In most corporate environments taking risks doesn’t feel great. One of the most clear and unspoken trends in business these days is how much fear there is, and how much it drives everything.
One of the great tools to reduce the risk in a role is to hide behind data ( the other is to hide behind expensive Consultants)
Historical data is wonderful for context setting and learning from the past, current market data provides a wonderful snapshot of the moment, but most future data is worse than useless.
Most quantitive data reflects the agenda of the people who commission it. It’s no shock that the VR industry makes healthy predictions about it’s growth, it’s not odd that Management consultants say companies will die faster than ever before unless they change, most data is self selected to tell a useful narrative.
This data then becomes part of a self reinforcing narrative, where movements, themes, or trends seem to manifest themselves from thin air.
Even when it’s data collected fairly, it’s not always helpful.
Far more people tend to say they "they care about how a companies treat their staff, because what sort of sociopath would say otherwise.
People say they “would probably buy more things if they experienced them in AR” because they don’t want to embarrassingly ask the moderator or Google what AR is, people don't care about the answers they give.
People are asked silly questions,”Would you ever buy a self flying car”, which given we’ve no idea the cost, or safety, or
future world, is just a useless data point.
Most data is vague too, we see predictions of the value of the internet of things in 2025, without any real sense of what this broad philosophical application of the internet really means.
We predict job losses via Artificial Intelligence, when it’s a broad bundling of very different technologies into one meaningless bitesized chunk. Do we mean robots, self serve checkouts, large language models, chatbots, translation software, the no code movement?
We all love to make sense of complexity with a model.
The Gartner Hype Cycle is a lovely way to confidently track technologies as they rise and fall, but it’s not actually proven to be useful.
Mobile phones, Tablets, the Segway, the MP3 player, the Internet, pretty much every technology you can think of never actually followed it.
The skill to thinking about the future isn’t to look at precise trend lines from the past and linearly project them forward.
It’s not to obsess over technology.
It’s to be empathetic to people.
It’s to consider thoughtfully what enhances human feelings, what addresses our concerns, it’s to layer through use cases and to feel our way ahead.
I don’t think large spreadsheet oriented companies are best placed to do this.
It's people who roam the world, who observe, who study the past, who see people across demographics, across regions, across divides, and who care to listen.