The futures gap

The futures gap

The futures gap

Published on November 15, 2019

David Smith

David Smith
Chief Executive of Global Futures and Foresight, Futurist, Strategist and Keynote Speaker

The difference between identifying change an acting upon it is where many organisations wither and die as Kodak and other organisations stand testament to. While most firms believe they’re ‘picking up on signals of change,’ that might disrupt their lines of business, 42 percent admit that they’re unable to act on those signals[i]. While signals of change come from multiple directions, the technological driver is key. It is forecast that enterprises dithering on embracing changes in technology stand to lose 46 percent of their revenues by 2023[ii].

Many pieces rightfully assert that digital transformation is not solely, or even primarily, a technological change, tech does have the ability to catalase a range of other organisational change. A.I, blockchain and the edge will all accelerate the rate of change in how data is produced, transmitted analysed and consumed, for example[iii]. Furthermore several of these technologies, perhaps most notably machine learning, promise to redraw organisational design itself, potentially replacing silo’s with a ‘…powerful core of purpose and culture,’ that also sees a task, as opposed to job, driven organisation[iv].

Without experimenting with new technology, using it to enable different services and products, and ultimately changing how organisations do business, the futures gap is set to grow uncomfortably wide for many organisations. 75 percent of executives, for example, agree that their organisations will need to make significant changes to keep up with rising customer expectations finds[v]. Concurrently, 80 percent say that their own culture has to evolve over the next five years to allow their company to succeed and grow[vi], yet shifting this – especially within large organisations is a difficult, often iterative task not without its own significant risks.

For those stuck in the futures gap – of identifying opportunities and challenges but unable or unwilling to do anything about them – a couple of likely paths open up. For the largest organisations it may even be possible to defer change until it is critical, and like Microsoft, purchase your way into a new business lines, cultures and revenue streams. Few, if any, have this luxury, and must look to rapidly close the gap between what is possible and business as usual. Tools like 3H can help, although the gap could become unbridgeable for those without a strategy to overhaul what they do, how they do it and why they do it. It remains plausible that several industries could fall – en masse – into the futures gap should digital and intelligent capabilities honed in merging market segments play better than incumbent offerings.

[i]Source: Forbes, 2019

[ii] Source: MoneyControl, 2019

[iii] Source: Deloitte, 2019

[iv] Source: Forrester, 2019, via Consulting

[v] Source: EIU, 2019

[vi] Source: PwC,

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