Looking to the Future…

I recently read a presentation given by Dr. Joe Webb at the Print CEO Forum this past month, held at Graph Expo in Chicago. Dr Webb is an industry analyst with “What They Think?,” a graphic arts and printing industry Research Center. Dr. Joe had an interesting and thoughtful look at the future, centered on the numbers 30 – 60 and 100.

So what was the significance of these three numbers? To begin with, “30” refers to the expected increase in computing speed in the year 2020. In other words, the next ten years should see processing speeds 30 times faster than what we work with now. Not really surprising, considering how fast we have progressed already. Anymore, we just come to expect that there will always be a newer, faster computer just around the corner.

The second number is more telling I believe. “60” refers to the 60 million people in the U.S. alone that were born after the internet went into public use in 1995. All of these individuals not only grew up with computers as an everyday fixture, but also the internet as a primary source of information. The concept of a World Book Encyclopedia does not have much meaning to them!

And finally the third number – “100,” is what the FCC has implemented as a policy of making the average U.S. broadband connection – 100 megabits per second. This is roughly 6 times what it is today, and will allow the faster computer processing speeds referred to earlier to realize their full potential.

I found this to be insightful not because the numbers were that surprising, but rather as a reinforcement that business as we currently see it will change that much more rapidly in the future. Trends that are just beginning to show their way will play out faster and then be replaced by yet another new application or strategy.

Regular communication with clients and prospects will still be the constant within a marketing plan – it is just that the form of that communication will continue to evolve. Much more reliance on Mobile marketing and Personalization will be the norm, and computer applications will begin to anticipate our needs and wants. Each form of media will have a more specific strategy associated with it.

And we thought succeeding in business was tough before? Looking forward, we will all need to be willing to shift our priorities that much faster – capitalize on opportunities, then move on before we get caught short. We will need to think of how we can create business opportunities, rather than just look for existing business. And if it looks like an investment is not paying off – well don’t wait too long before you pull the plug!

This all will be somewhat of a transition for business, and yet fortunately we will also have the benefit of a whole generation of new employees that have grown up with nothing but this rapid change. Remember those 60 million internet savvy individuals? Be sure to listen to them!


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