• Contractingbusiness 1336 Danielburrus

    Futurist Tells MSCA Membersto Act on Change

    Oct. 20, 2010
    Get out of the box that is the daily grind.

    From now on, take just one hour a week and think about the future. It's whatever you imagine to be, says technology forecaster and business strategist Daniel Burrus.

    Burrus provided a keynote speech to attendees during the annual conference of the Mechanical Service Contractors of America (MSCA) held in Scottsdale, AZ, Sept. 17-20. In his presentation, Burrus offered insights into present and future opportunities made possible by technology.

    “We all face problems and challenges every day. But “whatever your problem is, that’s not it. There’s another one down deep. It’s like an onion; you have to peel it back and find it. But being ‘busy’ is not the answer. In the years before Lehman Brothers and General Motors went bankrupt, they were really busy too," Burrus said.

    The theme for this year’s MSCA meeting was “FLIP Your Thinking.” From Burrus’s perspective, that means getting outside the box that’s the daily grind, and running in step with the changes and opportunities made possible by technology. Burrus says it’s clear that the processing power of personal computing devices will increase. Do you think Smart Phones will have even greater capacity, and run high definition streaming video? It’s coming. 5G iphones? Gonna happen.

    Don't discount the possibilities of technology.

    Burrus said he believes the future will be driven by what he calls “linear change.” For 26 years he’s been successfully predicting the future as it relates to technology and how businesses adapt to it. “I look at the visible future,” he said. “For example, is construction down forever? No. It’s a cycle. It’s linear change. “Cisco is working on a new backbone to the Internet that would enable every man, woman and child in China to send a video to somebody else, without taking the system down. In other words, we can’t discount the possibilities of technology.”

    Compete on Your Terms
    In a world of uncertainty, contractors must redefine, reinvent, and do what their competitors don’t do or can’t do. “Can a manufacturer beat China in manufacturing? Only if they do something the Chinese don’t do. If you’re a retailer, can you compete with Wal Mart? Only if you bring products to market different than they do.

    “You must change how you think about your services and the competition. It’s all about foresight, not hindsight. Forget the past, and look to the future, which is all about relationships based on trust. And trust is earned by honesty, integrity, and delivering on your promises," he said.

    Burrus assured the audience of MSCA-member contractors that mistakes that undermine customer trust must be eliminated because of the vast change that’s coming in the next five years.

    “There’s a strategic shift taking place: you’re going from being a maintenance provider to becoming a ‘trusted advisor’ and ‘problem solver,” Burrus said.

    'Hard Trends' Matter Most
    Burrus said there are two kinds of trends: soft trends and hard trends. Soft trends might happen; hard trends will.

    “Hard trends are tangible, like the fact that we have 75 million baby boomers. Demographics is a hard trend. There are four generations now at work in the workforce today; are we combining our talents? We have to be more connected with each generation of workers and customers."

    Burrus said the ultimate hard trend is the Techno-Trend, that continues to move at a rapid pace.

    “Major technology driven trends include networking, dematerialization (things getting smaller and smaller), and virtualization. “We’re seeing increasing product intelligence, interactivity, mobility, globalization, and convergence. And the technological change will accelerate. We have to use technology to change the rules. We have to transform how we sell, market, communicate, collaborate, innovate, and train and educate," he said.

    Watch for more reports on the MSCA Annual Conference in ContractingBusiness.com