It’s that time of the year again. The trend augurs are releasing their predictions for the coming year. Except for the analyst firm Gartner, that is, which already shared its "Top 10 Strategic Technologies for 2011" in October this year – we shall see if the first-mover advantage will make them more accurate. The best forecast might still be the agenda for Davos, simply because many of the participants have the power to actually make the future happen.
Michael Schrage does not, but he is a keen observer. His “Top Six Innovation Ideas of 2011” set the theme for the whole bunch: since radical events of the 'black swan' kind are understandably hard to predict, professional future gazers usually focus on highlighting existing trends and their continued yet amplified impact in the new year. Another typical feature of trend lists is the excessive use of neologisms, preferably in the form of the noun-ification (oops) of nouns which untreated would sound all too common. Schrage, for example, coins the term “contestification” (“contests”? – nah!). Apart from that though, his list is interesting and sound: he cites touch screen user experiences (“having the right touch to get the right touch will become a desirable communications competence”); “WWWabs” (“not-quite-ready-for-prime-time alpha and beta versions of apps to explore and test”) as valuable playgrounds for companies as they shift from “R&D” to what Schrage calls “E&S - Experiment & Scale;” the rise of promotional platforms (“advertising will take a backseat to promotional offers as retailers and brand managers alike collectively decide that branding a promotion matters just as much as promoting a brand”); the “gameification” (here, he did it again!) of business (“the companies that succeed in gameifying their products, services, and brands will enjoy a certain Zynga in their step”); and the renaissance of lobbyism (“a charismatically innovative lobbyist may have a bigger impact on marketplace success in 2011 than the country's most savvy technologist or marketer”).