The Future of Communications
Thomas Frey of the DaVinci Insitute says you will be assimilated by technology. And you will probably like it.
The future is really hard to predict. Normally I rely on my Magic Eight Ball, but recently I had the chance to meet with with a professional Futurist.
Futurists don't have crystal balls or visions; instead they analyze current trends to predict our journey and possible outcomes. Thomas Frey, the Executive Director and Senior Futurist at the DaVinci Institute, is well known for his views on the world to come. You may have heard him speak, as his roster of Fortune 500 clients includes IBM, AT&T, HP, Bell Canada, Qwest, and Lucent. Thomas has been featured in hundreds of articles, appearing in publications such as the New York Times, Huffington Post, US News and World Report, and The Futurist Magazine.
Along with its commitment to interpreting the implication of current trends, the DaVinci Institute provides shared co-working facilities. Before launching the DaVinci Institute, Tom spent 15 years at IBM as an engineer and designer where he received over 270 awards. He is also a past member of the Triple Nine Society (High I.Q. society over 99.9 percentile).
DM: Thomas, the rate of change in telecommunications and enterprise communications has never been so fast. Is this the new normal, or will it slow--or even continue to increase?
TF: There is always the possibility of a Black Swan, or something terrible happening like a giant solar flare, but barring anything catastrophic, the speed of telecommunication will continue to amp up. Consumers are demanding it. In 1975, the cost of issuing an airline ticket was $16. Today the cost for issuing that same ticket has plummeted to 10 cents.
Businesses have an obligation to ferret out every possible efficiency to stay competitive. At the same time, staying competitive is no small feat.
Every 60 seconds:
* 700,000 Google searches are conducted
* 168 million emails are sent
* 695,000 Facebook entries are posted
* 370,000 Skype calls are made
* 98,000 new Tweets are posted on Twitter
* 13,000 iPhone apps are downloaded
* 1,500 new blog entries are posted
For businesses to stay competitive and relevant at the same time requires an increased awareness of every new channel of communication and an understanding of the culture and etiquette for each of these emerging new communities.
As with other industries in the past, a few dominant players will emerge to command the lion's share of attention. But we are still a long ways from completing the experimental phase we're currently in.
DM: As a Futurist, you must have some strong opinions about your long term investments. Tell me why you have invested in a shared workspace environment?
TF: The people with which we surround ourselves have a huge impact on where we end up in life. We now have the ability to control our work environments and our social circles in far more precise ways than ever before. Our work environments can be of our own choosing. Our social circles can be both virtual and physical.
At the DaVinci Institute, we wanted to learn what works and what doesn't first hand, and our coworking facility has provided us with a working laboratory to do exactly that.
The average person that turns 30 years old in the U.S. today has worked 11 different jobs. In just 10 years, the average person who turns 30 will have worked 200-300 different projects.
Business is becoming very fluid in how it operates, and the driving force behind this liquefaction is a digital network that connects buyers with sellers faster and more efficiently than ever in the past.
But as we move into this type of free-agent economy, not everyone will be good at lining up one project after another.
At the heart of the coming work revolution will be a new kind of business structure serving as an organizational magnet for work projects and the free-agent talent needed to complete the work. For this reason, I'm predicting that coworking facilities, such as "The Vault" that we operate, will evolve into something I call "business colonies."
In the near future, large corporations will be setting up business colonies outside corporate headquarters to handle specific projects. Individuals will come together when they are needed, bringing skills and talent to bear on specific projects. These business colonies will be organized around a topical area such as social mapping, data mining, metallurgy, and so forth. A company will lob projects over the corporate walls to the business colonies; the projects will be completed and sent back to the corporation.
This is a way for large corporations to expand capability without adding to their headcount. It's getting increasingly expensive to hire people full time, so companies are looking at project-based work where employees are temporary.