How to Successfully Predict Tech Trends

The Forrest Four-Cast: September 23, 2016

Earlier this week, MakerBot CEO Jonathan Jaglom announced the company’s re-positioned focus on commercial products, admitting that in-home 3D printing is “just not there yet.” Good thing that this not-there-yet concept was not included in the list of top ten trending topics for March 2017 in Austin that I published via Medium on September 18.

My omission notwithstanding, it wasn’t too long ago that in-home 3D printing seemed poised to be one of the next big things. To this end, the challenges of this particular industry illustrate the overall challenges of predicting / forecasting what will emerge as tomorrow’s hottest trends. One can have significant supporting evidence to support the logic of what kinds of products will break big (and what kinds of products won’t). But at the end of the day, there’s often a very wide gap between how we think the future will play out and how it actually plays out (as well as how soon it play out in the way we think it will). I’m looking at you virtual reality.

If there is any tried and tested / foolproof method for getting it right, then its scale. So, the more next-generation ideas that you bet on, the more likely you are that at least one of your bets will be successful in the timeframe that you think it will be. That’s one of the upsides / beauties of an event as large as SXSW. With so many sessions covering so many different topics, there’s a good shot that at least a handful of the next-big-thing concepts that we showcase will eventually meet their full predicted potential. “Eventually” and “potential” are key words here.

Speaking of March 2017 in Austin, we are still bullish that 3D printing (both from a commercial and in-home perspective) will be a big thing long-term. See the latest innovations in this industry (plus robots, drones and lots of other neat stuff) at SXSW Create, running March 10–12 at the Palmer Events Center. No badge required to attend this way-cool exhibit space!

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