Standing on the shoulders of giants to see retail's future

To continue this weeks theme on the FUTURE and PREDICTIONS, I want to take you back to the 1980s when Alvin Toffler wrote Future Shock (1980) and The Third Wave.

Remember that when he wrote this, we had not yet seen the wide-scale adoption of the PC or the Internet.

This is what Toffler predicted:

"For Third Wave civilization, the most basic raw material of all--and on that can never be exhausted--is information... With information becoming more important than ever before, the new civilization will restructure education, redefine scientific research and, above all, reorganize the media of communication... Instead of being culturally dominated by a few mass media, Third Wave civilization will rest on inter- active, de-massified media, feeding extremely diverse and often highly personalized imagery into and out of the mind- stream of the society.
"The giant centralized computer with its whirring tapes and complex cooling systems--where it still exists--will be supplemented by myriad chips of intelligence, embedded in one form or another in every home, hospital, and hotel, every vehicle, and appliance, virtually every building-brick. The electronic environment will literally converse with us" (352).
"To operate these factories and offices of the future, Third Wave companies will need workers capable of discretion and resourcefulness rather than rote responses. To prepare such employees, schools will increasingly shift away from present methods still largely geared to producing Second Wave workers for highly repetitive work" (353).

Today we are living these predictions.

Toffler got it right because he did not simply look at basic statistical trends, he looked at the fundamentals and did a meta-analysis on the context. He understood human nature and based his thinking on those timeless principles.

I am sure there are a few companies out there who wished they had paid a bit more attention back then.


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