Futurology: art, science, nonsense?

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David Smith's recent presentation to a group of MBA students on my view of the future and how technology will shape our world by 2015 through to 2020 and beyond

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  • I’d like to take the opportunity in talking with you this morning… to tell you a little bit about where Fujitsu is today, discuss how seriously we can take the concept of “futurology” and then share with you some thoughts on how I think our technology enabled world might evolve over the coming years through to say 2020.From our beginnings more than 75 years ago – we’ve grown to become a leading global ICT player, firmly focused on building enduring relationships with you, our customers and partners.. Today we are a team of more than 172,000 operating in 100 plus countries with annual revenues of over US$55 billion.  The Fujitsu portfolio is both broad and deep. We offer global end to end solutions, services and products underpinned by extensive research and development delivered from around the world, in particular Japan and here in Germany. As I have been travelling the world, meeting and listening to our customers it has become clear there is further opportunity for us to bring unique and innovative solutions to the global stage.2010 saw us launch our brand promise - Shaping Tomorrow With You. We recognize… to deliver on this promise…. we require that our people have customers at the very center of every decision we make. This is a promise that is written into our corporate DNA. And this was never more evident than in Japan earlier this year. When the catastrophic tsunami/earthquake struck, our engineers immediately mobilized and made their way en route to the devastated areas in northern Japan. This was before we asked them to do so – and indeed before our customers were able to react to make that request. Within 24 hours we had transferred our PC product production from Japan to here in Germany to ensure we could continue to service our customers around the world. Shaping Tomorrow With You is about putting our customers at the center of our actions and decisions. It’s also about working collaboratively to deliver business value.Behind this promise stands a dedicated Fujitsu team and more than 5000 partners around the world.
  • There is some science in how we form our view on the potential future, often based on scenario planning models. The trick is to review the available empirical data, extrapolate but avoid flights of pure fantasy. However…………..
  • I would certainly not advocate simply making it all up as a suitable strategy. However, I do believe that there is an art to deriving insight from empirical data that gives a view on the direction of travel and potential outcomes.I recently read an interesting book by a Futurist called Daniel Burrus, Flash Foresight. In the book he talks about hard trends and soft trends; in the picture I’m painting for you this is empirical data based forecasting and insight based scenario extrapolation forecasting. Hard trends for Burrus are projections based on measurable tangible and predictable fact, events or data. Soft trends are projects based on that data set which might appear tangible and predictable but are actually variable and subject to external forces amending. So hard trends are factual and unavoidable; soft trends are outcomes that are still open to being shaped and directed by events.Demographics are examples of hard trends for Burrus; soft trends are things that look certain but actually are subject to change in medium or even short term.
  • There is clearly a school of thought that disregards all forecasting or futurist exposition as utter nonsense. The output of creative and potentially deranged and misguided minds. The stating of the blindingly obvious with a veneer of intelligent articulation that makes it sound new and fresh. The snake oil salesman of the US Wild West.I agree that I sometimes read pronouncements and decide that they are nonsense masquerading as insight. However, equally I do read material or view infographics that articulate a trend (hard or soft or both) that does either represent insight or trigger someone to using it to move to an interesting new position.You will get a chance later in this presentation to judge whether my interpretation of trends in society or technology or both are leading to outcomes and scenarios for which I will argue.
  • There is an excellent quote in the Innovators DNA booked published by HBR (Dyer, Gregersen & Christensen) from Meg Whitman (once at eBay, now at the helm of HP); “have the courage to plant acorns before you need oak trees”Having ideas, innovating is excellent but you cannot be too attached to them. You have to test, test and test again; if they fail they the ideal is to fail early and use the learning to inform the future.The analogy is flawed I’ll admit but……….. plant acorns and some will grow into trees from which leaves will grow then die, but ultimately you are looking for the acorn that becomes the oak tree of many years age that produces its own acorns etc. Probably stretching this too thin but I’m sure you get my point.
  • The world is facing difficult challenges hard to solve immediately, such as the environment, energy sustainability, and food issues. However, we need to promptly and properly solve these issues in order to bring about an ideal future for the Earth and its inhabitants.To enable continuous economic development, while solving these challenges, it will be essential to create innovations based on the wisdom in the world and leading-edge technologies.Supercomputers can compute tremendous amounts of information at ultra-high speeds to support the analyses and choices that will create such innovations. This will more quickly and objectively enable us to discover ways to deliver that future world, that as yet we have been unable to perceive.Fujitsu continues to work on realizing such an ideal world through supercomputer development and its applications; shaping tomorrow with you.
  • Futurology: art, science, nonsense?

    1. 1. FuturologyArt, Science or Nonsense?David SmithGlobal Chief Innovation & Technology Officerdavid.smith@uk.fujitsu.com@SmithDavidMuk.fujitsu.com/blogs/cto © Copyright 2011 Fujitsu Services Limited
    2. 2. Fujitsu the ICT company 1 © Copyright 2011 Fujitsu Services Limited
    3. 3. On what forecasting technique do you rely? 2 © Copyright 2011 Fujitsu Services Limited
    4. 4. Science? 3 © Copyright 2011 Fujitsu Services Limited
    5. 5. Art? 4 © Copyright 2011 Fujitsu Services Limited
    6. 6. Nonsense? 5 © Copyright 2011 Fujitsu Services Limited
    7. 7. Unwise to be stubbornly in love with ideas 6 © Copyright 2011 Fujitsu Services Limited
    8. 8. So what is driving change? Technology Society Lifestyle Borderless business 7 © Copyright 2011 Fujitsu Services Limited
    9. 9. Technology - the old way Experts only Tailor-made Static, separate, inflexible Stateful 8 © Copyright 2011 Fujitsu Services Limited
    10. 10. Technology - the new way Accessible to all Commoditised On-demand Stateless 9 © Copyright 2011 Fujitsu Services Limited
    11. 11. Physical & Digital Worlds Colliding 10 © Copyright 2011 Fujitsu Services Limited
    12. 12. Technology Perspectives 11 © Copyright 2011 Fujitsu Services Limited
    13. 13. So regardless, the bottom line…. 12 © Copyright 2011 Fujitsu Services Limited
    14. 14. If you want to hear more opinion…. Technology Perspectives CTO Blog www.technology-perspectives.com http://uk.fujitsu.com/blogs/cto/ 13 © Copyright 2011 Fujitsu Services Limited

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