Keynote: The Future of Technology in Aged Care


Last week I gave a keynote speech on The Future of Technology in Aged Care at the Aged Care Association Annual Congress. In this case I wanted to take the audience on a big-picture journey into where aged care is going, which went down very well between the many high-detail presentations at the conference.

I was invited as a general futurist, though I have in fact written and being interviewed on the topic of aged care frequently before, particularly on the role of robots in aged care, including in a feature article in Newsday.

Below is a brief snapshot of five key facets of how technology will transform aged care.

1. Telemedicine

Health care is being transformed by connectivity. This ranges from simple applications such as monitoring medical data through to remote surgery, bringing the skills of the best doctors anywhere in the world. Accenture’s Online Medicine Cabinet is an example of how patients and the elderly can have their health monitored from home, and their medications managed effectively. Now robots such as the one in the video above can visit patients or do rounds in the ward, linking them directly by video to doctors or nurses.

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Extinction analysis and extending the hype cycle


Nick Gall of Gartner writes about our Extinction Timeline, saying (in jest I presume), referring to Gartner’s famed hype cycle:

I think we should enter negotiations with the author, Ross Dawson, for adding extinction analysis to hype cycles immediately!

Extinction Timeline: what will disappear from our lives before 2050

As it happens, in the wake of the enormous success of the Extinction Timeline, including being featured on Slashdot, Slate, Boston Globe, and other publications across the globe, I’ve been thinking about doing a series of features on the death and subsequent rebirth of some what we have pegged for extinction – there is sometimes life beyond extinction! Thus the cycle may get extended several phases further…

Financial transparency drives business results


When solo developer Peldi Guilizzoni launched web design mock-up tool Balsamiq in July, he promised to disclose his revenues, reports ReadWriteWeb.

He has just announced he has hit $100,000 in revenue in the last five months, with revenue on a very significant uptrend.

I am a big believer in business transparency, absolutely for public companies, and also in many cases for private companies. Transparency is one of the Seven MegaTrends of professional services I described in 2005, one of the Six Facets of the future of PR, central to investor relations, while the naked start-up is becoming more common.

Clearly Guilizzoni is going to make a lot more money because of his financial transparency, given the attention it’s attracting.

Secrecy has its place in business, but it is highly over-rated. In most cases there is no valid reason not to share information, just a disinclination to give away things. We are going to see transparent models increasingly favored moving forward. Certainly I find the reporting and accounts of many public companies to be extraordinarily opaque, giving little insight into the real drivers of business performance (a case in point being most non-US media companies). The most significant result is that investors shy away and shareholder value is lost.

Open book management’ is not a new idea, but the majority of companies are slow to shift on this front. I’m toying with the idea of a business model which includes publishing all company accounts on the web – hopefully this will be becoming more common by the time I get to this.

Keynote for Optus Business: Five Driving Forces of Connected Business


I have just completed delivering keynotes in six cities as part of a national roadshow for Optus Business. Optus’ annual client event, this year titled Beyond 08, was a morning event for its clients and prospects in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide and Canberra. The sessions began with my keynote on Surviving and Thriving in a Connected World, followed by Optus executives presenting insight and client case studies on mobility and IP convergence. Each event included an exhibition featuring Alphawest, the ITC services firm Optus acquired three years ago, and a broad array of Optus Business delivery partner organizations.

Rather than try to run through my entire keynote presentation here, I thought it would be useful to include the key content from just one of the five sections, on the Driving Forces that are transforming a connected world. The rest of the keynote describes in detail what connected business looks like, winning strategies for organizations in a connected economy, and finally the action that needs to be taken to succeed.

The five driving forces of Connected Business are:

1. Connectivity

Increasing connectivity is an overwhelming force, shaping society and business. We have come a long way since the first mobile phones that weighed less than a brick in the early 1990s and the birth of the graphic web browser in 1993. As we shift to pervasive connectivity, giving us access to all the people and information resources of humanity wherever we go, entirely new possibilities are emerging on who we are and how we live our lives. As messages flow rapidly between us, the people on the planet are becoming connected as tightly as the neurons in our brains, giving rise to an extraordinary global brain in which we are all participating.

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The past, present, and future of location-based mobile social networking


I have long believed that location-based mobile social networking is central to how technology will connect us. The advent of next generation phones including the iPhone combined with people’s familiarity and engagement with social networks means that the space is – finally – ready to take off. Here is a very quick review of the past, present, and future of the space.

The Past

The original location-based social networking application was proximity dating, which I wrote about in chapter 2 of my book Living Networks in 2002, in describing some of the many ways that networks bring people together:

In mobile-mad Japan, “proximity dating” has had a big success. As in Internet dating, you complete a profile of both yourself and your desired partner. Instead of suggesting people to exchange e-mails with, the service rings you on your cell phone to let you know that someone with a matching profile is within a few hundred yards of you, and allows you to arrange to meet them. Since high bandwidth mobile technology is now available in Japan, the system can also allow you to see each other on your mobile videophone before you meet.
[Download Chapter 2 of Living Networks]

People were very interested in the idea, and I got a lot of media coverage at the time for my thoughts on where this was going. There were a variety of technologies and platforms available for location-based social networking in the early days, however the major constraint was that very few phones had GPS, so the location of each phone had to be determined by cell tower triangulation, giving an accuracy often not better than one kilometre. One early example of location-based social networking at the time was from Swisscom, in which people could engage in anonymous chat, with indicators of both the numbers of degrees of separation from their counterpart in their phone books, and the approximate distance between them (from low to high).

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SkillsOneTV: Ross Dawson on the future of work


SkillsOne is the TV channel of the Institute for Trade Skills Excellence, providing video programming both on cable TV and online to promote the development of trade skills. Last May it

won the Webby award for the best association website.

Shortly after SkillsOne was founded last year I was interviewed by the channel on the future of work. The full interview was run on the cable programming, while two 3 minute excerpts from the interview are provided online. Part 1 of the interview is below – I’ll post Part 2 a little later.

A quick summary of the key points I made in this segment:

Two questions when you are considering a trade or profession:

* Is it possible that computers or machines will be able to do this?

* Is it possible that someone working overseas will be able to do this for clients here?

In a global connected economy we must become more and more specialized, otherwise our work become commoditized. However specialists must collaborate closely with others in order to create value.

Now a major trend: Information visualization for everyone


New York Times has a nice article on the collaborative information visualization tool Many Eyes. I wrote about Many Eyes in a post titled the magic of data visualization for everyone when the site was originally launched in January 2007. My post began:

Every day I am amazed afresh by the transformative power of the Web. Today I have discovered Many Eyes, a site hosted by IBM’s AlphaWorks. It combines open participation with a wonderful set of visualization tools. As such anyone can upload data sets, and then create sophisticated visual representations of those data sets, including scatterplots, tree maps, histograms, bubble diagrams, network maps and far more. Anyone can then either reuse the data sets, create new visualizations, add comments, or blog about the visualizations.

The basic functionality of the site hasn’t changed much since the launch, though it’s great to see not only that it’s being used extensively, but also getting significant attention and being used in new and unexpected ways.


Want to make sense of the latest political speech? Use the Wordle visualization tool on Many Eyes to pull out the themes, as in the representation above of Sarah Palin’s self-introduction as McCain’s running mate.

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What marketing executives think about your privacy


An article in Forbes titled What Privacy Policy? quotes data from a study by the Ponemon Institute, summarized below.


What it shows is distinctly fairly different attitudes and perception from privacy and security executives at large organizations, compared to those of marketing executives.

At the Future of Media Summit 2008 held in mid-July in Silicon Valley and Sydney we’ll be looking at the future of privacy and targeted advertising. Broad behavioral advertising requires either dominant players that have the breadth of relationships that they can serve relevant advertising to many viewers wherever they go on the Internet, or sharing of detailed information and profiles between market participants.

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Thinking about the future of museums: fourteen key issues


Today I participated in a Future Directions Forum at Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum, which after 20 years in its current location is looking to the future.

To provide some context, the Powerhouse is specifically branded as a science and design museum, implicitly being about technology and it’s impact on people’s lives. It’s worth looking at the excellent online resources section of the Powerhouse Museum website, which provides value to many people who never visit the museum. I’ve previously written abouut the very interesting Web 2.0-style initiatives of the Museum (and listed them in the Top Australian Web 2.0 applications), which among other features enables user tagging of the museum’s collection. In a number of cases visitors to the website have corrected or provided more detailed information on the museum’s collection, exemplifying how to tap collective wisdom.

The session raised many interesting questions and thoughts for me. I haven’t been significantly involved with museums in the past, and was struck by many of the issues raised. The points below represent my perspectives as well as reflections on issues raised by people at forum. While the issues below were raised in the context of museums in areas like science, technology, and design, I think they apply across most kinds of museum.

Below are fourteen key issues in the future of museums.

What is a museum?

On the face of it, a museum records and makes accessible artefacts the past that have cultural value. The curatorial process is one of showing people things that enrich them. Museums need to have a clear idea of why they exist. In most cases (in addition to any financial imperatives) the objective is to benefit society, by educating and creating culturally richer and more well-rounded members of society.

Entertainment vs. education and onto experience.

Entertainment and education are quite different intents, but they can be integrated to achieve both aims. Certainly the demand from younger people has shifted strongly to only paying attention if content is truly entertaining. Beyond that, museums are fundamentally about providing experiences. People will seek engaging and powerful experiences, and if museums can provide them, their can fulfil their roles.

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Will libraries disappear in 2019?


Slate magazine has published a very nice slideshow titled “Borrowed Time” about the past and future of libraries. On the final slide it refers to the Extinction Timeline created by What’s Next and Future Exploration Network, where we had put 2019 for the extinction of libraries. Slate writes:

Ross Dawson, a business consultant who tracks different customs, devices, and institutions on what he calls an Extinction Timeline, predicts that libraries will disappear in 2019. He’s probably right as far as the function of the library as a civic monument, or as a public repository for books, is concerned. On the other hand, in its mutating role as urban hangout, meeting place, and arbiter of information, the public library seems far from spent. This has less to do with the digital world—or the digital word—than with the age-old need for human contact.

Absolutely we are shifting into a world where experiences and physical interactions are becoming more important than ever. For example, shopping in shops will never disappear. We will create new spaces where we can meet and interact. We are yet to see whether the spaces where people spend their time are those based around books and collected information.