“Accept the inevitability of your inevitability!” – Futurist Jim Carroll
Spock would have struggled with people who fought the future. He simply would not have understood them.
Today’s post is directly related to trend #3 of my 23 Trends for 2023 series, to be released later today. Here’s how that post opens: “Companies and people fight the future. And yet, inevitability, they come to accept the inevitability of it all!”
The trend has to do with the fact that many companies in many industries tend to fight the inevitable change that is going to occur in their industry, but in the long run, have to give in. The best example from the past involves music companies actively fighting the digitization and streaming of music in the 90s and early part of the century; today, Tidal, Spotify, and others determine the direction of the industry, because the trend was inevitable.
Trend #3 of 23 Trends for 2023? All the signs are there that this will be a year that involves the imminent acceptance of the inevitability of the future in several industries, including automotive and energy. Auto companies are finally accepting they have to make bold moves to solidify a direct-to-purchase business model, slowly eliminating and transforming the dealer model. Energy companies are coming to accept the reality of the implementation of small community energy microgrids based on renewable sources after many years of regulatory battles. These are the types of things to be found in the third post.
The interesting thing about inevitability is that takes a long time for people and companies to accept the ‘inevitability’ of it all!
Back in the ’90s, I wrote 34 books about the Internet and its impact on business with my co-author Rick Broadhead. They covered a vast range of issues – including the future of healthcare, investing and wealth management, politics, and government and business. One of my favorite books that we put together at that time came out in 2000 which we gave the title “Light Bulbs to Yottaibts: How to Profit by Understanding the Internet of the Future.” (Insert joke: Said Noah, ‘What’s a yottabit?’ I’ll cover that in a forthcoming 2023 trend!)
While preparing today’s inspiration, I went back and looked at the research notes that Rick and I shared as we pulled that book together, and in the ‘business’ section of the book we started out with this list. This is what we predicted twenty two years ago with respect to how the world of business would change in the future.
The 18 Driving Principles of the New Economy
- The balance of power will shift in the customer’s favor
- Buyer-driven pricing models will emerge.
- Local monopolies will lose control over their markets.
- Manufacturers will compete with their channel partners.
- Manufacturers will lose control over their distribution channels.
- The Internet will redefine branding.
- Mass customization will proliferate.
- Customer expectations will rise.
- Middlemen will be disintermediated by intermediaries.
- Customers will become loyal to online brands.
- Comparative shopping will empower customers.
- Business-to-business commerce will have the greatest economic impact.
- The speed of business will accelerate.
- Third-party infomediaries will take control of the selling process.
- Virtual firms will gain market share at the expense of traditional businesses.
- Today’s money-losing customers will be tomorrow’s cash cows.
- Analytic merchandising will revolutionize one-to-one marketing.
- Digitization of *everything* will happen.
Wow! Were we ever right! We absolutely nailed our predictions – I don’t mind giving us a pat on the back because every single one of these trends has happened – or is well underway. And yet, given how old that list is, it is clear that even today, many companies and the leadership team that manages them still refuse to accept them as reality.
Until it becomes, well, inevitable. And 2023 will see an acceleration of inevitabilty, for a variety of reasons.
With that in mind, here’s a fun story from 1995 about inevitability! Early in my career as a futurist, I was invited to address senior executives and customers of Nortel at the Nortel Open in Tucson. It was a pretty high-profile event with a lot of heavy hitters from the global telecom industry in the room. I spoke about the inevitability of certain trends: the rapid emergence of the Internet, the emergence of VoIP (voice over IP), the likely emergence of companies like Skype. All of these things, of course, would be a direct threat to the old-fashioned telecom switches manufactured and supported by Nortel, and the business models of the telephone companies in the room. Well, they asked for the future, didn’t they?
Looking back at my slides – and vivid in my memory – were my observations that existing telecom business models, products, companies, and just about everything else would be subject to dramatic, wrenching change – from the ability to route telephone calls and data through the fast-evolving backbone that was the Internet. My concluding points was that they should begin thinking about and aligning to the inevitability of it all.
I later heard later that the CEO, flying back to Toronto on the corporate jet, fumed at his team. “Who invited this idiot in for a talk?” Literally. (I golfed many years later with one senior executive who was on the flight and relayed the story to me.)
Of course, Nortel disappeared years later in a blazing glory of incompetence and massive missteps, just one organization in a long list refusing to accept & align to reality. Why? Well, one reason is that they didn’t accept the inevitability of inevitability. So today – are you Nortel? Or someone else?
(How bad did things become at Nortel? Read Innovation at Nortel? Invent What Has Already Been Invented!)
Some time ago, one of my Daily Inspirations featured the phrase, “What part of ‘it’s inevitable’ do you not understand?” That’s the guidance you should use to align and adapt to the future. It’s going to happen whether you like it or not!
Because certain things are certain!
That was the original version, later modified!