IFTF + You
Technology Horizons Program
IFTF's Technology Horizons combines a deep understanding of technology and societal forces to identify and evaluate discontinuities and innovations in the next three to ten years. We help organizations develop insights and strategic tools to better position themselves for the future. Our approach to technology forecasting is unique—we put people at the center of our forecasts. Understanding humans as consumers, workers, householders, and community members allows IFTF to help companies look beyond technical feasibility to identify the value in new technologies, forecast adoption and diffusion patterns, and discover new market opportunities and threats.
2016 RESEARCH: AN OVERVIEW
When Everything is Media: The Future of Communication and Technology
In the 1960s, Paul Baran, one of the founders of the Institute for the Future, envisioned a move from centralized communications to a distributed system, where nodes would automatically route packets of information to final destinations distributed across the globe—a network architecture, that over the last several decades, has formed the backbone for today’s Internet and the emerging Internet of Things. This move from centralized to distributed systems is transforming institutions, economies, and how we coordinate to get things done.
Looking out to 2026, we can see the outlines of a transformation in communications that will be equally profound: Where we will be marketing to machines, receiving messages from our bodies, and reinventing how we communicate, collaborate, persuade and build relationships in a hyperconnected and distributed world where everything is becoming media. In 2016, Institute for the Future’s Technology Horizons program will map this transformation and highlight the emerging technologies and strategies we’ll use to amplify and connect with the world around us and to each other.
From always-on smartphones to networked teddy bears to digital interfaces integrated into our own bodies, we are becoming immersed in a cloud of communications. Over the next decade, the ways we collaborate, connect, and communicate will multiply and decouple from the limits of place, time, and even language. Fragmentation will accelerate as we struggle to communicate meaningful data in glanceable forms, amidst constant competition for our time and attention. Meanwhile, collaboration has never been more important as we’re increasingly called to work across generations, geographies, scales, and even with bots and machines.
Join Institute for the Future’s Technology Horizons program as we embark on a year-long exploration of the tools, interfaces and technologies that will bring coherence and precision to the ways we use media and share information and knowledge across seven strategic activities in communication:
PRODUCTIVITY | How we get things done and optimize systems
PERSUASION | How we motivate and shape individual or collective behavior change
ENGAGEMENT | How we harness participation and attention
COLLABORATION | How we innovate and generate value
INTIMACY | How we enhance physical or emotional connection
EMPATHY | How we experience and see the world through other people’s eyes
CONTROL | How we secure our identities and privacy in an interconnected and transparent world
WINTER 2016 | REGIONAL EXPERT WORKSHOPS
We’ll start the year by hosting a series of workshops with communications experts and technologists in San Francisco, New York, and London. Designed to engage some of the leading thinkers—and makers—of new media and communication, these sessions will give sponsors opportunities to meet the innovators making the future of communications and share early insights and take-aways.
SPRING 2016 | FUTURE OF COMMUNICATIONS AND TECHNOLOGY
At our Spring Map of the Decade conference, we will share our Map of the Decade exploring the future of communication and technology. Designed as a research exchange and working session, you’ll get to meet some of the technologists and media makers who are defining the new communications landscape. You’ll leave with new connections to early innovators, a visual executive summary—in the form of our map of the decade—and a set of rich, annotated slide decks that you can use to share key innovations and insights with colleagues.
SUMMER 2016 | FORECASTS
Machines as the New Consumer Class
The communications landscape is not simply being transformed by new ways that we create connections with each other, but by the rise of interconnected machines that can negotiate transactions and exchanges of energy and information, move markets, make purchases and even navigate physical spaces. To explore this landscape, IFTF will produce a forecast report highlighting the technologies of communicating machines as well as a set of Alternative Future Scenarios depicting how a world of communicating machines will reshape our world.
Machines as Managers: Software Defined Organizations
In recent years, algorithms have begun to define or influence virtually every domain of business from how we market products to how we manage people. At the edges of these efforts, we’re seeing the emergence of an entirely new kind of enterprise level innovation: software that can organize and manage entire organizations. To make sense of this frontier, we will produce a forecast report highlighting the possibilities of Software Defined Organizations as well as the communications and work flow implications of this future.
FALL 2016 | RESEARCH IMMERSION & INSIGHT RETREAT
During the fall, we will reconvene in Palo Alto for a research immersion and insight retreat, where IFTF will synthesize and share research from across the year’s activities. At the retreat, you’ll have the opportunity to focus on future proofing your organizational strategies to meet one of three critical goals:
- expanding market reach,
- creating new tools for collaboration and work, or
- amplifying product and communications design in a world where everything is media.
Designed to immerse you in the emerging technologies shaping the future of communications, the retreat will feature engaging and collaborative processes to enable you to distill critical insights and roadmap how you and your organization can thrive in this new landscape.