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macrotrend

What is a macrotrend?

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

Within IT (information technology), edge computing, robotic process automation (RPA), and blockchain technologies 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. For example, cloud computing was considered a macrotrend, but today it is just a common characteristic of enterprise infrastructure.

Who is using RPA?
Robotic process automation is an example of a macrotrend in IT today.

Macrotrends are often characterized in terms of their longevity and are influenced by broader directional shifts or megatrends. The Copenhagen Institute for Futures 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 megatrend: something that is ongoing and almost certain to continue unless some unforeseen event forestalls the worsening of the greenhouse effect.

Macrotrends vs. microtrends

Macrotrends influence microtrends, which are momentary and impact a smaller population. For example, fads are widespread but are briefly prevalent phenomena, typically lasting three to five years or less. For example, patchwork jeans quickly became a trend in 2021 as denim made a comeback from the 90s and 2000s. However, it did not last, as most people switched back to conventional jeans.

Microtrends are common in business. One example is the flexible workforce, in which a company retains 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.

See also: greenhouse gas, multi-cloud strategy, edge computing use cases, distributed ledger technology

This was last updated in September 2022

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