THE BLOG

Back to (Feeling Excited About) the Future

21/07/2014 13:08 BST | Updated 20/09/2014 10:59 BST

To fans of Back to the Future, the year 2015 may look less than promising: no sign as of yet of flying cars or - more disappointingly - flying skateboards. But in comparison with 1980s, the decade in which the cult trilogy was released, technology has brought some incredible changes to our day to day lives. Mobile payments, video-conferencing dozens people from all over the world, watching TV shows in the palm of your hand on your daily commute - all of this has become normal.

But had you told your average person in 1985 that this would be their reality in just 30 years' time, it would have seemed like a truly exciting move forwards. So how can we, knowing the great leaps that technology has recently made, go back to feeling excited about the future? And is there a way to predict what will happen, without turning to the (probably) unrealisable dream of flying skateboards?

At Virgin Media Business, this was the challenge that we set ourselves. We wanted to reach the entrepreneurs who are making change happen and get their ideas on the future, but we knew better than to set up a panel discussion in a stuffy boardroom. A brainstorm on the London Eye sounded like a much better idea. So we gathered 30 challenger businesses and 6 big businesses - from six sectors ranging from Fashion to Social Enterprise - to think of the ways in which they see technology changing their sector in the next 30 years. Oh, and Richard Branson came along as well.

The result was a truly exciting look into the future, with predictions including interactive shopping mirrors connecting consumers with friends, instant translation devices, intelligent fridges that can automatically stock up and dresses that can be 3D printed in a moment's time. As diverse as the sectors and their visions of the future were, there were common trends for all of them: greater personalisation, smarter (and more responsible) use of personal data and ever changing consumer lifestyles driving changes in products and services.

What really stood out in all of these projections of the future is just how rooted in reality they actually were. All of the challenger businesses were set up to respond to new demands in the market - and so understood the increasing challenges of the modern world: pressure on both the world's resources and personal capacity in our fast-paced environment, the desire to stay healthy, fashionable or socially responsible, but having less time to do so, wishing to connect with others in meaningful ways even when faced with living far from each other. What emerged is that only by recognising the changes around us - and actively responding to them - can we come up with innovations that are fun, useful, and most importantly: achievable.

So, while we may need to give up on our dreams of casually skate-flying around, we can still go back to feeling excited about the future. Check out these videos imagining the next 30 years at http://www.3030vision.co.uk/ - and why not add your own? Perhaps you could show us a thing or two about how the future is already being created.