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8 Predictions For The Future, The 3D Revolution, Overheard At Davos, & More. Issue #8

8 Predictions For The Future, The 3D Revolution, Overheard At Davos, & More. Issue #8
By Scott Belsky • Issue #8 • View online
Is your new year off to a good start? Hope so. The world is more interesting than ever before, in bad ways and in good ways. But the ball is in our court, and we need to stay optimistic about the future and impatient and paranoid about the present. Which brings us to Issue #8 of this ~quarterly newsletter experiment and five topics:
  • 8 Predictions For The Future
  • The Future Of 3D & Immersive Design
  • Update On The Messy Middle
  • Overheard In Davos From Media Execs
  • The Brewing Battle To Be The Default

8 Forecasts For The Future
Forecasting the future is a fun exercise. I like to ask the question, “what about our work and lives today will feel ridiculous ten plus years from now?” What about the future will feel obvious in retrospect?
Future forecasts are not an investment thesis because innovations, no matter how exciting they are, won’t happen until the present is ready for them (and this is why the best investors are more insightful about the present than they are about the future). But if you’re a product leader, entrepreneur, or very early-stage investor, future thinking tunes your attention and instincts. It also helps you determine whether a team is attempting to defy a likely outcome or make it happen in a better way.
There were 8 themes for this year’s analysis, listed below:
  • Disruptive interfaces will wreak havoc across segments of e-commerce and on-demand services.
  • Local city transit will improve by a step-function as government takes over autonomous transportation.
  • A final death blow to analog ways of living as everyday actions are modernized and go mobile.
  • Efficiencies and environmentally-sound practices go mainstream as lower costs and ease of consumption align with environmental consciousness.
  • A new era of personalization that antiquates generalized products and services.
  • A “great awakening” from what we learn about ourselves that will transform our lives.
  • We’ll want stronger relationships, fewer loose connections.
  • Artificial intelligence will protect us more than we ever expected.
Ready to dig in? Review the full post here.
The Future Of 3D & Immersive Design
As you may know, I have been thinking a lot about design for augmented reality and the growing relevance of 3D design across industries. The technology that was once limited to design for gaming, architecture, and physical products is now disrupting traditional creative segments like photography, video, and experience design. I recently learned that over 90% of car commercials are no longer shot on video, they are rendered on gaming engines like Unity and Unreal. Similarly, over 70% of IKEA’s catalog features products that were rendered as 3D objects rather than photographed. But this entire revolution is only possible if the objects and experiences are photorealistic. And future mediums like VR and AR will only feel real if they look real!
Ultimately, this comes down to textures and materials - and the physics of how the surface of 3D objects interact with light, and there is one team in the world that literally set the standards and built the products to create and apply texture and material design to 3D objects: Allegorithmic. Sebastien Deguy and his team started their work in Paris over 15 years ago and became true authorities in the space. I spent much of the last year getting to know the team and helping pave the way for them to join Adobe. We closed the acquisition last week, and Sebastien joins my team as VP of 3D & Immersive Design. I couldn’t be more excited.
Here’s a blog post about the acquisition and opportunity ahead. And below is an example of the kinds of objects (or alien skin) their products make possible across nearly all AAA games and many of your favorite movies. The future of 3D/Immersive Design is bright.
Update On The Messy Middle
Just a quick thank you for your support with the launch of The Messy Middle. The book made it to #8 on the WSJ Bestseller List and it’s been exciting to see it reach far and wide. More importantly, the book has changed the conversation I have with many entrepreneurs in my portfolio and leaders of my product teams. Quite often, “well, we’re in the messy middle now, and here’s what i’m thinking about…” is the bridge to a more pragmatic discussion about keeping the team aligned, prioritizing the right product/team optimizations, and finding creative ways to keep people motivated through the volatility. Needless to say, after 5 years of working on this project and overcoming a lot of self-doubt along the way, it feels good to see folks taking away some gems.
One quick favor: leave a quick review on Amazon (my publisher keeps reminding me to ask those that reach out, very few people take a moment to do so, and these things matter in a world of algorithmic recommendations). Would appreciate it…
Overheard In Davos From Media Execs
I attended the World Economic Forum for the first time this year, representing Adobe and meeting with some of our largest customers, as well as attending the “Governors Meeting” for “Media, Entertainment, & Information Industries,” and a few random gatherings at all hours of the day and night. I’d describe the experience as a mix of TED, a business/investment conference, and what I imagine Council On Foreign Relationships would be like. It is also rather formal, with people wearing suits (i was in jeans) and requesting “Bilaterals” (fancy word for 1:1 meetings). As an introvert, I joked with a colleague that I desperately needed more Unilaterals.
One highlight was a panel discussion on the “human-centered” approach to the digital enterprise. The topic of creativity in ai came up, which prompted this Op-Ed in Fast Company aptly titled “How To Thwart The Robots With Unabashed Creativity” (their title, not mine), and this follow-up interview with Stephanie Mehta, Editor-in-Chief of Fast Company. For all the talk of automation and digital experiences, humans may become more of a competitive advantage in relationship-driven experiences as well as sheer creativity.
Another highlight was a dinner for the Smithsonian institutions focused on accessibility in design and other areas. As some of you know, I am on the Board of Cooper-Hewitt, the Smithsonian National Design Museum in NYC and was at the dinner to support our Executive Director, Caroline Baumann. Caroline shared the museum’s efforts to showcase accessibility in design (from empowering amputees to increasing sensitivity of digital UX designers to colorblindness). This experience sparked many subsequent discussions among participants about how inclusive design stimulates innovation and serves humanity. I was reminded that a museum’s purpose is not only to chronicle the past to educate and inspire, but also to curate the objects and topics that matter most for the future.
The Cooper-Hewitt "Accessibility in Design" exhibition
The Cooper-Hewitt "Accessibility in Design" exhibition
Oh, and I snuck away with a few folks for a quick ski Thursday. I didn’t have the right clothing and was freezing, but it was worth it.
Davos, when nobody else is on the mountain.
Davos, when nobody else is on the mountain.
The Brewing Battle To Be The Default
Finally, in case you missed it, I’ve been thinking a lot about what i’ve come to call “disruptive interfaces” - drastically simpler and more accessible interfaces that ultimately commoditize everything underneath. Once powerful companies that have invested millions or billions in their brands, achieved dominance through network effects, or compete with sophisticated supply chains are vulnerable to losing their pricing power, differentiation, and being all-together excluded from the moment where customers make decisions.
Feel free to read more here, would be great to get your feedback. Still evolving…
As always, thanks for being a subscriber, thanks for leaving a quick review for the book if you have a minute, and sending my best as your new year gets underway…
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Scott Belsky

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Scott Belsky, NY/SF