Ball If you think today's business environment is chaotic, brace yourself. You ain't seen nothin' yet.

That's a bold statement, considering all of the economic, legislative, regulatory and technological changes we're dealing with these days. But the folks at Intuit and Emergent Research insist the next decade will bring unprecedented change … and tantalizing new opportunities.

They've released a report titled, “Intuit 2020: Twenty Trends That Will Shape the Next Decade,” and it's an eye-opener.

The report identifies 20 demographic, social, economic and technology trends that will shape the next decade, and it underscores one unmistakable fact: The chaos we're feeling today will intensify as the next 10 years play out, and CPAs will play a role in bringing order to that chaos.

“The world is rapidly becoming more complex,” said Steve King, principal researcher for Emergent Research, which conducted the study in partnership with Intuit. “Small businesses in particular are going to need more assistance in understanding this complex world. Tax law changes, health care changes, environmental law changes, globalization, just to name a few — there are a lot of areas in which businesses will need help, and that's a great opportunity for CPAs.”

In its entirety, the report is too big to examine in one blog post, so we're going to spend the next few days examining each of the report's four key sections in detail. Let's start with …

Demographic trends
Here's what the report says we can expect on the demographic front in 2020:

1. Digitally savvy kids grow up and change everything.
Gen Y will mature, continuing to be quick adopters of new technology, with a focus on careers, families, home ownership and high-tech living. Gen Z will enter their teen years, natively fluent in both mobile and social platforms, as the global grid is their toy, their inspiration and their education.

2. Baby boomers gray, but they don't slow down.
Baby boomers will dominate the graying population of the industrialized world. But 2020 will see a new breed of senior citizens with “unretirement” and active engagement best describing their lifestyle choices as they continue to work in their current professions or even opt to start new careers.

3. It's a She-conomy.
Women, especially those in emerging markets, will be a dominant force in the global market, taking increased leadership responsibilities across business, government and education.

4. Cultural fusion brings global tastes to local markets.
The adoption and adaptation of global traditions into local habits will emerge as a growing trend due to the widespread use of the Web. Exposure to different cultures and practices through the Web's global grid will become the norm as consumers and businesses worldwide view, share, tweak and adopt products and practices.

5. Economic opportunities fuel urban living.
Driven by economic opportunity, the shift from rural to urban will continue, with about 60 percent of the global population living in cities and suburbs by 2020. More than 50 cities worldwide will boast more than 5 million inhabitants, with more than 20 megacities teeming with more than 10 million residents each.

So we have one of the largest generations in history — the boomers — redefining what the Golden Years look like. We have another huge generation — the millennials — replacing boomers and redefining the workplace, bringing with them new attitudes, technologies and priorities. We have women redefining leadership, and we have a swing toward multiculturalism that's redefining our lives.

It's going to be an interesting decade, isn't it? Sounds like business leaders will have to re-learn a thing or two as well.

Read the report in its entirety, then check out my interview with Emergent Research's Steve King:

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