Friday, March 04, 2005

Didn't see that coming, did you?

Weekend FT has a great article on Futurology - the business of looking at the future and attempting to predict it. Following the demise of the dot.com empire we see that a number of businesses have given up thinking wht might be and how we can achieve it.

Orange at one time had a Chief Imagineer, Head of Prophecy, Visionary Planners all working in Futurology. They had the ear of the CEO and his board and so were able to help the business put together the technology needed to make "the future bright". Not only were they able to wisper thoughts they had money to burn on fancy office space and other businesses such as Wildfire.

Now that they are part of France Telecom the Prophets have become Product Managers, the Imagineer has gone off to write and play music. They now have a Strategy Group staffed by clones from the leading business schools. It is my opinion that it is worse off for losing the people who were prepared to question and think big thoughts. Now instead we have a business full of Product Managers who are not interested in being the best, all they want is to be better than the others! In doing so I as a customer am frustrated that some of the best technology I see is not available to me. Others are not happy that the customer service ethic has declined and so hope that the grass is greener on the other side and are leaving to join David Beckham!

Why does this happen? Because those with passion have been replaced by engineers who think that they can segment me into a box. The problem is that in the course of the day, I have a number of roles, parent, employee, consultant, consumer, communter, parent and as such have different demands on my mobile network. It is no longer a function of price it is a question of service and coverage, after 20 years I do no expect to have ubiqutious connectivity, I want data as well as voice services, as for messaging how about working out the best context to deliver them to me.

2 comments:

kelly said...

(hand to head, eyes closed)
I predict they will be wrong more than half the time.

Me

Digital Evangelist said...

Kelly,

I would love to be half right!

Futurology is about prediction as anyone who has had to call heads or tails will tell you you have to believe.

With some businesses we saw the employment of anthropologists and sociologists over accountants and engineers at the time of dot.com. This created businesses that we engaged with and made things interesting because they were not predictable!