Sunday, November 6, 2016

Understanding the societal impact of Blockchain

I'm not saying I understand Blockchain as such, at least not how it works. But what I do understand is the societal impact of Blockchain. It has the power to disrupt plenty of industries, for sure. Banks, insurance, government, lawyers, to name just a few.

But even better, the technology has the power to democratise wealth creation and increase shared prosperity! Listen to Don Tapscott explaining how this can be:



Monday, July 11, 2016

Are China's megacities getting out of hand?

The rise of China's megacities is just astonishing... and frightening. The general wisdom suggests that cities are the most sustainable way of living together, but one has to wonder if this is the case in a city of 130M people!



Thursday, April 28, 2016

What the fourth industrial revolution is really about...

Hint: it's not about industry, it's not about transport, it's not even about energy.

At least, it's not only about these things... it's about virtually everything: our economic system, our health, our future as human species. This video from the World Economic Forum sums up pretty much everything that the 4th industrial revolution is about, but also the broader picture: what it means for humanity.

Most of the trends discussed are on our watch-list as well, though there's some that we don't see in the video, although in our eyes they have a role to play in the revolution. Think of companies as a platform, social entrepreneurship (something dear to Charles Schwab, founder of the WEF), the power of biomimicry, etc. Also not discussed, though important to investigate: what exactly os the role of government in this evolution? From the signs we see, governments are rather a break than a stimulator of new, far stretching evolutions. It's not necessarily a bad thing neither, but something essential to take into account of you want to know where (and how fast) this revolution will bring us.

Nevertheless, an essential 11 minutes for everyone thinking about the future!




(click here for the original full article of the World Economic Forum)
(want to discuss these, and many other, trends with your colleagues? Make use of our inspiring Megatrend fact sheets! click here for more info)

Monday, March 7, 2016

Where will the jobs of the future come from?

Going through the predictions about the ‘jobs of the future’ from a number of sources, I found some interesting conclusions.

I have made a personal selection from all the ideas –especially from the list of Thomas Frey, which contains 162 items, but the list I use is still representative of the line of thinking of these futurists. Additionally, I put them on a graphic with the timeframe at which these jobs could emerge (my own judgment), the likeliness of these jobs to emerge (my own judgment) and the impact they might have in terms of job creation (my own judgment):



Okay, this is not a scientific study. On the other hand I had no preliminary motive or message when starting this exercise, so it has at least a flavor of neutrality. 

But what are the conclusions?

First conclusion: many futurists put forward jobs that can be categorized as ‘developer jobs’ (in red in the chart). Gamification developers, digital architects, avatar designers and managers, one could argue that these jobs in a way exist already. Or at least they are within the scope of what can easily be imagined for the near future. No need for futurists here…

The second set of jobs has to do with drones (in orange in the chart). Each day I am amazed at what drones are used for (beside military applications). If regulation (and security) permit, we could see a vast array of new, innovative applications for drones. Good thing is that (for now) you’d still need humans to pilot them, so the potential job creation factor is substantial.

The third group of jobs is straightforward as well, and is a direct result of the ageing population. I grouped different names into two: end-of-life therapists and elderly well-being consultants in a way exist already, but no doubt this group will grow in the future (and will see new specializations in them).

Where things start to get both interesting and speculative, is with job that have to do with medical developments (blue and light blue), as well as jobs that result from sustainability and climate change challenges (green). ‘Vertical farmer’ is likely to become a very popular job in tomorrow’s megacities, but what about extinction revivalists? Shall we really start dinosaur farms in the future?

Happy to hear your view in order to refine this chart in the future!

This study about the jobs of the future is one of the 65 megatrends included in the Megatrend Fact Sheets pack. 1 slide per megatrend, this pack offers a very useful way to discuss these trends with your colleagues and get to new, innovative ideas for your business. Click here to order your copy!

(PS the sources to build this list came from Rediff.com, Brandwatch.com, Mashable.com, University of Kent and futurist Thomas Frey).

Friday, February 19, 2016

What if the world was fully automated...

It's a relevant question, since scientists now predict that 50% of (current) jobs will be automated in 30 years from now -not even that far...

Of course, many new jobs will be created in the meantime (more on this in the next post). There is a much need to panic for our collective future as there was seeing the first steam engine -many did see the ned of the future in it. However, as with all periods of great (in this case perhaps huge) transition, it will impact great parts of society in a negative way. It is likely that robotics and artificial intelligence will move up the societal ladder in their job destruction path, increasing the gap between rich and poor, between the 'have's end the have not's'.

If governments still want to be relevant in the coming decades, they will need to find an answer to this challenge as well...

Sunday, February 14, 2016

The best source for innovation meetings: 65 megatrend fact sheets 2016 is now available!

Are you looking for refreshing ideas an insights for your planning or innovation session? Get the most out of your session by using i4fi's updated Megatrend Fact Sheets!

These fact sheets can be used as a briefing document prior to your session, or at the start of the session as an eye-opener. Sometimes these fact sheets are hung all across the room of a brainstorm session, to provide the participants with fresh ideas and insights!

But the vital thing for this to be successful is to keep the fact sheets digestible for everyone. After all they are meant to stimulate ideas, not to be academic papers. This is why we've kept the fact sheets simple and light!

In the 2016 version we endeavoured to maximise the impact of each fact sheet:
  • 1 revealing charts or tables explaining the trend. Chart come from established sources and are referenced in the notes of the slide;
  • 'Key Fact': a short, mind-opening description of the trend en/or its impact;
  • Assessment of the major industries impacted by the trend as well as the timeline impact, in a comprehensive heat map;
  • Notes with access to +300 sources (reports, articles, infographics) saving you hours of research! Over 90% of the sources date from after 2012!
  • Button for easy navigation to and from the fact sheets and the main menu (works only in presentation mode)



This document will save you hours of research time, and will help you to:
  • prepare your team for long-term planning sessions;
  • understand the long-term challenges for your business and industry;
  • discover new opportunities and innovative ideas;
  • engage in meaningful discussions with your clients and partners.
List of 65 megatrends covered in the 2016 version:




Major changes of the 2016 version:
  • lighter, more comprehensive 'look & feel' of each sheet;
  • 6 megatrends added in comparison to 2015 version;
  • Refreshed sources and charts;
  • Neutral (logo-free) sheets and colours. 
ADDITIONAL FEATURE: Heat maps with the impact of trends (by type) on 15 industries!





Buy the full 2016 updated document now in order to save hours of research and get fresh insights for your planning or innovation session! 
You pay only 299$ for over at least 80 hours of research!


Pricing options
Delivery by e-mail within 3 business days! Don't forget to mention your e-mail address in your order.
An official invoice will be sent together with the document.
The purchased document is exclusively for internal use by the acquiring company.

Get some sample fact sheets here:


Wednesday, December 23, 2015

5 reasons why our future is made of algae

You might know that eating algae is good for your health (it cleans your gut, to name just one), is used in cosmetics and medicines and can serve as biofuel. But recently we’ve found even more evidence of the fact that algae will shape our daily life in the near future:
  • Designers started using algae in furniture, with the combined benefit of producing (naturel) light and producing healthy food at the same time… feels like an ‘all in one’ deal! (read the article here)
  • Very recently scientists succeeded to convert algae into crude oil in just one hour (instead of millions). Additionally, the by-product of this process, phosphorus, can serve to grow more algae! A circular economy in practice! (read the article here)
  • Talking of oil, algae have long been seen as a potential material to produce plastic, hence eliminating the need for crude oil to produce plastics… until recently this was perceived a possible in a distant future, but a recent method to genetically modify algae could do the trick in the very short future (read the article here)
  • Probably the most remarkable (and promising) application of this: you can use algae to produce edible water bottles (read here)
  • Last but not least, algae can be used to just soak CO2 out of the air and use it as a bioreactor. This is actually being done already above a highway in Geneva… (read here)

 ...so what are we waiting for? Let's build an algae farm right now!









Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Adapt or die... how companies (should) deal with digital disruption

There are plenty of articles and studies about how digital disruption is affecting If you only look at Artificial Intelligence and Big Data, the Singularity University recently concluded that Health Care, Banking and Insurance are at the verge of a major shift. But then, one might argue about what exactly is meant by digital disruption.

The report “Building your digital DNA, Digitaltransformation in progress” offers a great overview of the industries that will be most impacted by digital transformation, and the timeframe with which they will so:




You can argue about the exact position of the industries on the chart – I for one would give healthcare and government a place more to the upper left of the spectrum – but the importance of this graphic is the relative positioning of the industries.

The report gives a great number of case studies of companies adapting and preparing to this shift. But more importantly, through these case studies the authors have been able to distill four ‘types’ of digital businesses:



Most companies will recognize themselves in the ‘centralized’ and  ‘champions’ model, though the fully prepared companies will behave like the ‘business as usual’ (BAU) model, where “business is flexible and responsive to change at all levels” and teams “form and disband dynamically according to business needs”.

There are very little certainties in these rapidly evolving times, but certainty is that most (not all) businesses will need to get to this BAU mode in order to survive.


Friday, July 24, 2015

Why the traditional corporate organisational structure is broken

The traditional corporate organisational structure is subject to some profound revision. One of the
most striking evidence of this evolution is the emergence of holacracy as an organisational model, where not only every management layer is taken out of the structure, but the whole structure itself is torn down.

Okay, this can take many forms, and the companies currently experimenting with these models might not immediately ring a bell with my reader: Zappos, Medium, Buffer, Basecamp, Blinkist and alike. Oh, you might have heard of Gore-Tex though.

One might quickly conclude that this is only applicable to smaller, leaner organisations. However, one can see signs of things shacking at big companies as well.  Microsoft, and more recently Deloitte and Accenture, have thrown their yearly performance reviews (and subsequent rankings) in the garbage can. It’s only a first step of bigger changes, I’m sure.

But why do companies experiment with new organisational models, or why do they get rid of traditional practices that, for decades, have proven so successful?

There might be plenty, but the main reasons in my eyes, each of them beautifully overlapping, would be:
  • The traditional structures are not the most efficient ways of organising work.

    There’s something troubling with the case study of Blinkist (see list of sources below). Instead of starting from people whom they assigned tasks and functions to, Blinkist starts with a list of things to accomplish. It then lets employees decide which ones they wish to work on. A person with, say, deep knowledge of accounting might hence find himself performing logistic tasks parts of the day, if he wishes. Ultimately, fewer people do more tasks. Efficiency increases.

    I don’t see why this reverse principle would not work with bigger companies.
  • The networked ecosystem needs to be mirrored by the internal structure.

    The way companies work with their ecosystem is profoundly changing. In an open, networked company, suppliers, clients, contributors of any kind, are increasingly becoming part of the organisation. Very often this requires an organic, constantly evolving model to work with the ecosystem, and this cannot work if on the inside are tied to a rigid, hierarchical structure. Both external and internal worlds need to align on the same principles for it to work.
  • Many traditional functions have lost their relevance anyhow.

    With the emergence of trends like open sourcing, crowdsourcing, 3D printing, Cloud,  ‘as a service’ models, Artificial Intelligence, many traditional functions like marketing, sales, IT, logistics and so on have somehow lost their meaning. The skills required in industries and companies where these trends become a major competitive advantage, are not limited to the ones assigned to these job roles anymore. To perform their ‘marketing’ job, marketers need a completely different set of skills compared to what a marketer previously was supposed to have (and probably are still supposed to have). In the new normal you would not be able to match all these skills with a ‘marketing’ function. And this will account for many other functions as well.

Oh, obviously, I omitted the argument that the new generation entering the labor market demands to work in a less rigid organisation. At least according to many surveys that go around about them. Problem is, there are as many surveys that contradict these points. In some of them Generation Y almost seem as conservative than any previous generation. The problem with generalisations… 

But it’s true that the most brilliant young people around will find the prospect of working for a startup with a meaningful project more appealing compared to working in cubicles with multiple reporting lines and endless fruitful meetings. Just guessing. 

Thing is, organisational models are clearly changing, and I’m certainly going to follow that development closely. If you have ideas on this I’d be happy to discuss.



Sources on Holacracy abound. Some of the most relevant ones I referred to in this article are:

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Global Top greenhouse gas emitters

A bit of a frightening view... but at least it becomes clear where the action should come from... The top 10 polluters (responsible for 72% of the global greenhouse gas) could contribute significantly in countering this evolution, though they would need to do so in different ways, since 6 of the major 10 are developing countries and have a proportionally big share of agriculture as an emission source. (click here for more)

Monday, June 22, 2015

How things, businesses and society get smarter

Slides from my keynote speech at Belgian Telecom regulator BIPT. In this speech I discuss a selection of trends that indicate that society (in a broad sense) is getting smarter, not only through the use of technology... But the key message was: "You can not build a smart society without small regulation".

Happy reading!


Monday, June 8, 2015

The use of wearables in Health Care, welcome in the new world!


Nice overview of how current wearables technologies help us to monitor -and act on- our heath... Which ones are you using, or which ones would you never use? Let us know!

Monday, May 25, 2015

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

How to build the future.... Notes on startups (Peter Thiel)

Peter Thiel's book is just the type of business book I admire: crisp (hence: short), highly readable and centered around a single, compelling idea, preferably a controversial one. In this case this is no small feat: if one of the founders of Paypal is speaking, surely he’s got a lot to say. Staying focused and crisp must have been a painful process for Peter Thiel.

The controversial aspect of Peter’s reasoning resides in the fact that any entrepreneur should forget about the fashionable golden rules of entrepreneurship (read: the lean startup principles).

Proof of point, one of Peter’s advise sounds a bit like this: “only start a business if you know how to succeed. Better be an employee of Google with 0,01% of stock rather than having a 100% ownership of a business that’s failing” (this is not a quote from the book, just what I noted from it).

One more? Modern star-up principles say you shouldn’t do long-term planning. Go ahead and learn while you walk. Peter’s advise? Make long-term plans. Yahoo wanted to buy Facebook for $1B at a certain time, but Zuckerberg had bigger plans. Who was right?

Other ‘lean startup’-principles should be shattered, according to Peter. Forget about staying lean & flexible, forget about focusing on product instead of sales, forget about incremental advances.

Instead? Go for x10 times better. And stick to your plan. This explains a bit the title of the book: going from 0 to 1 is the aim, the disruptive change.

So overall, Peter’s message is to create monopolies, which is not at all a bad thing. It’s truly about creating new markets, rather than differentiate yourself with slight alterations in existing markets. Does that ring a bell? Anybody? Surely, this sounds a bit like the Blue Ocean Strategy, no? The only difference is that this book is written by someone who actually created such a blue ocean…


Highly compelling read, and I was particularly struck by one point Peter made about how culture determines the way we, as a community, look at the future, and the possibilities it entails:




Monday, May 18, 2015

Basic income for all: good idea or not?

There’s been lots of discussion on the introduction of an unconditional basic income across European countries lately.  I’m not going to echo the whole discussion here, don’t worry. I’m not even going to take a stance here, since I don’t have any yet.

Of course, I love the idea. Given the challenges our society is facing in the coming decades, we do need some radically different approach to how we get organized.

But first things first: let’s be clear on what we talk about. This idea is not about a minimum wage as such. This is about giving away free money (1500,-$ is about the price most often quoted in my country) to every (adult) citizen, regardless of how wealthy or not they are. Here’s a short introduction to the idea:



The most often used pro’s and con’s of the idea are wonderfully expressed by journalist Rutger Bregman in his TED speech:



Ok, so far about setting the scene.


In Belgium at least the idea has stirred the imagination, both in a positive and negative sense. The detractors of the idea can be found on both sides of the political spectrum. Liberals don’t like the idea since it would mean more government impact on society, which is strange since the basic income would prevent the government of many control and organizational functions (in providing unemployment allocation, for instance).  Another argument is that with a basic income there would be no incentive to innovate, or be productive by all means. But perhaps it would on the contrary free up time for people to work on new ideas, ones they truly care about…

On the left side I’ve heard worries that the basic income would increase inequality. Seems strange at first, but the reasoning is that the basic income would also be granted to rich people, who don’t really need it. Should we not give double the income to poorer people who need it, and none to richer people? I see the point, but then we’re really only subsidizing the poor (for which there is something to say, but it’s a different discussion altogether).

Before making your opinion about this idea, it’s certainly worth scrolling through the vivid discussion  on the TED conversations archive.

As to me, I haven’t made up my mind just yet. But what I do believe is that any new way of how to organize society is worth thinking about…

Friday, May 15, 2015

How to use megatrend assessment in a corporate innovation and strategy exercise

In times where innovation and constant renewal determine the competitiveness of your company, where do you need to look in order to differentiate yourself from the competition? How can you make sure that truly innovative ideas emerge that will ensure you future growth potential? Surely, not by looking in the same direction each of your competitor does.

The megatrend exercise that the Institute for Future Insights has developed is a proven way to make this happen. By confronting views and opinions of people who know your business (employees, partners, sales channels, clients) in the context of broader, long-term trends, your company can benefit from fresh insights and ideas to ensure sustainable growth in the future.

The core two elements to make such an exercise successful are:
  • confrontation and discussions around different viewpoints and opinions;
  • discussing topics that are not obviously related to the environment in which your company operates (thinking out of the box).

The megatrend survey proposed in this document facilitates these key elements. it offers a clear, time-efficient and effective mean to gain new insights and ideas that will sharpen your corporate strategy and ensure it remains relevant against the challenges and opportunities of the longer-term future.

Don't hesitate to as for a quote on how i4fi can help you get the most out of this exercise!

How it works?

1. Select megatrends to include in the assessment
Performed by client, i4fi can offer recommendation and advise
2. Design survey using online tool
This can be done using i4fi preferred tool (Typeform), or through the preferred survey tool of the client. Questionnaire to be provided by i4fi (4 questions per megatrend)
3. Collect responses from participants within or outside of the company (clients, partners, channels, …)
Client sends out invitation with link to the online survey. Client follows-up and sends reminders if needed. The survey closes when an agreed number of respondents have answered to survey.
4. Analyse & report on survey results
Performed and delivered by i4fi typically 3-5 days after completion of the survey by all, or a minimum number of, respondents.

Contact frederic@i4fi.com for more information.


Sunday, May 10, 2015

59 Fact Sheets (2015 version), an invaluable input for your innovation and strategy sessions!

Are you looking for refreshing ideas an insights for your planning or innovation session? Get the most out of your session by using i4fi's updated Megatrend Fact Sheets!

These fact sheets can be used as a briefing document prior to your session, or at the start of the session as an eye-opener. Sometimes these fact sheets are hung all across the room of a brainstorm session, to provide the participants with fresh ideas and insights!

But the vital thing for this to be successful is to keep the fact sheets digestible for everyone. After all they are meant to stimulate ideas, not to be academic papers. This is why we've kept the fact sheets simple and light!

Each fact sheet contains:
  • 1-2 revealing charts or tables explaining the trend. In this 2015 version, over 98% of the charts used are from after 2011;
  • 'Key Facts': a short description of the trend en/or its impact;
  • Assessment of the major industries impacted by the trend, in an elegant and impactful word cloud;
  • Notes with access to +300 sources (reports, articles, infographics) saving you hours of research! 95% of the sources date from after 2011!


This document will save you hours of research time, and will help you to:
  • prepare your team for long-term planning sessions;
  • understand the long-term challenges for your business and industry;
  • discover new opportunities and innovative ideas;
  • engage in meaningful discussions with your clients and partners.
List of megatrends covered in the 2015 version:



Major changes of the 2015 version:
  • lighter, more readable 'look & feel' of each sheet;
  • 4 megatrends added in comparison to 2014 version, 1 deleted;
  • Refreshed sources and charts;
  • Neutral (logo-free) sheets and colours. 

Buy the full 2015 updated document now in order to save hours of research and get fresh insights for your planning or innovation session! 
You pay only 299$ for over 80 hours of research!


Price options
Delivery by e-mail within 3 business days! Don't forget to mention your e-mail address in your order.
This document is exclusively for internal use by the acquiring company.

Get some sample fact sheets here:


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