Skip to content Skip to navigation

9. Future predictions

Return to March 2021 update

Length: 3.5 min read;  716 words.

Note: The following paragraphs summarize the category of Future predictions observed in March. More information about the specific category from March (and previous months) can be found in the downloaded report(s).The number in square brackets (e.g., [X]) refers to a reference where the reader can find more infomation about a specific statement.  The references can be found in the References list below, Systematized References page or in the dowloaded report.


The discussion about future with predictions lessened approximately 50% in March in comparison to December (from 4.3% to 2.1%) as we are at the start of the pandemic’s end and stepping into the future. The community is optimistic about the future due to progressive vaccine rollout (at least in the US and the UK) and busy with challenges such as workspace re-entry, restarting projects, supply chain issues that are driving prices of construction materials, and labor shortage. Autodesk data shows construction bidding activity up 36% from pre-pandemic highs.[106] The companies are focused on strategies and plans put in place at the beginning of the pandemic, such as digitalization. The leaders in manufacturing, tech and retail believe that AI and automation have been adopted at a faster rate than the industries can control. Over the next two years, 53% of retail business leaders predict AI will have the greatest impact on customer intelligence, 50% expect it to impact inventory management and 49% say it will affect chatbots for customer services. [228] Savvy marketers are rethinking their tech and data strategies to double down on precision marketing following COVID-19.[250] Accelerated digital transformation is changing the AEC industry from a highly complex, fragmented, and project-based industry to a more standardized, consolidated, integrated and product-based one. The bulk of short- and long-term pandemic-driven construction industry issues has been or will be solved with technology. Futuristic building concepts are emerging like vertical fully automated grocery stores (the automation trend will happen quickly and become dominant trend moving forward in the next 5-10 years) [267], world’s first space hotel to open in 2027 [328], and the first digital home, Mars House, was sold on the NFT Marketplace. [254]

The COVID-19 crisis provoked divergent, even dramatic, reactions, with some industries taking off and others suffering badly; the effect was to shake up historic norms and portfolios are restructuring. When the economy settles into its next normal, such sectoral differences can be expected to narrow, with industries returning to somewhere around their previous relative positions. What is less obvious is how the dynamics within sectors are likely to change. [91]  Experts are using lessons from past to predict the future. Scott Galloway predicts sonic entrepreneurship boom as the pandemic was shorter than previous recessions and the recovery will be K-shaped: …”The best time to start a business is on the heels of a recession.” In the next 36 months he believes the US economy will birth a new generation of web 3.0 firms and leaders due to three factors: a) unprecedented stimulus and savings resulting in a Nazaré-like wave of consumer spending; b) a gestalt among consumers and enterprises to question the status quo, and be open to new products and services; and c) the emergence of new fields and the capital to disrupt traditional industries as immunities kick in and monopoles are broken up. He predicts four dispersion trends that will affect AEC: 1) headquarters are changing: remote work will fuel massive opportunities: a significant investment in residential RE and communities (companies that enable or enhance WFH will benefit - like Sonos, Sub-Zero, Restoration Hardware, and Slack), substantial repurposing of office real estate into residential or multi-purpose (e.g., coming soon Airbnb Office), cities will be cheaper, younger, and more diverse, all of which are inputs for startups (prediction: look for WeWork to rise from the ashes of COVID); 2) higher education going online – the pandemic moved 1.6 B people into online education and many will stay there – to look for: Coursera, expected of going public at $5B evaluation, and Indian edtech firm Byju, valuing at $15B); 3) healthtech on the rise (Healthtech startups raised $15.3B in 2020, up from $10.6B in 2019, according to Silicon Valley Bank);and  4) crypto on the rise (a $1.7T asset class that could be $130T (the size of the bond market), disperse trust (eliminate the need for inefficient intermediaries), and reduce human bias in the financial supply chain). [89] 20% of global workforce will continue to work remotely indefinitely. [91] In December the community and companies were intensely planning how to incorporate hybrid workplace into their cultures. In March companies are announcing their workplace re-entry plans; while some tech companies will work remotely indefinitely, Google, for example, commits $7B to offices and data centers in 2021.[348] Office is here to stay, just more flexible and focused on wellbeing. [324]

See December Category Summary


[89] “Scott Galloway: The Sonic (Entrepreneurship) Boom”, No Mercy / No Malice, March 26, 2021. (accessed May 09, 2021)
[106] “Autodesk data shows construction bidding activity up 36%”, Construction Dive. (accessed May 05, 2021)
[228] “What Walmart learned from its machine learning deployment”, Supply Chain Dive. (accessed May 09, 2021)
[254] “Mars House, First Digital Home to be Sold on the NFT Marketplace”, ArchDaily, March 23, 2021. (accessed May 14, 2021)
[267] “Meet the vertical automated grocery store”, Supply Chain Dive. (accessed May 09, 2021)
[324] “Kengo Kuma to Design Milan’s Biophilic Office of the Future”, ArchDaily, March 15, 2021. (accessed May 14, 2021)
[328] “World’s First Space Hotel to Open in 2027”, ArchDaily, March 15, 2021. (accessed May 14, 2021)
[348] “Google commits $7B to offices, data centers in 2021”, Construction Dive. (accessed May 07, 2021)
Monthly Summary: 
AEC and Pandemic: Response and Impact - March 2021 Update