Introducing the Now & Next: Future of Engagement report

Pascal Beucler, SVP and Chief Strategy Officer, MSLGROUP

Pascal BeuclerThe future doesn’t fit in the containers or mindset of the past.

Our Now & Next: Future of Engagement report identifies the ten most important frontiers that will define the future of engagement in our Social Age: CrowdfundingBehavior Change GamesCollaborative Social InnovationGrassroots Change MovementsCo-creation CommunitiesSocial CurationTransmedia Storytelling, Collective IntelligenceSocial Live Experiences and Collaborative Consumption.

As trusted advisers to our clients around the globe, we’re committed to helping them navigate the complexity of today and prepare themselves for the even higher complexity of tomorrow.

To do this well, we need to live in two modes at all times: the now and the next. We need to acknowledge the trends that are already here and we need to anticipate the groundswells that are on the horizon. In short, we need to find a way to synthesize powerful insights into valuable foresights.

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Our approach is to crowdsource the web platforms and brand programs in the areas of social data, crowdsourcing, storytelling and citizenship that are pointing to the future of engagement, find the interconnections between them, identify the patterns they form, then extrapolate these patterns into the future. Over more than a year, we have studied hundreds of web platforms and brand programs and synthesized them into the ten frontiers for the future of engagement.

Here are the most important patterns we see across these ten frontiers:

  • It’s a People’s World: Entrepreneurs and changemakers, not organizations and corporations, are creating the future of engagement (crowdfunding, collaborative consumption). The consequence is that organizations must learn best practices from entrepreneurs and changemakers, and adapt them to their own engagement efforts.
  • It’s a Purpose-led World: Engagement is increasingly being ignited by a shared purpose and a sense of citizenship (grassroots change movements, collaborative social innovation). There’s an urgent need for organizations to collaboratively redefine what they stand for and design purpose-inspired platforms and programs.
  • It’s a Boundless World: Engagement is increasingly unbound by channel. Media organizations are often in the forefront of digital media innovation (transmedia storytelling, social curation, social live experiences). Corporations must follow their lead and create platforms and programs that are truly unbound by channel.
  • It’s a Complex World: While entrepreneurs, changemakers and media organizations are creating long term platforms, corporations often limit themselves to creating short-term programs that are easier to fit into the framework of a campaign. Corporations must learn the skills and mindset needed to create long-term platforms.
  • It’s a Demanding World: Media organizations and corporations are beginning to acquire innovative startups to engage people in more meaningful ways (behavior change games, collective intelligence, collaborative consumption). Corporations will increasingly need to behave like venture capitalists, with a portfolio of investments in the future.
  • It’s a Fragmented World: Entrepreneurs are creating specialized software solutions to help organizations engage people using specific tools, in specific verticals. Such engagement solutions will become even more niche, even as bigger players try to position their engagement solutions as more integrated.
  • It’s a Global World: The platforms and programs that point to the future of engagement are originating not only in the US, but from all over the world, including Europe, Asia and Latin America, with the Nordics contributing a disproportionate share of path-breaking projects.

Welcome to our brave new world!

It’s not an easy world to navigate, but it’s a Darwinian one, in which competition is open to all, and where the best will dominate.

Finally, I would like to express my gratitude to all our planners around the globe who have shared their insights on the MSLGROUP Insights Network, with a very special mention for our colleagues Gaurav Mishra and Nidhi Makhija, who have synthesized these insights into foresights.

You can also read Now & Next: Future of Engagement here: