Insights · December 1st, 2007

The Canadian paper, The Globe and Mail, did a phone interview with me over the Thanksgiving weekend (they interviewed a number of futurists). They asked great questions, and I won’t steal their thunder by repeating them here, except for one. They wanted to know what the “big business trend” will be in 2018.

I thought about it a lot. Out of all the questions – which I had in advance by an email – this was the toughest one for me.


Well, that’s the big business trend of the now. Just this week, Microsoft and Google announced big support for environmental initiative – Google in the clean energy area, and Microsoft by creating the title “Chief Environmental Strategist” and giving the job to a senior, and probably capable, person. So by 2018, green had better be like business process reengineering – more of a way of life for the successful than a new trend.

But green is going to influence another trend. Think transparency. The green movement is one driver – consumer’s desire to hold businesses accountable is growing. Countries too; look at the reaction to the China lead paint on toys debacle.

And green’s not the only push on transparency. SOX and other regulations almost all push transparency. The information economy shines light in a lot of places, as do the many of us out blogging. And lights that shine on the internet are immediately almost worldwide.

The millennial generation’s tendency to believe that information wants to free and that copyright is, at best, barely worth noticing may extend to trade secrets and business practices.

As we more fully implement web 2.0 and web 3.0 technologies, the relationship between service provider and consumer are graying around the edges, thinning of you will, into a more transparent fog of collaboration between customer and service provider (and means much of the service provider’s process must be exposed).

So what did I say the trend of 2018 would be? I said accountability. Because transparency creates accountability like nothing else. How many of us will steal from the cookie jar while mom is watching?

Because customers are going to care that they get green, organic, non-toxic, light-on-th-earth, made with renewable eneregy or reweble forests products, and all using good business practices, comapnies will be accountable to consumers on those issues, and more.

The word accountability was, however, met with dead silence.

I didn’t have a better one right then, with the phone at my ear and a cold wind howling in off the Washington shoreline.

Transparency? Too David Brin (although I love his book, the Transparent Society, and it did influence my thinking here)

Morality? Too religious right, even if accountability does tend to enforce morality.

Inner light? Too new age.

Open? Sounds like open source, but hey, that’s one of the drivers here. Not quite right. And we won’t get to complete openness anyway – there will always be some protecting of trade secrets – and should be.

So maybe what we’ll have is “The Visible Business.” I kind of like the sound of that one.

Brenda Cooper

Business & Economy
Nikolas Badminton – Chief Futurist

Nikolas Badminton

Nikolas is the Chief Futurist of the Futurist Think Tank. He is world-renowned futurist speaker, a Fellow of The RSA, and has worked with over 300 of the world’s most impactful companies to establish strategic foresight capabilities, identify trends shaping our world, help anticipate unforeseen risks, and design equitable futures for all. In his new book – ‘Facing Our Futures’ – he challenges short-term thinking and provides executives and organizations with the foundations for futures design and the tools to ignite curiosity, create a framework for futures exploration, and shift their mindset from what is to WHAT IF…

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