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Futurist David Houle on How Business Leaders Should Prepare for Success in the Next Decade

Houle calls 2010-2020 the “Transformation Decade,” during which businesses will need to leave 20th century business principles behind and adapt to the changing global economy or risk becoming less competitive.

According to Houle, qualities business leaders need to have during the Transformation Decade:

1. Adaptability: Business owners need to consistently redefine their markets and adjust products and services in order to reach the most consumers.

2. Collaborative ongoing reorganization: Decisions should be addressed by management as a whole instead of by an individual, and innovative employees should be utilized to ensure that your business is consistently evolving.

3. Vision: Set goals as a leader, and then do what is necessary to reach those goals.

With so much data becoming available, businesses will be better able to predict consumer-buying patterns and structure their companies accordingly.  Technology will begin shifting to “brain wave interface,” which will allow users wearing specialized headsets that map brain waves to control actions on their computers.

Advancements in medical technology will enable people to live longer, and as the U.S. continues to morph into the world’s leading producer of intellectual property, Americans will be physically able to work well above the current retirement age. Also, as the percentage of college-educated women as well as those pursuing master’s degrees and PhDs in most developed countries has increased to levels above men, more companies will be run by women.

Houle believes the fundamentals that will shape change over the next 15 years are as follows:

The Flow to Global: Economics have gone from micro to macro, and most of the challenges businesses face are on a global scale.

The Flow to the Individual: With such a vast and growing variety of choices of all the products and services that people use the power has shifted “from the producer to the consumer.”

Accelerated Connectedness: Technological advances in communication such as mobile phones and the Internet have broken down the limiting factors of time, distance and place, which have traditionally hindered both personal and business connections.

As the need to stay connected at all times in all places has increased, so has the popularity of smart phones. 2012 will mark the first year ever that smart phones will outsell computers, and this trend is only the beginning. As computing shifts more to mobile, business owners should address this market accordingly.

Currently, about 3 billion people around the world use the Internet, and by 2025 that number will double, and the amount of data will increase exponentially. The widespread use of social media has given consumers both a “physical reality” and a “screen reality,” which is an identity that has been established online. Social media enables people to voice their opinions for all Internet users to view, so businesses should focus on social media marketing as it can reach more people than traditional word-of-mouth marketing.

Internet content is evolving, and an expected 90% of the Internet backbone in the world will be video in 2015. Houle suggests that companies should have video on their sites, specifically, testimonials from customers.

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