De toekomst

BN7A7015The future. I'm immensely fascinated by her. Twenty years ago, we were almost completely without mobile phones or internet. No Xbox, just a children's savings account, the Russians were our enemies, the Americans were our friends. Very transparent and (especially in retrospect) very predictable. If you take a glance into the future, you won't believe your eyes and ears. I believe it is essential to develop you reactions to the future. Or, if you will, think about your futuresponses. What it comes down to: based on the development you see happening, you will create several scenarios in which you address what their consequences will be for your organization, your product or your market. Those scenarios are no high-over PowerPoint slides, but actual visualized and actionable concepts. Because although you can't predict the future, you can influence it by taking control. In today's 'Financieele Dagblad' we dedicated this ad to the subject.

And just when an appointment was cancelled, I decided I would spend some lines on it. So: about that future. Here's a few things that strike me. I made a list of 10 f those things.

1. Big brother is a easy

The technological revolution will be unprecedented Dave Eggers' book 'The Circle' [1] will most probably become reality: it turns out that Big Brother is the smaller brother. Everything is constantly connected to everyone. My wife can already track where and how fast I am driving, the next step will be her being able to see with whom realtime. By the way, that car is capable of fully driving itself (all technology is already there, we're just waiting for the liability issue to be solved) [2]). In 10 years time, a selfdriving car will be a completely normal sight. And the driver's license will slowly dy out, traffic jams will disappear, use will replace possession.

2. The gambe of the century turns out to be nothing but the next release

And have you recently gone into the planning of, for instance, ASML? If not, take a look at the article that was in FD in June 2018 [3]. Meanwhile, we know the answer to the question that's being asked in the article: ("The gamble of the century: will ASML succeed in making the new generation chip machines ready for production?"): yes, they will. En there are many similar examples. Facebook will connect 2 million people to the internet shortly and have developed a new airplane to do so. Just like that. For real: this is the company that is all about 'thumbs up' [4]. And in case you still think Google is just for searches, please read yesterday's blog [5].

3. We will marry a robot

Have a look at the subject of robotica. The discussion about its impact on employment [6] has fierce proponents and opponents. But with the introduction of the household robot, it has become certain that our society is changing dramatically. Not to mention the conviction of robo-ethic David Levy, who, in his thesis, is convinced that we are on the verge of marrying robots [7].

4. Bye bye, expert shop

The entire retail world is upside down. I heard that Coolblue will be delivering orders within 2 hours, shortly. Two hours... Bye bye, expert shops. Makes me wonder how MediaMarkt is going to survive this... And that fridge that will keep track of what is in it (or even better, the robot that will monitor your whole household), we will be seeing that on the market before 2020.

5. Big data business

At the same time, data is collectable and reusable without limits. This will have huge consequences for the businesses, but even more so for our behavior. Privacy will become a very valuable asset [8] and will generate a completely new industry, most probably for the rich among us. Data will be the new gold. I'm not only thinking about the insurance company that will be establishing individual health charges, but also about the medical world that will predict on a DNA-level what diseases people can expect. And how about children to order?

6. Immortality is luring...

The feeling of malleability will grow drastically. The average life expectancy will too. CBS made a nice diagram of this [9]. In 2012, the number of people in the Netherlands older than 65 was 2.7 million, in 2041 there will be 4.7 million [10]. What are the consequences for our concept of work? And for retirement? These stats are pretty cautious; the influence of future inventions is not included. According to several scientists immortality will be luring by around 2050 [11]

7. Mars, here we come. On solar panels.

In this context, it's nice to realize that Elon Musk is rather safe than sorry, and wanting to develop Mars as his second home [12]. And he is pretty serious about it. He is also the man who turned the energy world upside down and sold energy storage systems to private individuals and businesses [13]. To be fair, I ordered one too, but I will have to wait for its delivery for a few more years. I hope. With this storage, it becomes possible to live disconnected from the grid. I remember we made a prediction along these lines and we were completely ridiculed. To be honest, I think that in 10 years from now, they won't be there anymore.

8. And we will remain 'white'. Won't we?

And in all that turmoil, humanity survives. Adapt and has its opinion. The current wave of migrants has already been predicted 10 years ago. And whoever states that we can stop it [14], better find yourself a good psychiatrist. Because what would you do if you lived in Syria? Thinking in good and bad, for and against, will worsen. Both individualization and a sense of community will keep developing. Will we reallocate of will it be the law of the jungle? A while ago, the Raad voor Maatschappelijke Ontwikkeling wrote an interesting article about this, titled ‘polarisation’ [15]. Because what does that mean for you? For your business? Let me put it this way: I hardly ever hear about a company developing a new, main stream product with a multicultural society in mind. White, highly educated, and 35 years old, still remains the standard.

9. Non-sustainable will be expensive

That group, of course, will be increasingly worried about the environment (and yes, things really, really need to change). The rest of the world will too. Sustainability will not remain something just for the elite, it will become a proper dealbreaker. It must. Circular economy and sustainable action will free themselves from the discussion, and will be brought into practice. And if you don't join in, initiatives like the World Benchmarking Alliance [16] will generate the transparency we all need. Or Facebook.

10. Innovation comes from outside

We live in disruptive times. One of the most appealing aspects of what we do is that we can explore the future. Series of interviews and analyses per industry and per market, trying to answer the question where innovation will be coming from. One of the most important conclusions is that very many innovations come 'from outside'. From outside, as in: from new market players, from other industries. The explanation seems te be that they suffer the least of sectorial blindness and conventions. And therefore can be disruptive. Let's call it 'look inside from the outside', instead of looking outside from within.

And those are the times we live in. What will your Futureresponses be?