Wireless

Leaving The Future Thinking To The Futurists

Posted by Jeff Hasen on March 30th, 2014 at 8:37 am

One of the wisest marketers I know advised me to not look beyond six months when we were putting together a co-presentation for an iMedia Summit.

“No one knows,” she said, pointing to a dizzying pace of technological advancements that could upend our marketing programs.

It was with that lens that I read a comprehensive “preview” of the future put out by the Pew Research Internet Project. The highly-regarded non-profit, which has long been one of my go-to’s for knowledge, surveyed futurists, academics and others about where we’ll be in 2025.

Here are some of the notable predictions:

Barry Chudakov, a Florida-based consultant and a research fellow in the McLuhan Program in Culture and Technology at the University of Toronto, wrote that by 2020, “Technology will be so seamlessly integrated into our lives that it will effectively disappear. The line between self and technology is thin today; by then it will effectively vanish.”

Tiffany Shlain, creator of the AOL series The Future Starts Here, and founder of The Webby Awards, said, “Access to the Internet will be a international human right. The diversity of perspectives from all different parts of the globe tackling some of our biggest problems will lead to breakthroughs we can’t imagine on issues such as poverty, inequality, and the environment.”

Bob Frankston, Internet pioneer and technology innovator, argued, “We’ll just assume, for example, that a medical monitor will ‘just work’ wherever we are and if we show symptoms of a heart attack in the next hour an ambulance will be there to meet us.”

Marcel Bullinga, futurist and author of author of Welcome to the Future Cloud — 2025 in 100 Predictions, responded, “The future will be cheap — due to the fact we can print everything, know almost everything, and share everything: knowledge, innovation, infrastructure. The future will also be highly competitive, raising much social distress, and we will suffer from a massive lack of focus and mindfulness.”

Interesting predictions for sure. Let’s assume that they are right. What are the takeaways for marketers?

First, it’s a given that are customers and prospects will evolve with the times. They do that today. We’re wise to fish where they are, not where they were. That won’t change.

Second, sound 2014 marketing programs don’t rely on what may be coming. Or, for that matter, what is here but not mature or broadly adopted. Do you know any marketer who is driving business results through Google Glass initiatives? On the contrary, ping me if you want to know how yard signs – yeah, yard signs – are pivotal tools in growing mobile loyalty databases at quick-service restaurants.

Third, as marketers, we should get excited about the future. I, for one, embrace change. But our businesses and livelihoods demand that we be pragmatists. The six-month horizon is much more important to us than the 20 years seen in a crystal ball.

The Pew report is here - http://www.pewinternet.org/2014/03/11/digital-life-in-2025/

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