What I love about going to a futurist conference, or sitting down with other Futurists and innovators is, you will never hear them say your nuts, that’s crazy, or it will never work! There is nothing more energizing than an open mind, a willingness to be taken far from the comfort zone, where would we be if there were no Futurists or innovators?
I can only speak for myself but, have you ever shared an out of the box idea with someone, and they just stare at you with a blank expression? It happens all the time in my community, and I’m older than most of the people I share with in most cases. I mean you would think at 53 years of age I would never talk about the extinction of paper money, the end of the cash register as we know it, that giving your product or service away for free will make you more money than charging for it, or sharing Ray Kurzweil’s singularity vision. It amazes me the masses don’t know what’s happening to them through all these advancements in Technology. If they did pay attention, I’m not convinced technology would advance as quickly as it is. We are far too eager to accept new technologies without seriously considering what the consequences might be.
Now, if you are a futurist or innovator, you have probably felt or thought the same thing at some point in your studies. My focus is on The Future of Business, or commerce. Much of what we know today is leaving us far more quickly than anticipated, but we are struggling to let go of the past. The Gen C kids, under 20 demographic, and the generations to follow, will re-write the rules and laws of business to the point most of us won’t recognize it. I’m convinced they’ll shake their heads when they hear us talk about the future, chuckling under their breath, waiting for us to move on.
Imagine what we would learn if we could get inside their heads, how they view the world, and how they would organize work after we are dead and gone. We would tell them they were nuts, crazy and it will never work, I certain of it.
I would rather we put some future thought into or day-to-day lives, I don’t mean planning your 2 week vacation, we already give that too much attention. I’m talking about how we will learn, how we will work, how we will consume, and how we will provide goods and services. Start spending time around the Gen C demographic and ask them what they see, get around those who are Futurists and Innovators, you will find you have to unlearn much of what you know.
I challenge you to never say the words, your nuts, your crazy, and it will never work. If you are someone who does, you are holding back our future, you are part of the problem and not part of the solution. We have much to do from an energy perspective, the coming water shortage, and possibly a food shortage. In the next 20 – 30 years, we may find ourselves killing others for what we throw away today.
I challenge you to open your mind, to think possibility thinking, creating the impossible, and above all, value the innovators and futurists of today, as they the looking glass of your future.
Which one are you? A possibility thinker, or a person who says it will never fly, it will never work.
With the Global population rising to 9 Billion over the next 10 -15 years, some municipalities are still going to shrink, and many will increase beyond it’s ability to provide services. What will City Hall do with it’s collapsing tax basins. A disclaimer, I don’t for a minute claim to understand what it’s like to sit on a City Council. I wouldn’t want the job truth be told, so I’m not saying what they do is easy, anyone can point fingers and complain. We the people have really set City Hall up to fail, but that’s not my point. I am however, praying City hall is paying attention to a trend in our aging population, and business community.
Third world countries will have the most population growth over western countries, but we will eventually reach 9 Billion in the coming decade or so. The current challenge is not with the growth as much as it is with those wondering off to pasture, the baby boomers. The first of the baby boomers will turn 65 this year, but the real challenge is, the tail end of the baby boomers are turning 50 in 2014, and this generation is the largest portion of our population. That means the average age will be 40, the generations to come are unable to replace the boomers in the workforce, we will have to rely on immigration to fill the that gap. That is another topic for another time.
Imagine, today 50% of the population is over the age of 30, it won’t be long before 50% of the population is over 50. This trend will continue because we no linger birth children at the rate we used to, we could birth them fast enough to catchup and solve the problem of an aging world. The numbers alone don’t really show you the problem, it’s not the numbers as much as it is how the generations yet to come think. They won’t value what we value today. If you were to poll the under 20 generation today, they will tell you that ownership is not that important to them. The idea of owning a home, or a car for that matter, is not on the radar screen for most of them. They don’t value ownership the same way people do over the age of 40. What does that mean, less money filling the tax bucket in many municipalities. Is City Hall even looking at that problem?
The under 20 generation and the one’s to follow, will most likely buy into the co-op housing, or shoebox appartments long before owning a house on land. Why, They value lifestyle over workstyle. They are not willing to give up what many of us did to have the lifestyle we have, we traded our time for dollars, we worked to live. The younger generations don’t value work the same way, most people over the age of 40 have their identity wrapped up in what they do for work. Their work validates them, it is who they are, not what they do. Gen C and beyond do not have that conditioning to deal with, creating a different thought process on ownership of home and country.
City Hall also has to deal with another shift, 60% of all commerce is going online, that to may help shrink the tax basin. How? A local bricks & mortar business decides to sell it’s products and services online exclusively. Let’s say they have success. Before you know it, they have shutdown that bricks & mortar location, they discover they don’t even need an office, they’ve put everything out on the cloud, and then run their business by smartphone. How will that impact real estate, (read my thoughts on agents becoming obsolete here) let alone the tax revenues cities rely on. As you can see these shifts in thinking by the generations to come will rewite the rule book in every municipality. Is City Hall paying attention?
While all this is happening, we will have other issues to deal with, water shortages, possible food shortages and so on. We will enter into a society not unlike the one in the movie “The Book Of ELI”, in that movie, we kill (people) for things we throw away today. One man’s garbage is another mans treasure.
I don’t know how our City Hall’s will be able to change the way they think, but I hope they do, our communities depend on it. Protectionism and control are the current model of running a city, I fear that will be the undoing, because my kids kids won’t tolerate it.
This problem of an aging population belongs to all of us, we will have to work hard to maintain the economies and lifestyles we enjoy today here in the western front. What other challenges do you see?
I have to admit, the past year had it’s challenges but I was surrounded by amazing people here in my community, and I can’t praise those enough on Twitter. Many of you know I’m a huge Twitter fan, mostly because that’s where I have had the most success in my business, and on a personal note. There isn’t anything really special to say about that, it happens to be the Social Network I leveraged. I could have used others but they just didn’t seem to fit my need for speed : )
Now I’m not one for making New Years Resolutions, you might find that odd coming from a Futurist but, I don’t actually predict the future. If I did, I would be in a different line of work. Alot is going to happen in 2011, the mobile movement is about to explode and cause business to shift yet once again. As I mention in my blog post I wrote back on May 28th, 2010, three things to watch for in 2013, is going to happen much sooner than indicators were showing when I wrote that bitty.
Social Media was on fire in 2008 and is still going to lead the way for the mobile marketplace in 2011, but it’s going to be a growing up phase for many businesses, specially the small business. I’ve said it before, I see dead businesses. The problem isn’t the technology, or the fact we as consumers are buying more and more online, the problem, is how we think! Most business owners think they know what to do in this new marketplace, and some do, but 90% don’t. If they did, there wouldn’t be as many dead businesses on the horizon. Start paying attention to Gen C, ask them what they think and what they want, you will be surprised.
Why will they die? They don’t understand what really has to happen in this Paradigm Shift. There are over a dozen shifts taking place and they are grossly misunderstood by the business community at large.I’m not going to go into details in this blog post but I will in next few weeks, today, I want to celebrate the year that passed and the year that is about to begin.
Social Media is not a Mouse Trap, it’s not meeting strangers, it’s not putting a band aid on a broken business – it’s a complete business reset!
I hope great things happen for you, I’m certain they will if you work smart and stay true to your passion. You will need people around you to help keep you on track, be humble enough to let others help you achieve your goals and dreams. If you do, everyone wins.
I look forward to sharing with you in 2011, and some of you I may get the privilege of working with you, regardless, Happy New Year! Please don’t drink and drive, and make sure you get home safe so you can reach your 2011 goals.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
One of the futurists I was following tweeted something that spurred me to write this little bitty, so bare with me. There is much confusion about Social Media / Networks, and saying that the future of business is Social Networks only adds to that confusion. For some unknown reason, there are far too many who seem to think that Social Media is the answer, the messiah, the silver bullet to all their business problems. STOP IT! This is far from the truth, and is sheer stupidity on the part of those who say it is.
I’ve talked about the next generation a few times now, GEN C, they are the under 20 somethings and they are starting to figure out what they want, and it’s not what business owners want. In fact, the generation that comes behind them will never know what a Tower or laptop is or was. imagine a generation that only knows wireless handheld devices, may never know what a Newspaper was, let alone a fax machine. They will all be things placed in a Smithsonian in some major cities if they can afford to have the show in town.
If you are paying attention to these social networks, and those who have built them, they are shifting and flowing, not because they work well, but because the people in those environments are looking for something. The future of business will be dependant on a couple of things, social networks are one of the tools to obtain those things, but not the end all. Being tagged will be paramount to being found in the future, your brand / product or service will live and die by being found. That being found will need to be everywhere, not just in social networks!
To found on the Internet will be one of the many challenges to deal with in the next 2 – 3 years. As with everything, the cream will rise to the top, the have’s over the have nots will continue as it does in the bricks & mortar business world. The big difference will be the tools or mediums you use, and how you use them that will matter, and should be well thought out. In the bricks & mortar we just yelled, and the loudest business got the attention, not so in the future, and social networks will play a minor role. Attention is the new currency, data is the new oil, and the combination of those two will present a whole new way of doing business in the near future. The problem is, the data is not fully understood, the technology we need is still not ready, it’s not ready because we don’t know what problem needs solving yet. Much of what we are relying on in social networks, hasn’t happened yet.
The future of business will be social, and it will most definitely be mobile, but it won’t be social networks that are the future. The real future of business is because we are connected, on the move, regrouping on the fly, unable to be controlled by anything or anyone, including social networks. A connected world cannot be controlled, it might be seduced, but only temporarily, and that is what big business and corporations are afraid of, they can’t control you & I.
Consider this, there will be another 3 Billion users of the Internet in the next 2 – 3 year, 5 at the most, are you in a position to get they’re attention online? Do you have a strategy or a plan to capture .01 % of that potential revenue? I can’t wait to see what new ways of increasing the new currency of attention, I’m ready, I’m more than ready, I’m down right excited. But if you’re still trying to figure out how to use social media networks, how to use a blog or a website, you better hire someone tomorrow to help you see whats coming. They can at least help you see the tidal wave and show you how to ride that wave rather than get wiped out by it.
That’s what we do here, we show you the future, and then help you create ideas to adopt what we show you. We are in the beginning of an upsetting industrial shift, a paradigm shift, and it’s very painful for some. Also keep in mind, much of what I am talking about is not about skill set, it’s more about how you think, to look at the world of business as it really is or will be.
Something interesting has been happening since Social Media became a force to be reckoned with, it’s power and use has been grossly misunderstood. The big mistake most corporations and big businesses make, they try to understand communities rather than the users (generations) that build and make up these communities.
To understand a community is actually quite simple, if you spend enough time in any community you will discover a personality and a few trends. But that doesn’t mean you understand the people in that community, people influence people, and communities can influence other communities, but the characteristics vary. What these communities and people (generations) tolerate today, most likely won’t fly the next year or for that matter the next day. Another interesting characteristic about these generations, they group and regroup on the fly.
The Gen C and generations to come, group and regroup for the purposes of grouping and regrouping for a new purpose, they will no longer staying together for long periods of time. Making it virtually impossible to derive quantifiable data that can be used for marketing and or to merely understand any community. They social and very mobile.
Gen C are the under twenty somethings with very little patience for old industrial age thinking, or for that matter, systems developed by those old thinkers. They want a more Natural User Interface (NUI), they want their content to be relevant, useful and interesting. They move in packs, very tribal in behaviour, which means you need to be able to adapt to there moods swings. Gen C are at best chameleons, constantly changing and morphing their identities to simultaneously belong to as many tribes as possible.
Communities will come and go, but those jumping from community to community will be harder to attract unless certain criteria are in place. Connect Gen C members with each other, not just with a brand. Enable Gen C to participate in, play with or produce themselves and then share. Ask for a reaction and have a fun social interface. Enhance social status within tribes, and as I mentioned earlier, Keep it relevant, useful and entertaining.
Remember, pay-walls are not inviting, these generations will keep looking until they find what they want for free. Yes, those with money will pay upfront for some things, mostly just to save time, but the majority of the global population will spend the time to find what they want for free. The Future of Business will be an Open & Free Business Model, where FREE is the business model.
The businesses of the future should pay attention to the user not the communities, they don’t spend enough time in communities to provide enough reliable data. Whether you agree or disagree really doesn’t matter, the future generations will move in packs whether I say they will or not, they’ll group and regroup to meet their needs. Pay attention to what they get behind, not where they hang out.
If you’re in business today, don’t assume communities is where the valuable data is located, it’s in the users, the Gen C and beyond. The communities are a way to determine where they are at the time, that’s it, and it may not have anything to do with what the purpose or cause happens to be at the time.