JUNE 2015: The Changing Face of Fatherhood
Insights from Entrepreneur of the Month Michael Vidikan
President, Future in Focus
By Hope Katz Gibbs, Publisher
Be Inkandescent magazine
What will the next generation of stay-at-home dads look like? How will the Millennials parent differently than their parents and grandparents? And how will the new American grandparents behave?
Answers to those questions can be found on the information-packed website by futurist Michael Vidikan: FutureInFocus.com. A popular subscription-based strategic foresight and consulting firm, Vidikan helps companies see years or even decades into the future to make better long-term decisions today. In fact, there are more than 1,400 briefs that can be accessed when you subscribe.
Clients include ConAgra Foods, GM, The Hershey Company, Nissan, and more.
“I’ve worked with Future in Focus over the past few years, and the trend insights I’ve had access to have helped tremendously with forming our strategic plans,” says Ruth Waters, director of Consumer Insights, Commerical Foods, at ConAgra Foods.
Keiichi Kitahara, senior manager for Advanced Planning and Strategy at Nisssan North America, says, “The insights that Future in Focus provides to me and my team are invaluable. Future In Focus’ reports delve into areas of great interest to any company dealing with product development.”
Vidikan founded the firm in 2014, and this month, the team at InkandescentPR helped him launch his new monthly e-magazine, which will feature a different emerging business and consumer trend in each issue.
Vidikan continues the work previously done by Social Technologies, which was founded in 2000 by futurist Tom Conger. The company was sold in 2009 to Innovaro, a company focused on software and innovation solutions.
A graduate of the MBA program at The George Washington University, Vidikan earned his undergraduate degree in business and psychology.
When he’s not focusing on the future, you can find him experimenting in the kitchen, testing out the latest interactive gaming technologies, or volunteering in his community and raising money for Movember, a global organization committed to changing the face of men’s health. Scroll down for our Q&A with Michael Vidikan.
And be sure to glimpse the future of fatherhood, as seen through three Future in Focus reports, excerpted in this issue of Be Inkandescent:
• The Next Generation of Stay-at-Home Dads
• Millennials and Parenting
• The New American Grandparents
Be Inkandescent: What is the mission of Future in Focus?
Michael Vidikan: Our mission is to help companies and organizations become more informed about the future so they can make better long-term business decisions. The future is always murky, but that doesn’t mean it’s unknowable or that it’s not possible to plan for it. As the name of our company suggests, we want to put the future in focus and provide clarity and direction for organizations as they work to plan for what’s coming next.
Be Inkandescent: For those who don’t know, what does a futurist do?
Michael Vidikan: A futurist is someone who presents ideas about what the future might or might not look like. The job involves enormous amounts of reading and research. It’s a lot like doing a puzzle. If you put enough pieces together, you start to see the outline of an image. Good futurists tend to be good historians, because if you want to tell a story about the future, you need to understand how we got to the present. Furthermore, if you can see how quickly a technology is advancing, you can forecast approximately when it will become mainstream and how it will impact various industries. For example, let’s look at self-driving cars. The technology is still years away from mainstream use, and a lot of testing still needs to be done. Based on prototypes in existence today, and the rate at which they are progressing, we can imagine how self-driving cars would disrupt commuting and carpooling down the road. Likewise, if we can understand the psychological and sociological drivers behind emerging human behaviors, we might be able to see how particular demographics or generations make new demands on companies and governments.
Be Inkandescent: What types of trends do you track, and who are your ideal clients?
Michael Vidikan: Our coverage is mostly focused on trends that are consumer-centric and will impact the business community 2-10 years out. We cover a very broad spectrum of consumer and technology trends across many industries and geographies, from research about Millennials’ food preferences to the future of 3D printing in China.
Be Inkandescent: What are some of the trends you report on that surprise you the most?
Michael Vidikan: I’m probably most surprised by the advances in biotechnology. Every day there seems to be a new headline about a discovery that may cure diseases, extend our lives, make us healthier, and improve our performance. There’s a field of researchers who are trying to grow human organs for transplants and manufacture human blood for transfusions. Imagine the lives we could save when those technologies are available.
Be Inkandescent: How can more small businesses use the research you do at Future in Focus?
Michael Vidikan: Some can use the research to see where the market is headed and tailor their products and services to meet the future. Others might want to abandon a doomed industry or market. And of course small advertising or consulting businesses might want to read our research to share with their clients.
Be Inkandescent: How does someone get into the futures business? What type of background / schooling is needed?
Michael Vidikan: There are a few academic programs that offer degrees in Strategic Foresight and Futures Studies. They teach basic principles and methodologies, but many futurists are not classically trained. It’s often just circumstance that leads a person to become a futurist. Many started as researchers or scenario planners, then followed their passion for thinking about the future.
Be Inkandescent: How did you get into the business of being a futurist?
Michael Vidikan: It started during my MBA program. I took a course called “Emerging Technologies: Forecasts & Strategies for the Technology Revolution” by Prof. Bill Halal. I was drawn in by the promise of learning about emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence, space elevators, cancer-fighting nanobots, and other stuff that sounded like science fiction.
Be Inkandescent: What excites you most about this field?
Michael Vidikan: I learned that if you could plot the history of a technology’s progression, you could map its trajectory going forward and see the potential impact and opportunities it could create. Almost immediately after I finished my MBA, I was given an amazing opportunity to work for Innovaro’s Foresight Research division, helping global companies such as BASF, Hershey’s, and GM understand the future so they could make better long-term decisions. Like my clients, I love reading our reports about emerging consumer and technology trends. It’s live having a crystal ball that’s based in solid research. See for yourself at FutureInFocus.com.
Don’t stop yet! Be sure to check out two more fascinating future-focused reports in this month’s Tips for Entrepreneurs columns:
• The 2015 Manifesto: Fathers, Sensitivity, and Parenting
• The Five Types of Men: Which One Are You?