years ago will continue unabated into the Roaring Twenties.

Crack the bubbly! Demand will continue to increase, and markets will become more and more sophisticated. Globalization will roar forwards. Says the executive summary:

Based on responses from over 150 manufacturing companies in eight countries, the study identifies a number of key findings about possible changes in the coming years:

— Manufacturing will become increasingly global by 2020, with around 80 % of manufacturers expected to have multi-country operations, compared with just over half today.

— Supply chains will also increase in complexity and consolidate. Half the companies surveyed said they will be using fewer suppliers by 2020, but 40 % said they will be using more distributors as increased competition drives them to reach new markets.

— Manufacturers appear uncertain what actions to take about green issues, but as political and social pressure increases around emissions reduction, urgent action will be required to reach 2020 targets.

— Differences between the manufacturing industries in developed and emerging markets will also continue to evolve.

I actually feel a bit sorry for these consultants, who probably did most of their survey before large chunks of the global economy started to hit the fan a few months ago. The lead time on a big doorstopper of a report like this is probably months and months. But it does show the ever-present danger of attempting to extrapolate from last year's trends into the future. (And, just maybe, why I was wise not to go into management consulting after all.)


Another thing occurs to me: Did none of the 150 companies surveyed for this report think transportation costs might have gone up by 2020? I mean, I know peak oil is still just a theory, but it doesn't seem entirely far-fetched to think that the cheap transportation that allows us to make a widget in Asia and ship it for assembly to South America, after which it gets sold in the U.S., will be a lot harder to manage by 2020.

Note: The image up top is from a different report, "The Future Of Manufacturing," from last February. [Consultant News]