I tend to dismiss ghost stories, ‘strange’ phenomenon and conspiracy theories but my resolve was tested last week when over dinner, I mentioned someone in conversation whom I hadn’t spoken with for almost 20 years, and later, that very evening, he connected with me on facebook. Spooky eh?
The reason I had recalled this individual is because he was, probably still is, a creative genius but, 20 years ago, he packed in a career in advertising for a life in Devon running first a teashop and now a small bakery. Why? Because he was ahead of his time over and over again. His ideas were dismissed as unworkable, impractical, not viable and then 3,5,10 years later, someone would deliver on them and make a fortune. It did his head in and he sought and found an escape.
The next day, I came across this 1968 advertisement for Western Electric. It predicted facetime, zoom and teams, albeit 40 years earlier than their mass adoption. This got me wondering about which trends, new products and services, we should be planning for and those we should park in the “not happening anytime soon” folder. I certainly don’t have all the answers but there are many people who believe they do, including some who I think are worth listening to.
Bernard Marr is a world-renowned futurist, influencer and thought leader in the field of business and technology. He is the author of 18 best-selling books, writes a regular column for Forbes and advises and coaches many of the world’s best-known organisations. He has 2 million social media followers and was ranked by LinkedIn as one of the top 5 business influencers in the world and the No 1 influencer in the UK. Here is a highly edited summary of his 9 predictions for a “post coronavirus” world.
1. More Contactless Interfaces and Interactions
Contactless was big before the pandemic, it will soon become the default. Likewise doorstep delivery. Yes, there are security issues attached to both but these will be offset by speed and convenience.
2. Strengthened Digital Infrastructure
WFH will be normal for many people. Meetings will still take place but more often via video conference than face to face. The technology predicted in 1968 will become the default method of communication.
3. Better Monitoring Using IoT and Big Data
Track & Trace technology will develop further to deliver ever more customised and relevant services whilst also allowing our wherabouts to be known for a pandemic or other purposes. Many will shout that this can’t happen, “what about secirity and personal liberty?”, I’m afraid these concerns may well fall on deaf ears, indeed perhaps they already have.
4. AI-Enabled Drug Development
The speed with which not one, but several vaccines were developed is quite extraordinary. No doubt, AI assisted with this and will likely enable the accelerated development of just about everything.
The idea of being diagnosed over the phone for all but minor conditions would have been unthinkable to some only a year ago. Expect a virtual appointment with the doctor to become the norm and for physical consultations to be only for those unable to use technology or with issues that actually require in person observation. The same is likely for all service providers.
6. More Online Shopping
Many people would have argued that fresh food, meat and fish in particular, is best purchased on the high street. Not now. In addition to the supermarkets’ home delivery services, just about anything, including goods of the highest quality, are being purchased online. Retail and services for that matter are now “online first”.
7. Increased Reliance on Robots
OK, this might be the one that has some of you shaking your head in disbelief more than others. For me it’s a question of when, not if many of the menial tasks are completed by robots. This will be accelerated by the fact that they require no holidays or benefits and aren’t susceptible to viruses, (other than electronic ones!)
8. More Digital Events
Having produced hundreds of events ranging in size from a handful of people to thousands of delegates, I get why most of us love a conference or exhibition. But following last year’s EA Masters, it was interesting that over 1/3 of delegates and sponsors said they actually prefered the virtual experience over physical – and given that virtual events are still in their infancy this statistic surprised us. Hybrid is the likely format going forward, and I predict with an emphasis on virtual first.
9. Rise in Esports
Some sports are dealing with an absence of spectators better than others. I’m not a fan of F1 so expect to be corrected on this, but I can’t imagine that the crowd does that much to influence the drivers compared with football or rugby. Of course, most spectators consume sport via their TV or computer anyway so the development of Esport is obvious to my mind.
Property Academy speaker and Trusted Advisor, Grant Leboff, stated during the first lockdown that, “Covid19 has changed nothing……it’s accelerated everything.” As I’ve said before, we can debate the first part of that statement but the second increasingly seems unarguable. As I will discuss with my old creative friend turned baker, when we meet on facetime tomorrow, perhaps his time has now come.
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