The post is titled "Five To Ponder". Admittedly, it sounds like the title of a cheap thriller --not unlike those books we see 'everyone else' reading on the train. The fact, which you may consider physical law, is that the future will indeed come...whether we fastidiously prepare for it, or proactively shape it, or become fossilized under its unstoppable, marching feet. These five items are worth thinking about. And, sooner or later, you will choose to act upon them, or they will act upon you, your business, and your life.
1. OUTSOURCING AND TELECOMMUTING
The G-8 nations in general, and, in particular, the United States, are outsourcing an increasing percentage of their operations to foreign countries, taking advantage of the favorable arbitrage in labor costs. While the nations receiving the bulk of this contracting largess will be changing as their labor pricing structures adjust to meet demand, the tendency to outsource will be here for a long time to come. Telecommuting through the limitless realm of cyberspace is making this prospect increasingly viable to the point of being irresistible. In five to ten years, what will the term "corporate headquarters" mean? In ten to fifteen years, what will the term "geography" mean? The current construct of "country of origin" is already a vestigial anachronism.
2. DE-NATIONALIZATION FROM THE G-8
The increasing regulatory complexity of conducting business in the G-8 nations, particularly the English-speaking ones, combined with the voracious propensity in these civilized lands to prosecute "corporate" criminals (where then pen is perceived as lethal a weapon as is the sword) for an ever-increasing compendium of nebulously-defined crimes will lead to a massive exodus of corporate charters and head offices to less-sophisticated (e.g., more "commerce-friendly"), hungrier jurisdictions. Just speculating...this could also fuel the increasingly evident flight of capital and employment opportunities from the venerable G-8. The notion of "Free Enterprise" is becoming increasingly hazy. In certain circles, the phrase is deemed politically incorrect.
3. CO-OPETITION NETWORKING
With the increasing prevalence, power and sophistication of the Internet, very little remains secret or inaccessible. Consumers are dictating to an increasing field of emerging vendors precisely what products and services they want, and just what they are willing to pay. The most successfully suppliers will be those who are able to refer customers and co-opt assignments. The best networkers will be the newest addition to the pantheon of the world's richest. Landowners, rights-holders, and traders of all stripes will have to make way for a new generation of shamelessly aggressive networkers. Leveraging of knowledge and contacts, and alliances of former adversaries will replace the hide-and-seek, divide-and-conquer ethic of traditional-style competition. Malcolm Gladwell, an inspired visionary, may have to provide additional place settings at the table for Adam Kovitz, Thomas Power, Jay Deragon and others. Depending upon the menu, Douglas Castle may even join them at the feast. As a businessperson, which end of the fork will you be on? Co-opetition.
4. DATA-DEPENDENCY DOMINATION PARANOIA
I am delighted to report that I have an incredible amount of data storage space in my gmail account. If I wanted to, I could store all of my documents, data, photographs, graphics and other information off-site (e.g., not on my hard drive) thanks to the lads at Google. That's precisely why I opened the account in the first place. And now, Yahoo! is offering me virtually unlimited storage capacity, too! All of this -- for free. Websites, blogs, calendars, financial records, personal information...we sure are trusting these colossal companies with quite a bit of valuable stuff. Hmmmm....
5. THE INWARD EXPLORATION
The human mind is an amazing thing. Its abilities, its capacities its processes are vastly unexplored terrain. Ironically, the increased development of information technologies and intelligence theories will lead us back to the ghost in the machine -- the Human Mind. How we learn, and increasing our ability to learn, and to think will become increasingly objects of exploration and fascination. The mind is an amazing playing field; more than in the physical realm, it is where we live. The study of learning and the study of thought will be tremendous areas of pioneering as a resurgence in curiousity about natural, or "organic" intelligence and the human potential movement seizes the imaginations of our species. Just take a look at the increasing proportion of bookstore and catalogue space being allocated to "self-improvement" and related subjects. After being out of our minds for so long, it raises a smile to think that we may be getting back into them. Intelligent people enjoy irony. Do you?
p.s. Click on this link (from a very unlikely source) for some fascinating and insightful comments about the future: www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/awc-futr.htm#quotes