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TODD SMITH — Top 20 predictions for next 2 decades from Fast Company – Part 2

TODD SMITH

TODD SMITH

As we prepare to close the chapter on 2015 and open a new book for 2016, we enter the season of predictions, observations and prognostications.

Fast Company turned 20 this year, and has released 20 predictions for the next two decades. They consider the world of tomorrow, where work is still heavily dependent on human beings, technology is still social – and most importantly, knowledge is still power. The only constant is transformative change. Last week The Spin Cycle explored the first 10, and here is the grand finale:

11. Medical Training Will Be Rewritten.

Modern doctoring begins with a boot-camp experience: endless days of unending shifts, as young interns are forced to ingest – and deliver – diagnoses with reflex-like expertise. As our library of medical knowledge expands beyond any doctor’s ability to retain all that information, the doctors of the future must become data interpreters, tapping into Watson-like technical tools to both diagnose conditions and optimize treatments. This transition promises to make health care more effective and, ideally, will allow doctors to focus even more on the important task of patient service.

12. Human Empathy Will Be Central.

It’s not just doctors who can improve their bedside manner. We can all stand to listen and respond with more sensitivity. In fact, as machine learning and artificial intelligence insinuate themselves more deeply into manufacturing and the workplace, the one arena that will never be usurped by technology is human-to-human communication.

13. Entrepreneurship Will Not Be for Everyone.

The ubiquity of ABC’s Shark Tank underscores just how appealing the entrepreneur has become in global culture. Everyone wants to start their own business, to launch their own Zuckerbergian success. Government leaders extol the virtue of the startup world, and more and more young people hope for a future where they can be their own bosses. There’s only one problem: Entrepreneurship is hard work that requires both high-intensity risk taking and a steel-stomach capacity for absorbing disappointment. Some people are psychologically suited for this roller coaster; many are not.

14. Bubbles Will Burst.

Is there a tech bubble? Can all those billion-dollar “unicorn” startups really be worth so much? Will investors who believe the hype ultimately end up getting burned? The answer to all three of those questions is “yes.” Yes, there is a tech bubble in some places. Truth is, there is always a bubble somewhere. Some of those unicorns are really worth billions – and some are not. Some investors will get burned; others will get rich. Which is which? We’ll know once it happens. What’s most important, once again, is remaining adaptable: If the arena you’re involved in turns out to be a bubble, it will be time to change arenas.

15. Simple Will Be More Difficult.

New technologies often rise on the promise of making everything simpler, better, and cheaper. Over time, we learn that they often do make things better – and even cheaper – but rarely do things remain simple for long.

Consider the advertising marketplace, which once seemed pretty straightforward (network TV ads for all!), but marketers had limited knowledge of who saw their ads and how those prospects responded. Marketers can now target specific pools of customers and track their activity. Yet nothing about the modern ad world is simple: there are more avenues for reaching customers than ever, and managing a variety of social, web, and mobile programs makes the old days of TV’s domination seem quaintly appealing. Companies like Google contend that things will get easier, thanks to new analytics and programmatic marketplaces. More likely: the industry will become more effective at targeting the right message to the right audience at the right time, but it will also be more complex.

16. Cybersecurity Will Be Costly.

Every company is a “tech company” today because we all use technology to operate (in the same way that we are all “electric” companies because we tap into that grid). We are all vulnerable to cyber disruption, whether from hackers or our own or others’ incompetence. That doesn’t mean we will all be disrupted, but it does mean that every enterprise will need cyber protection in ways that haven’t historically had budget line items. Costs will rise. Count on it.

17. China and India Will Dominate.

Pundits have long predicted that the “sleeping giants” China and India would awake to challenge U.S. and European economic dominance. In the past 20 years, the progression down this path has not been a straight line – but it has been undeniable. The manifestations have been counterintuitive too: Apple is effectively a China-centered manufacturing giant with an American design and marketing arm; its Chinese rival, Xiaomi, is expanding into India following an analogous strategy. The impact of these rising economies will continue to deepen.

18. Food Will Be Healthier.

No high-fructose corn syrup. No trans fats. Less salt, sugar, and fat. The supermarket aisles burst with assertions of healthier foods, and it is undoubtedly true that we are more aware of what we are putting into our bodies than ever. Consumers are willing to pay for higher-quality products and, even more, to demand them. What once was luxury will, over time, become table stakes.

19. Cash Will Disappear.

Carrying a little emergency money around with you has always made sense, even if you ended up tapping that resource for something less than essential. But that need is rapidly dissipating. First there were ATMs (why carry cash around when you can grab it when you need it?), but electronic payments via phones and chips are the wave that will wash away the need for cash entirely. Penny for your thoughts? Remind me what that is?

20. We Will All Be Family.

Phones, planes, and televisions have all served to make the world smaller, and the ongoing wave of technological change will only draw us into closer proximity. We will have less license to ignore the troubles (and challenges) in other parts of the globe, and we’ll have a vested interest in maintaining familial peace. Nobody knows how to criticize you quite like your kin – they know your vulnerabilities well – but no one is better at coming to your aid, either. Of these 20 items, this is the one with the largest measure of hope: that our increasing knowledge of and intimacy with one another leads to greater understanding and opportunity for all.

Snapchat Jumps Into Breaking News In San Bernardino Shooting

Snapchat is not typically a place you’d go to for information about a breaking news story. But the messaging app ran a story on the San Bernardino mass shooting Wednesday, providing its 100+ million users with updates and images from people at the scene.

Snapchat typically runs a Los Angeles local story every day (it also runs one in New York City and London), allowing users to contribute their photos and videos. Besides photos and videos from the scene, the story, which went up hours after the shooting started, brought updates on the developments and statements from the authorities.

“We published this story because we felt that the content, which comes from the LA local Story, was newsworthy and held national significance,” Mary Ritti, Snapchat’s vice president of communications, told International Business Times.

Many users voiced their opinion on the coverage on social networks. Many were impressed with the way Snapchat handled the story, with one calling it “democratization of news coverage.”

Green Mic | Gates, Zuckerberg Launch Multi-Billion Dollar Clean Energy Fun.

Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and a slate of A-list entrepreneurs have launched a new multi-billion dollar fund called “Breakthrough Energy Coalition” to research and develop clean energy technologies.

News of the effort, formed by a group of 28 investors from 10 countries, was reported in a Facebook post by Zuckerberg, co-founder and chief executive of the social media giant. The Breakthrough Energy Coalition will focus on providing incentives to the private sector to produce zero-emission technologies for developed nations, but also for broad distribution of these innovations among poor nations, which are poised to suffer more from climate change ramifications such as sea-level rise and crop loss. The international aid agency Oxfam estimated last week that developing countries will have to pay $270 billion extra per year as a result of climate change if greenhouse gas emissions don’t decline.

So far, Gates and Zuckerberg have been joined by Jeff Bezos (CEO of Amazon), Meg Whitman (CEO of Hewlett Packard), Jack Ma (executive chairman of Alibaba), the University of California via its chief investment officer and other executives from the around the globe.

For this forward-thinking initiative, the clean energy fund gets a gleaming Green Mic.

Each week, The Spin Cycle will bestow a Golden Mic Award to the person, group or company in the court of public opinion that best exemplifies the tenets of solid PR, marketing and advertising – and those who don’t. Stay tuned – and step-up to the mic! And remember … Amplify Your Brand!

» Todd Smith is president and chief communications officer of Deane, Smith & Partners, a full-service branding, PR, marketing and advertising firm with offices in Jackson. The firm — based in Nashville, Tenn. — is also affiliated with Mad Genius. Contact him at todd@deanesmithpartners.com, and follow him @spinsurgeon.

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