Our Future Horizons

Because of the tremendous speed of digitalisation in all industries, traditional market monitoring is not enough for reformation. Forecasting has to support innovation directly. This is why we developed a map of upcoming phenomena for the needs of Yle Beta.

On the map, we divided the phenomena according to the angle of the customer, content, business plan, and technology.

Our Future Horizons (English version coming up soon...)

The phenomenon map is at its most useful when studying the combined effects of various phenomena. The map is used in the form of a game. The instructions for the game can be found at the end of this article.

The Customer Angle

Submission

In a complex environment, it is completely rational to submit in most things since somebody else calls the shots. Future researcher Mika Mannermaa talked about simplism, the need to whittle down options. Submitting to be served by algorithms is simplism of the digital era. When the world seems to become ever more difficult to understand and control, active citizenship – participation and influencing things – can remain important to an ever-shrinking minority.

Submission is depicted in the “Rogue One” film of the Star Wars saga. When Jyn Erso is trying to fight off being recruited by rebels, she is asked whether she doesn’t mind seeing the Empire flags flying. She says: “It’s not a problem if you don’t look up.” (A quote from the film “Rogue One”.)

Adrenaline

Powerful experiences can pump up the body full of adrenaline. The demand for services providing an adrenaline rush is growing. In today’s escape rooms, we can test our problem-solving skills with a group of friends. But what kind of adrenaline rush services will we want in ten years?

Hedonism

The pursuit of pleasure is becoming more common and more socially accepted. People look for pleasure to counterbalance working life, and have more free time. There isn’t enough paid work for everyone and some people aren’t even actively looking for work. Hedonism will shape the way of life of ever more Finns in the future.

Cannabis

The use of cannabis is getting more common in Finland and the use or possession of it may not be punishable in 2020 anymore. According to the National Institute for Health and Welfare in Finland, the use of cannabis seems to double in each ten-year age cohort. The growing demand will create business opportunities (take a look at the discussion about cannabis start-ups as investments in the technology conference Collision).

International Courage

New generations grow in an international information environment and learn practical language skills playing online games and in other hobby networks. Translation technology supports operating even in a completely foreign language environment. The whole world is within our reach and an ever-growing number of people is taking advantage of it.

Money Making

The number of opportunities of making money increases when we operate in digital environments. By the means offered by online services, people can make a substantial extra income. Some people make a living by utilising their own online influence.

Post Truth

The means of indoctrinating and information influencing are becoming ever more sophisticated. By utilising digital modification, all kinds of statements can be made seem true. For example, videos of celebrities can be falsified just like that by using real-time video editing (check out the demo). How do we operate and who do we trust when we can’t basically believe anything we hear and see?

The Technology Angle

Virtual Reality

A 3D world that feels real and the users can enter by wearing virtual glasses and move around in as they wish. In addition, augmented reality and 360-degree picture.

This is a new way of creating content, throughout the whole chain from production to users. The first experiments have been conducted but the door is only starting to open.

Connectivity

Different ways of connecting individual devices, like computers and mobile devices, services, and local area networks to the global Internet. Devices and networks connected and interconnected with each other enable an unlimited number of new combinations, new functions, and new services at an unprecedented speed.

Context Consciousness

Technology is utilised in recognising the context of use of the user, in other words, the situation and the context where a certain thing occurs. It includes the environment, background, and circumstances that have an effect on the event. People are offered the right kind of content at the right time in the right place. Consumers feel like they are at the centre of the supply of services. The content has personal significance to them. It’s a new modern vision of linear broadcasting. All that is unnecessary has been screened out. The feedback of the user is collected in real time, automatically.

Intelligent Cars

Cars are connected to a network and have their own wireless network. The features of the car are updated and increased over the network. Autonomic cars drive themselves. The car is a part of the ecosystem of the user. The car produces data for traffic systems. The car becomes an entertainment environment. The continuity of content has to be protected when moving from one area and platform to another. The geographical coverage of wireless networks is important. In cars driving themselves, the driver becomes another passenger who will have time for other things instead of observing the traffic. How can we get involved in developing apps for cars?

Artificial Intelligence

Smart devices communicating with people in a natural language take care of routine tasks and a part of more demanding tasks, as well. The algorithm of artificial intelligence analyses and searches for information, making all the information in the world available for everyone. Algorithms can learn or be taught. People have the opportunity to utilise an infinite amount of knowledge. Routine jobs become fewer and people concentrate on creative work (or being idle). Knowledge is the human right of everyone. “Native device speakers” grow up with Digital Assistant from the day they are born.

Recognising Thoughts

Emotions can be measured. Devices can be managed by mere thoughts. The emotional world opens up to us by the means of brain sensors, facial expressions, the pulse, the conductivity of skin, or indirect actions like activity in social media, for example. Managing devices works like a thought, without a physically operated controller. Human emotions can be measured directly, without the conscious decision of the individual about what they want to tell others about their emotions.

Business Strategy Angle

Platform Economy

Platform economy includes business models that utilise the platforms being formed in different industries, and business models that create platforms for new industries. They offer network effects for several customer groups. The definition of “network effects” is that the users of the platform benefit from each other. The more users, the bigger the benefits for all users. Examples of this include Uber (passenger transport services), Airbnb (accommodation services) and YouTube (media and advertising). YouTube offers content providers opportunities of income through advertisements and orders, and offers advertisers opportunities of reaching the audience.

Social Age

“Social age” is a collective term describing phenomena that are created when people who don’t know each other from before share and gather together resources like time or money, for example. Social age phenomena include crowd funding where the creator of a convincing idea can collect the funding to make their idea happen, or peer-to-peer lending where private people lend each other money. Examples of this can be seen in the commerce-oriented newspaper “Kauppalehti”, among others. Banks are replaced by websites where investors and borrowers meet. The website or service platform is administered by a company that creates the framework for small-scale banking operations.

One-person Businesses

The pros of a one-person business include the independence of work, managing your time, and the fact that you can harness all your know-how for your own benefit. The freedom of being an entrepreneur may make it easier to balance work and other areas of life. Business owners can be knowledge work experts, experts in the fields of commerce and healthcare, as well as professionals in culture and arts and crafts. There are also self-employed people in the service sector, and the fields of construction, transport, and industry. Instead of work contracts, there is more work to be done as an entrepreneur or in an entrepreneur-like role when companies rely on outsourcing and subcontracting, divide production processes into parts, and commission projects.

Digital Security Business

The security business will grow if the trust of individuals and companies in the ability of the society to maintain security is crumbling away. In the future, more commercial service providers will likely be used to maintain an overall feeling of security of families and companies. (Check out the news about the growth forecast for data protection companies.)

The Content and Content Production Angle

Quality as Competitive Advantage

As global competition and supply keep growing, content has to stand out by the means of quality. High-quality content serves people better. High-quality Finnish content may have a demand outside of our borders, as well. When there are more payers for the production, Finns benefit from it.

Mysteries & Mysticism

Mysteries and mysticism always interest people like the new “Sherlock” these days, for example. What kind of mysteries will intrigue us in 2027?

User Influence

Users have more and more opportunities to influence the content and the story. Users can also produce content themselves, add to existing content, and create demand through profiles. There is a direct connection to storytelling, the story can change in real time, and there are game-like elements. In the world of VR, the viewer chooses the path the story follows.

Out-of-body Experiences

People break away from their bodies. Things are shown from a different perspective. For example, we can use VR glasses to see what the forest looks like from a wolf’s point of view and what life is like experienced by a wolf.

Shocking Openness

People share things about their lives that have never been shared before. Things that were kept in the family are now public. Publicity is used to bring personal visibility.

Real-time Events

Things happen here and now. Users can direct the story with their emotions. For example, the physical reactions of five million Finns can lead the story of an improvisational theatre piece.

Mixing the Real World with the Digital One

Added reality brings a new layer to storytelling.

Overlapping Layers of Storytelling

In the world of VR, the viewers decide what they focus on instead of the director. For example, the BBC uses magicians, conjurers, to gain understanding about how to focus the attention of the users where the company wants.

Blurring the Interface between Devices and People

Technology blends in with people, physically. Spectacles enhance a sense we already have. New technologies create new senses. What kind of content do we offer a cyborg?

Test Combined Effects by Telling Stories

Out of the phenomena described above, unpredictable combinations can be created. By playing with them, you can kick off the next brainstorming meeting to a flying start. Write down the phenomena on individual cards or on plastic balls just like in the picture. Give it a go.

On your own: Pick one phenomenon from three different categories of themes and, in addition, make up a fourth phenomenon yourself. Then, imagine a story about a future service including all the elements. Record all this on your phone. Repeat the exercise by combining different new phenomena to each other.

In a group: The first player selects three phenomena for the storyteller in turn, each of them under a different theme. The storyteller comes up with a fourth phenomenon to complete his or her story. The story is then videoed on the phone. After this, the storyteller picks three balls for the next storyteller, and so on. Each new phenomenon produced is written down on a new card or a ball.

If you give it a go, we would love to have your comments and experiences on the game shared as part of our twitter conversation (#ylebeta). Did it help you to break away from what you’re used to? Also let us know if you develop your own variation of the game.

The writers of this article work in forecasting and operational environment monitoring at Yle.