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  • Writer's pictureNiki Ernst

6 predictions for the next 10 years. 

In the past 10 years, I have been working with over 1000 speakers, coaching them for their talks, watched over 3000 TED and TEDx talks (most of them live), spent a total of 500 days within average 10 people and up to 5 innovation meetings per day. I am confident to say that I am living a life, 5 to 10 years ahead of today.

I am not here to brag about my profile, I am here because I feel a certain responsibility to dare greatly, to expose myself to ridicule, to provoke some headwind and strong counter-opinion, all of that by way more educated, experienced and smarter people than I am. I am leaning myself faaaaar out of the window to share my set of 6 predictions for the next 10 years. 6, because I am quite confident in those and I did not see a reason forcing the list-size into a straight ten.  Here we go. 1) The 3rd Generation of Ownership I am a generation wherein an ideal world, you are owning what you are using. You own the house you live in or the apartment. You own the car you are driving. You own your company. My children's generation decided ownership is a burden because most of the time you either not use what you own or you have to spend a lot of time and money, maintaining your property. They coined the phrase "access over ownership" because it is a lot smarter, a lot more freedom if you only pay when you use and you don't have to bother about the things you are currently not using. AirBnB, UBER, LIME, WeWork and a lot more are the current leaders of services that make sure you do not have to own stuff. Investing in companies is popular as never before: you do not even have to own the company, you own. The 3rd Generation is - what I would call - a generation of distributed ownership, following the concept of everything you own should make money for you, and everything you need should not cost you anything while you do NOT need it. You might not own one car, but five. But when you need a car, you might not use one of yours, because they are in motion, earning money for you.
 2) Automotive Industry/Cars There are roughly 111 car brands in the world, of which 110 are trying to be better than one. Which is a strange ratio, given the conviction that competition is an outdated concept. To understand the future of cars, it might make sense to stripe off all the emotions, we attach to cars (driving pleasure, freedom of mobility, speed, status,...). Which brings us to a divided scenario, we will find on our streets: one piece of the cake will be the new generation cars: electric vehicles with some (limited) autonomous driving capability and updates over the air. Companies like Tesla or Lucid Motors and others who deliver products of a data company. They have understood that cars are really good at one thing and that is what cars should primarily do: staying in motion. They are electric because is the only technology that will have recharging capabilities without having to stop (induction, solar,...). As mentioned, earlier, these cars will make money for their owners while formerly idle.  
The rest will be cars on the street that are already registered for many years, Diesel or Petrol engines, cars of all sizes and strengths. If you stripe off all the emotions, you attach to a car, you will soon understand that a car is not more than a device with four wheels on the street. For the legacy carmakers, one question will distinguish survivers from dropouts: who has most of the devices in operation. If I am Volkswagen or Tata, I might be in a really good position because most of the existing devices on the world's streets carry my logo on their hoods. I might want to retrofit these devices with sensors. Sensors that capture data. This data might be current weather, air quality, street condition, seismographic activity or more. All very valuable information and tons of future business streams.  3) Energy We are looking at a ridiculous war for power. Utilities and public entities will not make it easy and seamless to be autonomous from grids. There will be a huge fluctuation of new players coming, offering solar sets with leasing options where you pay off the installation cost at a lower rate than your current utility bill - until you own it. Solar panels will increase their efficiency and won't have a lot of after-sales revenue as most of them are maintenance-free for at least 20 years. Even though technology will soon be ready to make power networks obsolete, I am confident that we will not see too much change in our household and daily lives in the energy space, within the next 10 years.
 4) Retail Amazon is the pacemaker in the retail industry. 27 years ago, they disrupted the bookstore business, a few years ago, they started to roll out their wonderful bookstores and with amazongo, they diminished the biggest pain factor in grocery shopping: checkout. With a few other interesting concepts, being tested, growing, seeing success, I would see the following (shiny) future for retail: Retail as a data mining source
 Humans are a species of empathy. "How are you doing today?", "you look great!", "Oh, did you lose weight, you look amazing", "You look exhausted, can I bring you some water"....can turn into relevant questions for brands and products on shelves: "Does this product make sense for you?", "Do you understand what it is good for?", or, "I would buy this if it would be $30 cheaper", or: customer x spend 45 seconds, looking at the product and then she put it back on the shelf... all relevant information for the company who will pay for this information on a weekly/monthly basis. The store does not even have to sell anything to stay in business. b8ta is a fast-growing chain, they have just recently purchased the name rights for toy'r'us and will relaunch soon with a store concept that will know more about games, children, families than anyone else. Retail with a data background
 The old race between online and brick and mortar was a race for the lowest price. A race, no one wants to win, actually, but definitely an expensive game if you need to pay rent and humans in the outlets. What if brick and mortar takes all the wisdom of a data company and offers a completely new shopping experience. Wouldnt it be great if you are in a store, where EVERYTHING they offer is just perfect for you? This is information, a data company has: what is relevant in this neighborhood (has been delivered in the same zip area), what do customers really like (online ratings of x-thousand buyers are valuable feedback), what other customers say about this product (reviews are more trusted than well-trained sales personnel), and a lot more.  Retail is a place where people meet
 Although you can "meet" online, it is never the same as meeting in the same (real) space. What if retail would be a place to build relationships with your customers. Give them a reason to come, not to buy. If you are successful in doing so, once they consider buying, they will either come or buy (your stuff) online. A bike shop in San Francisco does not display promotions but encourages people to join the upcoming bike-ride from embarcadero to Sausalito, crossing the golden gate bridge with a picnic at the Marin headlands. bring your own bike. Happy to rent if you don't have your own. Sounds intriguing? Apple Stores run their "Today at Apple" Events, a five-digit amount of events, globally, every year: music gigs, talks, free lectures, tips, and tricks...
 5) Healthcare Like the former Chinese concept of paying your doctor while you are healthy and not paying when you are sick, the future-us will not get sick, anymore. DNA editing, early prediction AIs, wearables, live blood and blood pressure measuring, posture improvement devices, and a lot more. The Internet of Things has not yet begun and this will soon be a gazillion-dollar business. Datamining devices and dashboards will replace your practitioner, your watch will tell you to drink a glass of water to avoid getting headaches in 30min, and a lot more. What gadget freaks have been talking about, the last ten years will find their way onto our bodies within the next 10 years. As insurances and other healthcare-related services will be fluidly pricy, depending on your willingness to gain and share your life, this will quickly design intrinsic motivation to actually wear and use this stuff. 
 6) Corporate Setups While everyone is excited in startups, these days, most of "us" are just celebrating new ideas. Successful ideas/startups turn into companies that are equally set up like the Siemens and IBMs and all the other legacy players that have spent trillions on Change Management in the 1990ies and Agile/Lean transformations, these days. A friend once said, companies always had and have their religions and the religion of our time is called Agile. We do not think that religions are healthy for organizations. 
 It is about time to also experiment with organizational setups - and I am not talking about open floors, shared desks, micro kitchens, and themed areas. I am talking about the absence of silos that cater to responsible heads who permanently have to manage people instead of managing processes. One concept, I really like is the concept of ops in rotation, based on the assumption that only 20% of your work time requires your outstanding skills whereas 80% of your work time is just operation that could as well be done by anyone. Companies do not hire product managers or sales or IT or controlling peeps, instead they hire a multiple of 40hrs of manpower per week. This is a different mindset. 
And the mentioned 80% zero-skill-related workload is distributed among a team of ops that are capable of everything, where advanced skilled hence expensive hires can focus on what they are best at. There goes the silo-thinking. This is all a race on the surface, but I do not want to fully explain, I want to open a conversation. Of course, there is a lot more to talk about than the above. I am strongly inviting you to disagree with me. What do you think about it, where are you comfortable, where do you have a completely different opinion or foresight? Are you missing something badly? Let me know about it, I am happy to tell you that I either have no idea about the specific future or I will share mine, open for a discussion. Generally spoken, I am positive when I think about the future. I think a lot of processes, jobs, cultural beliefs, leadership behavior, and products or services are overdue to extinct. Nothing of what we really need will disappear and hopefully all of the jobs, humans should have never done in the first place (dangerous, repetitive, precise, motoric,...), will soon be replaced by machines. Making place for the thousands of new jobs and job descriptions coming up, soon - of which we might have no idea about, today. Looking forward to hearing back from you!

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