28 tips and predictions for the digital future

microsoft conference

Microsoft chief executive officer Satya Nadella led a big conference in London last month to look at what the future will bring us. Here are 28 ideas for 2015 to add to ‘the future is mobile’ and ‘the future is in the cloud’.

martin sorrell
Martin Sorrell, chief executive, WPP
The future of creativity

1. Demand is less than production. My customer, Ford, for example, can make 80m vehicles a year but can only sell a maximum of 60m.

2. Disintermediation. The web creates disrupters. The supply chain can be shorter. Prices for consumers can be lower.

3. For the past 20 years, retailers have been stronger than manufacturers. This has now flipped. Manufacturers are stronger.

4. As more and more people live in cities, proximity retailing becomes more important. Alibaba is a threat to all western business models.

5. Global is growing in importance. Local is growing in importance. Regional is being squeezed. Country managers are becoming more important.

6. Finance and procurement will continue to hold sway. They have been on top for 20 years and marketing has lost power. Big corporations are inherently conservative.

7. Government will be important both as regulator and stimulator of economies, as governments were from 1929 to 1940.

8. Sustainability. It used to be about greenwash. Today, it is at the heart of every company with which WPP deals. Doing good is a great way to build brands long-term.

9. Consolidation. In a low growth world (3%), a focus on costs rules. Consolidation is driven by a lack of room for further cost reduction. Firms such as 3G Capital, which owns Heinz, has excellent management and can take out cost. But firms such as pharmaceutical company Valiant have a short-term model that is worrying

sara murray
Sara Murray, founder, Buddi
Entrepreneurs

10. A successful company listens to its customers and makes regular improvements.

11. Consumers want a small number of good choices.

12. The entrepreneur’s biggest downfall is delegation – matching skills to the task. Being first is not enough.

bob geldof
Bob Geldof, philanthropist
Education

13. Only the educated are free.

14. We grope about in the now. The internet has so altered us. We live in an age of historic change but also uncertainty.

Mobile
ronan dunne
Ronan Dunne, chief executive officer, Telefonica UK

15. Worldwide, more people have access to a mobile phone than to water.

16. It is no longer a world of one-to-one connectivity but ‘me and my things, too’.

17. Mobile data is ubiquitous and inexpensive. People are always on.

18. Your business needs a digital strategy that includes mobile.

Technology
Satya Nadella
Satya Nadella, chief executive officer, Microsoft

19. The metaphor is mobile-first, cloud-first. What is important is not the mobility of the device but the experience.

20. Start-ups are the lifeblood of any economy. The barriers to entry are coming down. Anyone can dream of having a global impact.

21. Technology’s role in society is to empower people.

22. We focus on outcomes.

stella rimington
Stella Rimington, former head of the Security Service (MI5)
Leadership

23. The Security Service used to be about espionage and it prioritised certainty over speed. Now it is about terrorism, we have to prioritise speed over certainty. It requires a different style of leadership.

24. In the Security Service, you can’t use money to motivate your people. Your people have to keep what they do secret. You have to create a culture of satisfaction to motivate people.

25. The balance between freedom and security is a delicate line. Leaders need to take part in the debate. They need to show what they do is in the public interest.

paxman
Jeremy Paxman, journalist
Society

26. On the cult of the individual: We are social animals. We are not masters of our own destiny. Society makes the rules.

27. On politics: Parliament leaves people cold. But deciding how we live matters.

28. The greater the superabundance of information, the less any of it matters. Education should not be about information but about wisdom. Our children need to learn to think.

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As managing director of Newtrade Publishing Nick has over 20 years’ experience of covering retail markets, Nick helps shopkeepers and wholesalers of all sizes to think about what questions are important for themselves and their businesses, and to find answers that work in their shops.

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