For those who have been disciples of futurist Arthur C. Clarke, it’s quaint to look back at his prescient interviews of a half-century ago, and try to imagine how he could possibly pinpoint conventions like the internet, instant messaging and even the way we as a society would interact.
Even just two decades ago, the year 2020 still seemed a destination so distant, that it was difficult for many to bring into focus a realistic vision of what it could be. But author John Kotter, in his 1996 book, Leading Change, said, “The rate of change is not going to slow down anytime soon. If anything, competition in most industries will probably speed up even more in the next few decades."
Today, we have arrived at that hypercharged future that Kotter predicted – and a plan for the year 2020, at this writing, must be developed in five years’ time. (As an aside, in 2012, a renewed edition of Leading Change was reissued, making Kotter’s quote more relevant than ever.)
“Today, we have arrived at [a] hypercharged future …. a plan for the year 2020, at this writing, must be developed in five years’ time.”
Adding particular urgency to the task laid out before you, are the digital accelerators that have been cited by both the Gartner Group and the Walker B2B Customers 2020 Report for their game-changing qualities. Many of these “future predictions,” we can all agree, are already well evidenced in the daily marketing activities of many market-leading enterprises.
For example, just two years from now (2017):
- More than half of consumer product and service R&D investments will be redirected to customer experience innovations (Gartner), and;
- Nearly 20 percent of durable goods "e-tailers" will use 3D printing to create personalized product offerings. (Gartner)
- The total cost of ownership for business operations will be reduced by 30 percent through smart machines and industrialized services. (Gartner)
By the dawn of the next decade (2020):
- One in five vehicles around the world will have some sort of wireless internet connection, at an estimated total of more than 250 million vehicles (Gartner);
- [the B2B] customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator (Walker), and;
- The connected kitchen will contribute at least 15 percent savings in the food and beverage industry, while leveraging big data analytics. (Gartner)
And finally, by the end of 2020:
- There will be 25 billion connected things (network or internet-enabled devices). (Gartner)
I would likely wager, no matter what industry you are in, that at least one of these predictions applies to YOUR business. The common theme among them is the use of technology.
This is why Warren Bennis, deemed the “dean of leadership gurus” by Forbes, and considered the pioneer of modern leadership, recently laid this challenge before CEOs: “Create a compelling vision,” he said, “one that takes people to a new place, and then translate that vision into a reality.”
Although it’s not a hard idea to agree with it, is a difficult concept to implement. This does not mean, however, that you can’t nail your future-forward plan right now – by simply marshaling the right resources to create your 2020 vision.
This is the first article in a five-part series. Look for the upcoming articles where we’ll talk about how you can leverage the talents of your executives and stakeholders in developing a roadmap that will help you to be in control of your future – rather than the future controlling YOU.
By Beth Somplatsky-Martori
Beth is a Dallas/Fort Worth-based CMO with Chief Outsiders who supports CEOs and their leadership teams by working with them to create market and business strategies for growth and profit enhancement. Her experience covers both consumer and business-to-business segments across small, mid-sized and Fortune 100 Companies and includes a decade of digital marketing experience. Contact Beth or call her directly at 609-203-4588. You may also connect with her on LinkedIn, Google+ or follow her at @BethSomplatsky.