Looking Back to Look Forward

Midjourney - boy looking towards the future

Photo created by Midjourney with the prompt “a young boy looks toward the future bright cheerful colorful exciting sunny smile happy expression optimistic vibrant realistic 3d technology gadgets futuristic –v 4 –ar 3:2”

I have two slides at the end of most of my presentations. One is my investible theses for the upcoming year and the other is stuff that has my attention. As we head into 2023, I thought it might be fun to look at a deck from 2018 and see if I got any of it right five years ago. I’ll let you be the judge.

Near the conclusion of my speeches, seminars, and workshops about what’s new, what’s next, and what it means for my clients’ businesses, I show them a list of my investable theses and encourage them to create a list of their own. The question I like to ask is simple: How differently will you invest your resources (or how will you reallocate your resources) now that you have identified an investable thesis you believe in? Here’s my list with 2018 in bold and 2023 in italics.

Theses for 2018

  • Data are more powerful in the presence of other dataEnriched profiles are now and will continue to be the core driver of digital value.
  • Anything that can be connected will be connectedThere were 22 billion connected devices in 2018, and the estimate for 2023 is 30 billion.
  • Anything that can be hacked will be hackedSadly, this was an easy one.
  • Anything you can talk to will understand and talk backWelcome to NLP (Alexa Voice Services, Siri, Hey Google) and Large Language Models (midjourney, Stable Diffusion, ChatGPT, GPT-3, DALL-E 2).
  • Access is as valuable as ownershipCloud services, Streaming services, ride sharing, AirBNB, etc., are all going strong.
  • The on-demand economy is hereAmazon, FreshDirect, DoorDash, UberEats, etc.
  • Distribution channel disruption is acceleratingPop-up shops, on-demand fashion, creator economy, realignment of advertising dollars. The transition from traditional broadcasting to streaming. The DTC trend.

OK. I got all of these right. But that is not the hard part. The hard part would have been to figure out which businesses to invest in and which businesses to create if you truly believed any of the theses above.

Now, let’s shift to the technologies that were considered “emerging” in 2018 and see how we did. Here are the bullets from the “Stuff that has my attention” slide. Again, 2018 in bold, 2023 in italics.

Stuff That Has My Attention

  • Human/Machine PartnershipsGenerative AI (midjourney, Stable Diffusion, ChatGPT, GPT-3, DALL-E 2).
  • Blockchain and Smart ContractsThe DeFi boom of 2020–2021 and the crypto winter of 2022 notwithstanding, blockchain and smart contracts are here to stay.
  • Augmented Reality (AR)Whatever Web3 and the metaverse turn out to be, AR will play a huge role.
  • Social Media Issues (Addiction, Security, Pending Regulation)Sadly, this has just turned out to be too true.
  • Well-matched Algorithms & Training SetsThis is the basic technological requirement for large language models and the generative AI tools we have today.
  • Accelerated Disruption of the Media BusinessApple+, HBOMax, Paramount+, Disney+, Hulu+Live, YouTube TV, etc.
  • The Evolution of RetailExperiential retail, pop-up stores, on-demand clothing, augmented retail.
  • Chat as an App KillerWeChat, WhatsApp, and ChatGPT.

Getting these right wasn’t hard. What’s hard is the timing. Magic is figuring out which companies are going to do the best job realizing these technologies and turning them into profitable businesses. That’s where you come in. As we begin what is certain to be one of the most uncertain years in recent memory, spend a few minutes and ask yourself what you truly believe. Then, do your best to act on your beliefs. Here’s to a safe, healthy, and happy New Year for us all.

Author’s note: This is not a sponsored post. I am the author of this article and it expresses my own opinions. I am not, nor is my company, receiving compensation for it. I am not a financial advisor. Nothing contained herein should be considered financial advice. If you are considering any type of investment you should conduct your own research and, if necessary, seek the advice of a licensed financial advisor.

About Shelly Palmer

Shelly Palmer is the Professor of Advanced Media in Residence at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and CEO of The Palmer Group, a consulting practice that helps Fortune 500 companies with technology, media and marketing. Named LinkedIn’s “Top Voice in Technology,” he covers tech and business for Good Day New York, is a regular commentator on CNN and writes a popular daily business blog. He's a bestselling author, and the creator of the popular, free online course, Generative AI for Execs. Follow @shellypalmer or visit shellypalmer.com.


PreviousAppeals court revives lawsuit against YouTube for alleged tracking of children's activity NextHeading to CES 2023

Get Briefed Every Day!

Subscribe to my daily newsletter featuring current events and the top stories in technology, media, and marketing.