See all NewsEngineering News

Howard Tullman Predicts Future Tech Trends

Tullman’s visit was a part of Northwestern Engineering’s Dean’s Seminar Series on Jan. 27

Two years ago, Amazon received a patent for “anticipatory shipping,” a system that ships desired items before the customer even orders them. Although many people think this sounds outrageous, serial entrepreneur Howard Tullman thinks it’s a sign of similar technologies to come.

Howard Tullman addresses a packed audience at the January Dean's Seminar Series event.CEO of startup hub 1871, Tullman discussed this concept and more technology trends of the future before a packed audience at Wednesday’s Dean’s Seminar Series in the Ford Motor Company Engineering Design Center.

Here are the ten technology trends that Tullman said we can expect to see in the future.

Saving Time

Tullman predicts that, like Amazon’s anticipatory shipping, more companies will find ways to save customers’ time. He cited Sprig, a new service that delivers food to your home within 15 minutes, and Digiboo, an app that downloads a movie to your computer within 1 to 3 minutes at the airport.

“You’re selling convenience; you’re selling time,” Tullman said. “This is happening in every industry you can imagine. Most of us don’t want to wait at all. It’s all part of the world of immediate gratification. I want it, and I want it now.”


More companies are realizing that customers want to set the terms, prices, and location of services. Tullman said industry learned this from the gaming world, which is a “prototype for consumer behavior.”

“Every time a consumer engages with a game, they decide what it’s worth,” he said. “How much do they want to spend and commit? We’re in a new world, and it’s driven by the desire to have it right now, at your convenience, at your location. The fixed price is gone.”

Tullman referenced how this has already happened with television. More people now watch recorded, on-demand, or streaming television than live programming.

Attention as Currency

As people become busier and lured by the many different smartphone apps at their fingertips, companies must compete with everything that requires attention and engagement. Tullman said that as quickly as people adopt new technologies, they discard them ten times faster.

“Attention is more and more at a premium just because of the clutter,” he said. “There are almost 50,000 new apps in the Apple Store each week. Try to bust through that to get your message out there. You have to demonstrate to the customer that you are delivering a value proposition: saving time, saving money, increasing productivity, helping make them better, and increasing status.”

Context is More Important than Content

According to Tullman, business messages today are less important than they context in which they are delivered. If the target consumers are not listening, then the message is lost.

“If you can’t be found, if you’re not out there, if you’re not in the conversation, you can basically forget it,” Tullman said.

Constant Connectivity

Most people — all over the world and of all ages — live constantly connected to others. More than a billion people, for example, login to Facebook every day. Tullman believes that more companies will arise that take advantage of this connectivity and the data that it generates. For example, NFL players have started testing wearable devices that measure physical response times to deduce when the players are getting tired, signaling to the coach to remove them from the field.

Messaging Drives Everything

Tullman said people want services that provide answers and information. The automobile industry is beginning to outfit cars with service apps. Tullman predicts these apps will eventually be able to recommend new restaurants and then help make a reservation and give driving directions. He also predicts that traditional search engines, such as Yahoo! and Google, will compete with search applications within social media. Users will opt for the services that provide better information.

“Google’s engine can’t see within apps, so it can’t see the whole social sharing revolution,” Tullman said. “Facebook already has about a billion searches.”

Importance of Personal Data

The more people are connected, the easier they are to track and mine for data. Tullman cited how companies can use Instagram to mine potentially valuable information, such as viewing lunch photos to learn what, when, and where people eat.

“We’re moving to a point where we can use this information to change the game,” Tullman said. “We can change the way the consumer behaves. We can interrupt the consumer’s behavior.”

Access Trumps Assets

From Uber to AirBnB, many of today’s fastest growing companies do not own anything. Instead, they have access to their users’ surpluses. Tullman believes that many future companies will follow this model. He mentioned Flightcar, a company that covers your airport parking costs by renting out your car while you travel. This concept might have seemed foolish a decade ago, but people in today’s world are growing accustomed to sharing.


On the same note, more people are participating in shared services. Tullman said the sharing economy is particularly powerful for retirees, home-bound senior citizens, and stay-at-home parents who can offer task services.

“We can now reach out and pull them back into the workforce,” he said.

Internet of Everything

Not only are people becoming more connected, but more machines are now connected to the Internet as well. Products like Big Belly Solar Trash Compactors are transforming the waste collection industry. The smart trash cans give waste management administrators information for optimizing collection routes, thus saving time and fuel. Tullman said the world can expect to see similar machine-to-machine business arise in the future.

As technology companies start to follow these ten trends, those that resist will struggle. Tullman said companies need to move forward with the future in order to succeed.

“People just trying to maintain their positions will lose,” he said. “If you’re trying to just hold steady, you are slipping backward.”