I’ve recently watched a few presentations which really below my mind. Re-shaped my thinking on the next iterations of the technology revolution. Most interestingly, they all focus on independent systems, peer to peer and the end of the middle.
- Jeremy Rivkin – The zero marginal cost society.
- Mike Hearn – The trade net.
- Albert Wenger – World in Transition. (Why GDP decline is inevitable)
- Philip Evans – How data will transform business.
These talks aren’t short, but there aren’t any shortcuts in understanding what our future world might look like. I say, watch these instead of TV – you’ve got the time, it’s really all about how you allocate it.
It’s not that difficult to be an expert on yesterday. The way it was done. The story of who won and why, or even the implementation of the known formula that works (worked?). Experts on yesterday have the rational and believable viewpoint. They can support their position on that pesky little thing called evidence. Of course evidence is always historical. We tend to find experts on yesterday in senior positions in organisations and they tend to proliferate and thrive in legacy industries. Places where protecting revenue is more important than growing it.
Ironically there is no such thing as an expert on tomorrow. There can only be viewpoints on possibilities and the willingness to experiment with those possibilities. What this means, is that the ideas presented by the tomorrow guy are often met with doubt and even derision. I guess we should expect this because most of what they predict simply wont happen. Statistically the tomorrow crew will be wrong more times than they are right. But within those ten crazy ideas they present one of them is usually what eventuates. And this is the time when what works quickly becomes what worked. Just ask Kodak management.
One thing I know for sure, is that experts on yesterday rarely invent tomorrow, and in times of significant change it pays to have a couple of tomorrow guys in your corner.
You’ve heard this:
If all you ever do, is all you’ve every done. Then you can only expect all you’ve ever got.
It’s changed slightly, actually it has changed radically:
If all you ever do, is all you’ve ever done. Then you can expect much much less than you used to get.
This is because there are a nearly 2 billion people in the BRIC nations who are prepared to do what you do for around 10% of your price. And in a ‘web everywhere’ world people can find them. Yes this includes nearly all of us – Architects, Engineers, Accountants, Lawyers, Graphic Designers, Coders, Developers, Journalists – every single task that can be done remotely, and even some that can’t be.
For them 10% of your pay is a 50% pay rise. A pretty good deal from where they sit.
What to do – do more with the stuff that lives around the edges. Make meaning from the seemingly disparate. Add a creative edge by mashing things up in a new and interesting way. And demand the people near you take notice of your ideas. If they don’t, then find a better place to share your creativity.
The trick to the future is to organise the factors of production, not be them.
The art of the future is about taking seemingly disparate pieces of technology, information and ideas and linking them in a new and meaningful way.
The beauty of this truth is that it is something that can’t be outsourced to the microchip, structured in a spreadsheet, the singularity wont replace it, and the incumbents wont embrace it. The only way it will arrive is when you discover the pieces and show us why they belong together.
We need to stop thinking about technology. Actually we need to stop using the word technology. A chair made from timber is a form of technology. Digital does not equal technology. There is no technology. Only evolution and an increasing rate of change. People just lives their lives with the things around them. If the things are good and useful (new or old) they will embrace them. Lots of these things happen to have micro chips in them. So what. Lots of things have timber and metal in them too.
What we need to be is anthropologists. If we truly want to understand we need to listen and observe without interrupting. If we interrupt, there’s a chance we’ll influence the flow of the previously reality – and change it. So we wont know the truth as it would have been before we arrived. The truth and flow of human life is technology agnostic and there is much much more to it than ‘things’ we use to live.
This is an amazing piece from Dow Corning on the future of glass in our lives. It really sets the tone on how they will through their products make our lives better. It makes me wonder why more startups and large brands are not creating films about the future, and how they will shape it in a positive sense.
Brands will start shipping product components and raw materials to stores for to be assembled on site… as part of the retail experience.
The customers will become the theatre at transaction.
The desire to create and customize will conspire to create highly interactive and profitable retail concoction. What we’ve already seen in digital…’A mash up of co-creation and mass customization’… we will inevitably see in retail…. The retailers that survive anyway.
Here’s a little list of words that keep ringing in my head that I feel are changing the way we do business. I’ve written them each with a few thoughts beside them to stimulate your own view.
- Gifting - an emerging gift culture started with sharing information freely (Blogs, photos, ideas on the social web). This will start to iterate into a culture of providing actual goods to each other as gifts
- Gaming – human existence is defined by counting and gaming. Currency, bank accounts, salary, frequent flyer miles… and now smart phones will turn many brand relationships into games we can play. In many ways it will replace currency.
- Real time – the web used to be a repository of information written, found and filed for later retrial. It’s evolving into a what’s happening now forum. With live check ins (four square), live video (Qik / Ustream), status updates (Twitter). This will change they way we buy and interact on a commercial level.
- Geolocating – will permeate everything we do, and all the messages we receive.
- Community – it took the democratization of media via the web and fragmentation of media channels before we could regain our desire to interact at a community level, not just a consumer level. And we like it. We’ll never let people break down our communities again. It’s a social requirement we have built into our DNA.
- Apps – software is now personal. The difference with apps is that they are malleable. We co-create the code as we interact with them.
- Screen culture – TV isn’t dead, it’s just changed. It’s now web enabled and everywhere we go. Count how many screens you see today.
- Global currency - we now have perfect information on currency and conversions via the web. Our ability to arbitrage is being diminished. It’s only a matter of time before we create a global currency that crosses borders and oceans and automatically adjusts prices of everything we buy to a single lowest global price delivered. This has already happened historically as our world got bigger. First at a tribal level, then state level then national level. The globe is next.
- Related revenue – We’ll start making money less from what we actually do (writing a blog? / Google search?) and more from the stuff we do that lives around the edges.
- Project careers – Our careers wont be about having jobs, but a number of smaller iterations of projects that interest us. They’ll be higher paying, with breaks in between. This will be more profitable for all parties. Companies wont have the overhead drain of full time staff, and humans wont have the social drain of turning up to a place of work when there isn’t much on. We’ll transform what we do more frequently and fluently, we’ll be projecteers.