The Future of Work

25 February 10

The world of work is changing – on this point we can all agree. But how, and why, and at what rate are all questions that consistently plague managers, workers, and business thinkers around the world. The nature of work has changed dramatically in the past decade, and will continue transforming in the years ahead as demographic shifts, technology advancements, and new economic realities settle in.

What we know is that, in general, workers today have different expectations and priorities. “The corporate ladder” and the hierarchical world it created are vanishing relics of the 20th Century. Workers today, empowered by technologies that allow them to work any time, from anywhere, are demanding more flexibility from their employers. Employers are discovering that it’s often cheaper and more efficient to have a smaller ‘in-office’ headcount. The economic crisis has forced many to re-evaluate their personal and professional goals. Sustainability and environmental conservation are increasingly driving decision-making. Read the rest of this entry »


Future 2049: Clone My Meal

2 September 09

Below is the sixth ‘prediction’ in an 8 part series on “The Future in 2049”:

Cloning, once the purview of hardcore genetic scientists, is now a mandatory course taught when becoming a food scientist. And why not? In 2021, cloning was approved as a means for improving our food capacity problem and deemed completely safe. With the population greatly increased and land at a premium as a result, it is widely accepted that cloning is a great solution to better engineering food. Like our plants and vegetables that have been genetically modified for years (pluot anyone? Brocciflower?), now meats, chicken and fish are enhanced and reproduced, to create new, healthy, protein SUPERFOODS. With the taboo of cloning long past and the fear of human clones now seen as a science fiction fear (although we do clone body PARTS for regenerative reasons, amputees, surgeries etc). Cloning is a part of food-life and seen as a smart way to manage the food supply. Like plants that can be grown bigger and become more resistant to disease, cloned protein food acts much in the same way and are grown pre-enriched with vitamins than every before.

Future 2049: Farmer Exxon

1 July 09

The conversation would go something like this with a mom talking to her young son in 2028: “Honey, Exxon used to make gas to run cars. I know – really, It sounds funny but they used to be what we called a ‘oil and gas’ company, when cars ran on gasoline – and they made hundreds of billions of dollars doing it (that was a lot of money back then, son).” But apparently with the adoption of hydro-electric cars (brought on by legislative and economic incentives (read: subsidies)), that made the auto industries ‘dream to be green’ possible. Exxon therefore had to find a new industry or go out of business, It was shocking, really. With tremendous real estate and technology assets on their balance sheet (refineries) they wondered what else could be done with these refineries now that drilling for oil wasn’t a major revenue stream anymore.  So, after fighting Mother Nature all these years, they finally embraced it. Sun (solar), wind power, water and manufactured land platforms at their disposal in the oceans across the globe (with some architectural tweaks) they became the largest farmer in the United States with more water/farm land than the states of (Nebraska, Iowa..and…). Exxon’s offshore farming industry took off – growing vegetables and farming fish while creating new eco-environments with the reefs they created. Now with grazing land at such a premium, both the Argentinean and US governments have asked Exxon to begin using some of their platforms for raising livestock. We expect the first offshore cattle to be ready for market in 2 years.

Future 2049: Can you hear me now?

15 June 09

By 2030, we have a social (and psychological) issue that we can no longer ignore – and some say has reached a crisis. Technology and ‘on the go’ lifestyles force us to interact more using shorter bursts with ‘get to the point’ sound bytes and bullet points. We speak in headlines not prose and while we continue to be connected – we ask, are we personally CONNECTING at all? Essentially, communal places are where everyone goes to be alone, together (think Starbucks today…but everywhere). Isolationism – or a feeling of it when even surrounded by people is common. We know so much about each others habits, whereabouts, friends (think Facebook) but have lost the ability for deep conversations. We spend so much time living in a world of ‘doing’ that ‘thinking’ and ‘being’ has been, well, lost. Communicating on these deeper levels is hard to recall – and harder to ‘learn’, complain many. Each generation has of course morphed its communication abilities to match the context of the world they live in but it appears at this point, we lost too much. A surprising result happens – something that hasn’t happened for a few generations (at least not in Western cultures). Elders are respected for their skills and capabilities on this subject and are paid great sums of money to reintegrate communication skills into our technology driven world. Getting ‘Connected Again’ becomes a movement. The past 20 years we spent so much time knowing information about each other, we forgot how to connect the dots.

Future 2049: It’s all about the package.

7 May 09

This is Part II of a series of predictions of the future in 40 years. Click here to view my previous prediction, Microwave World.

It’s all about the package.

Thanks to the proliferation of computers and online commerce across all economic classes, in the future we all use online shopping for 80% of our purchases. No more grocery stores (who needs them when there’s Fresh Direct or Peapod? People used to waste an hour in a grocery store? It’s one less stop in the ‘food chain’ if I get it right from a ‘distributor’ like Fresh Direct anyway right?).

With all of our food being delivered directly to our door, our first point of interaction with a brand for many is now AFTER the purchase decision has been made, not before.

What’s the implication of this? Marketers and brand experts now put almost all their emphasis on the packaging of an item – injecting all kinds of functions, incentives, and whiz-bangs into it – ensuring that your brand ‘interaction’ is good when you open the grocery box that arrives at your door. The most important part of branding is no longer about the ‘pre-purchase’ which used to be ‘at shelf’ in the store – this is due to the shift in consumer purchase habits; marketers now almost solely focus on the POST purchase and what they can do to make their package stand-out in the delivery box.

Future 2049: Microwave World

20 April 09

When WIRED UK asked me to predict what the world would be like in 40 years, I came up with a short list of predictions, some of which were included in Charlie Burton’s “What’s Next?” article. I’ve decided to share the rest of my predictions here over the next two months. I’ll be posting one prediction per week. This week’s prediction focuses on the need for speed:

Microwave World.

As our “everything-to-go” culture only gets more intense, insta-technologies become feature #1 in lives and our products especially in our homes. Microwaves in the bathrooms that warm towels and quickly dry shirts or hand-wash items you need in a pinch; hair dryers that take 2 minutes to do their job; regular and convection oven cooking is now only used by either the ‘foodiest’ of foodies in their kitchen and even they have 2-3 microwave appliances in their kitchen ovens now cook/roast food, but 10 times as fast. We have microwaves in our garages and mud rooms to dry coats and shoes, and so on.

University 2.0?

6 February 09

At this week’s TED Conference, a new kind of academic institution was announced. Singluarity University, founded by world-renown futurist Ray Kurzweil and backed by Google and NASA,  “aims to assemble, educate and inspire a cadre of leaders who strive to understand and facilitate the development of exponentially advancing technologies and apply, focus and guide these tools to address humanity’s grand challenges.”

Singularity U will offer three programs to start: an Executive 3-Day Program will provide C-Suite execs with a strategic review of how technological change affects the overall business landscape; an Executive 10-Day Program for mid-level managers and business leaders; and a Graduate Studies Program lasting 9 weeks for graduate students and post-graduate students seeking to learn about various cross-disciplinary technologies. Programs will start in the summer of 2009, and be limited to about 30 students to start, the Singularity does intend to grow its class size over time. Singularity will focus on ten key areas of exploration and study: Read the rest of this entry »