Back to the future

“For I dipt into the future, far as human eye could see;
Saw the Vision of the world, and all the wonder that would be.”
–from ‘Locksley Hall’ by Alfred Lord Tennyson, 1842.

Can we really predict the future? Unfortunately not. There is no crystal ball. Neither to look into the near nor the far distant future. This weekend we had local elections in Belgium, and guess what…? As usual, most of the polls –even the ones conducted a few days before election day– weren’t very accurate.

Still, for a sales or marketing person it may be a good thing to talk about the future and give your audience a perspective of the “things to come”. Personally, I believe that providing an 18-24 month vision statement is one of the best methods for selling the products and services that you have available today.

When preparing a more visionary talk or keynote, there’s also a bunch of good material to start from. Over the past centuries, famous futurologists like Jules Verne or George Orwell have tried to predict the future in all its glory or its misery.

One of my favorite sources is Villemard, a French artist that created a series of postcards to depict his visions of the year 2000… in the year 1910. Even though many predictions are a bit farfetched, some of them have really nailed today’s technology reality – transportation, urbanization, aviation, education, communications, multimedia, etc.

Recently I gave a presentation about Alcatel-Lucent’s ng Connect program, a global initiative that brings together device, application, network and content companies to orchestrate and expedite the availability of the next generation of innovative services. I mixed some of Villemard’s visual material with a few strong quotes about predicting the future, and video-taped demonstrations of applications that were developed in the context of the program (view the presentation on SlideShare).

And guess what? (At least I think that) people left the room with a strong persuasion that the future is here today, and that my company provided a strong contribution to it. Presenter’s mission accomplished!

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4 thoughts on “Back to the future

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