Extrapolating the Future for Fun and Profit

Since the New Year began, I have been inundated with futurist predictions and trend-watching soothsaying in the media as well as in my email inbox. So much so that I expect Merlin or Nostradamus to stroll into my office any second, or holographically project themselves from my computer screen, to help me figure out how my business and/or investments can take advantage of the future before it arrives. Beyond its inherent amusement, as the world seems to move faster each day, such information is useful for at least two reasons.

First, the prediction may come true, so awareness of it may actually help you and your business plan to take advantage of whatever it is. Secondly, even if the trend never comes to pass, spending some time thinking about or extrapolating from it may help you give birth to new ideas that you can use.

Here, for your thought-provocation or bemusement, is a selection of some of such prognostications I have found most interesting, from a wide variety of sources:

Driven by the new federal law that went into effect Jan. 1 to require medical data to be collected and shared digitally, expect to see an explosion of new technologies and apps to allow consumers to track (in real-time), and manage, their personal health records.

DIY will soar in consumer importance. Dale Dougherty, the founder of MAKE Magazine and guru to the Do It Yourself/opensource movement, was recently honored at the White House. Now that’s mainstream. ’Nuff said.

Light emitting diode (LED) technology, already prevalent in the theater and film industries, and making inroads in aircraft manufacture and marine applications, will spread even further into the consumer marketplace.  Meanwhile, with continued improvement in battery technology, look for lighter and more powerful, portable tools.

Due to growing global awareness of the necessity for sustainable practices, and in some areas forced by new laws, major manufacturers will increasingly allow the return of their products (even old stuff) and packaging for recycling. Patagonia, Nike and Dell are already at the forefront.

Are cash, and especially coins, dead? Not yet, but look for more incentives and rewards to pay electronically, driven by smart phone and tablet technologies.

The rummage sale meets the Internet, and we don’t mean pickers on reality TV. Look for an upsurge in reselling, as consumers downsize and see profit in stuff they no longer want. Again driven by surging use of smartphones and tablets, reselling is also chic. Craigslist’s mobile app (a huge improvement over its web presence) and Amazon Student’s barcode textbook, DVD and games trade-in price research tool technology are examples.

Safer secrets? As the U.S. Postal Service continues its sad decline, look for more and more acceptance of digital signature technology and email encryption tools in the banking and legal professions.

Changes Here

In present-day business here, there have been several staff changes that we are happy to announce at Broad Beach Media, which publishes INsite Magazine in addition to the North Central Florida Business Report you hold in your hands.

Maghan McDowell has been promoted to the newly created position of Editorial Director. As many of you know, Maghan has been with the company for almost five years, doing an excellent job creating INsite—which we believe is the region’s best monthly entertainment magazine—so much so that we’ve now put her in charge of all of the company’s editorial content, whether in print or pixels. In addition to her experience here, Maghan also teaches Magazine Management as an adjunct lecturer at the University of Florida.

We are also happy to report that Heather von Klock recently started work as Production Director and Associate Editor. In that role, she will oversee the design and production of all our offerings, whether in print or electronically and both editorial and advertising content, and be Maghan’s right-hand woman editorially. It is a return home for Heather, as she used to work here before moving to the Miami area to further her education.

Please join BBM President Kevin Ireland and me in congratulating Maghan and Heather on their new roles.

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