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Look Out!

October 31, 2012

The November/December issue of The Futurist is out, loaded with all kinds of predictions about 2013 and beyond in the Outlook 2013 article.

I find this outlook fascinating, and some of the predictions beg questions from professional service firms serving the built environment.

  • Corporate reputation ratings will be more transparent with augmented reality.
    How can we improve our clients’ rateocracy – and ours?
  • Shake ups in the “C Suite:”  New corporate leaders with new skills are on the way.
    Are our firms ready to include positions like Earned Media Officer, Chief Content Officer, Open-Source Manager, Chief Linguist and Data Scientist?
  • Noise vibrations and other “junk” energy will be harvested from the environment.
    How will this impact our road and building designs?
  • Buckypaper – a smart, superlight material – will increase energy efficiency.
    Composed of industrial-grade carbon nanotubes, this material appears flimsy, but is 100 times stronger than steel per unit of weight.  It can conduct electricity like copper and disperse heat like steel or brass.  How could it be used in your projects?
  • Alternative energies won’t be enough to solve the world’s energy woes.
    Alternatives to alternatives are needed.  A more practical approach may be to design communities that enable people to live well while using less.  In fact, heavy investment into solar energy, wind energy and other renewable systems may actually set us back, since these strategies draw resources away from others that might work better.  How is this included in your business strategy?
  • Peak water may become as big a problem as peak oil.
    How can your firm be in the water management business?
  • By 2025, there will be 27 megacities around the world, each with populations exceeding 10 million.
    The real population bomb is not the sheer number of world population, but the relentless urbanization in places unprepared for this growth, such as Northern Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, China and Indonesia.  Is there a business opportunity there?
  • Better health, but fewer doctors.
    A projected shortage of 90,000 doctors by 2020 will drive technological innovations.  How will this impact how you serve your healthcare clients and design their structures?
  • The last newspaper and book will have been printed in 2020.   Tablet PCs, netbooks and laptops will be extinct by 2022.  Communication will become increasingly image-driven.
    How will this impact how we communicate with each other, our employees and our clients?
  • The next space age will launch after 2020, driven by competition and “adventure capitalists.”
    Low-Earth orbit shuttles will provide travel to transcontinental destinations within hours.  How will this impact our client markets?

It’s fun to think about, and talk about.  It’s worth planning for.  These predictions are expected to occur less than 20 years from today.

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