For ASQ’s 2011 Future of Quality Study, almost 150 professionals from within the global economic framework weighed in on the topic of forces set to shape the future of quality. While the eight forces that were agreed upon overall are quite distinct, they have in common a sense of sudden emergence. Each of these eight factors has arisen with speed and urgency to affect the development of quality in the new decade and beyond – and each of them has something to say to the quality professional.
(1) Global Responsibility
Breadth of impact is becoming a more pertinent theme than ever in the decision-making processes of corporate entities. Beyond social responsibility lies global responsibility – the realization that even local decisions have an effect on global well-being and development.
(2) Consumer Awareness
Responding to, and even anticipating, consumer perceptions has become crucial in the age of rapid and widespread dissemination of data. Being ready to act before the customer has even expressed their needs is become less a kind of magic, and more a necessity.
More complex in connotation than ever, globalization has long haunted the Future of Quality Study. While its meaning has evolved over time, its significance has not waned: the marketplace has been blown wide open, and business has crept over the face of the earth.
(4) Increasing Rate of Change
Breakneck advances in technology have driven the rate of change into realms that once would have seemed absurd. With this increase in the pace of overall development comes great risk – and great opportunity.
(5) Workforce of the Future
From the places we work to the education we pursue in order to achieve qualification, the way in which we work is changing, too. Gone are the days of lonely degrees and diplomas – ongoing training and investment in workforce resources are becoming the new norm.
(6) Aging Population
While healthcare costs loom ahead, new opportunities also take form. Retirement promises to fade into obscurity, while new marketplaces and service needs are becoming more dominant than ever in response to the needs of the aging population.
(7) 21st Century Quality
Quality itself has changed dramatically, transitioning from isolated concern with a product to focus on management, customer experience and global connections. This has resulted in a much more uniformly holistic approach, and carries with it a vast scope of potential.
Less straightforward to define, but as important as any of these eight forces, innovation can be described as “the pursuit of something different and exciting.” If this last force can be channeled in the advancement of the rest, its value will be realized.
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