Last week I talked about some of the trends we are following into the future. Most of these came from an excellent book by Mark Penn and Meredith Fineman titled Microtrends Squared: The new small forces driving today’s big disruptions. What should be of interest to all of us is how these changes are going to affect our lives, how these changes, inventions and innovations are going to change the way we do things, as well as how they are going to make some of the ways we do business or live our lives more challenging.
Take self-driving cars for example; think of taking a trip the way we do now. We drive to the airport and we park our cars in an overpriced parking lot and leave them there just accumulating expensive daily fees that we have to pay with whatever money we have left after our trip. Now, think about how this scenario will change with self-driving cars. The car will drive us to the airport then return to its’ home base until it needs to pick us up when we get back. So, what happens to the parking lot business? What happens to all that land at the airport twenty years from now? I’m sure it will be figured out, but it does cast an interesting perspective on how the things we are currently developing today will make us change how things will be in the future.
Now, from the same book, I learned some of the things we should be doing to handle the challenges that these changes are going to be giving us in the future.
- Break out of our silos: The authors recommend that we share ideas, especially the people who are working on products and services that will affect the future. There should be some synergistic planning on the interface of these products. Questions like how will they work together and how they will affect what we have in place today?
- Create a new standard of ethics: How do we handle cyber bullying? How do we handle false facts on the internet and services such as Facebook and Google? What are we going to do with the people who are yelling the equivalent of “Fire!” in a crowded theatre on the internet. There are going to have to be new rules both legal and ethical managing the use of the power of the internet.
- Reform news distribution: Again, related to item two, but in this case the biased news media which now is able to say anything they want at any time and let the people to decide whether or not it is true. Whether you are alt-right or super liberal you have to agree that whatever news outlet you are using to get your news, is more bias against the other side than ever before. This is going to have to change in the future as media becomes more powerful, and shall we say more insidious?
- Put limits on data collection: Those little phones in our pockets are accumulating more data about us than we can imagine. Think about the information that smart phone is gathering while it sits there in your pocket seemingly harmless while it tracks which billboards you pass on your way to work? Or, that neat little device Alexa, which is nothing more than a spy device in our homes; and then just think of all the information we are happily giving away via that supermarket loyalty card just, so we can save ten cents on a container of Tide. People already know too much about us and it’s only going to get worse, unless new rules and regulations are enacted.
- Add more democracy to our democracy: Do we really need to go into the idiocy of the Electoral College? Or the flagrant gerrymandering that has been going on of late? No matter what side of the political aisle you are on, you have to admit that we are going to have to change our voting structure.
- Do more to encourage marriage and having children: Our millennials are getting married in their late thirties now, if they get married at all. And they are not that interested in having one child, never mind a few. Is marriage a thing of the past? That remains to be seen but countries with declining populations are hurting. China is already feeling the problems occurring from their one-child and mostly boys rules.
- Bring the new economy to every region: The authors imply that while some parts of the country are thriving, others are dying, and that’s not fair. But, I think this is going to self-repair with time. While today there are certain areas of the country that are more economically solid than others, I think it is obvious that with the rise of the internet services and other cyber advantages that allow people to do business anywhere this problem will go away
I’m sure you’re probably thinking, why is he talking about this? How is this germane to my business? Why do I care about this? The answer is very simple. Everything stated above and more affects every one of us. Just like the rise of the mobile phone affected the amount and type of boards we built, and the Cloud affected the production of huge memory cards and 9/11 affected security and surveillance electronics. If you are going to run a company today and into the future you had better have a good understanding of what that future will look like. It’s only common sense.