Sunday, February 27, 2011

The future ain’t what it used to be

It seems that the future has been cropping up a lot of late and Yogi Berra’s quote sure hits home.

Chris Brogan, who blogs and consults on social media and business communications has been posting lately on the future of such subjects as marketplaces, work and media. You can check out his thoughts on these subjects here, here, and here respectively.

In addition, Mary Meeker, an internet and technology analyst recently published a report on The Future of Tech. Among the conclusions: technology will be SoLoMo. That’s not a new trendy neighborhood in New York City. It’s an acronym that stands for Social, Local and Mobile. She notes that shipments of Smartphones and Tablets will now outpace those of PCs and laptops. This phenomenon will emphasize connectivity, location and mobility.

There’s a lot of synchronicity among these reports on the future. All three of Brogan’s posts note that the future will be mobile and global and that while size of an organization will matter, the little guys will be able to compete with the big guys (and there probably won’t be any mid-size guys). He also posits that the future will be interactive, integrated and subscription based. We’ll be able to interact with each other and we will purchase bundles of products that will have ongoing updates to which we’ll have access via our subscriptions.

Brogan’s take on the future of work includes that work will be modular, or project-based; that it will be cause-balanced, we will seek out companies for their “social giving profiles” as much as for their products and services. Brogan argues that work will be smaller and bigger – that is, it will be dominated by really small companies and really big companies; mid-size companies will lose their luster. Finally, he notes that work will be goal aligned – that we will work toward personal goals rather than an end state retirement.

These are certainly different takes on the future we thought we knew. We thought that things like work, technology, markets and media were fairly easy to predict. They tended to be linear and static; the future described by Brogan and Meeker is dynamic, exponential and chaotic – “it ain’t what it used to be.”

Can you see yourself succeeding in a future that is mobile, global, integrated and serial? Can you define a role for yourself in such a future? Will it be the same role over time?

I’m reminded of another favorite philosopher’s take on the future – Yoda – who noted that “the future in flux always is.” May the force be with you.