Two events in my diary this week have focussed me on The Future.
First, I visited Ericsson yesterday. Ericsson employs over 4,000 people in the UK. It’s present in almost as many countries as the UN has members. Even more remarkable was that it was doing business in India and China over a hundred years ago – rather ahead of the curve in spotting what today we call emerging markets!
Among the many fascinating things I saw was a project called the “Social Web of Things”, a sort of Facebook for your household goods, car, etc. We saw an amazing illustration in which you could use your smart phone to check with a computer in your car when it needed servicing. The car would tell you that and then fix an appointment direct with the garage having cross-coordinated with your diary. Similarly you could check with your bedroom lights whether you’d switched them off, even as you sat on a bus half an hour later.
The nearest I get to that sort of interaction is ringing my blackberry to discover where in the house I’ve left it, so I felt as a medieval monk would do confronted with the first printing press!
Then last night I hosted an event to mark the Economist’s Conference in Stockholm for Future Cities. More than half of the world now lives in cities, with 5 million on new urban dwellers every month. I’ve been lucky enough to live in some great cities –Glasgow, London, New York and Paris. I have to stay that Stockholm is my favourite, but then, as all my Swedish friends and colleagues tell me, I haven’t been through a Swedish winter yet. The future awaits!