Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large
Dr Nichola Millard, 'futureologist' predicts consumer trends. BT headquarters, Dubai. Duncan Chard for the National
Dr Nichola Millard, 'futureologist' predicts consumer trends. BT headquarters, Dubai. Duncan Chard for the National

What's around the corner is both cloudy and clear

The Life: What are the next big business trends? Ask a futurologist.

A psychologist by training, Dr Nicola Millard is now "a customer experience futurologist" with British Telecom. In the UAE recently to meet staff at the company's Dubai office, she explained why she gets paid to see around the corner.

What exactly is a futurologist?

I was meeting with another futurologist from another company the other week and he described his job as "a DJ of trends". That is kind of what I do. A lot of my work is to just try and fathom out what's coming around the corner. My title does not assume that I'm going 25 years into the future, in actual fact my brand of futurology starts in maybe two weeks and then maybe goes out a maximum of five years.

How did you get into that?

It was an accident. I was in a situation where I was doing a lot of work which was really trying to get a lot of the real innovative research out to customers. So I was doing that role and then it sort of became the futurology role.

What are the most trends you are seeing just now?

Because smartphones are quite sophisticated devices, you're starting to get weird behaviours, particularly if you start to couple social media and the smartphone together. This was actually a trend we tracked in Japan a while back. Not everything in Japan translates to the rest of the world, but they were very early adopters of "let's marry the smartphone and the social network together". They had apps where if you were walking down the street, it knew who you were and it also knew where your social network was so it would make suggestions like "why don't you meet up". We're almost getting that behaviour now through things like Foursquare, Google Latitude and Facebook Places.

What will the world look like in five years' time?

Cloud computing is a very popular thing to talk about from an IT perspective. In the cloud you don't own anything anymore. If you have a company with very few assets and that can mobilise those assets very quickly, you get very agile companies that appear from nothing but can use very powerful technology on a pay-as-you-go basis.

You mean companies starting up with no assets and no buildings?

Yes, completely. They will buy all their technology from the cloud and bring together people who they maybe don't even know, people who are passionate about what they want to do. That's beginning to happen now, but I think it's going to become a lot more common in the future. That's a scary type of organisation because they really can move fast. They can start to gain market share in new markets fast, faster than big corporates can.

* Gillian Duncan

Back to the top

More articles


Editor's Picks

 The Greens, villas: Q1 no change. 3BR - Dh210-250,000. 4BR - Dh210-260,000. 5BR - Dh220-300,000. Q1 2013-Q1 2014 5% rise. Pawan Singh / The National

In pictures: Where Dubai rents have risen and fallen, Q1 2014

Find out how rental prices in the prime locations in Dubai have altered during the first three months of the year and the current rates you will pay according to data provided by Asteco.

 Above, the private pool of Ocean Heights' five-bedroom penthouse flat. Courtesy Christie’s International Real Estate

In pictures: Penthouse flat is height of Dubai luxury living

A five-bedroom penthouse in Ocean Heights in Dubai Marina is on sale for Dh25 million and comes with a private pool and an unparalleled view of Dubai.

 The cooling towers of the Temelin nuclear power plant near the Tyn nad Vltavou in Czech Republic. The country wants to continue expanding nuclear energy capacity despite cancelling a tender to build two new units. David W Cerny / Reuters

In pictures: Best business images for the week to April 17, 2014

Here are some of the best business images for the week to April 17, 2014.

 Three generations of the Hakimi family tend to their stall Crawford Market in Mumbai. Subhash Sharma for The National

In pictures: Shopper’s delight at Crawford Market in Mumbai

Crawford Market is an old British-style covered market dealing in just about every kind of fresh food and domestic animal imaginable. Later on renamed Mahatma Jotirao Phule, the market remains popular among locals and visitors by its old name, taken from Arthur Crawford who was the first municipal commissioner of the city.

 The Wind, Energy, Technology and Environment Exhibition takes place from April 14 to April 16. Above, the Dewa showroom during last year’s Wetex. Jaime Puebla / The National

April corporate and economic calendar for the UAE and overseas

From Cityscape to Wetex to stock-market holidays to nations reporting first-quarter GDP figures, here is our helpful calendar of April's business events in the UAE and internationally.

 Get the latest information on credit cards, bank accounts and loan products in the UAE. Mark Lennihan / AP Photo

Rates report: Latest on UAE loans, accounts and credit cards

Souqamal.com brings you the latest interest rates on banking products in the UAE.

Events

To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National