Forecasts 2012: A Roundup of Auguries, Omens and Prognostications

Tis the season (or, rather, slightly past it) for all the predictions for the coming year. I’m a sucker for these articles and have collected many of them via my Twitter account (@TWgy) over the last several weeks. So, if you’re interested in a roundup/synthesis of 2012 forecasts that looks across various industries and ideas, this blog’s for you:

An Introduction to 2012

The End of Text Books? Not So Fast

Let’s start with the more multi-disciplinary predictions. For my my money, The Futurist remains the best source of imaginative, general-purpose forecasts, despite a being journal that still somehow seems, style-wise, a relic of the 1970s.  It’s odd  that the world’s foremost foremost form of futurist communication remains somehow quaint and homey, but there it is, in my opinion.

Anyway, its Top Ten Forecasts for 2012 and Beyond tends to be focused more on “beyond”, I think. For example, the forecast predicts that learning will become “more social and game-based” this year and into the future, but I don’t expect to see all the text books disappear in 2012. More likely, we’ll see some serious movement into the area of ebook textbooks as tablet computers drop in price.

The Futurist also points to things such as space tourism and the kind of nanotechnology that will restore eyesight. Very cool but don’t bank on huge solar collectors on the moon this year. I’ll be happy if we can get them on a few more rooftops.

Will More Revolutions Be Tweeted?

The Futurist also published its James Lee’s blog called “Thoughts on 2012 – Markets, Technology, and Society,” in which he makes some forecasts on everything from the economy (“mild recession”) to technology (“wireless everything”). I’m totally onboard with the wireless everything prediction but it’s way too early to tell about the economy. In fact, we’re seeing some hopeful signs with the new jobs numbers and uptick in manufacturing business, but with Europe dealing with its debt issues and even China looking soft, Lee could prove to be right. More on the economy later.

Lee also notes, “With social media, people are organizing themselves and learning about things faster than ever before. ” Yep, it’ll be interesting to see if there are anymore equivalents of “Arab Springs” in 2012. Contrary to what Gladwell said, the revolution apparently will be (and was) tweeted. In fact, 2011 was a really rotten year for that particular prediction. History has a way to doing this, but it’s seldom you get your comeuppance quite that quickly.

Normal Gets New (Again)

There’s always talk about the new normal but I’ve been hearing the phrase more these days. I always take it with a grain of salt because these trends often have more to do with shifting economic trends than anything else. Nonetheless, I really like JWT’s 10 Trends for 2012 Executive Summary, which starts with the notion that the new normal includes stripping down the size of many new offerings to appeal to cost-sensitive consumers even while allowing them to “live a little.” Yes, those kinds of predictions are a bit soft, but it wouldn’t be hard to put some really numbers to them to see how well they play out.

Some JWT predictions are just statements of fact. For example, the idea that marriage will be optional in 2012 is just a statement of a fact that clearly emerged in 2011. Still, it’s true that this will continue to impact all kinds of trends, from social to marketing.


Leveraging the Likes of Slacktivism and Gerontabletification

Speaking of values and marketing, it’s interesting to think of how businesses can leverage the nexus of social, demographic and technological trends to innovate. That seems to be the basis for Michael Schrage’s Innovative Ideas to Watch in 2012. I enjoy the sheer ethicical complexity and wit associated with an idea such as co-opting slacktivism to  reach out to customers and communities. I think most of the ideas Schrage outlines are practical ways that businesses can leverage growing trends – though I rather doubt that the fun word “gerontabletification” will catch on in a big way.

Retail 2.0, Crowdfunding and Micro-Incomers

I imagine it’s a form of branding and an homage to his DaVinci Institute, but I can never quite get past the Renaissance getup of “Google’s Top Rated Futurist Speaker” Thomas Frey. Nonetheless, I do admire the constant stream of ideas, phrases and blogs that flow out of him. The man never seems to be short of notions about the future, as is clearly illustrated by this two-part blog on 28 Major Trends for 2012 and Beyond.

I think he’s more often right than wrong. And though he’s clearly looking well beyond 2012, a lot of his ideas seem exceptionally useful.  The term “Retail 2.0,” for example, may seem to be a bit stale (aren’t we done with version numbering yet?) but it’s been around a few years (no idea who coined it) and I think Frey is dead on about the challenges facing the retail world and the need to reinvent the retail experience into one that is much about entertainment and engagement as it is about stocking shelves. But, in the short term, I’m pretty dubious about “retails shops that carry no inventory.”

Some of Frey’s most compelling forecasts are of existing trends that are likely to get stronger, and I think that’s true of crowdfunding, or whatever the term of art comes to be. I don’t know if Kickstarter and companies like it will be a success in reinventing the process of funding new venture capital, but I’m certainly willing to bet this trend won’t go away till all the possible permutations have been checked out.

As for “micro-incomers,” well, I doubt Warren Buffett will be going this route anytime soon. Don’t expect some title wave of such folks in 2012, but it’s worth checking into on this trend every year to see how it’s advancing. That’s one of the things I like about Frey: he gives you a heads up about trends that may not change the world this year but that might just have a major impact in a decade or more.

The Year in Technology

So much is happening so quickly in technology that making shot-term tech predictions

Is 2012 The Year That Robot Applications Take Root?

100 Things to Watch in 2012

4 payment industry predictions for 2012

Five Predictions For Biotech And Medicine In 2012 – Forbes

6 Big HealthTech Ideas That Will Change Medicine In 2012 6 Big HealthTech Ideas That Will Change Medicine In 2012 –

Welcome to the Year of the Lightbulb

The anti-prediction of 2012 social media predictions

IT Trends to Watch in 2012

5 Tech Trends for the Next 5 Years: IBM

Six Predictions for Digital Business in 2012

10 Bold Tech Predictions For 2012

8 Digital Trends Shaping the Future of Media [VIDEO]

8 social media trends for 2012

Six Social Media Trends for 2012


Nature looks ahead to the key findings and events that may emerge in 2012

Predictions for 2012: Now or Never for the Standard Model of Physics


8 Predictions for SEO in 2012 | SEOmoz via @SEOmoz

Social Media: Five Facts to Bank On in 2012

12 Crucial Consumer Trends for 2012,

Web Design Trends in 2012

The Brand Keys 12 For 12: Brand and Marketing Trends for 2012 Part 1 Robert Passikoff,


Predictions for 2012: China Steps Up

Talent Management

Looking to 2012: 14 HR Predictions, and Balancing the Global Workforce

Where The Jobs Will (and Won’t) Be in 2012

The 5 Hardest Jobs to Fill in 2012

Why 2012 will be year of the artist-entrepreneur

Talent time-bomb explodes for HR

What 2012 holds for HR

Leadership 2012

Guiding Growth: Future Trends in Leadership Development cmaconsult on slideshare

“Top 7 HR Trends for 2012,” (bad video of guys looking uncomfortable while chatting talent) (summary of Bersin’s) (summary of Bersin’s)

2012 Predictions? Easy. How about 2020 Instead?

10 Predictions for 2012: The Top Trends in Talent Management and Recruiting


Business and Economic

Top economic predictions for 2012

You thought 2011 was tough? via @reuters

A Major Historical Trend That Predicts Recession In 2012

10 Sustainable Business Trends Worth Knowing for 2012

Social Media Marketing and Business Trends 2012 by Priit Kallas,

Manufacturing in 2012: Complexity and its Consequences

10 Cutting Edge Mobile Application Trends for 2012 (slideshow)

Companies and People to Watch

12 People to Follow on Twitter in 2012

Popular Culture

Science Fiction’s predictions for the year 2012 [Triviagasm]

My Fearless Sports Predictions for 2012

Food Trends 2012: Custom French Fries and Grilled Cheese Infused Vodka

Color Trends for 2012: Balance to Preservation by Susan at

Chefs predict top menu trends for 2012

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