Tomorrow’s World: what does the future hold for business?

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EP and HIT Scotland hosted an event at the Strathclyde Business School in Glasgow yesterday, which brought together a number of speakers to discuss a range of topics related to major future trends. Chaired by HIT Scotland chief executive David Cochrane, the event was a thought provoking and topical discussion which covered a broad range of key themes:

Woody Wade, a writer and futurist, delivered a keynote speech which opened the event, looking at different ways of thinking about the future through scenario planning.

“You know what’s weird? Day by day, nothing seems to change. But pretty soon, everything’s different.”
Calvin & Hobbs

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Woody argued that rather than extrapolating future scenarios from facts based on today’s reality, that the requirement was to anticipate potentially significant, unforeseen changes and construct these into scenarios.

“By visualising more extreme scenarios you get to the limits of where you might be, and can envisage a different landscape”

Ben Gateley, founder of The Eleven and Brand Social outlined the major future shifts in social media, and its role for business in creating a point of difference through online identity.

“Content is king and images are central to your online profile”

In addition to Facebook and Twitter presence, a good quality, functional website is vital. Future points of interest include Instagram, Pinterest and videos.

“Videos are a major focus in 2013; users will view them more frequently and for longer”

Matt Pumfrey, managing director, Get Smarter Energy spoke about the role of sustainability and transparency in procurement as major shifts in the energy market. GSE is a next generation energy procurement and services company to support companies manage their energy demand recognising these changes. It is unique in that is does not retain management fees or commission, but invests every penny from procurement in energy efficiency measures on an estate, and deliver without client or third party capital investment.

“Ultimately the most valuable watt of energy you have is the Negawatt – the one you don’t use”

Clients can typically save between 15-25% on their energy bills and an average 15% on asset and FM costs.

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Ciara Crossan, founder of Wedding Dates provided an entrepreneurial case study of her business growth in the Irish and UK markets. She articulated a fascinating story of her original idea, influenced by her parents’ respective careers in hospitality and her IT degree, from its inception in the midst of a deep Irish Recession to her current rapid growth in the UK hospitality market. Wedding Dates helps hotels and venues to increase wedding bookings using a plug and play device that promotes availability to users.

“It’s all about building relationships and I have been blown away by the people I’ve met so far who have wanted to help me”

Professor Alan Wilson from Strathclyde Business School spoke about the Executive Masters in Hospitality and Tourism leadership – a programme that has been created by leaders in the industry, through the International Leadership School, with SBU. The academic teaching is delivered by SBU, Ecole Hoteliere de Lausanne and Cornell University – a ground-breaking collaboration for such a programme.

“It is a unique innovative programme of global standing with a dynamic set of modules to provide the next generation of with the skills and knowhow to excel”

The programme is currently recruiting its next cohort for a 2 year programme and provides leaders with readiness for the next stage of their career. As Angela Vickers, managing director of Apex Hotels and one of the programme’s first cohort said,

“This is truly embedded learning; it’s life changing learning which has made a huge difference in all facets of my role”

Despite the ongoing economic challenges, this event illustrated that there are significant shifts taking places at a macro and local level and ultimately the final question is how best to engage and embrace these trends to help position a business in the future?

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