At the recent Professional Marketing Forum conference,   Ian Pearson (BT’s lead futurologist for 16 years) provided some provocative food for thought to add into our environmental (SLEPT or PEST) analyses and scenario planning with his views on the future trends in technology.

He drew a broad landscape by charting how we have moved from the agricultural age, to the industrial age, through the information age and now enter the care age. Here he mentioned the increasing “feminisation” of business which is a topic that interests me greatly after studying the work of psychologist Nancy Kline (author of “Time to think”).

Ian took us on a mind-blowing tour of some of the technologies that are already with us and some that are imminent that will fundamentally affect how we work and do business. Amongst them were:

  • Miniaturisation – For example, digital jewellery – Imagine an ear stud to replace your smartphone. Smart dust – microchips as small as dust that can be sprinkled on office kit to steal electronic secrets
  • Sponge nets – Where (personal) devices connect and share data with their neighbours without needing a connection to an ISP or a server in the cloud. The use of algorithms to route data across different devices means there is no need for encryption or security fears
  • Digital air – Using social and geographic structures, tribal forces and content so that digital information can be associated with specific geographical locations which can drift in much the same way as air
  • Friend or brand cards – The use of disposable artefacts that contain essential digital contact or other information rather than having to enter such information manually
  • Procurement communities – Informal collaborations will quickly spring up to tackle common purchasing requirements and to share (volume) deals amongst many
  • Active contact lenses and smart make up – The ability to incorporate Google Glass features into a contact lens or have cosmetics that instantly change colour or style. Active skin and video tattoos for personal displays
  • Interpersonal skills – These will become more important as artificial intelligence (AI) develops to take care of detailed knowledge transfer. He predicted that remuneration rates will therefore polarise greatly, with wages up significantly for maybe 1% and significantly down for the other 99%