There is a mesmerizing book “Business @ the Speed of Thought: Using a Digital Nervous System” published by Bill Gates in 1999. It is so intriguing because it deals with 15 predictions about the future, which might seem a bit shocking and unrealistic at the time. Today we already know that they were not only very realistic but also many of them simply proved to be almost 100% successful.
1. Comparison Shopping Websites
Prediction: “Automated price comparison services will be developed, allowing people to see prices across multiple websites, making it effortless to find the cheapest product for all industries.”
Reality: And they were. The way comparison shopping websites operate exactly as Gates predicted, making our lives much easier.
2. Mobile Devices
Prediction: “People will carry around small devices that allow them to constantly stay in touch and do electronic business from wherever they are. They will be able to check the news, see flights they have booked, get information from financial markets, and do just about anything else on these devices.”
Reality: iPhones, tablets, smartphones, and so on. Mobile devices are omnipresent and facilitate numerous spheres of both private and public life.
3. Online Payments, And Online Health Care
Prediction: “People will pay their bills, take care of their finances, and communicate with their doctors over the internet.”
Reality: Although the technology has not yet been able to change health care to such an extent, it is definitely much easier to register with a doctor, thanks to the possibility of online registration. Long queues to registration in hospitals and clinics are mostly only nightmarish visions of the past. As far as online payments are concerned, Bill Gates’ prediction came true in 100% percent.
4. Personal Assistants And The Internet Of Things
Prediction: “‘Personal companions’ will be developed. They will connect and sync all your devices in a smart way, whether they are at home or in the office, and allow them to exchange data. The device will check your email or notifications, and present the information that you need. When you go to the store, you can tell it what recipes you want to prepare, and it will generate a list of ingredients that you need to pick up. It will inform all the devices that you use for your purchases and schedule, allowing them to adjust to what you’re doing automatically.”
Reality: Google Now is a solution that is slowly moving in the direction described by Bill Gates. Less advanced, but based on a similar concept, are applications that help to organize the day and remind you about important meetings, responsibilities, etc.
5. Online Home-Monitoring
Prediction: “Constant video feeds of your house will become common, which inform you when somebody visits while you are not home.”
Reality: Smart solutions at our homes are more and more becoming a standard. Those include, among others, cameras installed at the entrance door to control who wants to enter our property, electric nannies with monitoring to make sure we miss the moment our babies are awake, etc.
6. Social Media
Prediction: “Private websites for your friends and family will be common, allowing you to chat and plan for events.”
Reality: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram – all those help us to, for one thing, keep in touch with our friends, for the other, make new acquaintances or organize events.
7. Automated promotional offers
Prediction: “Software that knows when you’ve booked a trip and uses that information to suggest activities at the local destination. It suggests activities, discounts, offers, and lower prices for all the things that you want to take part in.”
Reality: Trips are only one of the areas ads aim at. Nonetheless, Gates was right. It is enough to type a password into the search engine and end attacked by dozens of advertisements, very personalized in fact. Even while browsing an online dictionary you can notice some products similar to those you have been interested in a moment ago on Amazon.com., displayed somewhere in your field of vision.
8. Live sports discussion sites
Prediction: “While watching a sports competition on television, services will allow you to discuss what is going online, and enter a contest where you vote on who you think will win.”
Reality: Many social media make it possible to share our impressions of events immediately. And it doesn’t only concern sports events. We can take part in discussions with scientists, writers, etc. What is more, we can also post fragments of videos from concerts or parades, make live reports.
9. Smart Advertising
Prediction: “Devices will have smart advertising. They will know your purchasing trends, and will display advertisements that are tailored toward your preferences.”
Reality: Do you remember the commentary on dictionaries?
10. Links To Sites During Live TV
Prediction: “Television broadcast will include links to relevant websites and content that complement what you are watching.”
Reality: No matter whether it is some documentary on ghosts or cars, whatever programme we watch, it redirects us to a site more or less connected with what we have been interested in, to the profile of a person or company in social media, etc.
11. Online Discussion Boards
Prediction: “Residents of cities and countries will be able to have internet-based discussions concerning issues that affect them, such as local politics, city planning, or safety.”
Reality: Almost all parties have a place where their supporters or even opponents can discuss or comment on what they are interested in. Those are mostly social media and online forums which allow us to participate in public life.
12. Interest-Based Online Sites
Prediction: “Online communities will not be influenced by your location, but rather, your interest.”
Reality: A lot of today’s fan pages, forums and thematic websites are related to specific interests. And the wonderful thing is that it doesn’t matter whether you are from Japan or Great Britain, your skin is black or red – if you are interested, we can join a discussion group on a given topic and create an online community with other people.
13. Project-management software
Prediction: “Project managers looking to put a team together will be able to go online, describe the project, and receive recommendations for available people who would fit their requirements.”
Reality: PM tools are numerous. They enhance workflow, facilitate budget, invoicing, forming teams, etc. They even help communicate better. An example of such software is TimeCamp, which monitors the actions performed on the computer and helps employees better understand how they make use of their working time so that they can work more efficiently. TimeCamp also allows its users to carefully calculate the overtime and handle a list of presence in the company, as well as to control the time spent at the computer – particularly on the Internet.
14. Online recruiting
Prediction: “Similarly, people looking for work will be able to find employment opportunities online by declaring their interest, needs, and specialized skills.”
Reality: The majority of employers is looking for new employees via the Internet rather than newspapers. The same concerns those who are searching for job offers.
15. Business community software
Prediction: “Companies will be able to bid on jobs, whether they are looking for a construction project, a movie production, or an advertising campaign. This will be effective for both big companies that want to outsource work that they don’t usually face, businesses looking for new clients, and corporations that don’t have a go-to provider for the said service.”
Reality: Applications that make it easier for companies to establish business contacts are numerous. The same concerns websites where people with business links can find their potential associates, check with whom they are competing, etc., and so on.
Gates is not a Nostradamus but he may seem to be someone of that sort. The extent to which he was right is simply mind-blowing and worth paying notice to.