Innovation in technology is happening at a rapid rate, and there’s no doubt that it is leading to shifts in the way we live from day-to-day. These shifts are only going to happen more quickly in the coming years, bringing in changes in consumer behaviour, and changes to the products and services that people want and need. In order to take advantage of these changes, business owners need to think like futurists, and be ready to adapt.
So what exactly is a futurist?
Broadly speaking, futurists analyse current trends, and based on that, make predictions for the future. The idea behind thinking like a futurist is to understand, get ready for and capitalise on coming changes.
Looking down the barrel of change
There’s no doubt that change will be exponential over the coming years. We’re already seeing the impact of innovative technology in 3D printers, and services like car-sharing company Uber that have turned traditional industries on their head.
Thinking ahead, consider how driverless vehicles might impact on the transport industry. The construction industry is another one where change will be significant – new building materials, and changes in the way housing estates and commercial buildings are powered.
Futurists watching the healthcare space give us fantastic clues to how it could look a few years from now. Futurist Jim Carroll foresees technology functioning as a "dashboard for the human body." Gene therapy, artificial organs produced by 3D printers, regenerating cells, tissue, or organs, and so on all seem possible.
We’re likely to see huge strides in wearable tech, and gains in artificial intelligence and autonomous robots.
What is certain is that there will be plenty of opportunities for forward thinking entrepreneurs to get in on the ground floor with new products and services.
Business owners must be ready for change
Well known futurist Craig Rispin says that in order to succeed in the marketplace, business owners need to “know first, be first, and profit first.”
In order for business owners to think like futurists he says they should:
- Think long term – it’s necessary to look 10 and 20 years into the future rather than focusing on the short term.
- Think global rather than local.
- Consider more than one future – there can be multiple outcomes or possibilities.
- Gather information widely – not just from familiar sources or from within one industry. It’s important to look to what’s happening in a wide cross-section of industries when considering what the future might hold.
Look to the future, but keep one eye on the now
Finally, it’s important to analyse current trends in order to not only make predictions about the future, but also to capitalise on them now. There are many new technologies that are proving to be a boon for SME owners. For example, moving business operations like accounting to the cloud is a current trend that has yet to reach its full potential. The cloud offers many business benefits, such as the ability to automate and streamline processes, and time and cost savings. So why not consider switching to cloud accountants in Sydney? After all, you can’t be a futurist if you’re already lagging behind!