Navigating cities of change with Volvo’s chief futurologist

Aric Dromi, chief futurologist at Volvo Car Group, explains the role of a futurologist and what excites him about the future of marketing and innovation.

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This article was commissioned to let readers know about ad:tech Australia 2017, taking place on 14-15 March 2017 in Sydney.

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Aric Dromi’s aim is to help restructure people’s comfort zones and explore a new type of thinking. His job at Volvo is to advance philosophical research and related fields through innovation and technology. Heavily based in research on emerging global trends, he tries to explain the future in a tangible and relevant way. He describes his work as ‘industry-agnostic’, covering trend activity in science, technology, economics, politics, demographics and environmental issues.

We caught up with Dromi ahead of his appearance at ad:tech 2017 to speak about the future. But, he’s quick to point out, talking about the future is not about predicting it. “It’s about helping people navigate the changes it might bring,” he tells Marketing. “I’m going to explore areas that traditionally are not considered marketing domains. From the human brain as a platform to human programming interfaces to the fundamental qualities of reality, we will have to embrace a new type of thinking and redesign our current infrastructures to be part of the perception that will shape the future.”

 

Marketing: Explain the role of a futurologist. What does your day-to-day look like, and where do you get your inspiration and information for your ideas?

Aric Dromi: I do not predict the future but help navigate it. I do so by focusing on the value of the problems rather than the problem itself.  It all starts with research, research and more research. I don’t follow my gut feeling but anchor my ideas in data. I constantly try to understand friction points and only then look for ways to use technology and design to deliver unexpected experiences. I do not believe in storytelling, as I feel the world has plenty of storytellers. I prefer the idea of ‘story maker’.

 

M: What excites you most about the present? What pieces of technology and trends are going to shape the future?

AD: The most beautiful thing about the present is that finally, we have a beginning that can carry us into the unknown. Regarding the technology and trends, if the definition of future is ‘next year’, then that answer is mostly simple, but if it’s the next 50 years, I think we will do better not looking at technology for technology but understand technology in the context of society. In that case, urbanisation, energy, communication, mobility, value exchange and intelligence augmentation will take centre stage.

 

M: What trends do you think will shape the way consumers shop for products and share information?

AD: From human psychology, I think intentions, social belonging, wants and needs will continue to have the biggest influence on consumerism, but our interaction will include a new set of models that will enable faster simple and more dynamic flow in our shopping experiences.

 

M: What does the car buyer of the future look like? What about the roads and cities of the future?

AD: As I said, we will have new ways to look at and interact with products. I do however see the car as a service much more than a product, and as such, it will shape the notion of ownership much more than the one of consumption.

Cities are at a major junction in their ability to accommodate changes. For years they have patched the infrastructure with layer and layer of paper politics and now they need to find a way to scale into an unfamiliar domain – digital. 

 

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