If I threw out the term futurist, what comes to mind? Someone with a crystal ball perhaps or a sci fi fan, but this would be incorrect. A futurist is actually someone that attempts to project trends and analyze the future. Modern futurism emerged in the mid-40s, pioneered by the German Ossip K. Flechtheim, who said that even if we can determine the most basic statistical trends and plot them a couple decades in advance, we’d be generating valuable information for society to use. If you think this is fake science or quackery, many large companies are clients of futurists such as Google, Microsoft, IBM, Hewlett Packard, Phillips, UBS, BP, Nokia, AT&T just to name a few. Futurists are seen as a competitive edge by these organizations helping them stay ahead of trends. In some industries futurists are a necessity due to the need for a long term view such as pharmaceutical, health care and oil and gas.
Dr. Patrick Dixon who has been called a “Global Change Guru” by the Wall Street Journal and “One of the 20 most influential business thinkers alive today” by Thinkers50 2005 states:
“All leaders are Futurists to some degree: they have to think ahead and plan for tomorrow and that means constantly watching out for the latest trends. You may think that you have the best strategy and change management programme, but if the world changes in a way you don’t expect, you can just land up going faster in the wrong direction.”
Futurists come up with their projections by analyzing trends, making observations, speaking to history makers and think creatively about direction and meaning. They do not predict the future; they project it. Yet futurists must also be careful not to make any wild assumptions about the trends they project.
So what are some of the predictions from futurists, what can we expect in the world of business? The institute for global futures came up with a list of top ten trends, they are listed below:
The Ten Top Business Trends for the New Future:
1. Business and technology have fused into one system, one conversation, and one strategy, for one world. This is central to understanding the New Future.
2. Innovations are about new business models, enterprise and marketplace collaboration, new leadership and knowledge engineering.
3. Knowledge engineering, the formation and networking of knowledge-that which creates results, is the true asset of the 21st century.
4. The capture and analysis of customer information about product/service use, needs, wants, desires and behavior is mission-critical to the enterprise.
5. The integration of customer touch points across all channels is essential to future success. Watch out for the breakdowns.
6. The capacity of an organization to understand the key trends that will shape the future of technology, customers, society and the marketplace will determine the survival of the enterprise.
7. More disruptions are coming in the form of emerging markets, electronic exchanges, security breeches, and changing customer demographics.
8. Human capital, the value of talent will be the most valuable resource in the 21st century.
9. Entirely new industries will be formed by innovations yet to be brought to market. Look for the health enhancement, interactive TV nanotech, and on-demand supply chains to emerge.
10. The New Future will need New Leaders that are aware of how to attract talent, manage innovation, set high visions and execute profitably. There is a new paradigm about leadership that is emerging.
Dixon, Dr. Patrick. “What is a futurist? How do futurists work?”
GlobalChange.com. Web. 18 Jan. 2011.
Anissimov, Michael. “What is a futurist?”
van der Werff, Dr. Terry. “What is a futurist, exactly?”
Globalfuture.com. Web. 2 Mar. 2005.