Predicting the Future

This entry was posted on Wednesday, June 27th, 2012 at 1:16 pm and is filed under Chamber News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

According to Future Files by Richard Watson, in the future, it won’t be hard to make a stressful day disappear. All you’ll have to do is break out your mind wipe and poof! Bad day gone.

Predicting the future, of course, isn’t an exact science. But futurists who keep an eye on current trends and developments can guess what trends will most likely shape the next fifty years.

In business, it pays to be positioned ahead of a trend, rather than chasing a long-since-sailed ship. So here are five trends Watson says will change our world:

1. Globalization. As the world becomes more connected, people will become more connected to each other. This means that products from around the world will be more in demand. It could also change the way companies do business—many employees will need to communicate globally, which could affect everything from working hours (due to time zones) to language training to learning international customs. It isn’t just knowledge about the world that will be linked, either—personal information will be passed around even more with the advent of gadgets that pick up on your moods, locations, and purchasing habits. If you think privacy is scarce now, it may disappear almost completely in the years to come.

2. Localization. It may seem paradoxical, but many trends produce counter-trends, and Watson believes that due to both increased globalization and an increase in oil prices, people will want to buy products that are produced locally. They will crave what’s familiar, and in the midst of the explosion of products and information from competing nations, people will want to create local distinctiveness. So if your business can produce something homegrown and slap a “Made in the USA” or even a “Locally Grown” label on it, it won’t be long before your local fans take notice.

3. Polarization. If you think the middle class is shrinking now, just wait. Watson predicts that in most developed nations, it will disappear altogether. This means that there will be an increased demand for luxury products and an increased demand for the ultra-cheap. There will be other kinds of polarization, too, such as those who embrace technology, and those who embrace the “good old days.” Markets that serve one niche or the other will do better than those that aim for the middle ground.

4. Anxiety. Changes will happen, and they will happen fast, so people will worry. People will be even more connected than they were before, and with few ways to escape the deluge of information, they’ll be more stressed. Many businesses will sell products to help people relax—anything from the “mind wipes” mentioned above to specialized car lighting to luxury bathtubs.

5. Technology. Machines will continue to become smarter. Some (though not all) futurists even believe that in the next few years, machines will have consciousness. Scientists are much more certain, however, that computers will combine with robotics and nanotechnology, so that robots will take over many tasks currently performed by humans, and we’ll see computer screens on everything. For example, you’ll be able to scan a product you’re considering purchasing at the store to determine how the product fares according to your own pre-set parameters. With wearable computers, disposable computers, “smart” appliances and more, companies and their products will be increasingly accountable to the consumer. So ethics and altruism will drive business even more than they do today, and a company’s or product’s reputation will significantly affect sales.

So when you’re making plans for the future, remember that the world will be different than it is today. Anticipating future trends will help you be successful, and it will give you an edge over your competition. At least that’s my prediction.


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