He is a futurist. Actually, John is one heck of a futurist. In the year 1982 he predicted ten major trends that would come true over the next several decades. His predictions were based on past trends and his own detailed quantitative studies of various processes. Let’s see what John Naisbitt, the author of MegaTrends, had to say and what others see lying ahead in 2018 and beyond.
Naisbitt and his book were on the New York Times bestseller list for two years. His book predicted the information revolution, the advancement of technology, and a more global economy. He also saw the migration of people and jobs from the North to the South, specifically, from the Northeast to the Southwest with three states becoming dominant as a result of the migration; California, Texas, and Florida. Naisbitt also predicted much greater roles for women, and flextime in the workplace. These predictions from more than thirty years ago have pretty much happened.
We have the ability of hindsight to see what did and didn’t come true with those predictions. Let’s take a look at some other business predictions for 2018 and the not too distant future that might help you position your company for the next level of growth.
Dieter Zetsche, the Managing Director for Mercedes Benz was recently interviewed and asked about the future. Some of his observations are more than prescient and it is unbelievable how well they fit into some of Naisbitt’s trends of more than thirty five years ago. On the other hand, some are disturbing, to say the least.
Zetsche sees software (information technology) continuing to be the biggest disrupter of business in the next ten years. Even to the point that he no longer views other car companies as his competitors but companies the likes of Google, Amazon, and Apple. Along with the separate disruptive influence of carmaker Tesla. He cited Uber as an example of the continued penetration of software and technology, pointing out that Uber is the largest taxi service in the world, yet they do not own a fleet of vehicles, they have the software that runs them. Further he cites Airbnb as a hotelier without hotels, merely rental properties, because of software.
In the technology arena, the Watson computer by IBM is currently diagnosing cancer at a rate that is four times more accurate than humans. He sees that continuing to grow and expand. Zetsche talks about various forms of facial recognition software which is better, faster and more accurate than humans. He predicts computers will surpass humans in intelligence within the next fifteen years.
Electric cars will be commonplace as earlier as 2020. In conjunction with them, electricity itself will be cheaper and cheaper, the result of many factors, one of them being the impact of solar energy. Not only will cars be electric, autonomous vehicles will be appearing in public this year. These factors will result in a paradigm shift for the automobile industry. Zetsche goes to the extreme of saying people may not even want to own cars any longer since all they will have to do is call an autonomous vehicle, wait for it show up and take them to their destination. This prediction alone could send shockwaves through the industry and cascade further into the auto insurance industry since there will not only be fewer vehicles, there will be fewer accidents because the autonomous vehicles will have less accidents than human drivers.
Medicine will be another area of significant change. The prediction here relates to a medical device that interfaces with your smartphone. It will somehow take a scan of your retina, a blood sample, and a breathalyzer. The device, according to Zetsche, will analyze fifty-four key biomarkers and be able to identify almost any disease.
With regard to business growth opportunities, Zetsche is very clear in his predictions. “If you think of a niche’ you want to go in, ask yourself: ‘in the future, do you think we will have that?’ and if the answer is yes, how can you make that happen sooner? If it doesn’t work with your phone, forget the idea. And any idea designed for success in the 20th century is doomed to failure in the 21st century.”
While he had many more predictions regarding lawyers, employment, agriculture and other areas, his insights into the future have been noted and will no doubt be compared to actual events as the future unfolds. In the meantime, continue to look for ways that your business can grow from these trends.
Dan Arens is an Indiana-based business growth advisor.