horEYEzon 2014 – a sneak peek at the year ahead

2014-Tech-Trends-Impacting-Business2014 will take us on an upward trajectory, rising out of the doom and gloom and economic self-exile of the previous five years as we collectively accept the past, begrudgingly understand its social, cultural and financial ramifications will be with us for many years to come and decide not to wallow anymore, but instead to refashion and relearn normal.

The world of 2014 will represent a post technology boom one in which we will still see countless innovations and disruptive technologies, but the technology high we used to get from all things digitally new will be much harder to get, as we persist in taking for granted how far we have come and what we have achieved in the last decade of digital evolution.

Our desire for all things nostalgia will fade as we have less need, post-recession, for romanticising the halcyon times gone by, remembered and revered through rose coloured glasses and instead we look forward to take the best of the past and repurpose it and make it sleek, authentic, fresh and tomorrow worthy.

2014 will be the year of the entrepreneur and intrapreneur as we evolve further into a society that values the work of the individual and the few. Frontier innovation fighters discovering and blazing new paths are our future super heroes and on the back of many years of little or no innovation investment and corporations holding their financial breath we will see purse strings loosen and investment in new becoming more common.

The rise of internal and community innovation hubs will become a more ordinary part of our fast changing work landscape and the desire and ability to tap into innovation funding and diverse thinking both on and off-line will grow as collectively we begin to replace the knee-jerk short term planning we have endured for the past decade with a more medium term outlook horizon.

Enmeshed in this evolving philosophy is a growing desire to tilt at windmills. In many areas, including space exploration, transport, health and citizen’s welfare corporations are rising over governments and the fortress walls of historically entrenched government offerings tumble down to allow in private enterprise providers.

In the broader business arena we will see new players and non-traditional players snapping at the heels of traditional long term players in areas including banking, telecommunications and health. Everything is up for grabs in this new digital era.

To fuel this appetite for growth 2014 will see sharing and collaboration come to mainstream business and personal attention as we realise that the traditional gold standard of have all, do all, know all no longer serves us as well as it once did and that it is not necessarily the ownership of the means of production that brings us wealth, but the effective use of it. This new normal of reaching out to a broader community and of forming crowd companies that can collaboratively and exponentially advance our own pursuits will continue to become mainstream management and personal mantra.

Wisdom is oil, both as a fuel and as a scarce and valuable commodity. In 2014 in our growing insatiable thirst for all things knowledgeable and wise will have us speed up our journey to synthetic thinking as we evolve our digital brains to augment our organic brain storage and analytical capabilities.

Most of us already rely on our digital devices to store and recall phone numbers, appointments, birthdays and life’s minutia. The next stage in this thought metamorphosis is for our digital world to use this intimate knowledge of who we are and what we are, found inside our mobile devices, with real time information flying digitally around us and to blend the two to provide us with a deeper more insightful, more place and time appropriate understanding of our own unique two- thousand-and-me hyperpersonalised world.

Information for this (r)evolution in thinking and interacting will be constantly added to by billions of devices that will continue to become connected throughout 2014; each with their own unique IP address, each searchable, discoverable and remotely controlled through our mobile devices allowing us to turn appliances on and off, start motor vehicles at a distance, change house temperature, find locations and items and send instructions from one machine to another without the need for human intervention.

2014 will also draw a clear line in the sand for the demise of large format desk bound computers and as we send it into the pages of antiquity, the rise of mobile cloud enabled devices will come to the fore.

These mobile devices, on the eve of their ascendancy, are already themselves marked for extinction with 2014 heralding in a slew of wearable devices including smart watches and heads up displays seen inside the lens of non-prescription spectacles with products like Google Glass shifting information away from the mobile phone screen to an alternate viewing screen and experience.

Mass production and the notion of what manufacturing is will also be questioned as 3D printers rise on the retail, office, manufacturing and medical scenes. This next frontier in making and having is the ability to produce bespoke and one-off items on demand, without the need for huge inventories and investment of time and resources. These 3D printers are the now the equivalent of the old dot matrix printers of the 1980’s, incredible devices in their day that have advanced over the years to become ordinary and common place equipment.

Mixed in with all of these parallel, converging, competing and merging influences is the ever diminishing line between local, national, international, physical and virtual. The ability to source globally, adjust regionally and buy locally will become increasingly commonplace as a landscape of continuum physical and digital purchasing possibilities that knows no borders, requires no apologies and is orchestrated by the end user to best suit their immediate needs and circumstances continues to disrupt the notion of how, when, where, why and from whom we buy and to push mobile engagement strategies to the fore of every business conversation.

2014 will also herald in the beginning of a new era of human wellness which will evolve our historical repair a body view of medicine to one that sees us take daily mastery of our health and wellbeing and incrementally adjusts our lifestyle and activities as required. This minute by minute real time insight into our body’s wellbeing gathered by our wearable health devices will be analysed by our on-board technology and whispered to us as necessary and at our request sent to health and allied health professionals for further insights, comments and suggestions.

2014 will undoubtedly bring us ah-ha moments, innovation, gadgets, technology, breakthroughs, challenges, moral dilemmas’ and new thinking and as always there will be passionate detractors and champions for each.

The short term hypothesising of what innovations wait ahead for us is always a fearsome and exciting quest, but the real skill is in being able to gauge which of these yet to be seen innovations and inventions are going to truly resonate and have a positive, sustained and real impact on our lives.

To find the answer to this more compelling and earnest inquiry we must always keep our eyes firmly focused on the greater and weightier question “how do we feed, house, clothe, educate, employ, sustain, transport, provide self-worth and nurture a growing and ever more demanding world population in 2014 and beyond?”

This is Morris Miselowski’s annual look at some of the major horizon trends, thinking and innovation conversation starters for the year ahead.

Morris Miselowski is the Founder and Lead Foresight Strategist with Eye on The Future. He has 34 years of uncannily and profitably picking future trends for corporations around the globe and working with them ongoing to profitably take advantage of all tomorrow’s possibilities.