Eleanor Cooksey writes:

It’s a month since I left The Futures Company after first starting working there in 1998, and during my final weeks I reflected on some of changes in the business over that time.

The first one seems obvious, although you still have to pinch yourself at the scale of the changes. In 1998, the internet was tiny (9% of UK households had internet access, and the web itself was far smaller). Instead, researching facts and figures was an activity valued in itself which required considerable effort and some expertise. The Henley Centre (as it was then) subscribed to many publications, which would arrive in the post and then be carefully filed in an extensive library, supervised by the company’s librarian. And when this wasn’t enough, off we would trot to public libraries to pore over more specialist titles.

Secondly, personal communication technologies were far less ubiquitous. People didn’t necessarily have a mobile phone of their own, and, indeed, there were several ‘office handsets’ one could book out for the day if necessary.

Thirdly, the company invested considerable resources in knowledge venturing – our thought leadership programme –  and developing proprietary content. This is one area where there has been some continuity, but with twists and turns along the way. Back in 1998, much of this content was published regularly in print editions and sold to clients. Over the past decade, knowledge venturing has remained critical, but publishing it commercially less so. Interestingly now we see a return to publications, but for our time. Instead of the book, one size fits all, there is Global MONITOR, with its searchable syndicated  insight, customised to the profile of a particular client.

Finally, there is one small change which, from a personal perspective I regret. In 1998, the company strapline was ‘Seize the Future’, which I must confess to preferring to our current version of ‘Unlocking Futures’. But then, all things must pass.

The image at the top of the post was taken by our design manager, Stacey Yates, and is published here under a creative commons licence: some rights reserved.

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