Archive: speaker

April 2nd, 2009 | By Glen Hiemstra | Posted in Business & Economy | 2 Comments

Economic Turn-Around Leads to Slow Recovery

Yesterday, on April 1, 2009, not as an April Fools Day gag but as a serious forecast I posted my Quarterly Forecast for 2009 Q2, titled “Economic Turn-Around Leads to Slow Recovery.” As far back as my 2009 annual Outlook article and video for 2009, I have run counter to the prevailing wisdom on the length of the current global recession, by suggesting that it will bottom out sooner than most expect, and that by year’s end we will be on the recovery.

Events of this very day, April 2, 2009 are already supporting this forecast, events such as the G-20 agreement, an increase in factory orders, and a recovering stock market.

At the same time, I encourage you to read the full article, or the press release that went out over PRWeb, because I explain how the situation is more complicated than a simple headline suggests.

A recovery will begin sooner than most experts thought because of three interrelated factors – a build up of available cash via increased savings and months of withdrawals from the equity markets, national and international economic stimulus efforts beginning just now to have an impact (which will grow over the next six months), and a growing understanding by investors, with available cash, that investing in new technologies and business models is the way forward. Check out a recent Business Week for an exploration of game changing ideas for business.

The downside, which I explain in the article, is that to say we will begin a recovery does not imply that we will snap back to some kind of old normal. On the other side of a turn-around is something new, a revised economy will take a long time to develop. To understand this, you must begin to grasp how the current deep economic recession is not caused by the financial crisis – rather the financial crisis is a symptom of deeper causes, which include disruptive trends in energy, technology, and global culture that have been building for decades, and converged in the global casino we have called the financial system. We can fix the financial mess, difficult though that may be, but the disruptive trends remain – ever more expensive energy and technology developments capable of disrupting traditional industries and global culture.

The bottom line in my Q2 2009 Forecast is this:

We have entered a new energy era, in which global economic growth is necessary to fix the debt problem, but the same growth will drive up energy prices, which will lead to a new bust, in a probable cycle of rinse and repeat for the near future.

In addition, Internet and wireless technologies have developed and spread globally to the point that their long-forecast disruptive effect on publishing, music, sales activities of all kinds, as well as organization structures, are now coming to a bifurcation point.

On the other side of this recession will emerge different ways of conducting business and pursuing economic development.

Read the full Forecast, here. Read the press release here, or at PRWeb.

While you are at it, check out this slide deck from a recent speech on the Future of Technology, receiving good viewership at SlideShare.

Glen Hiemstra is a futurist speaker, consultant, blogger, internet video host and founder of To arrange for a speech contact

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March 26th, 2009 | By Glen Hiemstra | Posted in Innovation | 6 Comments

What a Futurist Does

At his blog (take a look) Richard Leyland provides a very good summation of Black Swan theory, narrative fallacy, and complex systems. Just a thought to add, about “futurism” and futurists. There is a popular misconception by those outside this profession that the goal of a futurist must be to make some kind of accurate prediction of the future. People do love to hear about trends. But this does not actually describe how we approach trends and future predictions.

Because “black swans” (unpredictable events) do occur, we know that the future is not perfectly or even largely predictable. But professional futurists avoid the popular logical fallacy that seems to follow – if the future is not perfectly predictable, then it is not predictable at all, and thus there is no utility to looking at the future. I hear this all the time, and Richard’s article implies that it is best to ignore the future and concentrate on being flexible and agile, steering your organization moment by moment.

However, what a good futurist does, and what I do is this: we say, look, the future is more knowable than you think, though not perfectly predictable. For example, we know that, barring a “black swan event” like an asteroid strike or pandemic, the population over age 65 is going to more than double by 2025, until up to one-third of many national populations will be that old. For many people, this is a complete surprise, even though with just a tiny effort at examining the future it is quite obvious. It surprises people because they are told, over and over again, that the future is unpredictable (meaning not perfectly predictable) and thus there is no reason to look ahead. Instead, one should just adjust minute to minute to whatever happens.

In other words, I encourage people, and organizations, to learn what we can know about the future, while increasing our flexibility and agility to respond to the inevitable surprises that will occur no matter how skilled we are at seeing ahead. In the next decade, it is more than likely that the most important thing that happens – a war, a technology invention, a natural disaster – will “surprise” everyone when it happens. That is true. But, there are many things that are very likely to characterize the future playing field, that we can know, and we ought to make an effort to see what they are.

The most knowable future of all is the future you prefer. And you can decide now on actions that will point you in that direction, so long as you remember that the destination will change as you move toward it, and that at any moment a surprising event may occur that changes your direction altogether. This is not a problem, it is just how the world works.

Really good work, Richard. Check out his blog.

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March 26th, 2009 | By Glen Hiemstra | Posted in Science & Tech | 5 Comments

Future of Technology – Twitter and a webcast archive

Yesterday I enjoyed speaking to the Woods Creek Consulting Technology Executive roundtable group. My assignment as a futurist speaker was to share news of the leading edge of technology development. We also did a live webcast, which was announced here, a link that also takes you to the webcast archive and to the slide show as well.

What did I address? I literally looked at updates to technology trends that I have heard of only in this year. So, I used a video-heavy program to illustrate, nano-muscles, nano-energy, 6th sense IT, and Intrago future transportation systems. The most interest discussion focused on social network trends like Twitter – about what they suggest about the future of communication.

My twitter slide was headlined: “Twitter: The Next Big Thing, or Tipping Point to a Meaning-free Future.” Think about it. If you are following, or being followed by 500-5000 people at a Twitter account, as many now are, and if each of those followers “tweets” 5 times a day (many tweet more often than that), then you are supposedly going to scan between 1500 and 25,000 additional new messages each day. Even at just 140 characters per message, no one is going to do that. In addition, a majority of messages contain a link to a web-page being referred to, and thus you have thousands of webpages that you may also expect to review. There are filters and search tools to narrow that load, but my sense of Twitter at the moment is this: millions of “messages” being sent into the ether each day, but only a small percentage actually being read, or even noticed, by anyone. Is this communication? I don’t know. It is building an archive of links that I presume will be stored for a while, and as a new library it may be interesting.

On the other hand, as Twitter is supposed to be the most immediate of information tools, if one were to treat it only as a searchable but historical data base then it does not add much value to what we already have. As a data base of the immediate moment – who is saying what on what topic, right now, perhaps there is utility. Still, like the proverbial tree falling in a deserted wood, if millions of tweets are produced but few are read, do they make a sound?

The webcast was done by Tim Reha. You can access the webcast archive (clips) of this program here.

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March 25th, 2009 | By Glen Hiemstra | Posted in New at, Science & Tech | 2 Comments

Live Webcast: Future Trends in Technology

At 4:00 PM Pacific time (U.S.) I will be presenting a program on interesting future technology for a Technology Executive Roundtable, coordinated by Nancy Truitt Pierce and her company, Woods Creek Consulting,

You can tune into the Webcast in the viewer here, or by linking to our “futurist” channel at the webcast host, UsStream TV.

Webcast begins at 4:00 PM Pacific Daylight Time.

The program slide deck is now available at slide share. The program is video-intensive, and sorry that you cannot see the videos in the slide program here.

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March 24th, 2009 | By Glen Hiemstra | Posted in Business & Economy | 4 Comments

How Long Will the Recession Last?

A topic on everyone’s mind is how long the current recession will last? That this recession is steeper and deeper than any since the early 1980’s, and it looks now like any since the Depression, is becoming fact. But when do we turn around?

I have been addressing this question and the economic meltdown for some time, here, and in my Outlook 2009. Recently I discussed the question with media futurist Gerd Leonhard in a video we produced for our ongoing series,

Gerd, based in Europe, believes as of now that we have a long way to go before a recovery begins. I argue in the video, as I have here at, that a turn-around is coming sooner. The amplifying effect of the 24-hour news cycle and mostly the Internet has had several effects – exaggerating our sense of what is happening, and speeding up the down cycle. This amplifying effect will work on the up cycle as well, and while this is not the only factor, it is one of the factors that will lead us to turn-around by year’s end. A turn-around does not mean we have recovered, but that the bottom has been reached and a recovery has begun.

Now, what comes out the other end is not the same economy as we had prior to this recession. Gerd makes the case in the video that the recession is partly the culmination of several disruptive changes, the Internet chief among them, now deeply impacting business models. On the other side of this recession is a changed set of business rules, and a new cultural outlook. Watch our conversation, recorded via Skype video, below.

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