Deloitte Belgium and FutureWorld working together: Companies need to learn lessons from the future

Visionaries Wolfgang Grulke and Neil Jacobsohn are expecting a tsunami of new developments: "You can't learn from experience any longer; in this lightning-fast world, you need to learn from the future"
22 Nov 2010

Diegem, 22 November 2010 - Deloitte Belgium has announced the beginning of a unique collaboration with FutureWorld, operating under the name of FutureWorld powered by Deloitte. This service is designed to help businesses innovate more and prepare themselves for the future. At the invitation of Deloitte Belgium, the visionaries Wolfgang Grulke and Neil Jacobsohn came to Brussels to share their vision of future developments in society and the economy. Their message is that companies need to think about the future more, because only by doing so will they be able to take the right decisions and be ready to cope with the tsunami of changes that is heading towards them. Deloitte Belgium attributes great value to innovation and the firm puts this into practice in a very clear way, by appointing Stephan Raemaekers as Managing Partner Innovation.

Wolfgang Grulke and Neil Jacobsohn are chairman and CEO respectively of FutureWorld, a think-tank for technology and the economy, that business leaders all over the world call on to think creatively about the future of their organisations, thereby paving the way for future growth.

The two men from FutureWorld gave the delegates at the conference organised by Deloitte an overview of the radical changes that the world has undergone in the past 20 years, as well as some of the changes that, according to them, we can expect to see in the future. At the present time, though, Grulke and Jacobsohn are astonished by the way that companies think far too little about the future. "On average, senior management spends less than 5% of its time thinking about it," says Wolfgang Grulke. "That figure needs to be 10%, because the future is incredibly important. It's the only place we are heading. So we really have to be radical in our innovations. In any case, new consumers and new technologies are busy pushing us in that direction."

New technologies are forcing companies to innovate

Corporate changes don't happen gradually, as many people think, but in sudden stages. A recent example of this is the credit crisis that engulfed the world in a way that many thought never could or would happen. Wolfgang Grulke calls it the 'credit tsunami'. The fact that small things can sometimes have huge and unexpected consequences was demonstrated by the photograph of our blue planet sent back to Earth by Apollo 11 in 1969. From this one photo were created the environmental movements that nowadays play such an important role and have such a major influence on companies.

According to Neil Jacobsohn, we can also expect to see a number of very important developments over the coming years. "Among other things, we will have to deal with a new type of consumer," he says. "Young people who have never known the world without the Internet. People who can do several things at the same time with ease. Who can jump online, send text messages and watch television simultaneously. I am of the generation of the "couch potato"; today's children are "couch commandos" who can contact the whole world from the comfort of their sofa. What will happen when these people become consumers and employees? Technology is also undergoing radical changes, such as nanotechnology. And as a result of new technology, companies will be able to do more with far fewer people. We also predict that jobs will become the next 'ugly duckling'. This will create huge problems, especially in China. The number of jobs that large companies will be able to create will be dramatically lower by 2020. Companies will also have to innovate radically: the latest technologies will make everything cheaper, which will increase pressure on margins."

Lessons from the future: knowledge is worthless; relationships are the main asset

At the end of the presentation Wolfgang Grulke gave an overview of his lessons from the future;

FutureWorld and Deloitte

Rik Vanpeteghem, CEO of Deloitte Belgium, is very enthusiastic about the collaboration: "Deloitte Belgium has always attached a lot of importance to innovation, which was reflected in last year's campaign "Winning in a Changing World through Innovation and Entrepreneurship". We're delighted that we have been given the chance to cooperate with such a well-established organisation. I'm really looking forward to continue collaborating with FutureWorld,  to sharing ideas and to further growing our innovation strategy. The appointment of Stephan Raemakers as Managing Partner Innovation fits perfectly in this plan. Stephan will be responsible for Deloitte's innovation strategy and the strategy for our clients."

Stephan Raemakers, Managing Partner Innovation at Deloitte Belgium, concludes: "FutureWorld encourages people to think differently. Deloitte encourages people to act differently."