The technology-enabled world is a better engine for thinking together, connecting ideas and people - as well as, in turns out, leading change in economic development, which is where all this knowledge can do a lot of good.
The Institute for the Future conducted a study on the model of self-contained research parks and incubators that dominated the last fifty years of technology-based economic development. Based on fourteen emerging trends that will set the context for this kind of development, it found three 2030 scenarios. [quoting from the report]
1. Economy and society both will be affected by:
- the group economy - new technologies of cooperation will elevate the economic importance of
small groups in elation to corporations and individual consumers. This will transform entire industries and collaborative space - and coworking.
- going from free markets to stimulus capitalism - governments at the forefront of funding basic science and technology research and constraining big new development projects.
- the rise of ecological economics - the measurement of the economic value of ecological processes will be increasingly important.
2. Science and technology will see evolving:
- biology by design - letting us read and write nature’s “source code” at will.
- spread of ubiquitous computing - massive new streams of research data, while simultaneously providing new tools for scientific collaboration in the lab.
- shift from artificial intelligence to hybrid sensemaking - social networks where people and
computers work together to make sense of data.
- new scientists - transform the practice of science by forging transdisciplinary fields, multi-sector careers and bring cultural influences to bear.
- science institutions will be transformed as collaborative, open and online models for collaboration and knowledge sharing break through obsolete barriers.
3. Models and places for R&D:
- new global map of science is emerging - smaller countries are playing an increasingly important role, challenging the Western superpowers’ centuries-long dominance.
- New models of lightweight innovation seek to do more, faster with less, and cast a broader net for ideas.
- Universities will continue their transformation from ivory tower to economic engine and play a greatly expanded role in economic development – in time, it could become their primary functions, trumping education.
- Economic development practice will shift from trying to copy the success of others to
building sticky know-how – tacit knowledge that builds on local cultural and industrial resources, and isn’t mobile.
- Greater attention to the social life of small research spaces will create dynamic, transdisciplinary places that bring virtual networks to ground.
- Regional knowledge ecosystems will emerge as a new strategic frame, providing scale, efficiency and global platforms for economic development.
The report goes on to talk about impacts and scenarios. I am particularly interested in the idea of the rise of research clouds, or disruptive competition from the outside.
Here I am thinking that the whole "presence", "life streaming", "work streaming", "post-a-lot" stuff could actually be harnessed and organized deliberately not just as a cool tool to do more streaming of content or squeezing more funds out of customers, but an instrument of scientific collaboration that can harness knowledge to benefit economic - and human - development.
Moving from products to services
Potential new models are more likely to be built on venture investments (venture caps are the ultimate brokers of tacit knowledge in technology-based economies), knowledge brokering and event management.
The overall shift will continue to evolve rapidly from products (buildings, sites, infrastructure) to services (research “hotels”, incubation, technology transfer, knowledge commons).
What skills will be in demand?
Leadership for the "long now" needs to be designed from the beginning and coordinated over the years to be sustainable.
We'll go from managing dirt to managing activity. This is not just a redesign of boundaries, but also of intent or planning for chance. Value creation can happen only with trusted relationships.
Re-assessing assessment tools - it's long been my belief that if you're measuring the wrong thing or wrong degrees of variance, you're off by a long shot. Today we measure what happens inside organizations. Tomorrow, we'll need to measure what happens between them.
Developing brands - Because regional knowledge ecosystems will grow increasingly complex and multi-institutional, brands will become more important, not only in marketing to outsiders but in describing just what people and organizations are doing and inspiring them to new achievements.
Regional (and global) knowledge ecosystems are a brilliant example of taking the "velvet rope social network"* to the next level. To me the value in tools and content is in what happens next. Will specialized social networks become the processes that enable creation? That's where the real value - and performance - are.
Where would you take this conversation? What insights, and thoughts did you have from the IFTF research? Is this where is business development will get an injection of truly innovative and new executions, not just new kinds/flavors, of the same thing?
* Brilliant term coined by Chris Brogan. More with Chris tomorrow.