By Dean Whittaker

Last week I had the privilege to, again, teach at the Oklahoma University Economic Development Institute (OUEDI). The two sessions I taught were: Trends Impacting Economic Development: Opportunity or Threat; and Predictive Analytics: Seeing Around Corners.

In the first session, we discussed the trends using a framework called “STEEP,” which stands for social, technological, economic, environmental, and political. I asked the class to break up into three groups and then to discuss amongst themselves what they saw as the trends impacting economic development in the next 0-3 years, 3-5 years, and beyond 5 years. Let me share with you a few of their thoughts regarding these trends:

Social – Increasing acceptance of diversity; bifurcation of society by education and income; legalization of marijuana; and global cyber warfare.
Technological – Increasing use of robotics; 3D-printing; nanotechnology; big data/data analytics; unmanned aerial aircraft (UAV); electric and self-driving vehicles; and artificial super intelligence.
Economic – Entrepreneurship; commercialization; economic disparity; increase of health care sector; increased mobility of the workplace; and expanding “sharing” economy.
Environmental – Climate change/global warming; lack of water (clean or fresh); air quality improving in US; degrading air quality in developing areas; continued fracking with unknown environmental impact; and expanding use of mass transit.
Political – Increased polarization; decreased partisanship; politics as a career; consolidation of governance; and rise of the power of city-states with the increasing urbanization of the population.
Educational – Increased disparity in educational outcomes; certification augmenting or replacing degrees; on-line, remote learning; “flipped” classroom; and continuous individualized self-paced learning.

Each of these trends could warrant an article by themselves. And they each encompass both threats and opportunities. Cyber war creates opportunity for specialists in cyber security, climate change creates opportunities for communities to come together to find solutions, and education disparity creates opportunity for re-inventing education.

In the second session, I team-taught with my good friend, Mark James, who is VP-Business Development of AEP. I discussed the use of data analytics to predict corporate behavior while Mark covered the use of social media and website design.

Mark and I both felt it was truly a privilege to work with these outstanding women and men who came to OUEDI to enhance their skills. They have such a powerful impact on the lives of those they service.