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Posted: January 16, 2013

The futurist: Last two unexpected macro-trends for 2013

Don't end up as a business history footnote

Thomas Frey

(Editor's note: This is the second of two parts. Read the first part.)

Look for “insourcing to be a long-term trend. It certainly won’t work in all industries, and it may not even work in most. But the playing field has shifted, and those who aren’t paying close attention may soon end up as little more than a footnote in the annals of business history.

3.) Multidimensional Literacy – The Evolution of Consumable Information 

Contrary to what most academics think, literacy is not just about reading and writing. It can be, but that becomes a very narrow-minded way of looking at the world.

People in the U.S. are consuming information 11.8 hours every day, and they are doing it in many different ways:

  • Photo Literacy – Currently over 250 million photos are uploaded onto Facebook every day.
  • Video Literacy – Google recently announced that videos are being uploaded to YouTube at a rate of 48 hours of video every minute.
  • Coding Literacy – With over 8,000 coding languages currently in existence and new ones coming into play faster than old ones are going away, people who are “code literate” are in huge demand.
  • Game Literacy – The video game industry is expected to grow from $67 billion in 2012 to $82 billion in 2017 with game playing in 70% of all households.
  • App Literacy – Between Apple and Android, over 1.5 million apps are currently in existence and this number is climbing rapidly.
  • Device Literacy – The “Internet of Things” is growing exponentially, and Cisco estimates the number of devices connected to the Internet by 2020 will hit 50 billion.
  • Social Media Literacy – One out of every five pageviews on the web is on Facebook. With over 1 billion registered users, Facebook is leading the pack, but there are many other brands of social media like Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, and LinkedIn nipping at their heals.

In addition to the ones listed above are streaming music, podcasts, audio books, movies, courseware, and many more.

Only a small percentage of the information we consume is the written word, and this percentage will continue to decline as we develop newer, faster, and better ways to package information.

Yes, we still need to know how to read and write, but trying to exist in a world without being able to create videos, edit photos, download music, operate devices, or write code will be increasingly difficult.

Competing for jobs in the future will require people to be broadly literate, with the advantage going to those who are the most multidimensional.

4.) The Legalized Marijuana Movement – Nudging the Snowflake that Started the Avalanche

People have been predicting the legalization of marijuana for decades. To say that legalization was highly anticipated is something of a gross understatement.

The problem is that everyone was predicting California would be first. In fact, most of the secret laboratories at the tobacco and pharmaceutical companies for testing and refining pot are based in California. But it was Colorado and Washington that decided to go first.

Unbeknownst to most, these companies have already begun leasing space in Colorado and Washington to better position themselves for the first wave of business opportunities.

While both states are wrestling with an entirely new type of “controlled substance” legislation, lobbyists on both state and federal levels are being put into place to help “guide” people’s thinking.

What most people are missing is that marijuana is already one of the most researched substances in all history. There is already a proven market with proven demand.

Yes, other countries have had legal marijuana for years. But when the U.S. changes its mind, it generally creates an entire new global standard.

The legalization of marijuana will cause the U.S. to rethink its entire “war on drugs” policy, a war that has resulted in far more casualties than most wars. This will result in an abrupt shift in enforcement, legal and justice policies, incarceration rates, and related kinds of legislation.

Remember, any human act is only illegal if humans say its illegal. As history has shown, we often change our minds, and this is one of those times.

As Napa Valley is to the wine industry, Colorado and Washington will be to the emerging marijuana industry. While many will take a wait-and-see approach to how the industry develops, major fortunes will be won and lost starting with the early players in 2013.

Final Thoughts

Speaking about four macro trends is but a drop in our current ocean of change.

However, discussions around these topics have been rather limited and opening them up for a broader discussion seems very appropriate.

At the same time I’d love to hear your thoughts about these and other macro trends that we’ll be confronting in the future. We won’t be able to cover everything, but take a few moments to let me know what you’re thinking.

Very often the first discussion on a topic is the most important.

Thomas Frey is the executive director and senior futurist at the DaVinci Institute and currently Google’s top-rated futurist speaker.  At the Institute, he has developed original research studies, enabling him to speak on unusual topics, translating trends into unique opportunities. Tom continually pushes the envelope of understanding, creating fascinating images of the world to come.  His talks on futurist topics have captivated people ranging from high level of government officials to executives in Fortune 500 companies including NASA, IBM, AT&T, Hewlett-Packard, Unilever, GE, Blackmont Capital, Lucent Technologies, First Data, Boeing, Ford Motor Company, Qwest, Allied Signal, Hunter Douglas, Direct TV, Capital One, National Association of Federal Credit Unions, STAMATS, Bell Canada, American Chemical Society, Times of India, Leaders in Dubai, and many more. Before launching the DaVinci Institute, Tom spent 15 years at IBM as an engineer and designer where he received over 270 awards, more than any other IBM engineer.

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