CEO of FirstMatter, a company providing consulting, scenario and strategic planning and marketing research (With Ryan Matthews, futurist at FirstMatter)
As we see it, there are three driving business trends ahead for 2001. First, there is a pronounced trend toward an autocatalytic economy, meaning an economy that is running itself without too much of an assist or even a nod to traditional economic factors. As a result, continued economic growth is almost guaranteed, despite such factors as the vagaries of the November elections, the fervid imaginings of Wall Street day traders and so on.
The second major business trend surrounds branding and two branding-centric phenomena: the emergence of so-called megabrands and, in particular, the emergence of megabrands that either didn't exist until recently or were second- or third-class brands until recently. The driver of these related brand issues is clearly the Internet, which has the ability to create instant megabrands (at least in terms of service brands) almost overnight. What it once took an Amazon.com a year to do can be done by a Napster in a matter of months.
And, speaking of Napster, our third trend concerns the ongoing debate between those who favor no limits to Internet privacy and those who seek to create wealth out of intellectual property. We're just starting to see the whitecaps of a tsunami that threatens to drown the business world. Those whitecaps have come not just in the form of Napster, but in Amazon's public announcement of a new "privacy" policy that will allow it to sell its customer list. This battle won't be resolved in a day, but we're betting business fortunes will be won and lost depending on how agile one is in guessing the winner.
Founder and director of The Webby Awards, an annual Web site awards ceremony
Services and television: I think those are going to be two real growth areas. We're really going to start seeing integration of television and the Internet. It won't be sites just saying what the programming is; it'll be actual interactive experience.
[There will also be a] redistribution of weight and design from the actual Web site to the user, so the Web sites become more like blueprints. The users know how to use the Web now and they understand what they get out of it, and designers and developers are relying on the user's ability to use the Web. So it becomes more a blueprint for the users to create the Web site. Instead of something precreated, with the users clicking in, it's much more the users creating their experience.
I think people have heard about [the Web] a lot, and they're going to understand how it's changing the way they live. Service Web sites will grow and affect the way people live. Entertainment sites will be used more. People are going to know the people behind the Web a lot more, so that just as they're getting [Web browser] "Favorites," they're going to care more about the people that make those sites.
Author of Who Moved My Cheese? (Putnam)
What's changing is the speed of change. I see it accelerating. It sounds funny, but I think we'll look back on the year 2000 and think, Wasn't that a wonderfully, peacefully slow-moving year? I think the major challenge in the 21st century will be not only to adapt to change but to enjoy change and view it in such a way that it works to your advantage.
The other half of that coin is to keep things in balance and slow down a bit and ask ourselves, Is this change really necessary? I think the best managers [will] be those who quickly adapt to major changes and [who] balance that with thinking things through-realizing that all change is not good. Knowing when to change and when not to will call for good judgment, and those who have it will win in the 21st century.
Rieva Lesonsky, Janean Chun, Cynthia E. Griffin, Michelle Prather, Amanda C. Kooser, Nichole L. Torres and Peter Kooiman contributed to this article.