Are You Really a Futurist if You Predict a Future That’s Already Here?

I found a recent article over on SupplyChainBrain on Five Fearless Visions of the Future very entertaining, and not just because I found a few of the predictions to be out of left field, but because some were not really predictions at all … as the predictions were simply describing the current state of affairs.

Consider the following:

  • The cloud is upon us.
    The “cloud” has been hovering over us for a few years now. There’s been a strong movement to SaaS for the last five years. When even companies like Ariba buy SaaS players and start converting all their legacy systems to SaaS, you know its time has come.
  • Companies that blindly outsourced their manufacturing to Asia will start bringing some of that capability back to the U.S.
    Already happening. I’ve been reading articles all year about companies that are pulling manufacturing back to North America, and not just Mexico. Area Development had a good article back in January. Yes, there are still more companies on the outsourcing bandwagon than off it, but it’s already started. Outsourcing will continue, but not for items with high shipment costs or low production costs where it makes more sense to produce them locally. Also, we’ll start to see more service outsourcing. With goods, you have to deal with ever-increasing shipment costs, but with services, it’s just the cost of the pipe that carries the bandwidth.
  • We are in the midst of a transition to electronic software delivery.
    This was my favourite as you’d pretty much have to be Rip Van Winkle to come up with this one. When was the last time you bought software that came in a box? That wasn’t out-dated the minute the CD was burnt? If this were 2000, it would almost be timely. But this is 2010!

When you get right down to it, the only good prediction that wasn’t either already happen or mostly obvious to anyone knee-deep in supply chain was Jim Miller’s (of Google) prediction that Fifteen years from now, the world will realize that China is not the juggernaut that we make [it] out to be. The nation faces a number of systemic problems, including the prospect of the mother of all real estate bubbles. Here, here! They won’t be #1 GDP for another 2 decades, and then they’re going to have to face all the problems the US has faced since WWII. They’ll always be a major player, but they won’t be the only one.

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