Ten Years of the Future

This past week we celebrated Patron Technology’s 10th anniversary, and though I’m not very nostalgic, this milestone got me thinking. What was it that I imagined 10 years ago about the future, that today seems obvious?  And, what will I be writing about 10 years from now that today doesn’t seem obvious, but will then?

Looking back 10 years when we started our business, there were no bloggers, no Facebook or Twitter, and the very notion of starting a company based on e-mail marketing was suspect. People referred to companies like mine as “dot bombs.” After all, the first Internet bubble had burst and the “smart money” bet that the Internet was not all it was cracked up to be.

But we made our bet on e-mail marketing, and as I recall, the biggest hurdle we faced was SPAM. Everyone’s in-boxes were overflowing with it. Nobody believed they should do e-mail marketing lest they be labeled a spammer.

I predicted (correctly) that the potential for e-mail to be a fantastic and inexpensive revenue generator would result in an enormous investment by corporate America to marginalize the spammers, and enable legitimate e-mail marketing and e-commerce. Today e-mail marketing seems like a completely obvious marketing tool.

In looking back I also realized I’ve been blogging for four years. Back in May 2007 I blogged about the future:

“One of the emerging Web technologies I keep my eye on is streaming video. It’s my feeling that video on the web will totally transform the Internet. Today, people think of the Web as mostly text and pictures, but in the future I think video will dominate.”

Four years later, this, too, seems pretty obvious.

So what is it today that we’ll look back on and think is obvious?  I have several answers, among them “cloud computing” and Customer Relationship Management (CRM.) These are things we’re now betting our business on and that Michelle Paul and I wrote about in our new book Breaking the Fifth Wall: Rethinking Arts Marketing for the 21st Century.

After a decade, the reason this business still excites me is that technology is continuing to empower small organizations (and companies and entrepreneurs) to do things that used to be only possible at larger, well-funded organizations.

And in an arts industry which is dominated by small and mid-size groups, this is a huge ray of bright light in an otherwise very dark economy.

I’m going to continue to write about the future and I hope you’ll follow me on Facebook, Twitter, or sign up to receive these posts by e-mail above, and forward this article to your friends and colleagues.

Finally, if you have your own memory of technology from 10 years ago, please comment. I’m guessing your memory is better than mine!

– – – – – – – – – – – –

Learn More about PatronManager, the powerful CRM platform that helps you sell more tickets, raise more money, and cultivate stronger bonds with your audience, all in one database.