Are you ready for the year 2020?

Whenever I tell a client, or an audience, that we have experienced 10 years of changes in the last two years and that in the next 10 years we will see the equivalent of 100 years of change I am met by dumfounded and often worried looks.

As we speed to the close of the first decade of this century, we have exponentially picked up the pace of technological advances across all sectors of our lives, businesses and recreation and equally interesting is that we now expect and champion change.

To me change is incremental not overwhelming. We have all lived successfully through previous change revolutions. We have seen computers become mainstream and pervade all areas of our lives. We now have ready and constant access to communication tools and information, and we are thankfully watching the list of fatal and crippling diseases diminish.

But what might lie ahead?

Let’s have a look at some broad business and consumer predictions that we might experience between now and 2020.

Between now and 2012 we can expect advertising to be increasingly personalised to the consumer, the use of virtual companies and virtual co-operatives will increase and we will see the introduction of VR (virtual reality) shopping booths.

Between 2012 and 2017 we can expect to see most of our paper money replaced by smart media, RFID (radio frequency identification) will replace bar codes, and consumers will be able to get nearby shops to bid on their shopping lists in electronic reverse auctions.

Between 2017 and 2020 more people will use telework centres (work spaces shared by a number of companies, but not directly controlled by any one of them) rather than work at home; autonomous production plants will produce all our manufacturing needs and unemployment in Asia will increase.

Whether these changes eventuate exactly as predicted is unimportant. What is important is the underlying implications of what these sorts of changes may herald and the implications they may have on the future well being of your retail business.

You can choose to respond by embracing these changes and becoming an innovator (a road taken by only by a few brave souls) or choose to be a follower (a road more often taken, where you allow others to trial and implement and then innovate based on their experiences), both are acceptable and perfectly normal business practices.

What is not an acceptable choice is to be a doomsayer and insist that things will not change, or that change will not affect you, because the only thing that is certain is that change is now our constant business companion and we flourish or flounder on how we choose to accept or reject it.

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