Six Megatrends for 2015

I found an interesting discussion of 2015 trends on the Swisscom website. Click here to go to Swisscom’s Vision 2015 page.  I think the content is actually about a year old, but it still seems relevant to me. 

Here is a summary of the six megatrends discussed:

  1. Continuous Reinvention: From familiar boundaries to ever-changing focal points. As mobility and interconnectedness break down the traditional boundaries between roles, functions, organizations, and cultures, emergent phenomena will create a complex landscape in which ephemeral focal points briefly reinvent work, commerce, and daily life—and then fade away.
  2. The Engaged Consumer: From infomated consumers to digitally expressive consumers. From youth growing up on the Internet to aging baby boomers who continue to seek new meanings from life, consumers will shift their attention from rational, efficient transactions to meaning-making—focusing on active participation and self-expression.
  3. Proactive Environments: From user controls to sensors and agents. As digital technology becomes increasingly embedded in the physical objects of daily life, human environments will begin to anticipate human needs, using sensors, pattern recognition, user profiles, and agent-based modeling to deliver services and content custom-tailored to the moment.
  4. An Economy of Well-Being: From medical models to market opportunities. Biotechnology and digital technology will intersect with a growing emphasis on health values in everyday life to create a burgeoning health economy in which consumers will look for health and well-being in a host of unexpected places.
  5. Instant Business: From strategic partnering to opportunistic sourcing From social networking software to agent-based contracting, the tools of the enterprise will create a world in which ad hoc relationships—and new cooperative strategies—drive business growth and global trade.
  6. Grassroots Innovation: From proprietary inventions to grassroots innovation. Riding the waves of peer-to-peer technology, social software, and unlicensed spectrum, innovation will feature ever more challenges to conventional markets, proprietary processes, and private property.

If you explore the material, you’ll find a neat pdf file that provides a graphical storyline of the six trends summarized above.   Suggest you bring the pdf file up on your system then navigate around it using the magnifier to zoom in/zoom out.  I am thinking about going to the local copy shop and getting a poster size printed out.

Technology Can Improve Our Public Transit Experience

The past year, I’ve done some work researching the future market for Intelligent Transportation Systems.  One of the areas of critical importance is improving public transit systems. 

My vision (perhaps bluesky) is that at sometime in the future, there will be a screen behind each seat in a public transportation vehicle.  We see these screens popping up on planes traveling international routes…why not on public transportation vehicles?  To complement the screen at each seat idea there could be kiosks at key locations within the public transit system. 

Some ideas include:

  • Mass Transit Vehicle – Every seat. This could be a nice aid as well, to even notify you when your stop is coming up or the status of your connections. 
  • Mass Transit Vehicle – Extended route map.  Any bus or train car has a system route map on it.  That could be extended to include a touch screen in the corner for further info. Or, touch a stop on the main map and the screen shows local info (map, etc).  This would be lower cost than one screen for every seat. 
  • Station/bus stop.  Kiosks could combine ticketing & info.  Small printers could print out travel itineraries to go along with a farecard (for out of towners or infrequent travelers). 
  • Public gathering points.  For example, in the middle of a shopping mall, you could get transit info for your trip home, such as when the next bus/train will be coming so you can know when to stop shopping.  Could also be the lobby of an office building, etc. 
  • Other exit points to mass attractions.  Tourist attractions (like Washington monument) could have a kiosk on exit to help get you to your next point.

In the mass transit vehicle version, I see the screen giving people access to information that they would not normally have access to.  Many people who depend on public transportation today do not own computers or even cell phones for that matter.  The kiosk screens would provide real-time information, including times due into the next stop, traffic information, congestion maps, etc. 

The screen would also allow them to do real-time multi-modal (bus, train, subway, taxi, water ferry) route planning and perhaps provide other basic Internet services (news, sports, weather) and access to other city Internet sites. 

Think of all the bus, train, taxi seats out there.  That’s a ton of screens.  The screens would be placed by the city’s transit authority.  The business model behind these kiosk screens would be advertising based and most likely be driven by location based advertising.  So if the bus was driving past Joe’s Diner, the screen would pop up with an ad for Joe’s Diner. 

A consideration in designing these future kiosks and the solutions embedded in them needs to be that different types of mass transit users have different needs 

  • Tourists, out of town visitors 
  • Senior citizens 
  • Commuters 
  • Discretionary users (i.e. some commuters might be persuaded to make non-commuting trips)

Other considerations include:

  • Who needs a kiosk as compared to mobile phone/PDA? 
  • What are the different information needs? 
  • How much usage and advertising revenue might be driven by the users?

Down the road, perhaps the screen/kiosk would allow you to swipe your fare card or mobile phone and the information (and perhaps advertisements) would be customized for you.  By swiping your card, the transit authority would also, over time, be able to track the demographics of its ridership on certain routes and provide customized services based on those riders.

Top Ten Trends in Municipal Wireless

At the recent MuniWireless 2007: Silicon Valley conference in Santa Clara the organizers created a series of blog posts to document their list of the Top 50 Trends in Municipal Wireless.   These were the result of observations and discussions the authors had during the conference.   After the list of 50 trends was completed, they culled it down to the top 10 Trends in Municipal Wireless.  I thought I’d summarize it for you here. 

1. Growing Market:   The days of irrational Muni WiFi exuberance are over.  Real networks are now live and US spending on municipal broadband systems will see rapid growth over the next 12 months. 

2. Applications:  The municipal broadband networks enable all types of real-world applications.  Examples include:  Automated meter reading in Burbank, Calif., tele-medicine in Tucson, Ariz., and video surveillance in Granbury, Texas. 

3. Digital Inclusion:  Free city-wide WiFi isn’t a realistic goal for most municipalities, but there is a real trend towards digital inclusion initiatives.  One prime example: Houston has set aside $3.5 million for potential DI efforts. 

4. Big Cities Move Forward:  Despite some big, painful setbacks this year, major cities such as Chicago, Houston, and Tucson have active initiatives. Expect more cities to follow with targeted applications. 

5. Small Cities Are On the Map:  Small cities are successfully deploying solutions.  Examples include Armory, Mississippi and Granbury, Texas. 

6. Think Locally:  Municipal wireless applications is not all about access to the internet.  Networking can spur collaboration between local businesses, residents and entrepreneurs, enabling them to share ideas and content that stir economic development. 

7. Mobile Masses:  When consumers load up on more WiFi-enabled handhelds this holiday season, demand for anywhere, anytime WiFi access will surely rise. 

8. Youth Movement:  Generation Y’s desire for sharing, publishing and reformatting information will push the concept of online collaboration and software truly is a service. 

9. One Size Doesn’t Fit All:  While applications are a big trend, don’t expect any killer apps. 

10. Maturing Ecosystem:  While there is still a need for qualified and trained integrators, other parts of the ecosystem (Wireless mesh equipment suppliers, application providers, and service providers) continue to evolve their business models around paid, advertising and anchor tenant models. 

The blog was more or less an advertising tool to get everyone interested in attending follow-on conferences.  They were also advertising their recently published "2007 MuniWireless State of the Market Report" (get a summary of that report here).  However, this was, for me, a nice easy way to find out what is going on in the Municipal Wireless marketplace. 

For more information on these and other trends discussed during the Santa Clara conference, you can access the blog entries for the 50 trends here http://www.personalbee.com/215/21970901

30 Companies To Watch In The Space Industry

In the last two posts, I have blogged on the emerging space industry, which is in the early stages of being commercialized.  While governmental organizations will still take the lead on space exploration, I believe private companies are now taking the lead in the commercialization of space. 

Based on the research I have done these past two days, I have assembled a list of 30 companies below that I feel are the ones to watch.  These are the companies that I feel will be leaders in the research, development, and implementation of space related commerce that will happen over the next 2-3 decades..  The list is presented in alphabetical order and links to the company websites provided. 

  1. Andrews Space.  The company mission statement says "Andrews will be a catalyst in the development, exploration, and commercialization of emerging space markets by providing innovative, entrepreneurial aerospace solutions to our commercial, civil, and military customers."  Andrews’ technical competencies include product/system development, space system design, rapid prototyping, propulsion system design, systems engineering, and business analysis.  Andrews Space has already has received an Air Force contract to flesh out its Hybrid Launch Vehicle concept.  http://www.andrews-space.com/ 
  2. Armadillo Aerospace: Armadillo Aerospace is an aerospace startup company based in Mesquite, Texas.  Its initial goal is to build a manned suborbital Ansari X-Prize-class spacecraft in order to grab some of the suborbital tourism market.   It’s plan is to use computer-controlled liquid-oxygen rockets to launch people 300,000 above the Earth. http://www.armadilloaerospace.com 
  3. Bigelow Aerospace: This start-up company is pioneering work on expandable space station modules that have a flexible outer shell.  The shell is contractible for launch.  Once in orbit, the module is inflated, allowing greater work, play, and living area for astronauts.  http://www.bigelowaerospace.com 
  4. Blue Origin: Blue Origin is a privately-funded company, founded in 2000 and owned by Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos .  Blue Origin has begun construction on a spaceport in West Texas and is at work on a reusable space launch vehicle.  http://www.blueorigin.com/ 
  5. Boeing:  Boeing’s  Space Exploration division, headquartered in Houston, is a leading global supplier of reusable and human space systems and services.  Boeing has designed, developed, built, and operated human and robotic space vehicles as well as supporting hardware.  Projects included Gemini, Apollo, Skylab, Space Shuttle and International Space Station (ISS).   Check out their website at http://www.boeing.com/defense-space/space_exploration/index.html 
  6. CubeSat. The CubeSat program strives to provide practical, reliable, and cost-effective launch opportunities for small satellites and their payloads.  Check out the community website at http://www.cubesat.info/    CubeSat projects are popping up at universities everywhere.  Cubesat kits are provided by http://www.cubesatkit.com/ 
  7. Energia Space: Russian-based Energia has been successfully carrying out the most daring rocket and space projects requiring revolutionary engineering solutions for many years.  As a large organization, they are involved in almost all areas of space technology, transportation, and exploration.  Energia   http://www.energia.ru/english/index.html 
  8. European Space Agency: The European Space Agency (ESA) is an inter-governmental organization  with 17 member states. Headquartered in Paris ESA has a staff of about 1,900.  The agency has a full line-up of projects and is involved in almost all aspects of space exploration, transportation, and business.  http://www.esa.int 
  9. Interorbital Systems: Interorbital Systesm is a small company that makes spacecraft components:  Interorbital is attempting to launch the first spacecraft that can carry six passengers into orbit for seven days. The $30 million Neptune Spaceliner, which could take flight in 2008, is funded by sales of rocket designs and guidance systems. Additional funds will come from selling payload space on the company’s Sea Star microsatellite launcher, due to blast off in 2007.  http://www.interorbital.com/ 
  10. Japanese Space Agency:   On October 1, 2003 three independent organizations (ISAS, NAL and NASDA) were merged into one independent administrative institution: the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).  The agency, like the European Space Agency (ESA), is focused on many important projects for furture space transportation, but on a smaller scale than NASA or ESA.  Check out their vision for 2025 at the following URL  http://www.jaxa.jp/2025/index_e.html 
  11. Kayser-Threde:  Founded in 1967, Kayser-Threde is a leading systems house providing high-technology solutions for the industrial, aerospace and scientific sectors.   These include applications and solutions in manned and unmanned space missions, data measurement and management, telematics, optics and process control.  http://www.kayser-threde.com/ 
  12. LiftPort:  LiftPort, Inc. was established in 2003 with the goal of building a space elevator.  The company’s mission is simple: to build a complete space transportation infrastructure based around the space elevator concept.  This is an ambitious goal and one the company hopes to acheive before 2020.  Check out the company website at http://www.liftport.com 
  13. Lockheed Martin.  Lockheed Martin’s Space Systems Company is a recognized leader in the design, production and integration of launch vehicles and systems, spacecraft for telecommunications, remote sensing and space science.  Lockheed’s Orion Crew Vehicle will provide a state-of-the-art human space flight system capable of safely transferring astronauts to and from the International Space Station (ISS), the Moon, Mars and other destinations beyond low earth orbit (LEO).   Read more on the Orion Crew Vehicle at http://www.lockheedmartin.com/products/Orion/index.html
  14. NASA.  NASA needs little explanation…and there is not doubt it needs to be on this list!  Go to their website at http://www.nasa.gov/externalflash/nasa_gen/index.html 
  15. Orbital Sciences: Orbital Sciences develops launch systems.  Orbital is a publicly traded company with revenues of around $700 million and a main office in Virginia.  Its Mojave facility is focused on the deployment of its Pegasus rocket system, which is designed to be drop-launched from an aircraft flying at 40,000 feet. That makes it possible to place satellites in low orbit for $31 million, a fraction of the cost of vertical launches. Pegasus has already flown 36 times.  http://www.orbital.com/ 
  16. Rocketplane Kistler. This company has developed the Kistler K-1 reusable launch vehicle. The K-1 is a fully reusable aerospace vehicle, designed to deliver payloads to orbit and provide a low-cost alternative to single-use launch vehicles. The company intends the K-1 to become the reliable, low-cost provider of launch services for commercial, civil, and military payloads destined for Low Earth Orbit (LEO), Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) and Geosynchronous Earth Orbit (GEO), as well as for cargo resupply and recovery flights to and from the International Space Station (ISS).   Read more at http://www.kistleraerospace.com/ 
  17. Scaled Composites:  Scaled Composites develops suborbital spacecraft.  Famed aerospace engineer Burt Rutan is developing SpaceShipTwo, a seven-passenger suborbital flier  and he’s planning a world-class manufacturing facility in Mojave to churn out the ships.  The first five ships–which are rumored to be as plush as Gulfstream jets–will be flown exclusively by Branson’s Virgin Galactic out of Mojave in 2008, although he does eventually expect to sell his ships to other operators. Branson says each ticket for a few minutes of weightlessness will initially cost about $200,000 and that more than 100 passengers have already signed up.  http://www.scaled.com/ 
  18. Space Adventures.  Founded in 1998, Space Adventures Ltd. is all about pace tourism.  The company offers it’s customers Orbital Flights, Suborbital Flights, Spaceflight Training, and Space-related Flight Adventures.  Want to go on a flight?  Read more at  http://www.spaceadventures.com/ 
  19. SpaceDev: SpaceDev produces micro and nano satellites, hybrid rocket-based orbital Maneuvering and orbital Transfer Vehicles (MoTVs) as well as safe sub-orbital and orbital hybrid rocket-based propulsion systems.  SpaceDev has begun designing a reusable, piloted, sub-orbital space ship of their own that could be scaled up to safely and economically transport passengers to and from low earth orbit, including the International Space Station. The name of the vehicle is the “SpaceDev Dream Chaser".   Check out their website at http://www.spacedev.com 
  20. Space Exploration Technologies. Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) is a private company.  It develops launch vehicles and provides launch services.  Their mission is to revolutionize the commercial space industry.  The company was founded by Elon Musk, whose previous businesses (PayPal and Zip2 Corp.) gave him the wherewithal to get into the space-for-hire market.  SpaceX is developing the Falcon launch vehicle family, which is being designed to provide breakthrough advances in reliability, cost, flight environment and time to launch.  http://www.spacex.com/ 
  21. Space Island Group: The Space Island Group mission is to develop a stand-alone, commercial space infrastructure supporting the broadest possible range of manned business activities in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) for the 21st century and beyond.   SIG will build large, commercial space stations to be leased to a wide range of tenants as factories, hotels and entertainment complexes.  SIG also has plans to will also build large, commercial space stations to house their solar satellite assembly and maintenance crews. Some stations, resembling the one depicted in the 1968 film “2001: A Space Odyssey”, will be leased to a wide range of tenants as factories, hotels and entertainment complexes.  SIG’s target is to supply half the world’s electricity generation and distribution, currently a $2 trillion annual market.  http://www.spaceislandgroup.com/home.html 
  22. Spacehab:  Spacehab provides commercial and government space services with three primary business units.  Spacehab has built research modules for the space shuttle and is also offering its Apex line of spacecraft.   Apex is designed to execute a wide range of missions, including delivering experiments or supplies to the International Space Station, providing a platform for on-orbit research, or supporting orbital operations,  Read more at  http://www.spacehab.com/ 
  23. Space Services: Space Services is a 30 year old company that has developed a reliable and consistent launch program for cremated remains.  They offer a number of different space flights, including earth orbit, lunar flight, and deep space.   The company is not just about memorial flights, as they have done work for the government on next generation micro satellite and propulsion technologies (e.g. including solar sails).  Read more at  http://www.spaceservicesinc.com/ 
  24. Surrey Satellite Technology. SSTL, was founded over 20 years ago and was the first professional organization to offer low-cost small satellites.  The company’s stated mission is to lead the small satellite industry Today, SSTL employs over 200 staff and is considered the most experienced small satellite supplier in the world.   http://www.sstl.co.uk/ 
  25. The Planetary Society:  The Planetary Society was founded in 1980 by futurists Carl Sagan, Bruce Murray, and Louis Friedman.  The stated focus is to inspire humans to explore space.  Dedicated to exploring the solar system and seeking life beyond Earth, The Planetary Society is non-governmental and nonprofit and is funded by the support of its members.  Not just an education body, the Planetary Societary develops cutting-edge space technology and promotes private ventures in space.  Read more at http://www.planetary.org 
  26. Trans Lunar Research: Trans Lunar Research is working on moon habitation related projects with a small group of volunteers.  This nonprofit foundation, run out of Interorbital’s office, has an ambitious goal: to establish a civilian station on the surface of the Moon that will become a base for lunar mining, energy extraction, and exploration. Funded by private donations,  Trans Lunar plans to issue grants to support the development of propulsion systems, habitation technology, and oxygen extraction equipment.  http://www.translunar.org/ 
  27. t/Space: Transformational Space Corporation is developing a piloted spacecraft to take people and cargo to and from space for NASA, other government agencies, and private customers.  t/Space is currently working on designs for an air-launched four-person capsule termed the Crew Transfer Vehicle, or CXV.    http://www.transformspace.com/ 
  28. Universal Space Lines: This company was formed in 1996.  The company vision is enabling low-cost access to space and therefore it has focused on the development of reusable launch vehicles as the only viable, long-term solution for reducing the cost of access to space.   http://www.spacelines.com 
  29. Virgin Galactic: Virgin Galactic, part of Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group, plans to offer sub-orbital spaceflights and later orbital spaceflights to the paying public.   Virgin Galactic plans to fly 500 passengers a year at about US$200,000 each, to an altitude of over 100 km, with a total weightless time of 7 minutes.  The website provides more information at http://www.virgingalactic.com/ 
  30. Xcor Aerospace:  Xcor Aerospace is a small company that makes rocket engines.  Xcor’s EZRocket is a reusable engine powered by liquid oxygen and rubbing alcohol that has already been flight-tested. Applications range from propelling airplanes in the Rocket Racing League (which gets under way in September) to powering the Xerus, a suborbital spaceliner being developed with funding from private investors and the government.  http://www.xcor.com/

These last three posts I have blogged about space business.  I’ve brought it to our attention because I truly believe that "the train has left the station"….meaning that the commercialization of space is happening right now.   .

Top Ten Space Business Opportunities

"We will build new ships to carry man forward into the universe, to gain a new foothold on the moon, and to prepare for new journeys to worlds beyond our own."   – U.S. President George Bush,  via a speech

My last post Space….The Final (Business) Frontier??, was about how sometimes I think about the future of space exploration and how that might impact the future of business.  Today I thought I’d have a brief review of the types of space projects that will, in turn, present business opportunities. 

I’ve come up with list of Top Ten Space Related Business Opportunities.   The list below is presented in the order I believe these business opportunities will mature. 

1.  Low Cost Microsatellites:  A new generation of tiny satellites are poised to revolutionize space-based communications. These are small, light and low-cost satellites that can be built and launched for less than $75,000.  A website devoted to this emerging industry is at http://www.SmallSatellites.org.   Efforts include CubeSat projects and companies like SpaceDev and Surrey Satellite Technology. 

2.  Rocket Rides: There’s no doubt about it.  The space tourism industry is already emerging with people paying $20 Million in order to go to the Space Station.  For thrill seekers, going on a spaceship ride would be the ultimate ride.  Adventures on spacecraft like SpaceShipTwo, starting at $200,000 a flight are in the not too distant future.  Check out the wikipedia page for more information at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_tourism.  Companies planning spaceship ride services include: Armadillo Aerospace, Blue Origin, Space Adventures, and Virgin Galactic. 

3.  Moon-Missions and Mining Colonies:  Expectations are that we will have moon colonies established by 2025.  The moon may have about a million tons of helium-3 — a potential energy source that could be worth $7 billion a ton.   Both NASA and Russia’s Energia Space plan missions to the moon starting by 2015 to establish mining operations.  NASA plans to make the Moon it’s launchpad to Mars.   Trans Lunar Research is also working on moon missions. 

4.  Solar Energy Generating Satellites:  This idea has large solar panels positioned in orbit that would beam energy down to large microwave receivers on Earth.  These receivers would then generate and distribute the resulting power.  Might seem far fetched, but in theory, this idea could provide enough solar energy to meet all the planet’s electricity needs.    Read up more on the idea at this ieee website.   News reports claim that the Pentagon is working on solar powered engines for satellites.  A number of organizations are working on this idea, including the European Space Agency, the Japanese Space Agency, and Space Island Group. 

5.  Orbital Factories and Labs: The prospect of zero-gravity manufacturing facilities would open up new possibilities for the chip fabrication and biotech industries.  These orbiting manufacturing facilities will all need sophisticated automated robotic and IT based systems.   Kayser-Threde and Space Island Group are two companies working on this idea.  For more information on this idea, go to Space Island’s manufacturing website

6.  Solar Sails For SpaceShips:   Solar sails, in theory, generate thrust by catching photons emitted by the sun.  This could be a very cheap and reliable way to propel spaceships. Unlike a rocket, a solar sail would accelerate slowly but constantly.  For example, on the first day of its voyage, it might  travel at 100 mph and, in theory, after 12 days the speedometer might  hit speeds of 2,300 mph.  Check out http://solarsails.jpl.nasa.gov/ for more information on this technology.  Companies working on this include:  European Space Agency, Kayser-Threde, L’Garde, the Planetary Society, Space Services. 

7.  Exploring Mars:   So far, Mars explorations have been all about rocket flybys, orbitors, landers, and rovers.  Near future missions will begin to include drones, balloons, subsurface diggers, and vehicles capable of returning samples.  The U.S. government is mounting an effort to land humans on Mars, some say by 2030.  Longer range plans include the idea of setting up a colony.   All these missions will require IT related hardware, software and services.  There are a number of companies working on this scenario, including Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and NASA.   It has been estimated this could result in $400 billion in NASA contracts by 2030.   Check out U.S. based plans at http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/ 

8.  Space Elevators:  This is an interesting idea that seems funny when you first hear about it, but it could really work.  It involves running along a cable that extends 62,000 miles above Earth, a giant elevator car could replace many rocket-powered flights, slashing the costs associated with ferrying passengers and cargo into orbit.   Sounds far fetched?  Check out http://www.spaceelevator.com/.  Companies working on this include LiftPort and Sedco. 

9.  Orbiting Hotels:  Further out into the future, there will be companies getting into the space hotel business.  Can you imagine going to a space hotel for a family vacation, instead of taking that annual beach or skiing vacation??  Two companies with plans here, include Bigelow Aerospace, Space Island Group.  For a discussion of hotel building in space, check out this spacefuture.com website.   

10.  Asteroid Mining:  There is a treasure trove of minerals, including cobalt, gold, iron, magnesium, nickel, platinum, and silver located on the 3,000-plus near-Earth asteroids.  In addition there is ice on asteroid.  As hydrogen and oxygen are rocket fuels, one can envision orbiting fuel depots for space ships, supplied by miners working on near-Earth asteroids.  For more information, read the Asteroid Mining Wikipedia page.  SpaceDev is one company working on this idea. 

So, there you have it, my top ten list.  I’d love to hear your thoughts on this list.   What types of opportunities do you see for future businesses in space?

Space…The Final Frontier

"Space, the final frontier.  These are the voyages of the Starship Enterprise.  Her five year mission to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilization, to boldly go where no man has gone before." – Opening Narrative on the Star Trek Series.

Every once in a while I like to look out 10-50 years…and sometimes 100-200 years.  It’s fun to think what life will be like for our great, great grandchildren.  What will their leisure time be like for them?   Sports?  Entertainment? Electronics?  What business will be like? 

When I think out that far, I really wonder what the main drivers of mature economies will be.  As a human race, we’ve moved from an agrarian society to industrial and now to information/service based economies.  What will be the next wave?  Most likely it will involve nanotechnology, medical science, and, perhaps, space travel.  Yes, space travel. 

Whenever I brainstorm about 100-200 years out, I always start to think about what impact space travel and exploration will play in future business.  I grew up during the early days of Star Trek, the series.  I was fascinated by the series and it really got me thinking about the future. 

Since the dawn of space exploration began about 50 years ago, it has been the sole effort of governments and the resulting governmental bureaucracy.  But that’s changing, as we are starting to see a new breed of entrepreneurs and big businesses alike looking to exploit the many commercial opportunities in outer space.  Their plans range from the mundane to the fantastic.  Whether or not any of these projects come to fruition may be debatable, but one thing is for sure:  Plenty of money will be spent trying to get them off the ground. 

For the next post, I will blog about some of the potential space related business opportunities that may materialize in the next 10-50 years.

Check out FutureThink

A fellow colleague forwarded me a link to the FutureThink website.     The New York City-based company is a small consulting firm focusing on helping companies become more innovative by collecting and teaching innovation best practices. 
They have built a website with some fantastic content.  For example, check out FutureThink’s "Snapshots" website. There you will find a ton of innovation ideas (147 at the time of this writing).  Many of these ideas have been submitted by people like you and me (another example of Crowdsourcing in action).  I like reading through the Snapshots to get learn about how other companies have been innovative.
They also have a neat idea…field trips where they invite you to ‘get out of the office to think outside the box".    I signed up for the newsletter…you might want to too.

7 Megatrends In Professional Services

I came across this list of 7 megatrends occurring in professional services and thought I’d share them with you along with a link to a 19 page paper that discusses them in more detail.  The list was developed by Ross Dawson, CEO of Advanced Human Technologies in San Francisco.  Ross has a blog here

Here is a summary of the megatrends listed….:

  1. Growing client sophistication.  This creates pressure from them to reduce professional firm fees.
  2. A focus on governance.  Sarbanes-Oxley, for example, specifically legislates how audit firms can work with their clients.
  3. Connectivity.  Thanks to Blackberrys, mobile phones and instant messaging, clients expect faster responses and more informal interactive communication.
  4. Transparency.  Clients want to see what is happening while their professionals are at work and how they are doing it.
  5. Modularization.  Professional services must be “unbundled,” or broken down into their components. This allows clients to choose which elements they prefer to do themselves. 
  6. Globalization.  Clients are outsourcing professional work overseas to cheaper providers, and clients also expect services to be delivered globally.
  7. Commoditization. Clients believe that professionals have equivalent expertise, and as a result bid out work so that professional firms must compete on price.

Dawson says the most important megatrend is the swift advance of technology. “The challenge for professional firms today is both to implement technologies that give them great flexibility in their business operations, and to … create extraordinary business success."

You can download the 19 page pdf file from Dawson’s blog here  www.rossdawsonblog.com/SevenMegaTrendsofPS.pdf