Thought leaders’ views on the future of professional service firms and their clients

By Jenna Owsianik on April 12, 2015 | Permalink

Professional services are a critical and fast-growing sector of the economy. It’s important for everyone, not just people in the industry, to think about their future and the forces that may influence them in the next decade.

To address this topic, Future Exploration Network and Beaton Capital recently ran the conference Clients and Firms of the Future: How to Compete, co-facilitated by Ross Dawson and George Beaton. The highly participatory event was an opportunity to learn from the foremost experts in the field. The main themes of the conference included the future of professional firms’ clients, the impact of digital technology on the industry, and future of business models and competition.
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Robots on the rampage: How autonomous weapons will reconfigure the ethics of warfare

By Vanessa Cartwright on March 30, 2015 | Permalink

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The robot armies, artificial intelligence networks and cyborg assassins of science fiction continue to haunt the human imagination. But could they be the future of warfare? To some extent, the onslaught of robots appears inevitable within major militaries. The U.S. Defense Force could replace a quarter of its combat troops with robots by 2030. Using nearly autonomous and autonomous “warbots” capable of intelligent battlefield behaviors could potentially save soldiers’ lives and improve the efficiency of decision-making in war. But it could also bring a host of dangerous problems. (more…)

A thousand man years in a weekend: How the power of iteration may make artificial intelligence unbeatable

By Andy Smith on March 23, 2015 | Permalink

Technologist and real-world Tony Stark inspiration Elon Musk recently donated $10 million dollars to the Future of Life Institute to run a global research program focusing on Artificial Intelligence, specifically “keeping AI beneficial to humanity”.

But does Artificial Intelligence pose a genuine threat? There is a lot of hyperbole around AI, and in science fiction rebellious or malevolent AI is practically a whole sub-genre in and of itself. And while it’s easy to laugh off ridiculous scenarios like killer robots, the real threat that AI presents may not be to life and limb, but to economic stability and the unscrupulous wielding of artificial intelligence to disrupt markets and outpace human-driven innovation.

Avoiding the pitfalls of AI
Elon Musk was one among a number of prominent co-signers of an open letter that was also published by the Future of Life Institute. In it, they note:
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Multi-screen viewing and transmedia storytelling: How marketers will turn multiple device ownership into brand immersion

By Aaron Heinrich on April 30, 2014 | Permalink

There are two critical dynamics occurring today that will impact the way we consume and share content, and the way that content is presented: multi-screen viewing and transmedia storytelling. Both are challenging the entire concept of how we view “channels”, storytelling, and brand/consumer interactions.

Here are some insights that help make the point. A May 2012 study conducted by the IAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau) of nearly 2000 US consumers over the age of 18 found that “52% report that it’s somewhat or very likely that they’re using another device while watching television.” That percentage rose to 60% of smartphone users and 65% of tablet owners. So the more screens a person owns the more likely they’re using one or more of those while watching TV.
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Relaunch of Future Exploration Network

By Ross Dawson on November 18, 2013 | Permalink

We have recently completed a long-overdue relaunch of the website for Future Exploration Network. In many ways it is also a relaunch of the company.

Future Exploration Network was established in early 2006. The name says it all really: it is a network to explore the future.

Our first public venture was the Future of Media Summit 2006, the first conference ever held simultaneously in two continents, with live video and social media linking panel and audience conversations between Sydney and San Francisco, followed by other events around the future of work, organizations, and entrepreneurship.
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Launch of Map of the Decade, ExaTrends of the Decade, and the Zeitgeist for 2011

By Ross Dawson on December 14, 2010 | Permalink

It is traditional at the turn of the year to look forward at what is to come.

We have crystallized our thinking on the year ahead and the decade of the 2010s in a new 3-page visual landscape.

You can download the pdf of the framework by clicking on any of the images. The full text of the ExaTrends and the Zeitgeist themes is below.

Note on ExaTrends: Given the exponential pace of change of today we are far beyond a world of MegaTrends. Exa is the prefix meaning 10 to the power of 18, following Mega, Giga, Tera, and Peta. As such Exa is Mega cubed.

Map of the Decade: 2010s

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Infographic: Used mobile phones yield 1000 times more gold than gold ore

By Ross Dawson on June 25, 2010 | Permalink

A couple of weeks ago I flew to Perth to participate in a scenario planning project for a mining company. As I struck up conversation with the person next to me, it turned out we would both be presenting and contributing to the same workshop. I was kicking off the two-day workshop with a broad presentation on the future of business, while Damien Giurco, Research Director at University of Technology Sydney’s Institute for Sustainable Futures, would speak later on ‘Cities as the mines of the future’.
Damien showed me their excellent report Peak Minerals in Australia, which provides an in-depth analysis of the state and implications of peak minerals. One of the data points quoted in the report was fascinating: used mobile phones yield 1000 times as much gold as gold ore. I thought it was worth creating an infographic to bring the point home – click on the image to download a large version of the infographic.

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In short: make sure you recycle your mobile phone!

Creating the Future of Media: 4 Driving Forces, 4 Strategic Issues, 4 Essential Capabilities

By Ross Dawson on December 18, 2009 | Permalink

I very rarely find the time to write magazine articles, but I was delighted to write the opening feature article for MediaTitles 2010, an annual publication which covers the media and magazine industry.
To see the article in the full splendor of the print version, go to the MediaTitles website, which has the full publication viewable using Realview Technologies (with the article reformatted to take out the lists of four, which I think is a pity). My article is on pages 7-10.
The (original) text of the article is below.
CREATING THE FUTURE OF MEDIA
These are the best of times, these are the worst of times. The global economic crisis, coming on top of a dramatic transformation wrought by the rise of the Internet, is creating the swiftest change in media industry structure ever experienced. Newspapers and magazines are being shut down at an extraordinary pace all over the world, journalists are losing their jobs, and broadcast media are under threat as sliding advertising revenue hit an unmoving cost base. Yet as the world shifts towards what will be truly an all-encompassing media economy, there are extraordinary opportunities ahead for media organisations.
This is a critical juncture to examine the future of media. Magazines have and will continue to be central to how we learn, socialise, entertain ourselves, and make buying decisions. Yet the magazine industry will undoubtedly look very different scant years ahead. It is our role and responsibility to create the future of media, rather than to let it happen to us. To do that, we need to examine the most central driving forces, strategic issues and capabilities in the evolving media landscape.
Four Driving Forces

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Case study: hitting the Billboard charts by free online streaming of the album

By Ross Dawson on September 24, 2009 | Permalink

I notice that Imogen Heap is continuing with the free streaming of her album Ellipse . And no doubt significantly because of the free streaming, Ellipse is charting at #5 on Billboard. It is a glorious album, though I think we can pretty definitely count the free streaming of the album on the web as a very effective strategy. Perhaps it will become commonplace to stream music for free in order to maximize sales.
I’d be keen to know the proportion of sales of this album and the songs on it online versus through CD. It would almost be surprising if she sold much in CDs at all, because her presence is so online..
I notice Imogen on Twitter now has over a million followers.
A bit tangentially, I just found this beautiful video of a beautiful song by Kate Havnevik, who I found through collaborative filtering and Imogen’s music. If you like Imogen you’ll absolutely like the extraordinary Kate. (note that it doesn’t start for 10 seconds)

ABC Radio National: Discussion on the future of influence

By Ross Dawson on September 17, 2009 | Permalink

ABC Radio National Future Tense this morning featured a discussion on the future of influence (click here for the podcast of both the radio program, and the unabridged discussion between Duncan Riley and myself). It kicks off with a quote from Chris Saad saying that influence and reputation are the currencies of the day, even more than attention.
When asked why we rebadged Future of Media Summit as Future of Influence Summit this year, I explained why “influence is the future of media”, and the five key trends in how influence is transforming society.
Duncan pointed to how the rise of Internet and social media means that influence can now be global. He also raised the issue of trust agents, and what it takes to be trusted as a publisher. We have more choice in what we look for, and so we need markers of credibility.
On the topic of business models for influence, I talked about two key ideas. The first is whether and how individuals can profit from their influence, and how that will develop. The second is the emergence of influence as a currency, and the companies that profiting from making influence explicit for companies.
Listen to the long version of the interview for more details.