For­get the past. The next big thing means look­ing ahead

The East African - - BUSINESS -

What is the next big thing? This is the ques­tion on the minds of many lead­ers and dream­ers around the world. If we can just iden­tify the next big thing, then we can take our place in history.

Then there is the is­sue of bench­mark­ing. The prob­lem with this is that if care is not tak­enw we will find our­selves bench­mark­ing medi­ocrity or some­thing whose time has passed. We can­not bench­mark old tech­nol­ogy, for in­stance, and ex­pect to some­how de­liver the next big thing. So, is there a for­mula for iden­ti­fy­ing the next big thing?

Peo­ple are quick to point to Face­book, In­sta­gram, Uber, Snapchat and the dif­fer­ent in­no­va­tions that have shaped our world in the past few years.

No one would ever have imag­ined that a plat­form called Twit­ter that de­buted by giv­ing peo­ple an op­por­tu­nity to share mes­sages with no more than 140 char­ac­ters could be­come the of­fi­cial plat­form of com­mu­ni­ca­tion for the Pres­i­dent of the United States.

Stranger still is the fact that tra­di­tional me­dia now get their breaking news from some of these plat­forms.

Any­one try­ing to copy these in­no­va­tions is copy­ing the past. Those in­no­va­tions have taken their space and the next Zucker­berg is not go­ing to be in so­cial me­dia.

Plat­forms are be­ing cre­ated and peo­ple are us­ing them to cre­ate new ones and not to repli­cate what al­ready ex­ists.

An ex­am­ple of this is what 27-year-old Tyler Blevins, aka Ninja has achieved on Youtube.

He is a pro­fes­sional gamer who dis­plays his skills by play­ing the on­line video game Fort­nite on his Youtube chan­nel. He cur­rently has mil­lions of sub­scribers who fol­low him fa­nat­i­cally.

If this young man had to fill out a form and was asked what his pro­fes­sion is, he would write that he is a gamer.

Once upon a time, one would frown or laugh at this but not any more. This is a ca­reer that net­ted him close to $10 mil­lion in 2018, and helped the par­ent com­pany, Epic Games, make a profit of $3 bil­lion.

When I was young, if my par­ents asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up I can just imag­ine telling them that I wanted to play games. My face would have been sub­jected to slaps too nu­mer­ous to count.

But now a young man makes a ca­reer out of play­ing com­puter games. The Fort­nite phe­nom­e­non has swept through the world, gar­ner­ing over 200 mil­lion play­ers as at last Novem­ber. The game is avail­able across dif­fer­ent plat­forms, in­clud­ing Sony Playstation.

Now, Sony Playstation is an­other in­ter­est­ing one. When Sony came up with the Sony Walk­man in 1979, it was greeted with scep­ti­cism. It be­came one of the great­est suc­cesses in the history of the com­pany. They had pre­dicted a sales fig­ure of 5,000 units a month but they went on to do over 50,000 units in the first two months.

It was so suc­cess­ful that Walk­man be­came the generic name for any com­pact cas­sette player, and this went on for many years.

The next big leap for Sony came from the most un­likely place — gam­ing. The ini­tial plan was for them to part­ner with mar­ket leader Nin­tendo.

How­ever, Nin­tendo dropped the part­ner­ship idea with Sony opt­ing in­stead for a part­ner­ship with Phillips.

Sony pres­i­dent No­rio Ohga then in­structed his team to de­velop a sys­tem that would com­pete with Nin­tendo. Again, they had to lobby and per­suade many in the or­gan­i­sa­tion that de­vel­op­ing com­puter games was a vi­able busi­ness.

In De­cem­ber 1994, the Sony Playstation was re­leased in Ja­pan. It was an in­stant hit sell­ing more than two mil­lion units in the first six months. It has stayed at the top and has be­come a life­line for the en­tire Sony Cor­po­ra­tion.

Are we bench­mark­ing the past or are we cre­at­ing the fu­ture? The abil­ity to imag­ine the fu­ture and in­vest in imag­i­na­tion is what sep­a­rates lead­ers from fol­low­ers.

Most peo­ple would rather in­vest in the tan­gi­ble, but win­ning the fu­ture hap­pens when we are bold enough to in­vest in a fu­ture that still re­sides in the realms of imag­i­na­tion.

As we be­gin the jour­ney into this New Year, let us make changes by adding sub­stance to imag­i­na­tion.

The good book says that faith is the sub­stance of things hoped for and that faith is the vic­tory that over­comes the world.

Only those bold enough to add sub­stance to their imag­i­na­tion will own the fu­ture. And, never for­get that the fu­ture started yes­ter­day!

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