A few days ago I attended the launch event of Reinvent Australia, organized by Annalie Killian of Amplify Festival at PwC’s Sydney offices. It was a very interesting event, digging into the issues of how we can bring together many people’s ideas to create better futures for nations.

Graham Kenny, President of Reinvent Australia, described the organisation as a collaborative initiative to create a conversation on a shared vision for the nation. The bottom line of its endeavors is to increase the quality of life for all Australians, by influencing government and business in how they work.

Kenny quoted Henry Mintzberg in a recent Harvard Business Review article, Rescuing Capitalism from Itself.
Continue reading Reinvent Australia: how can we shape a positive future for nations?

Big game changers: Immersive reality and customer robot service

An article in yesterday’s Sydney Morning Herald, Five business trends set to shape 2016, asked three business “clairvoyants” what innovations small business will see in 2016: Craig Rispin, Jon Tanner, and myself.

Here are a couple of the quotes from me:

On Immersive Reality:

Futurist Ross Dawson, who heads Advanced Human Technologies Group, says the debut of Facebook’s Oculus Rift (and a host of other virtual reality head-sets arriving next year) is his “big game changer”. It will be arriving in the first quarter of 2016. Dawson believes it could transform the retail, travel, education and property industries. It is not augmented reality (as in Google Glass) but immersive​ reality: the images move in sync with a user’s head movements.

It could be used to offer virtual snapshots of off-plan apartments to prospective property buyers, give travellers the opportunity to peruse a virtual city or visit a mock art gallery in cyberspace, Dawson says. “You could immerse yourself in a battlefield or spend a virtual day in Rome, Paris or Berlin.”

On Automation:

Dawson expects to see greater automation in the retail and hospitality sectors, but believes fast food outlets will be the first to deploy robots. He mentions US-based Orchard Supply Hardware whose “OSHbot” answers questions and directs customers to products. There is also California’s Aloft Hotel, run by three-foot-high (91cm) “botlrs” which have 7-inch touchscreens to interact with patrons.

Here are videos of these robots:

Companies large and small need to be actively thinking about and exploring how these kinds of new technologies will change their business, and how they can seize the emerging opportunities.

Navit_Reality_View_next_to_realityI was recently interviewed for an extended feature on the future of travel, Technologies that will change the way we book, plan and experience travel.

Below is a selection of quotes from the article.
Continue reading How virtual reality, augmented reality, robots and real-time translation will transform travel

How Science Fiction shapes our future

As other futurists, I’ve had done quite a few media interviews recently on Back to the Future 2, which was set on October 21, 2015.

One of the most interesting broader issues around the film is very simply the degree of interest people have in the film, which captured people’s imaginations about the future, even though it was primarily a comedy.

ABC’s 7:30 Report on Wednesday ran a segment on Back to the Future 2 and tweeted this quote from me:
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In a syndicated piece by AFP on Back to the Future and in an earlier article in Newsweek I made the same point:

The reason people have been trying to create a hoverboard is that it was in the film and it captured people’s imaginations. They weren’t trying to predict the future, they were trying to create an interesting film, but I think it’s interesting that everyone is saying “Where is my hoverboard” and now people are trying to create that. We discover what we want. Science fiction creates the desire for the technology that we see, which means that entrepreneurs can see if there is a desire and they then work hard to be able to create the technologies that we’ve discovered that we want.

Countless technology innovators have said how they were inspired by William Gibson’s Neuromancer and Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash to create essential elements of the connected world we know today.

Science fiction in movies and books has shaped what we desire, as well as what we fear. It is a critical driving force in helping us shape our future, as it uncovers what we want to happen and don’t want to happen. Let us celebrate all science fiction, from the most serious to light-hearted comedy.

Last Friday, after delivering the breakfast keynote at CPA Congress in Brisbane (more on that in another post), I ran a half-day workshop at the partner offsite of a national accounting firm network on the theme of Disruption and Innovation in Professional Services.

I spent some time giving the partners current perspectives on both disruption and innovation in professional services, with the rest of the time spent facilitating the group in generating and prioritizing initiatives to drive the members firms’ future.

I ran through the domains in which they can enhance their business models and performance. However in professional services probably the most important domain is service delivery, in which extraordinary possibilities for innovation have opened up in the network economy.

I have just recalled that eight years ago I co-authored a white paper for SAP titled Service Delivery Innovation: Creating Client Value and Enhancing Profitability. While it is not recent, the issues I covered are still completely relevant today, so I thought I’d share a section from the white paper here:
Continue reading Six characteristics supporting excellence in service delivery innovation

A framework for industry leadership based on collaboration

Last week I ran a half-day workshop at the annual offsite for executives of a major airline alliance, taking the group from a broad view of macro trends shaping the future, through to the generation of specific actionable ideas to create greater value across the alliance.

As part of the workshop we used a framework that I originally developed over a decade ago in the context of collaboration in the financial services industry, but I have used in the last year in industries as diverse as healthcare, airlines, and professional services.

The future of every industry lies in value creation across organizations. To achieve that we need explicit discussions and engagements among all industry participants on what it is that they’d like to collectively achieve, and how they can get there. This framework lays out the key components:

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Click on the image for a larger version
Continue reading A framework for industry leadership based on collaboration

Launch of Futurist Influence Rankings app

We have just launched a Futurist Influence Rankings tracker, you can see the original here and an embed of the app below.

It is certainly not intended to be rigorous, but simply to give an indication of how influential futurists are on social media and the web by combining a few key indicators such as Klout, web traffic and Twitter followers, using a simple algorithm.

No doubt we are missing quite a few futurists who should be included on the list. Just let us know if there’s anyone we should add to the list.

Feel free to embed it on your site if you wish.

Enjoy, and be sure not to take it too seriously! :-)

Last week I visited Melbourne Spring Fashion Week as a guest of IBM and the City of Melbourne.

City of Melbourne’s over-arching vision for the annual Melbourne Spring Fashion Week is to position Melbourne as Australia’s premier fashion destination, and have a real economic impact by driving increased sales for retailers in the city.

MSFW

In partnering with IBM for the second year the intention was to extend the impact of the event beyond the week and to drive ticket sales and in turn sales by tapping the social currency of influencers.

Melbourne Spring Fashion Week is unusual in fashion shows in that everything on the runways can be bought at stores in the city. This contrasts to the traditional role of fashion shows as breaking new fashion, which may not be available for many months after it is launched.

Melbourne Spring Fashion Week used IBM Social Media Analytics on Twitter and Instagram to uncover the top 50 relevant fashion influencers, used Watson Personality Insights to work out how best to approach them, and invited them to be MSFW “insiders”, asking them what content would be most useful to them.

Ticket sales have been considerably higher than last year, with 4 of the events sold out.

The initiative is particularly interesting in showing how social analytics and engagement can help drive shoppers into shopping centers and physical stores.

While individual stores can do a great deal to merge their digital, social and physical engagement, the real power comes in bringing people to a shopping center or area, or even an entire city center.

All shopping is becoming social. Retail strategies for merging physical and digital are best envisaged and implemented on a large scale, tapping collaboration and activating buyers.

Image credit: Eva Rinaldi

I first met Mark Zawacki when I did the opening keynote at the ANZA Technology Conference in Silicon Valley in 2004, and Mark was also a speaker at the event. Mark has since founded the highly-regarded corporate accelerator 650Labs, which helps leading global corporates to drive innovation.

More recently I have met Catherine Stace, CEO of Cure Brain Cancer Foundation, who has brought inspiring and truly disruptive approaches to medical research philanthropy, by focusing on making research far more collaborative and effective rather than simply funding antiquated research models.

It is no surprise that collaboration between Mark and Catherine has created something exceptional: SWITCH Festival, to be held in Sydney 27-29 August.
Continue reading SWITCH festival shows the power and potential of cross-industry collaboration

I recently gave a series of opening keynotes on The Future of Customer Experience as part of a roadshow for omnichannel customer experience platform provider Genesys, which is running a global series of events for their lead customers, which includes organizations such as News Limited, Vodafone, Western Union, and the Australian Taxation Office.

The central theme of my keynotes was the boundaries and relationship between humans and machines in customer experience.

Today, extraordinary insights from data and analytics enable us to address individual’s unique preferences to an unprecedented degree.

Yet the emotion, empathy and engagement of humans cannot be replaced – we all seek personal connection and a real sense of caring.
Continue reading The virtual agent of the future: Real-time photo-realistic human faces that bridge the human/ machine divide

Advanced Human Technologies Group has just launched Creating the Future of PR, a publication that looks at how the Public Relations industry can create an exceptional future for itself and its clients in a fast-changing world.
CFoPRfront_500
In my article Join Us in Creating the Future of PR I frame the context for the launch of the publication:

The fundamental capabilities of PR professionals are more relevant than ever in our intensely networked world. Arguably, PR should be at the center of the marketing universe, since it is better able than any other discipline to deal with a world driven by relationships, fueled by connectivity, social, mobile, and power shifting to the individual.

The big question is: will the PR industry seize the immense opportunity before it?

Continue reading Launch of Creating the Future of PR – shaping an exceptional future for the industry

Harnessing the power of innovation: networks are at the heart

Every organization understands they need to innovate, not just in bringing new offerings to market, but in continually becoming a new and better organization.

Networks are always at the heart of innovation. The new comes from combining the old in original ways.

Chemist Kary Mullis aptly described how he arrived at his innovations that won him the Nobel Prize in 1993:

“I put together elements that were already there, but that’s what inventors always do. You can’t make up new elements, usually. The new element, if any, it was the combination, the way they were used.”

Whether it is bringing together existing ideas to create new ideas, or connecting people in ways that generate new insights, organizations must design how they work to facilitate value-generating connections.
Continue reading Harnessing the power of innovation: networks are at the heart

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About the Blog author

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Ross Dawson is globally recognized as a leading futurist, entrepreneur, keynote speaker, strategy advisor, and bestselling author. He is Founding Chairman of AHT Group, which consists of 3 companies: consulting, publishing, and ventures firm Advanced Human Technologies, future and strategy firm Future Exploration Network, and events company The Insight Exchange.

Ross is author most recently of Getting Results From Crowds, the prescient Living Networks, which anticipated the social network revolution, the Amazon.com bestseller Developing Knowledge-Based Client Relationships, and Implementing Enterprise 2.0. (click on the links for free chapter downloads). He is based in Sydney and San Francisco with his wife jewellery designer Victoria Buckley and two beautiful young daughters.

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