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Part 1: The Next 5 Years Part 2: The Cashless Society, 3D Printers and Piracy, Mobile devices as External Brains ...and more Part 3: Transition Traumas, Brands with Purpose, Interdependence not Independence
Disruption - The Next 5 Years
http://www.futuristgerd.com/gerds-guide-to-disruption-the-next-5-years-part-1/ - March 5, 2013
Greetings everyone, on the occasion of the launch of my new site I have decided to resume some more serious blogging activities, at least once every week. I kind of stopped doing this 3 years ago (due to too many speaking gigs and the rise of fast and easy content curation tools such as Twitter and Tumblr), and I really feel like there’s something missing here, so… stay tuned (via RSS?) for my weekly excursions. We are entering an era of information tsunamis: mind-boggling global data torrents , all-pervasive social-local-mobile (SoLoMo) connectivity, widespread ‘wikilikean’ transparency expectations (both B2C as well as B2B), rapid changes in interface technologies (AR, gestures, voice-control, nanotechnologies, bionics, AI etc), the hyper-realtime speed of information and media, and of abundant consumer choice in pretty much every sector of commerce and business. Here are the first 7 trends for your consideration: 1) The end of offline – at least in the technical meaning of that word – is near. We are becoming a society of always-on, hyper-social and always-findable humans – and this is both very good and very bad. As Sophocles once mentioned to me back when I was an arduous student of greek: “Nothing vast enters the lives of mortals without a curse“.
Being Offline is clearly becoming the new luxury and will become a highly cherished attainment. De-teching, un-plugging and all kinds of ‘digital detox’ remedies will be widespread but sadly for most of us will only bring occasional reprieve from ‘being on the grid’. A new sense of responsibility, and taking care of one-self, will need to develop so that we can learn to cope with information and connectivity overload – much like television or the telephone in the past. But careful: SoLoMo technologies are just so much more addictive:) 2) The global consumerization of IT represents a hugely impactful trend. Consumers are already starting to lead (rather than follow) enterprises in the use of technology such as apps and tablets. ‘Shadow-IT’ is becoming a big issue as professionals are bringing their own devices to work (BYOD), and are now expecting their own company’s technology and products to be as fast and easy-to-use as whatever else they are using, privately. 3) A true revolution in data-input methods is imminent: we are moving from GUI (graphic user interfaces) to NUI (natural user interfaces), from mouse & keyboard to speech, gesture- and yes, even thought-controlled devices or what IBM calls ‘cognitive computing‘. I think that very few computing devices will use ‘traditional’ means of input in less than 10 years. As far as general communications, reading and browsing, and to a large extend shopping and e-commerce is concerned, mobile devices, smart-phones and tablets are already taking over from desktop and laptop computers – and we can expect that trend to only accelerate. Internet access will be like air or water (i.e. taken for granted but still paid-for ;) and not-for-work computing will shift almost entirely to mobile devices and the mobile Internet. Almost all content will be consumed on mobile devices, first, and multi-platform use of media becomes the global standard. 4) Almost all business – including those in the hereto lesser-impacted B2B sectors such as banking, energy and raw materials – will become socially-driven (especially those based on digital products). Peer to peer recommendations, ratings, endorsements and all kinds of Likeonomics are already widespread but will essentially replace CRM in the near future; the same goes for hiring and general HR needs (witness the rise of LinkedIn as a global HR resources pretty much eliminates the need for traditional headhunters). Since most social business is essentially data- , sharing- and permissiondriven (sorry to use that buzz phrase again) Data is indeed becoming the new oil. The global and radical empowerment of ‘the people formerly known as consumers’ via cheap, powerful and ubiquitous SoLoMo technologies will be a huge game changer (yes, both an opportunity and threat) – and this will really get cooking when the other 3 Billion in BRICs and CIVETS are coming online. You thought it was confusing now – just give it another 2 years. 5) Very very huge gigantic enormous big data, everywhere. Data levels, depth and sheer frequency will reach previously unimaginable pace and proportions, and anyone / anything having to do with data-mining and management will be in very high demand (watch for the usual snake-oil
vendors creeping up like wildfire, as well). The consequence: curation, context, relevance, timeliness and overall sense & meaning-making as well as totally intuitive pattern recognition (i.e. the human part of the data deluge) will become infinitely more important than mere access to lots of information, content or data: meaning will actually trump noise. 6) In the dawning knowledge- and experience society, we are quickly shifting from downloads to flows, and from stuff to bits, both in terms of technology as well as in terms of our user behavior and actual consumption habits. Information is no longer (just) stored and kept for later, rather, it’s accessed and filtered and sifted, when and where and how it’s needed, in realtime, realplace, real-life. Technology will also move from relying on search, files and pages to reading, understanding and enabling flows and streams (cloud, social, local, mobile). Read more about this topic on Kevin Kelly’s Google+. 7) The Internet of Things, and pervasive machine-to-machine connectivity is becoming very real, very fast. Wireless networks, RFIDs and NFC technologies will seamlessly and ubiquitously connect people (if not their actual brains than their devices) to things to machines, and vice versa, and artificial intelligence and ultra-smart electronic agents will glue all this together. Ericsson estimates that 55 Billion devices will be connected in 2015 – obviously this will have huge privacy and ethical implications, as well. Watch these movies: “Connected” by Tiffany Shlain, “Robot & Frank” and ‘The Joneses” to get a very real glimpse of these trends. The Internet is gradually becoming an extension of our brains; and mobile devices are already our external brains. Is the next stop the actual integration of the Internet in our bodies (Iris implants etc), cyborgs after that… singularity, transhumanism? Not sure what to think of that, really, but… Ray Kurzweil is ready to tell you.
The Cashless Society, 3D Printers and Piracy, Mobile Devices as External Brains …and more
http://www.futuristgerd.com/gerds-guide-to-disruption-part-2-the-cashless-society-3d-piracy-mobile-devices-as-externalbrains-and-more/ - March 12, 2013
Before I dive in, this is a key point to remember: because of global technology-fueled empowerment (hopefully not enslavement;) and the accelerating trend to a true ‘global village‘ (see my XMedia Basel slides on this, here) sudden and merciless disruption can now arise from any place with high speed Internet access (see waze versus Garmin and Navteq) as education and learning goes digital, talent arises from everywhere and venture capitalists finally go global (not sure that’s such a good thing, though)
8) The cashless society will increasingly – and in some BRIC & CIVET nations very rapidly, indeed – become a reality, mostly driven by the mobile technology innovation boom that delivers pretty amazing solutions for the un-banked in developing countries (such as MPesa). Europe will take the longest to adapt to this trend; here, cash may well remain with us until the thorny issues of privacy and the total trackability of electronic money can be solved (in my view, this is only about 5 years away). 9) 3D printing aka fabbing and ‘makers‘ will shake up the world of physical goods and products (i.e. almost anything made out of plastic or other composite / additive-manufacturable materials such as cups, covers, shafts, nuts and bolts, or some engine parts etc) just like the Internet changed the world of digital goods; ‘piracy’ of 3D printing designs and of course its implicit trademarks and patents will be widespread – think “Napster for Stuff”. This will really give a new meaning to the meme of ‘access not ownership’ – overall, I think this is a good thing – but this trend will severely disrupt a lot of companies that make ‘stuff’ (and thereby forcing them to switch to offensive rather than sustaining innovation). Read more on the 3D printing trend at Business Insider and Arstecnica. 10) Because of the recent leaps in highly addictive social-local-mobile-cloud (SoLoMoCl) technologies and interfaces, Internet-enabled devices are increasingly becoming the de-facto extensions of our minds (hopefully not our hearts…yet), and mobile devices are well on their way of serving as our external brains. The next - and frankly, rather frightening – stop may well be the full integration of the Internet into our bodies (i.e. implants, next-generation humanmachine interfaces, and bionics), followed by what Ray Kurzweil hails as ‘the coming singularity and transhumanism’. So where is this going? Would a Wikipedia brain implant be much different than controlling an app with your iris, or with Google Glass? Is there a material difference between taking a cholesterol-lowering drug and beefing up your internal ‘mindfiles’? IMHO, I think there is – but more on that another time. 11) In the next 10-20years, most of the significant GDP growth will come from BRIC+Africa+CIVET (i.e. the emerging economies); the center of economic power moves South and East, and innovation, capital and talent will follow. I am not entirely sure if or where GDP growth is still a suitable or even justifiable logic for anything (I personally would rather favor a switch to gross-nationalhappiness | GNH | as the new metric
for our stockmarkets:), but in any case this has far-reaching implications on which languages we will learn, how we innovate and who our next competitors (or more likely, frenemies) will be in the near future. The new America is Brazil (now that is truly worrisome), and maybe the new India is Nigeria….? 12) A super-charged torrent of digitally-native innovation (i.e. products and services that only work because of the SoLoMo Internet, such as Uber, AirBnB and Zopa) will come from new players – yes, in the BRICs – that will continue to be mostly industry outsiders but usually are fast, ruthless and very subversive innovators that are very good at ‘finding the backdoor’ into many incumbents’ markets. Ouch. Many large incumbents will start to hyper-collaborate rather than hyper-compete as a consequence (see the recent Avis-Zipcar deal). Speed will matter more and more – and keeping it all in-house, and wrapped up in patent and trademark applications will be much too slow. Talk about a perfect storm! This all leads to the same destination: hyper-collaboration is the future, and businesses become ecosystems – from Ego to Eco (stay tuned on that meme:)
Transition Traumas, Brands with Purpose, Interdependence not Independence
http://www.futuristgerd.com/gerds-guide-to-disruption-part-3-transition-traumas-brands-with-purpose-interdependencenot-independence/ - March 23, 2013
Greetings everyone, this is part 3 of my ongoing series on disruptive trends and how they will impact our near-term future (i.e. the next 3-5 years). Part 1 is here, part 2 is here. If you enjoy these posts please feel free to share them anywhere you want – and/or comment below. Thanks! Continued from previous points 1-12: 13) Transition Trauma Guaranteed. We are currently experiencing a very unique combination of digitally-fueled disruptions: rising globalization and much increased economic interdependence of regions, nations, companies and people, widespread and hyper-effective socio-political activism via social networks and UGC media (especially video, as Koni2012′s 96Million views have shown), the rise of almost Wikileakean openness expectations by consumers and a new
kind of ‘tyranny of transparency’ that has engulfed people around the globe, radical consumer empowerment based on waves of technological leaps and what is often referred to the ‘consumerization of IT’, and an overall sense of ambiguity and instability. These trends, to me, are showing that we are heading into an ‘it-all-depends’ – world rather than an either/or world. In this future, many yes/no situations of the past are becoming Maybe’s – and this poses a real challenge to business planning and operations. Linear thinking can now be a real disadvantage; lateral, organic and fluid approaches are becoming a requirement to success. It is, in my view, most likely that permanent uncertainty is becoming the defining nature of business for quite some time, but certainly during this ‘transition trauma’ phase (i.e. at least 3-5 years). This is a fact that we must adapt to while we move from products to services, from industrial age to the information age to the experience age, from stuff to bits, and from ownership to access (as is happening in music, movies, TV, books, games…). I propose, however, that those that can quickly and collaboratively build new, digital-societynative ecosystems, products and services will prosper exceedingly and faster than ever before, quickly outperforming those that only offer marginal improvements on ‘business as usual’. The future is clearly much more about re-imagination than it is about ‘making things work better’ – i.e. it is about offensive innovation rather than sustaining innovation (as Clay Christensen recently put it). 14) All brands will become publishers and broadcasters – or better yet, ‘narrowcasters’ – (and yes, especially B2B brands). Trust will absolutely – and somewhat darwinistically – become the prime currency, the key driver of business relationships and buying behavior that effects actual purchase decisions. Reputation, influence and so-called social capital are already huge factors that have attracted 100s of vendors most of which are desperately trying to measure and define these soft factors and then turn them into machine-readable algorithms that they hope will eventually take over the entire advertising and marketing business (good luck with that). In the very near future, in my view, marketing will be almost solely about trust-building/keeping and creating purpose (see Pepsi’s Refresh Project, Patagonia’s ‘don’t buy this jacket’- campaign, or NikeWomen, or read more at HBR). Maybe eventually Return-on-Involvement will even substitute or materially complement our oldfashioned concept of RoI (return-on-investment) as the ultimate metric of success (sorry, CFOs). Intangibles values will matter more and more, and perception will increasingly define value – not (just) price versus features, and bang for the buck. The ‘economy of intangibles’ is bound to accelerate, creating the need for new models of monetization and ownership.
15) Independence and ‘castle-building’ (yes, think Apple, or many financial institutions, or, naturally, the music business) will give way to interdependence and ‘network building’ as the key operating paradigms. Companies will increasingly forgo the traditional empire model for the ‘networked’ model in order to be able to innovate faster and wider. Ownership of patents and trademarks will matter less than ownership of minds (and…hearts? Likes?)
‘Partnership companies’ become the norm, and friction-as-a-business-model will be unheard of in less than a decade (read my book on the Friction is Fiction topic, here).
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