5 Future Predictions That Were Spectacularly Wrong

Posted on 9th February 2017 in Business

Written by James Marren

In 1962, a Decca Records executive met with Brian Epstein to watch an audition. He said afterwards, “We don’t like your sound. Groups are out. Four-piece groups with guitars, particularly, are finished.” I’m sure he never lived to regret the fact that the band in question happened to be the BEATLES! Predictions. We all make them at one time or another, it’s what we base them on that’s most important. Is it something the man down the pub said or is it based on cold hard data? I do like a pint, but I don’t want to make any important decisions based on a prediction I made after having one (or two or three). Not wishing to cast aspersions, here are 5 tech-related predictions that may or may not have been conceived under the influence. You decide!

The tech predictions they’d rather we forgot…


“Nuclear-powered vacuum cleaners will probably be a reality within 10 years.”
—  Alex Lewyt, President of the Lewyt Vacuum Cleaner Company.


“Before man reaches the moon, your mail will be delivered within hours from New York to Australia by guided missiles. We stand on the threshold of rocket mail.”
— Arthur Summerfield, U.S. Postmaster General.


“I predict the Internet will soon go spectacularly supernova and in 1996 catastrophically collapse.”
— Robert Metcalfe, Founder of 3Com.


“There’s just not that many videos I want to watch.”
— Steve Chen, CTO and Co-Founder of YouTube expressing concerns about his company’s long-term viability.


“Everyone’s always asking me when Apple will come out with a cell phone.  My answer is, ‘Probably never.’”
— David Pogue, The New York Times.

How You Can Make Better Predictions

Hannah Dawson, FUTRLI Co-Founder, knows a lot about predictions whether she is forecasting cash flow for us here at FUTRLI or scenario planning what’s next with the product roadmap. While chatting with her about these amusing predictions, she shared some top tips.

FUTRLI founder Hannah Mcintyre

She explained that though, of course, you can’t be right every time, it’s vital to think through lots of scenarios and plan for every eventuality. Her advice can be broken down into the following key parts…

Get rid of spreadsheets and use a cloud package

“I’ve made some monolithic spreadsheets in my time that I’ve been fairly proud of. But, they become so big that it’s near impossible to keep them up-to-date, adding actuals, all that variance analysis to track your progress over time – it’s just so difficult. Invariably what happens is they end up in the bin!”

A cloud package such as Xero or QuickBooks can sync to your bank account and update your financials daily, making the next part of the process, scenario planning with real-life insight, much easier. If you put up too many barriers ie/ manually updating your actuals into a spreadsheet which keeps falling over with formula errors…you’re going to loathe the process. This won’t lead to the best results for you or your team.”

What-ifs are key

Hannah went on to explain,

“Every business has a multiple set of futures that it can pursue. To really test different scenarios, we use FUTRLI’s, appropriately named, Scenarios section. FUTRLI has this really neat piece of functionality where you can create your base forecast and then layer other assumptions on top and link different scenarios to it.

For example, you create 2 scenarios related to taking on 10 and 20 new staff members, factoring in all the costs as well as the potential revenue increases. You can then, with the click of a button, link those scenarios to your base forecast and you’re able to see, clearly, the differences between them. When the software is working as fast as the questions in your head, it starts to get really interesting!”

Don’t make excuses

“If you have only been in business for 1 month it is still not ok to kid yourself on that you have no data to work with. Firstly, you’ll have something you can clutch onto to give you a reference point. Plus, Google is your friend.”

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