It’s no secret that Bill Gates is one of the most successful people in the world. The Microsoft founder is worth an estimated $91.1 billion, so it’s safe to say that he knows a thing or two about business, and in 1999, he wrote Business @ the Speed of Thought, which basically foresaw the future.
In it, he made a number of claims about new businesses that would develop over the coming years – many of which were unthinkable at the time, especially as the internet was still in its infancy. However, as Markus Kirjonen, a business student, has pointed out, they were eerily accurate.
But what does Bill Gates have to say about the year 2030? Check out the video below to find out:
While there is no doubt Gates himself would not claim to be clairvoyant, he’s clearly got a knack for spotting what will and will not be a bit hit down the line. As a result, it would be interesting to see what predictions he has for 30 years from now. Maybe flying cars will be a thing by then?
Here are 15 of Gates’ most accurate predictions from Business @ the Speed of Thought…
1. Price-comparison sites
Gates’ prediction: “Automated price comparison services will be developed, allowing people to see prices across multiple websites, making it effortless to find the cheapest product for all industries.”
What we have: A simple search for a product on Google or Amazon will present users with numerous price comparisons. There are also various sites which exist solely for this purpose including NexTag, PriceGrabber, and Microsoft’s own Bing Shopping.
2. Mobile devices
Gates’ prediction: “People will carry around small devices that allow them to constantly stay in touch and do electronic business from wherever they are. They will be able to check the news, see flights they have booked, get information from financial markets, and do just about anything else on these devices.”
What we have: Smartphones, smartwatches, speakers like the Amazon Echo, have enabled us to access a vast amount of information at our fingertips, forever changing how we live our day to day lives and communicate with each other.
3. Online payments, finances, and healthcare
Gates’ prediction: “People will pay their bills, take care of their finances, and communicate with their doctors over the internet.”
What we have: Paypal and online banking apps have made it easier to manage your finances, and while the healthcare industry hasn’t radically changed in the way that Uber has changed the transportation one, sites like ZocDoc have made it easier to find a doctor.
4. Electronic personal assistants
Gates’ prediction: “‘Personal companions’ will be developed. They will connect and sync all your devices in a smart way, whether they are at home or in the office, and allow them to exchange data.
The device will check your email or notifications, and present the information that you need. When you go to the store, you can tell it what recipes you want to prepare, and it will generate a list of ingredients that you need to pick up. It will inform all the devices that you use of your purchases and schedule, allowing them to automatically adjust to what you’re doing.”
What we have: Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa are the closest devices that we currently have to electronic personal assistants and their popularity will undoubtedly lead to similar but more advanced products being developed in the future.
5. Online home-monitoring
Gates’ prediction: “Constant video feeds of your house will become common, which inform you when somebody visits while you are not home.”
What we have: Canary, Ring, Netgear, and Google’s cousin company Nest have all created security devices which stream live feeds of your home to your phone and push notifications whenever there’s a person present. Burglars beware.
6. Social media
Gates’ prediction: “Private websites for your friends and family will be common, allowing you to chat and plan for events.”
What we have: The list of social media websites available is endless – the most popular of which in the Western world are Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. The only thing Gates was slightly off the mark here with is his statement that these websites would be private.
7. Automated promotional offers
Gates’ prediction: “Software that knows when you’ve booked a trip and uses that information to suggest activities at the local destination. It suggests activities, discounts, offers, and cheaper prices for all the things that you want to take part in.”
What we have: This software exists on websites including Expedia and Kayak. Google and Facebook also use the information they possess about users to present them with personalized ads that they might be interested in.
8. Live sports discussion sites
Gates’ prediction: “While watching a sports competition on television, services will allow you to discuss what is going on live, and enter a contest where you vote on who you think will win.”
What we have: This is possible on a number of social media websites, with some even live-streaming events.
9. Smart advertising
Gates’ prediction: “Devices will have smart advertising. They will know your purchasing trends, and will display advertisements that are tailored toward your preferences.”
What we have: This is evident on any social media website. Users interests and previous searches are used to tailor the ads they see.
10. Links to sites on live TV
Gates’ prediction: “Television broadcast will include links to relevant websites and content that complement what you are watching.”
What we have: Almost every broadcast in existence now contains a link of some sort to the internet, whether it’s asking people to visit a particular website or follow a company on social media.
11. Online discussion boards
Gates’ prediction: “Residents of cities and countries will be able to have internet-based discussions concerning issues that affect them, such as local politics, city planning, or safety.”
What we have: These discussion boards not only exist as independent online forums but on social media websites like Facebook, where tailor-made groups allow people to talk about specific issues.
12. Interest-based online sites
Gates’ prediction: “Online communities will not be influenced by your location, but rather, your interest.”
What we have: Almost every news website allows people to select what they are interested in. A good example of this in a more general way is Reddit, which contains countless subtopics which users can explore and comment on at their leisure.
13. Project-management software
Gates’ prediction: “Project managers looking to put a team together will be able to go online, describe the project, and receive recommendations for available people who would fit their requirements.”
What we have: Workflow software like Slack, Asana, and Trello have forever changed how people in businesses communicate with each other. Companies like Fiverr and Gigster help people find the talent they need in order to accomplish specific goals too.
14. Online recruiting
Gates’ prediction: “Similarly, people looking for work will be able to find employment opportunities online by declaring their interest, needs, and specialized skills.”
What we have: There are a number of websites which allow people to network and search for jobs. One of the most prominent examples of this is Linkedin, where companies can search for candidates and people can upload their résumés.
15. Business community software
Gates’ prediction: “Companies will be able to bid on jobs, whether they are looking for a construction project, a movie production, or an advertising campaign. This will be [effective] for both big companies that want to outsource work that they don’t usually face, businesses looking for new clients, and corporations that don’t have a go-to provider for the said service.”
What we have: While a single marketplace for this doesn’t yet exist, there are “gig economy” services, like Upwork and Fiverr, where people can advertise their services, predominately freelancers, to find clients. Craigslist remains a popular option for businesses to find clients.
So there you have it – 15 eerily accurate predictions that Bill Gates made back in 1999. With technology only continuing to develop, it’s inevitable that it’s going to play an even greater role in the business world in future – so watch this space. Oh, and listen to anything Gates says.