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Three Trends To Watch February 11, 2013

Posted by David Dirks in Disruptive Trends.
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DirksProPhotoI don’t usually make “trends to watch” postings.  While in my work I’m constantly researching, reading and reviewing information of all kinds, I’m not inclined to predict the future.  In this case, I’m not predicting as much as I am signaling that the following trends are already on a collision course with traditional business models.

So, take the following as you wish. Perhaps the best I can do is spark some interest in one or more of these trends and encourage you to do your own research and reading.

Anyway, here are three trends that keep popping up consistently – and each has been growing in scale and importance over the last 5 to 10 years.

The way we approach higher education.

One of my son’s goes to a great college and that great college costs $52,000 per year to attend.  At the end of four years, he will have a very fine education but will have burned through over $200,000 in cash.  Why is this so?

Another issue.  Our country’s finest universities are known not for who they include but for the greater number of students they exclude.  Harvard, Wharton, Northwestern, Chicago, Standford  and others attract not only the brightest of the youngest minds but also the brightest of the experienced minds to teach them.

If you or your kids are unable to enter the Ivy league for higher education…does that mean you are relegated to a life of mediocrity? I recommend a good read here: Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell.  Read the book and you’ll clearly see where I’m going here.

Here are a few key trends that will change the way we access higher education:

  • Increase in the availability of knowledge both online and offline.  Universities have historically been the originators and gatekeepers of “knowledge”.  The underlying foundation for that tradition has been under siege for more than a decade now.
  • New higher education models are emerging.  Udacity and the Minerva Project are just a few of the many higher education models that are breaking the mold and creating high quality access to knowledge and higher learning.
  • Global mobility of both knowledge & students.  As the digital world changes the way we access and utilize knowledge in all its wonderful forms, students will be able to globalize their access education.  The global competition for students will mean that universities will become more aggressive in offering full-fledged offerings to any corner of the world.
  • More partnerships with corporations.  There’s plenty of great research and knowledge being created in almost every industry today.  Connecting higher education and industry knowledge bases will blur the lines but create perhaps a better way to prepare students for the every smaller but complex world we live in.

The elites won’t like this but too bad.

The way we make things. Maybe you’ve heard all about 3D printing. If not, check this excellent primer from TED: http://www.ted.com/talks/lisa_harouni_a_primer_on_3d_printing.html

3D manufacturing is already happening and creating revival in “small manufacturing” around the world.  This technology and the ones that will surely follow will change the way we think about manufacturing products today.  It will blow your mind but gives rise to the ability for new businesses to create products once thought only to be produced if you invested big bucks into creating a traditional factory.  The investment in the traditional “factory” model has kept a lot of great ideas underground or never to be realized.  That will change and create entirely new business opportunities.  As 3D technology advances, you will be able to run your small manufacturing operation from anywhere in the world.

The ways we raise money. Kickstarter and Crowdfunder have turned the world of sourcing funds for projects of all kinds on its head.  While it doesn’t necessarily mean that every idea will get the funding it needs, it does mean that ACCESS to that funding is anything but traditional.  You still need a great project or enterprise idea – but the traditional means of sourcing is not the only game in town.

The dynamic author Seth Godin used Kickstarter for his lastest book project, The Icarus Deception.  He thought he’d raise $40,000 but instead raised over $240,000 instead.  Now, Seth already has a great and loyal group of followers who helped him seed this project but that isn’t the point.  Seth was able to take a great idea and source his needed project funds from anyone who wanted to participate.  You didn’t have to have millions to participate – $4 bucks got you into the game.  Of course, you could invest more and get more in return but that was up to you.

The way we raise money is changing.  Don’t tell your bank that.


Well, that’s it for this post.  Keep an eye on these three trends as they grow and evolve.  You know I will.