Foresight & Trends: Early Morning

A scot named Neil and another guy named Bart had us all sitting forward and listening. Foresight & Trends was off and the audience was along for the ride.

The day would soon be filled with words and phrases like disruption, invention, intuition, expectations economy, and Siri as a therapist. But for now, we start with a pair of innovators who describe how their business has been disrupted.

The scot was described as the one who goes in and helps clients innovate and disrupt from the inside, essentially putting the other guy out of business. The other guy works with their clients from the outside, helping them identify and act on inventions. One is the future, one was the past. The scot was louder and if they sat down for a leg wrestle, my money’s on him.

Paired they make for curators of a conference.

Next up, TrendWatching.com, the future focused organization that has yet to drop the “.com” from their name. Henry Mason took some time to tease us with some trends coming out in their 2018 report, which was kind of like seeing the next Tesla model, then the sun came up.

Henry had two great points before the sun rose and took away his beautiful visual presentation: passive personalization and internal corporate culture as marketing. There were three, but these two stole my show.

1. Passive personalization was a new look at an old trend from the late nineties, customization and personalization. The idea here is we have AI and machine learning to get to know us and feed us personalized experiences. Spotify’s discover weekly playlist that just seems to know what music you need this week. Siri is entering our lives as a therapist - with Apple looking for a psychologist with technical skills. The Replica chatbot is designed to be a friend, someone who reflects you back. And my new favorite, a travel speaker (think Amazon Alexa) that tells you the best place to see nearby, suggests tours or gives you the history of the spaces around.

Customization in the late 90s was hard work for us, as people. If this is what the robots will be doing, sign me up.

2. Culture as a marketing department is a massive movement. Uber is the best good / bad example of this with their continuous scandals coming out of a toxic culture. It shows up when a brand takes a stand on an issue, like when Audi ran a POV ad at the Super Bowl about equal pay for women and got slammed for their “sausage fest” boardroom. It was easier to be one thing in public and another in private — the gap between external perception vs internal culture — today, people can see more. This has larger implications than even the intellectual power in the room can fathom. We have access to more data today than we’ve ever had, as corporations and as people.

If culture is the new ad campaign, what are all the ad agencies going to become... recruiters?

As stated earlier, there was a third trend but the sun took over, did a white out on the big screen and distracted all of us, including our impressive and thoughtful speaker, Henry Mason. But let’s be clear, this audience was already full up with his first two.

More to come in future posts on Tara-Nicholle Nelson author of The Transformational Consumer, Corrine from Fresh Intelligence on habits, Brian Kavanagh from Hershey talking candy and experimentation, and Grant McCracken talking dark value and some other wickedly cool stuff.

About The Author

Aaron Keller

I am an author, strategist, researcher, cyclist, reader and consummate entrepreneur. When an interesting idea crosses my path, I find any way we can bring it to life. Earning an MBA from the Carlson School and numerous valuable credits at the school of hard knocks, I’ll sit at a boardroom conversation with anyone. Want to talk business strategy, consumer behavior and design? Oh, it’s on.

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