2016 – 2023, For a Fee

The future is an intangible thing. But in Stockholm, companies are drawing tangible results by predicting it.

The first company that Jeff and I visited on Monday was a consulting agency in the business of helping other companies become leaders in technology adaptation. Ziggy, it turns out, forecasts how the web plays an ever-increasing role across the globe and will soon have many more tangible representations in the home, office and urban environment. Such a world, incorporating everything from 3D printing and website Dymo printing to energy-efficiency tracking, is known as the ‘internet of things’. This future is not too far away: Ziggy’s predictions are specifically within three years. Three years on the Internet is a long, long time.

Then there is the firm Kairos Future. Kairos, translated from Greek as “time for change” is working to help its clients adjust to change… in the mindset that in today’s rapidly changing business environment, companies must ‘evolve or die’. The self-coined term directing this: RAPLEX, which stands for rapidly changing, increasingly complex.

And predicting events that have not yet happened, you may have guessed, is very, very complex. Building on a six-step process of future analysis, future assessment, future strategy, future innovation, future branding and future capital, there is a reason that Kairos has a reputation in Sweden of identifying, tracking and building the world of tomorrow. By identifying and embracing the necessary flux between the self-discipline of immediate action and the necessary foresight to create the long-term perspective, Kairos lives three years ahead of the rest of us, at a minimum. Playing out scenarios and tracking macro-trends for multi-nationals ranging from Ericsson and Carlsberg to Craft and MTV, the views of larger corporations and even urban development agencies require longer-term views: up to a decade or more. When Kairos writes the date, it isn’t 2013. It’s 2023.

While the future is something that can never be guaranteed, the ability to create such predictions with any hope of accuracy requires the interaction of both a goal and a vision. Regarding goals, a company must be looking to improve their value, be effective in an ongoing manner, and improve various dimensions of efficiency. As for vision, the company must desire to create effectiveness, place a high value on innovation and embrace the dimension of renewal.

As Kairos was fond of reminding its American guests, ‘the world is flat, connected everywhere.’ Since a Swedish consulting firm is quoting a New York Times economist and advising United States firms on the world that we will soon enter, truer words may have never been said.