Perspectives on the Future

Crystal ballYogi Bera commented: “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future”. Bera seems to have borrowed it from a similar quote attributed to the physicist Niels Bohr, but some identify the Danish poet Piet Hein, and others.

This difficulty hasn’t stopped some from making thoughtful guesses of what’s ahead. Here are a few related to our enquiry.

Frank Stasiowski, in his 2010 Impact 2020: Predictions for the Next 10 Years of the Design Industry, sees 10 “earthquakes” rocking the design professions. Here are his conclusions, with my own commentary:

  1. “No more employees” – meaning that most design firms will no longer have stable workforces, but will rely on a range of temporary employment modes to staff projects.
  2. “No more drawings” – meaning that design and documentation will go directly from computers and iPads to bidding, fabrication and construction without needing a paper version.
  3. “Licensing irrelevance” – meaning that design will produced by many people in many places, and no one person can be assumed to be responsible for the outcome. This prediction has significant consequences in the DesignNode conclusions, and will generate massive rethinking as everybody in the game starts scrambling for certainty.
  4. “Geographic irrelevance”  – meaning that the location of your office relative to your clients will no longer matter. There will be exceptions, of course, but video teleconferencing has already replaced the need for most face-to-face meetings.
  5. “Explosion in training” – the only way for design professionals to stay abreast of their rapidly changing environment.
  6. “Acceleration in the speed of delivery” – Yes, “faster, better, cheaper” is here to stay. Get used to it.
  7. Global brands … Local delivery” – meaning that design firms will have to figure out how to project their value and their difference far beyond their physical location.
  8. Text as THE business tool – meaning that text messaging will replace email as the primary communication method.
  9. Death of the medium-sized firm – needs no further explanation.
  10. Death of the “old” business model of professional practice – meaning that almost all of the ways we traditionally understand a design business will no longer be valid. In other words – we’ll have to “rethink everything”.

This page isn’t finished, and will be expanded to include other thinkers on the future.

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