When it comes to industry trends, one constant remains the same year-over-year. We can always count on change. View decades past, and you may barely recognize some industries. While businesses have disappeared or faded, others have moved to the forefront.

Many industries in their infancy in 2010, such as cryptocurrency, have since made lasting impacts on the business scene and economy. At the same time, other industries, such as retail, have morphed in such a way they’re barely recognizable today. The past decade saw a continuing decline in the brick-and-mortar retail space, with some of the world's most iconic brands disappearing.

What was the strongest industry in 2010 versus 2020?

While there have certainly been many changes in the work world over the last decade, especially in the area of technology, many of the same industries continue to reign supreme. These include accommodations/travel, consulting, finance, food service, healthcare, construction, and manufacturing.

Though areas of the world have gained in manufacturing, the U.S. still ranks second to China, with 18 percent of the global manufacturing share as of 2018.

Likewise, as noted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2012, the industries of construction, healthcare, personal care, and social assistance were expected to comprise some of the fastest job growth over the past decade.

So, what has changed over the past decade? What is often drastically different is how these leading industries now go about producing and creating.

Cutting-edge technologies fueled by artificial intelligence and automation have led to a whole new world for many industries. For instance, in the healthcare industry, which had a 33.7% increase in new business formations in 2019, patient remote monitoring and telemedicine continue to expand. Additionally, AI is leading to more accurate diagnoses. Technology like 3D Printing makes it possible to more effectively create artificial bones.

Technology at the speed of light

“At the start of 2010, the world was just beginning to move into its current trend of always-on, always-connected computing,” says Patrick Cox, CEO of Tax Defense Partners, a tax negotiation and mediation company. In addition to his industry experiencing extensive changes over the last decade, he has watched myriad changes within his clients’ industries. Many of those changes have been fueled by an ever-expanding and morphing technology industry.

“The first Apple iPad debuted in 2010,” says Cox. “That made it a great time for internet infrastructure firms. 2010 also saw the launch of CDN providers, which have since captured a substantial chunk of the website security and delivery optimization market.”

As Cox sees it, the trends that started in 2010 laid the groundwork for many new work models today requiring updated infrastructures. “Everything from the latest crop of streaming services to SaaS providers has all been made possible by the groundwork laid in the early 2010s,” he says.

Rise of the gig economy and virtual workspace

Of all shifts in the marketplace over the past decade, the gig economy is the most far-reaching. Comprised of entrepreneurs and solopreneurs and totaling 57.3 million people in 2019, this workplace trend has changed many industries. At the same time, the gig economy arose because of changes within established industries as a result of the Great Recession. Employers found it necessary to cut costs. Employees who had been laid off or had pay cuts needed to supplement income.

“The entire gig economy materialized seemingly out of thin air beginning in 2010,” says Cox. “Transportation companies and websites fueling the gig economy that provide professional services have, as a result, grown into market leaders over a short time span.”

Cox notes that of all new businesses that have sprung up since 2010, the ones that comprise the gig economy have had the biggest overall impact. “These business types have upended many established markets and changed employer-employee relationships,” he says. “These industries include transportation and programming and everything in-between.”

Businesses that didn’t exist in 2010

The list of businesses that didn’t exist in 2010 that are thriving today is a long one, according to Kelley Keller, a business educator, speaker, and attorney.  

“A sampling of new to this decade businesses include e-learning, content curation, internet entertainment, digital marketing, virtual reality, data analytics, AI, cryptocurrency, 3D printing, ride-hailing services, online marketplaces for lodging, cloud storage/services (Saas) and clean manufacturing,” she says.

Within each of these business silos are myriad sub-specialties. For instance, the highly specialized field of cryptocurrency.

“The world of online currencies is thriving and has become the object of substantial speculation in the financial community,” says Stacy Caprio, a financial blogger with Fiscal Nerd. “To even own cryptocurrency requires much more technical knowledge than any other type of currency required in the past. It’s the first type of currency that is truly independent of third parties or platforms.”

The impact new businesses have had on the economy

There’s no doubt that the changes in business over the past decade have led to profound shifts in the economy. Businesses that fall under the umbrella of the gig economy, for instance, have shifted from the traditional employer model to self-employed. At the same time, this has led to a fundamental change in the tax base from W-2 to 1099 workers.

The myriad technological advances over the last decade in many ways have improved business operations and even lowered the cost of doing business. For instance, automation and artificial intelligence can now replace the need for a large workforce.

Similarly, advancements in telecommunications have facilitated seamless virtual work, cutting out the need for travel. Without physical barriers and with technology like videoconferencing at their disposal, virtual workers can surpass output more than ever before. Additionally, advances in inventory control and supply chain management and fulfillment have made running many businesses more seamless and less costly.

New jobs stemming from the changed work world

The jobs resulting from the many new industries over the last decade are innumerable,” says Keller. “Today you’ll find a demand for experts such as digital marketing specialists, social media managers, SEO specialists, content creators and curators, 3-D printers, drivers, data analysts, crypto brokers and blockchain developers, to name a few,” she says.

Other jobs that didn’t exist 10 years ago, or weren’t as prevalent, include app developers, driverless car engineers, big data analysts, cloud computing experts, drone creators and operators, podcast and video creators and producers and virtual physicians.

Skills workers need today that they didn't in 2010

Not surprisingly, many new careers have led to a call for updated skill sets. One of the obvious changes has been the need for more technological skills. In order to develop apps, for instance, a person requires a knowledge and understanding of user needs and the technical skills to design applications that meet those needs.

“In new financial arenas such as cryptocurrency, a person needs a whole host of skills, including online competency and knowledge of how programming, online money storage, and cryptocurrencies work,” says Caprio.

Besides technical knowledge, employees of today’s new business frontier require a whole host of soft skills that workers didn’t usually need a decade ago.

“As these new business models have taken root, they've required workers to adapt in ways that would have been unheard of in the past,” says Cox. “There's a lot more focus on soft skills like time management in today's workforce, mostly because independent work is so much more common.”

In his line of work, Cox is also seeing firsthand how today's workers have a need for higher-level financial management skills. “Workers in the gig economy must understand everything from the intricacies of the estimated tax system to building and maintaining their own retirement investment accounts,” he says. “Since these tasks are no longer handled by their employers, people often need a crash course in these skills just to survive in the new economy.”

Today’s workers must be more well-rounded than ever in history, adds Keller. “It’s essential that workers are able to think creatively and critically, be effective collaborators and communicators and possess technology, media, and data literacy, as well as initiative and soft skills.”

The demand for soft skills

Soft skills are a more ambiguous set of capabilities that aren’t always easy to pinpoint and to find in employees. The ability to intuit what needs to be done, as well as communicate effectively and clearly is an in-demand skill in today’s complex work landscape.

John Gluch is a Realtor and founder of the Gluch Group. The last ten years have completely transformed his business.

“Prior to the ubiquity of smartphones, real estate agents were the keepers of the information, so a huge part of our value proposition was knowing all about homes for sale,” he says. “With the internet, that’s no longer true. Much of our value has shifted to translating real estate contracts and guiding decisions in that area. We spend less time house hunting and more time writing contracts and assessing inspections and circumstances for our clients.”

These changes have altered how Gluch hires. “I now hire primarily for the agent's ability to be an empathetic and wise counselor. This is all based on their emotional intelligence.”

Moving into the next decade

There’s no doubt that the prior decade affected change in most industries. The next 10 years promise to be as ever-changing and exciting. If you’re considering opening a business in an up-and-coming industry, check out the 2019 State of Swyft Industry Report to understand what you can look forward to. Then start your business with the expert help of Swyft Filings.


Written by: Julie Bawden-Davis

Julie Bawden-Davis is a widely published journalist, blogger and author, who specializes in writing about business and personal finance. Julie’s articles have appeared in a wide variety of publications. She regularly writes for American Express Business Trends & Insights and Parade.com. For 10 years, Julie wrote weekly columns for the Los Angeles Times. When she’s not writing, you can find Julie in her Southern California garden.

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