It is the job of every entrepreneur to worry about the future. I talk regularly about future trends and, recently, a major radio station asked me to ‘‘do something on the future’’.
In preparation, I read Flash Foresight by Daniel Burrus, which is about how to predict trends and take advantage as a business.
The book makes a distinction between cyclical change – for example, recession; linear trends – that is, aging or computing speed; hard trends, from which there is no escape; and soft
trends, over which you have influence.
The trends predicted are:
- de-materialisation (everything smaller)
- virtualisation (virtual worlds, virtual simulations)
- mobility (going smaller makes things wearable)
- intelligent products (everywhere)
- networking of all appliances/ products & interactivity (web 4.0)
- globalisation (the whole world connected) & convergence (of all of the above)
These trends are speeding up and Moore’s Law of double capacity at half the cost, applies to all of them.
Imagine a world where tiny computers embedded in your brain and powered by nano-fusion, talk to intelligent tarmac about where to park your car. I am not making this up. It is happening.
Burrus believes it is not about economic recovery, but about transforming our economy and our businesses.
The Bad news
The bad news is that transformation is not good for economies with lots of legacy systems and great for those that have none. So, for example, Africa could soon become a transformative hotspot.
The good news is that the rapid change will also mean that some of our problems, such as health and energy, will be solved by developments in, for example, intelligent technologies in both areas.
If you want to get a fix yourself as an entrepreneur, be pro-active and follow the military and toys, because these are the first predictors of change. Business follows suit, with education lagging behind.
If you want a good book on this, read Out Of Our Minds by Ken Robinson, the general gist of which is that the financial crisis is chicken-feed compared to the looming crisis in education.
We are not preparing our kids for the new world, which needs imagination, creativity and innovation, not commodity and academics – but, I digress. I have been trying to figure out how to bring this back to ‘‘the entrepreneur around the corner’’. Maybe the best example to give is our own www.smallbusinesscan.com.
We have just launched version 4.0 – a much better, niftier version of the site, with lots more functionality. But what comes next? Will we see a global Smallbusinesscan.com, where business lessons are shared across the world? Will we have intelligent business products linked to the site or a portable version of the site?
Is it possible that we will see a personal ‘‘virtual’’ Smallbusinesscan.com, acting as business assistant, mentor, advisor or partner? Believe it or not, we are working on some of these ideas or, at least, on primitive versions. Not to pat ourselves on the back, but we do make a point of imagining the future.
We do try to be creative and we do try to apply this creativity.
We believe that this approach is what makes www.smallbusinesscan.com better, but feel free to comment on the site – whether it be to agree or disagree. Whatever your opinion, it does create a whole new world of opportunities – and that is the point.
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