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


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.

In short: make sure you recycle your mobile phone!

Keynote: Transforming Aged Care with Technology

By Ross Dawson on May 22, 2009 | Permalink

Tomorrow morning I am doing the second day opening keynote at ITAC09 – Information Technology in Aged Care conference.
Here is my presentation – as always these are intended to accompany my speech, not as stand-alone slides.

I hope to write some more on this blog on this topic before long, though it depends what I can fit in…

Quick review of TEDxAdvance on Future of the Enterprise

By Ross Dawson on May 8, 2009 | Permalink

On Tuesday I spoke at the TEDxAdvance event in San Francisco on Future of the Enterprise.
In short, it was a great event, with close to 80 very interesting people in attendance, and excellent energy during the presentations and ensuing conversation over drinks.
I won’t replicate the fantastic write up of the event by Andrew Mager on ZDNet’s The Web Life blog – check it out for a great overview of the proceedings and some of the ideas that flowed through the evening.
A video of my presentation was taken – I hope to post it up here soon.

Availability of talent drives entrepreneurial innovation – the story of Silicon Valley unemployment

By Ross Dawson on April 4, 2009 | Permalink

The human toll of unemployment is stark, as is being experienced around the world.
The most recent unemployment statistics for Silicon Valley below illustrate how the region has greater cyclicality in unemployment than almost any other region in the US. In good times unemployment can fall to almost nil, in bad times unemployment rises faster and higher than most regions.
The recent dramatic upturn in unemployment is likely to be far from peak, with for example the mooted IBM – SUN merger potentially leading to 10,000 layoffs, a large proportion of which would likely be in Silicon Valley.
What is bad news for some is great news for others. Bringing ideas to market takes talented people. In good times those people are either not available, or cost too much for start-ups to engage. Today there are once again fantastically talented people who are looking for opportunities, and willing to work for lower – or even no – income in return for a share of what might become big later.

This balances out to a large degree the far more constrained availability of investment capital. The money may not be flowing into start-up companies at a massive pace, but they need less.

So don’t expect innovation in Silicon Valley (or anywhere else) to dry up. The spigot of one of the key enablers of innovation – talent – has just been turned up high. Entrepreneurship is being democratized as more people with ideas and energy are able to execute their vision, rather than being constrained by lack of resources.
This is just one key driver today resulting in the pace of technology innovation going up, up, up…

Six key insights into the future of the Direct Selling Industry

By Ross Dawson on April 3, 2009 | Permalink

One of the things that I love the most about my work is that I’m continually exposed to new ideas, new people, new places, and new industries.

Last week I gave the opening keynote at the Direct Selling Association of Australia annual conference. The theme of the event was “Defining our Future,” so they wanted to kick off with big picture perspectives on the future of business from a leading futurist. My presentation at the conference is here.

I had never been exposed to the industry before, however in preparing for my keynote, and at the event itself where I came in for the cocktail reception the night before and stayed on for the CEO panel following my keynote, I gained a number of insights into the industry and where it stands today.

The Direct Selling industry is comprised of three major segments: personal or door-to-door sales, such as the classic Avon model; party plan, for example Tupperware; and multi-level marketing (MLM), exemplified by Amway. All of the models rely on face-to-face interaction and relationships.

The industry definitely has image issues. My general observation is that there are undoubtedly some in the industry who contribute to that perception, however any who are successful in the long-term are absolutely ethical and genuine. Distribution based on face-to-face relationships is absolutely a valid business model and economic sector.

Here are some of the things I learned or observed about direct selling:

1. Economic downturns can be great for direct selling.

What drives the industry more than anything else is the availability of talented people becoming distributors. When unemployment rises, people seek new ways to make money. The increase in motivated distributors can outweigh lower sales per individuals to create higher revenue.


Embracing the Future: keynote speaker at Direct Selling Assocation

By Ross Dawson on March 22, 2009 | Permalink

Tomorrow I am giving the opening keynote at the Direct Selling Association of Australia Conference 09 which is on the theme of ‘Defining our Future’.
The slides for my presentation are below. As always, these are intended to accompany my keynote, not as stand-alone slides.

The presentation includes a diverse range of examples of markets that are currently growing:
Home renovation tools
Home gardening
Quality jewellery
(in the case of my wife’s business
Brain fitness
Clean energy
Aged care
Mobile applications
(done well, in the right sectors)
I’ll write more soon about the array of growth markets that offer great opportunities at the moment.

Why traditional conferences are dying and how unconferences and audience participation are the future of events

By Ross Dawson on February 17, 2009 | Permalink

For many, many years I have felt that the vast majority of conferences were very poorly run, continuing to apply ancient, didactic approaches. That’s one of the reasons that a few years ago I started running events, organizing the Future of Media Summit, which annually links Sydney and San Francisco, the Enterprise 2.0 Executive Forum (the second annual event is on next week), Web 2.0 in Australia etc. Earlier events including what was at the time the extremely innovative Living Networks Forum in New York in 2003, using social networking technologies embedded in the event. Even though the events industry is vastly oversupplied, the majority of them are crap, so there’s ample scope for something better, as the consistent success of our events has demonstrated.

Certainly the last few years have seen the beginning of a transformation in how events are run, with in the US, Europe, and Australia (less so in Asia so far) many novel and highly interactive formats. However there is still a massive opportunity to create immense value with face-to-face events, and we’re currently looking to spin off our events business into a new company that will grow aggressively. News on that soon.
I am unusual in that a large part of my work is as a keynote speaker, speaking primarily on the future of business (including sometimes the future of events), usually within a traditional conference format. However at the same time I endeavor to create (or help my clients to implement) participatory formats that transcend the talking head syndrome.

Now the issue is getting mainstream media attention. has released an article titled: Networking trend: the ‘unconference’, which examines the plethora of interactive events that are arising, such as unconferences, Lightning Talks, Ignite, and Pecha Kucha, and drawing on an extensive interview with me on where the space is heading.

The entire article is well worth a read. Below are excerpts of the direct quotes from me in the article.


Wealth Adaptation Syndrome (WAS): a defining malaise of our times and the opportunities that stem from it

By Ross Dawson on January 5, 2009 | Permalink

I was interviewed last week on social trends in 2009 for a feature story in the Sunday Times magazine in Perth. In order to illustrate my ideas, I coined a term, Wealth Adaptation Syndrome, or WAS.

(One of the great things about the growth of Internet content and search engines is that when you invent a phrase you can check whether anyone has ever written it before. This post is the first ever appearance of the phrase ‘Wealth Adaptation Syndrome’. However note that Sudden Wealth Syndrome (a quite different phenomenon) was commonly referred to during the dot-com boom.)

Wealth Adaptation Syndrome is, quite simply, the process of adjusting to significantly different perceptions of your personal wealth. This applies quite differently depending on starting levels of wealth, but in all cases requires adjustment of not just wealth status, but also social status, and usually behaviors including spending patterns.


What business books I’m buying and reading

By Ross Dawson on December 23, 2008 | Permalink

I just received my latest book shipment from – it’s a tasty pile and I thought I’d share the list in case people are interested. Friendfeed is a nice way to share my various activities, but doesn’t include book purchases, which I’d probably prefer to share on an ad-hoc basis anyway.
Below are the books, together with brief comments. In most cases I haven’t read them cover to cover yet, but I’ll offer my thoughts either through reputation or having had a browse.
The predominant themes of Enterprise 2.0 and influencer marketing are obvious. We are writing our own Implementing Enterprise 2.0 report, as well as running our Enterprise 2.0 Executive Forum soon, and it’s good to see what else has been written on the topic. As any regular readers of this blog will soon discover, influence will be a major theme for my companies in 2009.
Enterprise 2.0
By: Niall Cook

A succinct report-style overview of Enterprise 2.0 from an executive perspective, written by Niall Cook of PR firm Hill & Knowlton.
By: Aaron Newman, Jeremy Thomas

An extensive examination of Enterprise 2.0 implementation. It is written primarily for technical people, including some code examples, though is certainly accessible to non-technical people.
The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom
By: Yochai Benkler

I’ve been long overdue to get this on my bookshelf. Already a classic, it covers the political and economic implications of a networked world.

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