Fast Company

Fast Forward 2005: 50-54

The future is something to get excited about again. Here's our look at the surprising people, ideas, and trends that will change how we work and live in 2005.

50. The Rise of Global Talent Webs

As organizations -- small and large -- build these relationships, our individual work will change as never before. Plan on staying up all night if you're working on a team with members scattered across the globe in multiple time zones. Expect to set your alarm clock for a 3 a.m. meeting if your colleagues are based in India or China. We'll do better work, but let's hope the 24-7 work style affords us a nap in there somewhere.

51. Luxe Experiences

Luxury goods are so quickly and deftly ripped off today that it cheapens the exclusivity of owning them. The one thing that can't be knocked off is an experience. Even luxury-goods makers will need to tie their brands to experiences to regain cachet. The Mandarin Oriental hotel in Washington, DC, for example, is offering a special Inauguration Package for next year. For $200,500 a couple, you get four nights in the Presidential Suite, four days' use of a chauffeur-driven Maybach, a visit from Neiman Marcus to outfit you in designer clothes, and a flag flown over the U.S. Capitol as a memento. Oh yeah, and if for some reason you don't have tickets to the ball, they'll find some for you. "Luxury is access," says Danielle DeVoe, Mandarin's communications director.

52. Mini-Soaps

Think of it as short-attention-span theater. Micro minimovies, always under three minutes and often as short as one minute, give companies a way to engage viewers through soap-opera style segments instead of ads. It started on cable but is spreading to broadcast television, too, with Monster.com sponsoring a series called "Office Romances," and Match.com doing one for online dating. If done right, it sure beats a 30-second spot.

53. Megapastors

Joel Osteen, the 41-year-old pastor of Lakewood Church in Houston, has one of the largest and fastest-growing megacongregations in the United States. This spring, Lakewood Church is moving into Houston's Compaq Center, formerly the city's major events arena, to accommodate its 30,000-plus parishioners. His TV show airs on seven cable networks and his new book, Your Best Life Now: 7 Steps to Living at Your Full Potential (Warner Books), already hit number one on Wal-Mart.com based on pre-orders. Pastor Joel's message, not surprisingly, is one of hope, self-empowerment, winning the battle of the mind, and holding on to your dreams. And not surprisingly, Osteen's fast-growing empire has made him a controversial figure. Should megacongregations be studied as paragons of "customer service" and creators of "lifestyle brands"? Or should we look askance at them as the Wal-Marts of religion?

54. Marketing Research's Next Frontier

Forget trying to rope kids into focus groups. Or getting them to answer phone surveys. You have to reach kids where they want to be reached, and that's through text messaging. NextStep, a youth marketing firm, just unveiled its latest research technique: Mobile Youth IQ, in which a teen panel answers weekly surveys and critiques ad campaigns using their cell phones. Although the promise of text-messaging research is real-time insights (early clients include McDonald's, Fox, Honda, and Expedia), MYIQ will be published just six times a year. Hmm. With fickle teens, the faster you can cash in on insights, the better. Otherwise marketers might just find that text-messaging research is soooo over.

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