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UC Davis Centennial
100 years of service, solutions, impact
Graphic: Business in 100 years?

UC Davis Graduate School of Management/graphic

Business in 100 years?

In 1908 Henry Ford rolled out the first Model T, which revolutionized manufacturing, management and transportation. That same year the seeds were planted for a land-grant institution named the University Farm at Davis.

Fast forward a century and the 2008-2009 academic year marks UC Davis Centennial. The entire campus community is celebrating 10 decades of service, solutions and impact.

By any measure, UC Davis has transformed the globe, from advances in agriculture and health care to new technological and research breakthroughs in energy, engineering and business. The university’s more than 185,000 alumni live and work in every corner of the planet, making a difference and pushing the entrepreneurial envelope.

As UC Davis looks back and commemorates its first 100 years, we asked our community — professors, alums, students and executives in the broader region — what they think the next 100 years will look like in their specialty: the business world.

Here are highlights of what Graduate School of Management alumni, students, faculty, adjunct instructors and top business leaders predict the future will hold in 2109…. You may be surprised by these forecasts.


Photo: Paul Griffin

Financial reporting trends

“Financial reporting and auditing will become almost virtual, paperless, continuous and costless. Investors will monitor their investments by direct observation. Managers will be monitored directly regarding all activities other than those considered as nonpublic by the World Corporate Bill of Rights, a document agreed to by all trading nations….

“Profits from financial, tax and regulatory arbitrage will be essentially zero. The Securities and Exchange Commission and Generally Accepted Accounting Principles will cease to exist.”

— Paul Griffin, professor of accounting, UC Davis Graduate School of Management

Photo: Wil Agatstein

Instantaneous communication technology

“The biggest change for business and for society in the next 100 years is that the globe’s nine billion or so people will use instantaneous communication technology to make more responsible decisions in business and will hold their governments and themselves more responsible for their actions.”

— Wil Agatstein, executive director for the UC Davis Center for Entrepreneurship, Robert A. Fox Executive-in-Residence, 2008

Photo: Kimberly Elsbach

Artistic workers in think tanks

“A lot of artistic workers will increasingly work for think tanks, much like the innovation and R&D think tanks that exist for engineers and scientists today. These will produce ‘aesthetic ideas’ for use by a variety of product and service industries and help improve the status of ‘starving artists’ as well as the beauty of our world.”

— Kimberly Elsbach, professor of organizational behavior, UC Davis Graduate School of Management

Data direct to our cerebral functions

“Imagining 2109, could data or a photo’s image be sent directly to our cerebral functions, inasmuch as we can already summon vivid images in dreams? One thing I suspect with some confidence: Lying will become transparent, although the human tendency to misrepresent will endure through the millennia.”

— Dan Kennedy, adjunct professor, UC Davis Graduate School of Management and former publisher, Sacramento Business Journal


Extreme weather gear in new ice age

“While many businesses focused on global warming, the Earth gave most people a surprise — a new ice age in many parts of the globe.

“The North Face and other companies that make extreme weather gear become massive players on the world scene, with a gigantic retail presence as well as a private label business to all major fashion houses.

“These fashion houses are not Prada or brands we know now, but rather names only known today to a few who frequent cutting-edge Shanghai boutiques.”

— Barak Kassar ‘93, president and group creative director, Rassak Experience

Space elevator to orbit

“In 100 years, we’ll be riding the space elevator to orbit. There will be bases on the moon and Mars, and possibly a settlement on the Red Planet. Businesses will be asking themselves what value they can provide to the space industry.

“At the same time, despite advances in energy, entertainment and computer technology, the struggle for clean drinking water will be a global problem and cancer will become a daily fact of life due to ecosystem impurities. Companies will have to take employee health into account when deciding where to locate.”

— Kevin T. Crow ’98, strategy specialist, NSG Finance, Intel Corp.

White biotechnology (industrial enzymes) proliferate

“The three-year moving average of the Dow will hover in the 16,000s. Fluctuations in the Dow Jones will be more prominent than in the past century. In my sector, white biotechnology (industrial enzymes) will grow faster than red biotechnology (medicines).”

— Rodolfo Ham-Zhu ’07 UC Davis Technology Management Minor graduate, Genencor International


Photo: Shrini G. Deshpande

Never touch real money

“Advances in technology will drastically transform how people will live and work. All manufacturing will adopt a just-in-time approach.

“State-of-the-art homes will be norm with live video conferencing capability with anyone around the world. Offices, business and schools will become even more virtual as most people work or attend school from home via video conference.

“Financial transactions will be in electronic form without the need to ever touch real money. The world will be flatter and appear much smaller.”

— Shrini G. Deshpande, Sacramento Working Professional MBA student; Digital Office Technologist, Intel Corp.

Photo: Matt Robinson

A benevolent ‘Matrix

“Amazing technology, coupled with instantly collectible information about individual needs and wants, will generate immersive virtual marketplaces in which consumers can play and even live for free — passive advertising subsidizes the experience. Call it a benevolent version of Snowcrash or ‘The Matrix’–competition will keep most of the evil out.”

— Matt Robinson, first-year UC Davis daytime MBA student

Photo: Ruby Chen

Personalized medicine

“Personalized medicine will change the way patients are treated in the next century, revolutionizing health care and impacting the types of products biotech and pharmaceutical industries will produce as they try to develop more individualized treatments.”

— Ruby Chen, second-year UC Davis daytime MBA student


Mega-global, virtual, paperless and chaotic

“The great thing is we do not know what business will be like 100 years from now. Who would have guessed in 1908 what 2008 would be like: cell phones, e-commerce, social networking, Second Life….

“My best guess would be that business will be mega-global, virtual, paperless, instantaneous and, just like today, crowded, challenging, chaotic and a heck of a lot of fun. And who knows, I may have set my sights too low.

“Maybe global is too limiting. Extraterrestrial? With manufacturing, energy production, and so forth in space stations? Interplanetary? Intergalactic?”

— Barbara Grant, managing director, American River Ventures, LLC, and GMS Dean’s Advisory Council member

Working for more than one company, virtually

“Business is likely to look much different is some ways, and not so different in others. Organizations will probably be more virtual than physical. People may work for different organizations at the same time, and may not spend as much time at an office.

“Companies may be composed of alliances among many different service providers that come together to offer products, rather than doing most things in-house with employees who are dedicated completely to a single organization.

“Technology will play a very large role in making this possible. However, people and human behavior will likely be the same. The need to lead people and deal effectively with them will require the same skills as today. Successful companies will be those that attract and keep the services of the best people, and help them work together as a team to contribute their best.”

— Gary Brooks, CEO, Vision Service Plan and GSM Dean’s Advisory Council member

Photo: Pam Marrone

Close to zero waste

“Sustainability will be the standard in all business practices. The grid will be powered by all renewable energy, and company fleets will be all electric and fuel cell vehicles.

“We’ll be close to zero waste, eat mostly organic and local foods, and work in completely efficient buildings constructed to standards that far exceed today’s platinum LEED certification.

“Employees will be very diverse with no dominant ethnicity and they will work from diffuse locations even more so than today, making video communication routine. And, top-down management won’t exist; values-based leadership will thrive.”

— Pam Marrone, founder and CEO, Marrone Bio Innovations Inc. and GSM Dean’s Advisory Council member

Photo: Stephen Newberry

Intelligence smarter than we are

“Computing power that is equal to human biological brain capability will be achieved by supercomputers in a few years and available in a laptop 20 years from now.

“We will have the ability to create something smarter than we are… but what we don’t know is: Will we be able to harness this type of intelligence, or will it take over?

“Maybe we won’t need leadership under the same definition that we need it today. Maybe artificial intelligence leads us far more effectively. One hundred years from now, the concept of business and companies will be totally, radically different than how we pull groups of people together today to create and distribute goods and services.”

— Stephen Newberry, president and CEO, Lam Research Corp.; GSM Dean’s Advisory Council member; and benefactor, Stephen G. Newberry Endowed Chair in Leadership

This story first appeared in the UC Davis Graduate School of Management’s Innovator.