Anticipation of Innovation on Retail and Lifestyles

Patti RennerHistoric Boston with its monuments, cobblestones and charm provides on poignant backdrop to the forward-thinking spectacle that is the 2011 Shop.org Annual Summit. Hundreds of retailers pack the convention center this week, soaking up information to help them better position themselves within the digital marketing channels currently available to them – and those to come.
Thought leader, inventor and futurist Ray Kurzweil, a keynote speaker for the event, gave some valuable insight to those of us wondering “what’s next” as the pace of technology and its influence continues to accelerate sweeping changes in the way we live and the way we shop.

Here are some takeaways from his presentation yesterday:

  1. The key to success and to being successful is more about timing than anything else. Inventing or developing new ideas and taking those ideas to market is much like skeet-shooting. You have to shoot ahead of the target. That means whatever you’re working on needs to be forward-thinking or you’ll already be “behind” before you even launch.
  2. You actually can predict the future, but you must dismiss a linear timeline and instead adopt a curve that reflects the laws of accelerating returns, where ideas and new ways of doing things catches on exponentially. Even a tiny share of 1% adoption which appears to move very slowly will quickly translate into accelerated growth. Consider the Internet in the early ‘90s, Facebook in 2005, etc. Keys here are timing, as well as providing customers with what they want and to treat them fairly to fuel such growth. And examples of this exponential growth in action don’t seem to be the least bit affected by economic downturns (which may explain the expansion of ecommerce and mobile during our current economic recession).
  3. Future trends to watch: solar power; augmented reality within retail settings; 3D printing to digitally create real objects; meat created without harming animals; stem cell regenerative medicine; an exponential decrease in the cost of technologies while at the same time the quality and convenience of the technology exponentially increases.

What does all of this mean to marketers? It supports the crowd-sourcing of ideas, the importance of openness to jumping into new concepts quickly when you see the wave about to crest, and the commitment to timing – allowing new digital concepts the time to catch fire and the foresight to lean into anticipating future demands and behaviors. While the only constant is change, we are living on the bend that charts incredible things to come.

Stay tuned for more Shop.org insights to come!

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