The Five Macro Trends Driving Business (and Life) in the 21st Century

I'm at a global conference for ERP applications and Ray Wang, technology futurist, is speaking about five macro trends that will be the primary technology driver for business in the 21st century.

1. Mobility (Band on the Run)
We are changing the way we work. Forrester estimates that 283 million smart devices will be shipped this year. Where we are working has changed and we're not tied to the office any longer. I am working today from the conference floor of Perspectives the Epicor global conference (of which I'm presenting on Wednesday); I'm writing this blog post on my iPhone.

Location independence is critical to keeping people working and leveraging the best skills not from any one geographic region, but from anywhere. ANYWHERE.

2. Social (Butterfly) Media
How many of you are connected on LinkedIn or Facebook. Social media is neither a fad nor a passing fancy. Facebook added 100 million users last 9 months. People are by nature social animals; we want to connect as a community. Extending social media to business and extends information across business and consumers.

What does social media mean to business? Consider this, how do we either connect to our customers, or if you are a non-profit your constituency? I'll bet you either connect to your 'peeps' via email blasts or email or phone calls or face to face.

How about connecting to people by like interests? You connect to your friends on Facebook because they're you friends and you have common interests. Why not connect to your customers or constituents the same way.

3. Get Your Head IN the Cloud (Computing)
Part of mobility and location independence is the ability to work anywhere. As I write this article, I did so originally on my iPhone while at the presentation on the floor, I saved the draft to my Evernote account, then as I had time today, sat down to edit the article in the hotel atrium on my MacBook. What does this mean, well software is quickly becoming a service and moving all of our applications to the web. I never required any software ‘loaded’ on my notebook per se.

I could have just as easily sat at the Internet café in the hotel and edited this article from Evernote and a web browser. This idea of location independence no longer ties me to any one particular notebook, workstation, or machine, as long as I have access to the Internet and a web browser, I can continue to work. It is an ongoing experiment for me, and it occasionally works better sometimes than others.

I still prefer Word as my ‘power’ text editor, especially for particularly long papers and articles, but as a rule, I tweet, post on my blog, and write on Facebook using mobile devices, and web services exclusively.

4. Business Intelligence and Enterprise Dark Matter (Not the Dark Side)
Informatics and data visualization is at the center of translating data to information to knowledge and wisdom. How do we better understand the Internet of Things?

It’s not about the numbers, in as much as it is about understanding the patterns in the numbers, we are increasingly faced with a deluge of data, Ray noted that we estimate the amount of data in the universe is on the order of 1.3 Exabytes (That’s a 1.3 with 18 zeros behind it or a REALLY big number).

Understanding the patterns of all that data is the world of analytics. It’s about connecting the patterns in the data in the context of the real world, for example what does the increased number of tweets Twitter receives on President Obama’s vacation mean in the context of the world economy? Does it mean that he’s simply foolish to take a vacation during the mid-term elections, or that people care about what Michelle is doing with the girls at Disneyland?

5. Unified Communications and Video (Come Together)
Looking at the jet blue model of how they communicate to their customers for reservations have nothing to do with call centers. When you call jet blue to make a reservation you aren't calling a call center you're calling Donna at home in Kansas City. Unified communications are about communicating in real time from anywhere. Do you use Skype or SMS or instant messaging? Think about it.

I completely agree with Ray’s assessment, these trends will have a significant impact on our society for the next several years.

So, have you tweeted recently?


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