As your inbox and social feeds fill up with the usual predictions for 2020, be aware that the future is accelerating along an exponential curve. This means that for an effective 2020 strategy you need to look beyond the usual next year predictions to longer term trends and changes. You may be familiar with the Bill Gates quote:
“We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten. Don’t let yourself be lulled into inaction.”
But he wrote those words way back in 1995 and since then those timescales have compressed. The future has accelerated. We are no longer talking about two years and ten years. Indeed, we should no longer be talking in linear time terms at all. The future is now much less predictable and will not arrive in a neat orderly fashion. This is particularly the case with exponential change. The future arrives faster than we expect.
Consider climate change; according to reputable scientists and organisations it is accelerating faster than had been expected and an indicator of this is the speeding up of Greenland’s ice melting. Another example is artificial intelligence; Deepmind’s AlphaStar AI achieved grandmaster status at the highly complex strategy game, StarCraft II, this year showing that AI is accelerating faster than was expected. The same acceleration can be seen in areas of social, economic and political change.
But faster than such changes in social, technological, environmental, economic or political (STEEP), there have been accelerated changes in human expectations. Our customers and staff now demand to know more about the environmental impact of our products and services. They also now want the benefits of mass personalisation and convenience that AI’s machine learning can offer. Human expectations are accelerating faster than was expected.
To meet customer and staff expectations in 2020, you need to look beyond the changes expected to actually happen in 2020. You need to horizon scan for the key trends and technologies that may impact your customers and staff in the longer term future and identify leading indicators or signals that will alert you if a particular technology or trend is accelerating. This will enable you to plan, prepare and/or pivot as required in 2020.
Set your signals now to meet accelerating customer and staff expectations in 2020 and beyond. Don’t be lulled into inaction.