Futurists Want Publishers to 'Reimagine' and 'Investigate'

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Voice interfaces. Self-driving vehicles. Digital currencies. Cybersecurity.

These may not be the first things that come to mind when you're considering your publishing future. But Amy Webb, founder of the Future Today Institute, believes they should be.

"If you want to understand how the future of media will evolve, it's a matter of tracking trends across industry sectors, not just one company or vertical," she wrote on the FIPP site—the network for global media—last week. "This represents a different strategic thinking model for organization leaders, who might be used to monitoring Google, Facebook, Snapchat and some newer media organizations (such as Vox or Vice) for ideas."

Webb wants you to start investigating "the future of voice interfaces as well as the infrastructure that's being created to support that ecosystem. What's just over the horizon will completely change how we seek out and receive information."

She also says, "pay attention to self-driving vehicles, since that will ultimately change our behavior while we're moving." If everything is going to mobile, then it makes sense that we look at what we're doing outside the office—and how we're doing it. A driver-less car certainly frees up a lot of our time.

"Payment systems," she wrote, "digital currencies, which will be processed differently online are worth tracking. [And] it should go without saying, but so is privacy and cybersecurity."

Tom Billington, founder and CEO of Billington CyberSecurity, will be on hand for the SIPA Annual 2017 Conference, June 5-7, in Washington, D.C. He will be co-presenting at the Pre-Conference Workshop called Successful Conference Strategies and Best Practices: Maximizing Sales and Creating Additional Pipeline Opportunities with Dan Hanover of Access Intelligence. Register for SIPA Annual 2017!

Also attend the Connectiv Executive Summit May 3-4 for an immersion in the macro trends (that Webb is talking about) now defining the B2B information industry! Leaders from Bloomberg, Mashable, NY Times, FreemanXP and more highlight the schedule and incredible speaker list. You can’t afford to miss our one-night + one-day meeting. Learn more and register here

It would be easy to say that something like driverless cars are still well down the road, but Webb says that would be missing the point. 

"In my observation, media organizations tend to miss new technologies at the fringe," she said. "While they might wait for a technology to mature before investing in it, leaders must be paying attention long before a technology has moved from the fringe into the mainstream. It isn't a question of jumping in, but rather dedicating time to investigate and research what's bubbling up."

She also sees collaboration as a good thing. I believe that collaboration will only help media in the longer term... The more that media organizations can collaborate on distribution in the digital age, the better."

Jared Weiner, executive vice president and chief strategy officer for Future Hunters, presented his version of the future at BIMS last November. He agreed with Webb on the importance of data security, so much so that he coined the phrase, cyber insecurity. "We have to operate on the assumption that no data will ever be secure."

Weiner believes that gamification will only get more pervasive in the future. We're already seeing interactive devices like digital leaderboards and digital badges become more prevalent. "...it's going to affect everything... like training, learning and development," Weiner said. He added that we should look for the rise of e-sports—watching people play video games. "How will that change the nature of influence?" Does that mean publishers should post more of their events for people to watch?

"I will argue that the [leaders] of the future will be as equal parts design thinkers as they are MBAers," he continued. "How do we design everything around the design protocol and all we do in our workplace to increase profitability and efficiency?"

Weiner finished with a plea for creativity. "You want to think of the future not as innovation; you want to think of it as imagination. That is my challenge to you. No matter what industry you are in—...accounting, insurance, legal...—as you go back to your day-to-day, really reimagine the future for it, versus just innovating the next of what you're already doing." 

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Ronn Levine began his career as a reporter for The Washington Post and has won numerous writing and publications awards since. Most recently, he spent 12 years at the Newspaper Association of America covering a variety of topics before joining SIPA in 2009 and SIIA in 2013 as editorial director…