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#103-Does Your Company Have a Futurist?

The global tech market is expected to grow at 3-4% in 2017-18, according to Forrester Research, Inc. The report prominently mentions the ongoing battle between the forces of disruption and the forces of continuity. Let's understand that in depth. Disruptive forces are those that take us forward by creating positive disruptions. Continuing forces are those that take us forward by maintaining "status quo". You might ask, how can status quo be good at the present transient world where tomorrow starts the day before yesterday? The answer is simple. An organization cannot operate smoothly if it's IT systems are constantly getting upgraded. That is the reason why Windows XP is still running in 95% ATMs of the world, despite the fact the Microsoft ended support for the operating system on April 8, 2014. Now, an organization also cannot operate smoothly if it is running IT systems that are old and vulnerable. This puts every organization in a situation where they must balance the two opposing forces to achieve their business goals.

The future of a tech company relies on its innovative capacity, flexibility, and agility. In order to maintain their position, corporations are investing a significant percentage of their profits in R&Ds. In August, 2016, Volkswagen, Amazon, & Alphabet were in the top three spots in R&D spending. Alphabet, Google's parent company, spent $13.5 B on R&D in the last 12 months (starting from August, 2016, in the reverse direction), Bloomberg reported. Every investment on R&D is effectively an expensive bet on the future. In addition to corporations themselves, people who work in corporations are pondering their future as well. Rapid tech developments are of course a game changer, for better or worse. Eight-hour-work-day has become a thing of the past. Now only future knows what's in future.

If you are in a tech corporation and in an important position, then it is perhaps clear to you that you really need people in your team who can see the future before anyone else. Seeing the future means seeing the opportunities and threats in future. If you know what opportunities are going to arise, you can plan in advance to make the best use of those opportunities. Knowing the future threats in advance means you can take precautionary measures. What your company needs is a futurist. Angela Oguntala explained in a recent episode of Modern Workplace, a futurist thinks, designs, and plans for future. A futurist works with an organization and helps it to uncover the future by taking a cross-disciplinary approach. It is a role that is at the intersection of product development, trend analysis, research, and experience design. In the episode, she also explained that people need tools, time, and last but not the least, methods to prepare for the future. Futurists are also becoming pivotal in human resource management. They guide the human resource department in hiring the people with the right set of skills, skills that will ensure the corporation's survival and growth in future. Small businesses are also gradually understanding the need to be future-proof. Jason Hope writes on business.com, "Entrepreneurs of small businesses should focus on imagining what the customer will need in the near future. Focusing on small, short-term niches will assure a collapse of businesses after the niche dries up." If you want to be "ahead of the curve, instead of behind it", then you must hire a futurist.

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