Forget the past. The next big thing means looking ahead
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!