Living in the Future, Breaking from the Past

 If Abraham Lincoln was correct when he said, “The best way to predict your future is to create it,” then more people need to get to the whiteboard – fast – because the future is now.

By Larry Walsh

One of the lines in the movie “Ed Wood” that sticks with me is the statement made by the fortune teller The Amazing Criswell: “We are all interested in the future ‘cause that is where we will be spending the rest of our lives.”

It was one of the few accurate statements Criswell ever made over the course of his tainted career. We will all live in the future, however, it’s not necessarily true to say that we do not know what the future holds for us. Based on current trends, we can postulate with reasonable degrees of accuracy and assurance how the future will unfold.

Soothsayers and fortune tellers aside, we – in the technology industry and channel – should take a greater interest in the future and how it will reshape the economy, operations of businesses and individual lives. While it’s impossible to foresee precisely how the future will unfold, we can – based on current trends – peel back the successive layers that will build up and become our future worlds.

Why would we engage in such flights of fancy? Necessity.

Everyone with eyes can see the world is changing. Innovation is creating new technologies, delivery mechanisms and consumption models that are already reshaping the world around us. One obvious example is cloud computing and managed services, which are leading the technology market to subscription and recurring revenue models. Over the next three years, cloud computing will make up nearly two-thirds of IT budgets; last year, it was just one-third.

Cloud computing isn’t just an example of how our world is transitioning , but how innovation is a catalyst for even more innovation and acceleration of change. Through cloud computing and mobility, we get to Internet of Things, which is opening new veins of commercial and consumer services. These new services will create more opportunities in Big Data and analytics. And through deep analytics, we’ll reap more products and services opportunities. And so the cycle goes…

The challenge vendors and their partners face is getting over the challenges of today. Breaking free of the short-term objectives, by which most people’s performance is measured and how they’re rewarded, is extraordinarily difficult. Why worry about what’s going to happen in three or five years when your fate rests in what happens at the end of the current quarter?

We must find time to think about the future, because it will be here before we know it.

Here are a few examples.

Electric and Driverless Cars

France will ban gas-powered cars by 2045. Great Britain set their internal combustion sunset at 2040. And the United States wants to eliminate all vehicular fatalities by 2035. While these seem a long way off, a lot of things will have to happen between now and then to make these goals a reality. Factories will need to retool for new car production. Oil refineries will have to consolidate and lower capacity to compensate for decreasing fuel demand. Repair shops will give way to electronics specialists. And entire industries built around vehicles – truck stops, fast food restaurants, motels, insurance companies, and even entertainment will feel the progressive disruption of the elimination of conventional gas-powered cars and trucks.

Augmented Reality

In the book, “Ready Player One”, the world lives largely through augmented reality. Through a massive global network like today’s Google, the virtual world – Oasis – provides an escape from the dreary reality of climate change, pollution and overpopulation. It also provides a ready medium for personal relationships, equal education, commerce and long-distance communications. It’s not fantasy; augmented and virtual reality will change the way we work and play. In the not too distance future, we’ll stop traveling for business, and have our avatars meet in virtual conference rooms that have the look and feel of a real-life office. This will change networking, mobile technology, travel and communications.

Ubiquitous Supply

Through a simple online interface and superior logistics, eCommerce pioneers such as Amazon and Alibaba made products available virtually everywhere with a few simple clicks and a credit card. And these titans of the cyberverse are expanding their sales in B2B transactions, enabling businesses to buy everything from toilet paper to cloud computing through the same mechanisms that make cardboard boxes appear at front doors around the world. The continued expansion of digital marketplaces will reshape the channel – completely devaluing commodity products and putting premiums on professional services.

Many vendors are already lifting their heads out of quarterly spreadsheets to plan for the future. Futurecasting requires taking on a second job, because your primary job is still here with all the pressures and consequences of failure. Futurecasting is almost thankless, as the likelihood of seeing the fruits of your labor and the subsequent rewards are nil. Nevertheless, vendors need to engage in these predictive type of activities, prepare their companies for the future, and plan progressive, incremental change to keep pace with the evolving market. Failure to look beyond the next quarter will almost certainly mean getting caught on the wrong side of history.

The 2112 Group is working with several vendors in mapping, strategizing, and planning for their future value propositions and business models. For more information on how 2112 can help you plan for the future, email info@the2112group.com.


Larry Walsh, The 2112 Group

Larry Walsh is the founder, CEO and chief analyst of The 2112 Group. Follow him on social media channels: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn.

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