HDAW keynote speaker hopes to bring clarity to clouded future

Updated May 16, 2019

Daniel Burrus doesn’t believe the future of business is unpredictable. Well, at least not all of it.

The futurist and author of seven books on forward-thinking business practices says all future business trends fall into two categories: soft trends and hard trends . Burrus says soft trends are the unknown, the new innovations and technological advancements without parallel in today’s business climate. He acknowledges those can be tough to pin down.

But soft trends are only part of the future, he says. Hard trends are certain. They are going to happen. And in his keynote presentation later this month at Heavy Duty Aftermarket Week (HDAW) in Las Vegas, Burrus says he will demonstrate how to identify and capitalize on hard trends that are coming to the distribution channel.

“I want to focus on how [aftermarket businesses] can accelerate growth in this period of uncertainty and rapid change. There are things we can be certain about and those trends give us amazing opportunities to grow,” says Burrus. “Instead of having speculation and trying to guess what’s next, what do we actually know?”

Burrus has developed his Anticipatory Organizational Model to do just that. He says the landmark model enables business leaders and executives to evaluate all business trends and easily sort which future developments definitely are going to happen and which other trends are possible but not certain.

“It’s about separating the ‘ifs’ and the ‘maybes’ from what we know will happen,” he says.

Burrus uses the smartphone as an example, stating that while we do not know every technological innovation that will come to the smartphone in the next five years, we do know the general population’s reliance on the smartphone is growing and will continue to do so. Therefore, Burrus says distributors should be striving to introduce smartphone-accessible resources and technology to serve their customers.

Burrus’ track record in this work is impressive. He wrote in 1993 that a virtual bookstore would be introduced within two years (Amazon was founded in 1994), and he predicted the eventual demise of Blockbuster and the introduction of an online-based media entity (like Netflix) later that same decade.

And Burrus is excited to bring that knowledge to HDAW. He believes teaching people about how to identify hard and soft trends is what he “was put on this earth to do.”

“I want to help give [HDAW attendees] certainty about the future because certainty gives us confidence to make a bold move,” he adds.

Conversely, Burrus says uncertainty and hesitancy, particularly in today’s fast-paced and constantly evolving distribution channel, can cripple a business in record time. Now is the time to act, he says.

“We are at a unique point in human history in that we are doing things today that were impossible two years ago and in two years we’ll be doing things that are impossible this year,” he says. “Instead of seeing that as a threat, I want to show [HDAW attendees] that this means there has never been more of an opportunity for business leaders to improve their businesses than there is right now.”

This is the second of seven presenter previews for HDAW 2019. Please check back later this week for more information about opening general session speaker Sam Schmidt. Previous HDAW 2019 preview articles are available HERE.

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