One of my favorite lines from the recent film, "The Social Network" was "we don't even know what it is yet." That line epitomizes an entrepreneur’s bias of instinct over business acumen. I may at times write in this blog with the certainty of a sage who has consulted the oracle at Delphi, but that is not where my confidence comes from. My confidence comes from the fact that the future is almost unrecognizable today -- but you have to let your mind imagine the possibilities and then go try to make it happen. Failure is the breakfast of successful entrepreneurs and inventors.
I recall watching baby-bell US West's futurist George Wells talk in Minneapolis a couple of decades ago. I could not comprehend that 20 years from then, people would strap on these weird controllers and start playing a virtual-physical game through their TV sets with total strangers. I was wrong, and his vision of the future was right. What was distracting me was the 27-inch Curtis Mathes walnut-encased television set and the idea that a 52-year old woman could be interested in playing the same online game as a 10-year-old (and since it was apparent they weren’t related, I was wondering where the security features were.)
In television, we foresaw interactive gaming in the 1980s. But we never saw this thing called the Internet (TVs at that time had 90 percent-plus penetration and PCs less than 10 percent. So if you were placing the bet, which technology would you see becoming the information hub of the home of the future?). The funny thing is that now the Internet is coming to TVs and gaming consoles just like Wells envisioned. And the PC function is built into the TV itself. Within 10 years, every TV will have a built-in webcam, microphone, Ethernet jack or WiFi connection, and we will have come full circle; not only to "G. Wells" vision of the future, but the videophones that first appeared at the 1939 World's Fair.
I recently wrote about the desktop video phenomenon being the partners desk of the future. I am seeing that part of my consulting business booming. I am now doing Brady Bunch-like conferences with people all over the world, as companies engage mobile workforces and telecom to take advantage of the geographic imbalance this disruptive economy has created. This is the future. Any company that wants to compete in the future will need to plan on having 20 percent of their workforce remote. The economics are astounding and productivity gains result in instant ROI.