Predictions and forecasts prepare us for change.
A decade ago, “futurism” was barely considered a real occupation. Futurists were likened to soothsayers, crystal ball gazers, and psychics. It was hardly a conventional way to earn a living–but not anymore. Futurism is a respected discipline, and futurists are playing an increasingly important role in industry and government. Universities are teaching courses in “future studies” and even offering full degree programs. The coursework covers how to use a number of predictive tools to make assumptions about the future.
Respect and Recognition
Futurism was legitimized when companies and marketing specialists.” “Futurists use a set of tools and techniques to assess risks and uncertainties,” explains Ken Hamik, futurist and vice president of marketing and strategy at Triple Aught in Berkeley, CA. “Futurists look at early indicators before anyone else. Their research helps make better decisions, which is an invaluable tool for money managers, securities analysts, and CEOs charting the direction of their companies.” organizations began hiring futurists–also known as “directors of future research” or “ideation specialists” or “
What are the qualifications? “Most futurists have some or all of the attributes of experienced renaissance managers who excel at strategic planning,” says Hamik. “They have analytical minds and study all the variables before making a decision. They consider the future to be as important as the present.”
Half of the hottest futurist jobs don’t even exist yet, according to Daniel Burrus, author of Technotrends and CEO of Burrus Research Associates. “We’re in the early stages of shifting gears into the e-society,” he says. “Virtually every part of an enterprise will be e-enabled, which includes connectivity, content, commerce, communication, collaboration, and community. Supply chain management, for example, will be taken to new levels.”
A host of new jobs will likely open up, including technical specialists, sales and marketing experts, and experienced managers to pull an organization together.
Bilingual (English and Spanish) candidates used to have the edge. That’s not going to be enough in the future. Hamik says you’re well positioned if you have multiple language skills. High on the list are English, Chinese, Spanish, and Portuguese. Knowledge of Japanese, German, French, and a few of Indian dialects wouldn’t hurt, either.
Authentic Crafts/Techniques Specialists
The faster we race into the future, the more historians and anthropologists want to know about the past. Not necessarily facts and data, but in how to create a product, machine, building, or farming technique. These specialists uncover drawings, blueprints, or primitive languages that describe how things were built in detail.
“When constructed, they are not replicas or simulations, but the actual objects,” says Hamik. Imagine building an authentic 18th-century stone house. Once the research is completed, software is written that precisely outlines the exact steps and dimensions for creating virtually anything from the past.
Biotechnology and Nanotechnology
The biotechnology field is going to explode, projects John L. Petersen, president of The Arlington Institute, a Virginia think tank specializing in the future. One of the hottest biotech areas is nanotechnology.
“It didn’t exist 15 years ago,” says Petersen, “but now it’s in its early stages and will be fully developed in two to three years.” Nanotechnology explores the fascinating world of atoms where things are measured in nanometers, a distance one-hundred-thousandth the width of human hair. “Sensors, lasers, and virtually all electronic devices will be extraordinarily small,” says Petersen.
Computer Security Experts
Annual global losses from computer break-ins are approximately $1.6 trillion, says Winn Schwartau, a computer security expert and author of Internet and Computer Ethics for Kids and Cybershock. Schwartau projects that government and industry face dangerous security problems over the next two years. In a good or bad economy, security professionals have little difficulty finding jobs. But the demand for security professionals, technicians, programmers, and network specialists will escalate to critical proportions if these positions aren’t filled. “Our national security is at stake,” warns Schwartau.
Knowledge transfer, data-mining, and data analysis will be taken to greater heights in a few years, predicts Watts Wacker, a futurist who heads FirstMatter in Westport, CT. “We’re only a couple of years away from the meta-database, which will produce a higher order of insight, making knowledge more accessible. This leads to faster and better decision-making and new jobs related to creating, developing, and managing these vast storages.”