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Sunday, December 21, 2014

Eight Incredibly Useful Tips for Writing New Year Predictions

Every year around this time, analysts and assorted pundits put together their lists of predictions for the coming year. These I find to be, for the most part, sleep-inducing and lacking insight. So, rather than add to the prediction posts already piling up, let me share how you too can come up with predictions for the coming year.
  1. Next year will be like this year, only more so. Pick a news item from today’s newspaper, and turn it into a trend for the coming year. For example, “The dollar will strengthen against world currencies.”
     
  2. “Will Continue.” Similarly, pick a technology trend that is currently underway and predict its continuation.  For example, “The shift to cloud computing will continue.” If you have several of these, you can mix it up with the word “increasingly.” For example, “ERP functionality will increasingly be deployed on mobile devices.”
     
  3. Always hedge your bets. In other words, always give yourself an out. For example, if you really feel you need to speculate on market events, never predict something like, “Oracle will acquire Salesforce.com.” Rather, “Oracle will consider acquisition of Salesforce.com.” Or better, “Oracle may or may not acquire Salesforce.com.”
     
  4. Make it self-serving. Think about what you’re selling. Then predict that thing will be in big demand next year. For example, if you’re a consultant selling contract negotiation services, you can predict, “Buyers will increasingly rely on outside consultants to help negotiate their vendor contracts.”
     
  5. Update your buzzwords. Don’t be caught using jargon from three years ago. For example, do a mass replace to change the word “social” to “digital.” Likewise, “omnichannel” replaced “multichannel” a few years ago. But now even “omnichannel” is becoming commonplace. So try to come up with something new. I would propose and hereby trademark the phrase, “right channel.” (If you use it, please credit me.)
     
  6. Internet of Blank. The “Internet of Things” was hot in 2012. In 2013, Marc Benioff introduced “the Internet of Customers.” But why stop there? Think of something related to your business and make up an Internet of that thing. For example, if you are selling help desk systems, a good prediction would be, “Today’s customer service systems will give rise to next generation Internet of Incidents systems.” But, be sure your own website calls out that new buzzword before you publish your prediction.
     
  7. As-a-Service. If you are running short of predictions, you can always fall back on variations of “as-a-service.” For example, if you’re an industry analyst firm, you can predict “Research-as-a-service will increasingly replace traditional analyst firms.” If you are an accounting firm, you can predict, "Bookkeeping as a service will increasingly be the way in which organizations prepare their financial statements." Notice that it doesn't matter whether the thing you are selling is already a service.
     
  8. Don’t make it measurable. Finally, whatever predictions you write, never put numbers on them or in any way make them falsifiable. For example, never predict something like, “SAP’s core business will fall by 3% in 2015.” In fact, even pointing to a direction is risky. A better prediction? “SAP’s core business will continue to be under pressure.”
So there you have it. Follow these eight guidelines and you too can publish your own 2015 predictions. And, if you do it right, you won’t have to worry about anyone calling you out a year from now for their accuracy.

Photo credit: Garry Knight
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