The Offline World Is Disappearing: Is Your Business Ready?


"What is your image of the future?"

That's the question Glen Hiemstra, founder and owner of Futurist.com, posed to the crowd in his opening keynote at The Channel Company's Midsize Enterprise Summit in Orlando, Fla.

"It's an important question because the future creates the present," Hiemstra said.  

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A solution provider or CIO with a clear vision of the future lays the groundwork for where a company will head, he said.

"Your image of the future right now is exerting influence on your company. If you want to change your company right now, change your image of the future," Hiemstra said.  

Establishing a clear vision is the "most potent way for change" in an organization, Hiemstra said, and will cause employees and leaders to automatically act differently going forward. Paying attention to the future will help make sure a business stays aligned with current market trends, including technology acceleration, big data, the knowledge value economy, generational change, and solutions for big challenges such as energy, sustainability, urbanization and more.

The "most powerful trend of our era," according to Hiemstra, is the disappearance of the offline world. With that trend comes the creation of huge amounts of data. Companies need to ensure they are employing "smart" strategies, products and services that have knowledge built into them, he said, adding that his trend will only accelerate as the Millennial workforce, which he called "people of the screen," enter the workforce.

"From now on everyone that’s walking in the door is a digital native and it's going to take the digital revolution way beyond where it exists today," he said.

In particular, Hiemstra said that the "smart" future means the continued rise of the Internet of Things, which he said was the "biggest engineering project," a title formerly held by the Internet.

"My image of the future is this ... we are, and you are, in the process of building a data flow culture. And in a data flow culture, interaction creates value," Hiemstra said.

Hemant Kumar, senior vice president and CIO of South Plainfield, N.J.-based G&W Laboratories, said he recognizes the importance of looking ahead and having these long-term views on his radar. "If you're a CIO or CTO you've got to understand these things," Kumar said.

Hiemstra urged attendees to head back to their own organizations and ask themselves what trends they can be a part of in creating an intelligent business future.

"In the end the future is not something that just happens to us, the future is something that we do," Hiemstra said. 

PUBLISHED APRIL 28, 2014