The top 28 major trends for 2012 and beyond: Part 2
Here are the next seven trends for 2012:
8.) Regionalization of the Internet – In the 1990s the Internet was greeted as the New New Thing: It would erase national borders, give rise to communal societies that invented their own rules, and undermine the power of governments. But not so fast! Even though the Internet began as a utopian dream of a unified world without government intervention, today’s Internet is moving towards the opposite end of the spectrum. In many cases, Internet companies not only welcome governmental restrictions; they are being used as agents of government policy. The future Internet will see a move towards even more border sensitivity, with hyper-location based services to both improve relevancy of the user experience, and also put themselves in good standing for regional business and government contracts.
9.) The End of an Era – Faster than Ever – When Dell announced it would no longer be selling netbook computers, it foretold the end of an era. The cute little laptops surged in popularity and came crashing back to earth in a timeframe best measured in months, not decades. Tablet computers, starting with the Apple iPad, made them instantly obsolete. Our increased awareness of what’s hot and what’s not gives us instant ability to turn our backs on “the old” and to begin embracing “the new.” When Netflix announce they were changing their business model, they instantly got the cold shoulder and had to reverse course. RIM’s Blackberries, once the hottest product in the connected business marketplace, got blindsided by the iPhone and Android and has been plummeting ever since. The speed with which new companies can emerge, is also the speed with which they can become dismantled. Today’s hotness can become tomorrow’s coldness in a matter of months. So take a close look at the top 100 emerging new companies and know that less than 20 percent will still be around five years from now. (By the way, I just made that statistic up. Soon to be another one of the Big Lies.)
10.) Poor Lifestyles Hurting Long-term Health – In the past three or so decades, women have increased their calorie intake by 22 percent and men by 10 percent, with carbohydrates and sugar-sweetened beverages being major sources of the unnecessary calories. The inevitable result is that more than two-thirds of U.S. adults and about one-third of children are over the ideal body weight, with the extra layers of fat putting a major strain on people’s hearts. The trend is particularly concerning in children. Today, about 20 percent of U.S. kids are obese, compared with just 4 percent thirty years ago. Neither adults nor children are exercising enough and about 21 percent of men and 18 percent of women still smoke. About 20 percent of high school students also have taken up the smoking habit. This means that 94 percent of U.S. adults, and that’s almost everyone, have heightened risk factors for heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and Alzheimer’s. However, as always, every problem creates an opportunity, and every one of the identifiable risk factors will become a focal point of activity until each of the problems has become a thing of the past.
11.) Reversing the Obesity Trends – New research documents a 5.5 percent drop in the number of obese kids in K-8 classes in New York City’s public schools from 2006-2007 to 2010-1011. It’s no secret that reversing the childhood obesity epidemic in the U.S. will require a long-term effort Since 1970, the rate of childhood obesity in the U.S. has tripled. There have been hints that these rates were leveling off in New York City in recent years, but the new study reports an actual decrease. The bad part is that no one knows exactly why it’s happening. Look for a trend where researchers flock to every new community that shows progress, to uncover the clues. Also look for the answers to be different than what “the experts” have been telling us in the past.
12.) Fast-Niche Online Universities – We are seeing more and more niche professions without a clear path for getting there, at least not through any traditional University programs. These include everything from social networking experts, to product evangelists, to drone operators, to business colony managers. Through projects like Khan Academy, MIT OpenCourseWare, and iTunesU, the Internet has made it easier for anyone to be a student. Now it’s also making it easier for anyone to become a teacher. Several platforms have launched within the last couple years that democratize teaching.
Online universities such as Udemy, Learnable, Tildee, Skillshare, and Sophia are beginning to capture market share. Look for large associations and businesses, as the early adopters, to start creating their own path-to-profession courseware to fill the demand for rebooting skills in a short timeframe.
13.) Teaching Entrepreneurship and the Rise of the Accelerator – Can you teach entrepreneurship? People like Eric Ries, author of “The Lean Startup,” think so. He also thinks that entrepreneurship must be taught to far more people if the American economy is to successfully pivot towards a post-manufacturing era. But as people who have started a business know, is very difficult to teach the emotional side of business, and startups invariably become extremely emotional at one time or another. And the only good counseling for a person going through the trials of getting a business off the ground are other well-seasoned entrepreneurs. That’s why accelerators like Techstars and Y-Combinator have been gaining so much attention.
With their rapid incubation processes, Techstars and Y-Combinator have quickly becoming a natural farm club for VCs in the high tech arena. Look for a variety of other vertical niche accelerators, in fields like healthcare, education, finance, and other sectors, to materialize.
14.) Information Doesn’t Want to be Free – In 1984 at a Hackers Conference, Silicon Valley futurist Stuart Brand was the first to use the phrase “Information wants to be free” in response to a point made by Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak but continued, “On the other hand, information wants to be expensive, because it’s so valuable. The right information in the right place just changes your life.” John Perry Barlow, lyricist for the Grateful Dead, keyed in on the first half of the phrase, “Information wants to be free” in a keynote speech at an Open Source Internet Symposium in 1992. This set the stage for an entirely new era of free-thinking “free” advocates. This became another one of society’s “big lies.” There is always a cost to “free.” While it may not extract a payment from your bank account, there is always a “time” cost involved. Without some amount of friction, the volume of information you have to sift through skyrockets and even with good search technology, your time-costs climb dramatically. The days of “free” thinking are numbered. Look for this mindset to shift over the coming years.