Readers ask us that question all the time. And we ask the people we write about the same thing. This first incarnation of the Fast Forward list is an attempt to capture what comes out of those conversations, to look around the corner and offer some insight into the ideas, people, and trends that will affect the way we work and live in 2005.
Perhaps the most thrilling part of putting together a list of 101 emerging ideas is seeing the innovation and optimism bubbling up in so many arenas, from packaged goods to biotech to security. In a stagnant business climate, it's easy to get dejected about whether there are, in fact, any big ideas left to pursue. An Internet may not come along every year to transform our lives, but not every mountain has to be Everest. We can still get pretty excited about an advance in shopping-cart technology (see No. 74).
At the heart of each of the 101 items on the list lies an idea. It may be convenience or transparency or a new way to think about strategy. We think you'll see ideas that will help you change the way you work or how your company does business. In some cases, you may just be able to adopt the concept itself. In others, you may be inspired by the soul of it.
Predicting the future, even the near future, is a perilous endeavor in our lightning-round business culture. Some of these items are sure things and others are long-shot gambles. That's by design. For as you consider what you want to accomplish next year, the key to success may be a healthy mix of both.
A version of this article appeared in the November 2004 issue of Fast Company magazine.