Published On: Mon, Sep 19th, 2016

The Future’s Now: Are You Ready?

Companies grow by tuning in to what customers want today and anticipating what they need tomorrow, says Lucia Di Stazio of MRA Marketing, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year.

We all wish we could see into the future sometimes, but in recent years change has occurred so quickly that long-lasting business models seem to be getting rarer. Few people go looking for change. But customer expectations are changing. People want more and better, and they need it now and they’re not prepared to wait. If you won’t or can’t give them what they want, someone else will. It’s a bit like walking up a down escalator. One serious stumble and you have a lot of ground to make up.

Innovation and change don’t necessarily come from within a sector or industry. Installers’ use of smartphones in their personal lives means they’re frequently online browsing, checking prices and reading emails. A growing number are catching up on social media. In recent research, installers said the smartphone was their preferred main communication tool. They want to order online 24/7, whether on site, at home or at the office. They expect a company or brand to look and feel the same whether they’re visiting the website talking to a rep, or following it on Twitter. Some brands have been very quick to adapt to this but most have made a meal of it.

After years of incremental changes, products are changing rapidly too. A high proportion of the value of tomorrow’s homes is likely to be in its software. This isn’t science fiction. A lot of it is here now, it’s just not all linked together. Smart glass that changes from clear to opaque instantly is already available. In 2011, Corning, the materials science corporation, made ‘A Day Made of Glass’, a futuristic video predicting how smart glass will impact daily life. It detailed how interactive screens will be used in all parts of everyday life, at home, in school and in business. Within 12 months they issued ‘A Day Made of Glass 2’, because many of the futuristic appliances the first film envisaged had already become reality. Interactive glass – mirrors, tables, kitchen-ware – is now available. Maybe not in a domestic setting, yet, but it’s on its way. Samsung’s Smart Window, while yet to have an official release date, acts as a normal window but also features a full digital interface – essentially a huge touch screen computer – which is only usable/visible from the inside. The technology is constantly developing.

Products are becoming smarter in other ways too. The quest for zero carbon has also prompted a resurgence of interest and investment in pre-fab, or off-site manufacturing, another key trend to look out for this year and beyond. Delivering ultra-energy efficient building standards like Passivhaus demands the most technologically advanced products. But to reach peak performance these products also often require installation by a labour force with specialist skills, something that can be in short supply. Manufacturers are now focusing on products that can be built under stringent factory conditions that can be assembled quickly and accurately on site – for example, installing high performance windows into pre-fabricated walls.

From smart phones to smart homes, saving skills and saving time on and offsite, our markets are changing and advancing at breakneck speed. Are you and your business ready?

Call Tom Rigby, Business Development Manager, on 01453 521621 or email