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Flash Foresight: A Look at Technology Trends that are Transforming Business

By Daniel Kosir |

With breakthroughs happening so quickly and frequently, keeping pace can be difficult. How can businesses adapt and stay ahead?

Daniel Burrus, CEO of Burrus Research, world-leading technology forecaster and business strategist, and author of the book "Flash Foresight" sat down with CanadaOne to shed some light on technology-driven transformation, branding, and business trends.

Where are we headed?

As one of the leading technology forecasters, Burrus had a few things to say about what he sees as important trends in business.

He mentioned three emerging trends that businesses can't afford to ignore:

  1. Going Mobile
    Mainframes, desktops, and laptops haven't disappeared, but smartphones and tablets are fast becoming our primary computers. Our websites need to be maximized for mobile.
  2. The Apps Revolution
    There are an endless number of apps that we can create quickly and inexpensively, such as sales apps, logistics apps, purchasing apps, and supply chain management apps. These apps give us new capabilities to reach employees, business partners and consumers.
  3. Cloud Computing and Virtualization
    We are virtualizing our desktops, our servers, and our storage –which means data is stored on remote servers and accessed in a wired or wireless way. The cloud can be a multimedia data centre which is certain to grow and have more in it next year than this year.

Burrus suggests staying on top of these three hard trends because they allow the ability to innovate faster, be more agile and get to market at lower cost, and extend your brand in new and powerful ways.

Harnessing the power of anticipatory perception

Being aware of such trends is just one aspect of being anticipatory, which Burrus says is more important than ever because things are going to shift faster within the next five years than they did in the past five.

Though it might seem trivial, putting together a list of certainties can help offset some of the uncertainties.

"We need to be strategic and ask ourselves, 'in an uncertain world, what are we certain about?'" says Burrus. "We are certain that summer will follow spring. Retailers are certain that next year Mother's Day, Father's Day and Easter will happen - retailers can plan around that because it's a certainty."

Recognizing and acting on certainties will help businesses move forward successfully in a world that is rapidly transforming. Whatever your business, adapting to transformations can provide advantages that will help promote your brand, spark innovation, and increase profits. Don't get left behind.

Branding out: how technology is affecting branding

Brands are everywhere, and the more of them people see, the better they get at tuning them out. What does a brand need to rise above the noise?

Burrus says that in today's environment, the same old branding practices aren't going to cut it. Brands need to find new ways to stand out in a world that is constantly transforming.

"It's extremely important now because obviously there are brands from all over the world that we all know, and people in other countries like China know U.S. brands as well.  So there are more and more brands fighting for relevance in your mind," says Burrus.

Because of brand saturation, companies need to go above and beyond traditional strategies. For Burrus, brands need to differentiate themselves using the "whole-brain" approach.

"They need to touch both the left brain and the right brain – they need to be able to touch the rational side, the money-saving side and the value-added side.  But they also need to be able to touch the emotional side, the side that allows you to ignore how much something costs and buy it anyway."

Seems like a simple concept. But Burrus thinks that most companies aren't doing it very well, mostly because they don't realize there are many ways to compete.

Take Apple, for example. "Most [brands] compete on price. But Apple doesn't compete on price – they compete on design, on user experience, technology, loyalty and a bunch of other key areas that keeps them from having to compete on price," he says.

For Burrus, having a branding strategy that is well-rounded will produce better results. Competing in different ways trumps competing only on price.

"I think that it's important to have a brand strategy that goes beyond price - that focuses on all of the other ways you can compete, which is extremely important."

Responding to an unprecedented pace of change

Rapid technological change is affecting branding in a way that is unprecedented.

"Technology is driving change faster than it ever has before. We're no longer in a period of rapid technological change – we're in a period of rapid technological transformation," says Burrus. "We are in the process of transforming how we buy, sell, market, communicate, collaborate, innovate, train, and how we educate."

From a brand standpoint, this means that companies need to develop strong brand migration strategies based on such transformations.

For Burrus, the main question that we need to ask is: "How do we become more relevant in a world of transformational change?"

Brands need to evolve and expand while continuing to stay true to what they mean in the eye of the logical left brain and emotional right brain of the consumer. A good way to capitalize on this is through creating new brand extensions to grow your business that remain consistent with the image of your brand.

"I think a lot of times we jump on the bandwagon and throw something out there and see if it sells, but first we need ask ourselves ‘is this confusing our customers or potential customers?' Or ‘is this staying true to what our brand is all about?'"

You should also have a long-term anticipatory strategy in mind for your brand, says Burrus. That way the brand will have longevity and continued relevance in the minds of consumers.

Viral marketing and social media

Social media is a good example of technology-driven transformation. It has become another platform for branding that has sparked a unique business strategy: viral marketing.

"Viral marketing would have been impossible without social media," says Burrus. "Web 2.0 technology is about sharing and social media is a key component of that: the key word is not ‘media,' the key word is ‘social.'"

To be successful in going viral, says Burrus, your brand has to give the customer that "wow" experience they feel they have to show a friend.

"That is the litmus test to give your brand and any of the consumer touch-points when they see or experience your brand – do they want to share it with somebody? If the answer is no, you need to work on your brand until the answer becomes yes."

The more that people want to share, the better chance your brand has of going viral, and the more exposure your brand gets.

Flash Foresight: How to see the invisible and do the impossible

The most recent of his six books, Burrus says "Flash Foresight" is "a business book that helps organizations and individuals tap into the true power of technology-driven transformation."

Though the lead line on the cover reads "Seven Radical Principles that will Transform Your Business," Burrus describes the book as one that is geared toward anyone who is interested in designing and shaping their future.

"Even though this is a business book, in order to get businesses – which are made up of people – to do something different, see something they haven't seen before, to take action on new ideas, you have to make the principles personal and relevant to the individual."

"Flash Foresight: How to see the invisible and do the impossible" is available on Daniel Burrus's website.

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