What is Future Vision?
Future Vision is the art of looking to the far future to gain insights about trends that might impact the trajectory of a business. Trends we look for include Technological, Societal & Environmental factors that have correlation to how a business operates; it’s structure, marketing, teams, products and customers.
Future Vision starts in today’s world, looking at emerging trends and projecting these out into the future to understand the potential realities a business might need to operate in. For example, we can look at emerging technologies like Virtual Reality, and imagine a world where VR is a staple part of a business’ marketing program. What does that word look like? What changes does the business need to make to operate in that world? Is the business prepared for such a reality? Is this trend relevant to the business?
We can use predictive tools – such as the Gartner Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies (shown right) to create realistic models of future environments. Obviously there is a certain degree of guess work here, but there are tools based in historical data that can provide marketers with a degree of certainty about what the future may hold.
The Hype Cycle demonstrates how insights from today can be extrapolated into the future to provide businesses with a roadmap or, “…high-level view of important emerging trends“, they can use to make decisions about their business.
This is the essence of Future Vision; trying to understand where the world is going, and reverse-engineering this vision into tactical execution that can be implemented in the business today. As the Hype Cycle illuminates, the next 5-10 years could be the most exciting time to do business. Rapid technological change is already impacting business, and as more technologies become more easily commercialised and integrated into standard practice (Gartner’s “Slope of Enlightenment”), the impact on business will be nothing short of revolutionary.
“To thrive in the digital economy, enterprise architects must continue to… proactively discover emerging technologies that will enable transformational business models for competitive advantage… This Hype Cycle provides a high-level view of important emerging trends that organizations must track, as well as the specific technologies that must be monitored.”
Future Vision Beyond Technology
Of course, technological change is not the only trend that will impact how brands operate in the far future – even though it is the most obvious. Environmental factors such a rapid climate change, drought, food or water shortages or human overpopulation would massively impact business operations.
Compare today’s business to one operating in a “Bladerunner-esque” distopian future. A radically different environment would affect a business’ fundamental operating procedures – from resources, to production, manufacturing and distribution.
How would a manufacturer entrenched in usage of fossil-fuels pivot to renewables, hybrids and green technologies?
And how would marketing change in a world where basic life requirements like food and water are in short supply? Suddenly that overflowing cup of Coke might be considered distasteful.
These are not small shifts, and whether they actually happen or not, businesses need to be aware of the possibility and at least create a game plan for the most likely of such trends.
This is where strategy and future vision collide. Looking forward is the first piece of the puzzle, the rest is all about converting that vision into a pratical, functional and versatile strategy the business can execute on today. Future Vision is knowing where the business is going, Strategy is creating a roadmap of how to get there in a way that maximises sustainability, growth, and the ability to pivot along the way.
Brands are already facing a noticeable loss of control... as digitisation, personalisation, location-based apps and constant shifting of platform popularity puts consumers in the driving seat of defining what a brand looks like.
There is no doubt that future trends will impact business. For me, the most exciting aspect of this is how such trends will impact the Customer Experience. Aside from marketing, advertising etc, how would a technology like wearables change the way brands communicate with consumers, and the way consumers interact with brands?
Brands are already facing a noticeable loss of control of what their brand means, as digitisation, personalisation, location-based apps and constant shifting of platform popularity puts consumers in the driving seat of defining what a brand looks like in a digital world.
How brands navigate this brave new world, where control is an illusion, is fascinating work. Preparing a business to hand over control of its brand to its customers is daunting for the business, and exciting for marketers and strategists!
Discerning how the customer experience will change and how businesses need to adapt is not work that needs to be done tomorrow, it is critical that businesses start looking at future trends NOW so they can create the strategies they’ll need to stay competitive when the world shifts.
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