Are “experts” successful at predicting trends in the technology industry?

If you are a smart businessperson, you know to do your research. You probably use Reddit, Google Alerts, Trade magazines and reputable blogs to follow trends in the industry and technology environments to know how to make your business more successful. Experts have made numerous predictions that seem critical to understanding the changing environment of your startup.

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Unfortunately, putting too much faith into these claims is often the route to disaster. The success these experts have had in making predictions about changes in the technology industry and the success of new products does not even have to be called into question. Many of them are just so far off that they shouldn’t even have merited consideration.

In the meantime, new entrepreneurs give a lot of credence on their claims. If someone with a PhD in engineering, physics or computer science makes a claim about where technology is headed, they have to assume that person knows what they are talking about. Entrepreneurs build companies with strategies based off of those assumptions and even invest their savings buying products that are supposed to be successful.

I did some research a couple of months ago on Deloitte’s prediction about the NetTab. They claimed that one of the biggest trends of 2010 would be the purchase of tens of millions of NetTabs which was supposed to revolutionize mobile computing. This prediction was nonsense because almost no one showed any interest in the product. If the staff at Deloitte simply read the opinions of consumers they would realize that they didn’t see any advantage to the product. It was too bulky to serve as a phone and couldn’t do everything a laptop could. It served no purpose to them and became a complete flop. Yet, some entrepreneurs seemed ready to invest in the product, simply because Deloittes’ technology predictions for 2010 couldn’t possibly be wrong.

Technology is an ever evolving field. Predictions made at the moment are based off of current trends and new developments will cause a sudden jerk that will drive the industry in a completely new direction. If you want your business to thrive, you need to be careful about taking the advice of these experts.

Regardless of how well educated they are, their ability to make successful predictions may be a little over 50%. Would you gamble everything you have on those odds? Anytime you are taking advice from someone else in business, whether they are an expert or a personal advisor you must be a little skeptical. You are the captain of your ship and shouldn’t base your decisions on a mystic who probably has a few cracks in his crystal ball.