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Looking at your business future
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I walked through the lobby of the Gulf Building in downtown Houston, Texas, heading for the bank of elevators located just off the main entrance.

This was not the first time I had been inside this building, but today was the start of a new effort within our oil company, so for that reason the walk meant just a bit more to me.

This main lobby was home to a major bank that leased space from Gulf.

Constructed during the depression, the building was adorned in the Art Deco style.

Massive brass chandeliers illuminated the grand room with its warm wood panels and large leather chairs.

Walking through the lobby was like passing through another era.

Stepping off the elevator on the 28th floor could not have been more of a contrast.

Workers were putting the finishing touches on glass paneled offices and raised flooring designed to house a small, but very new, computer.

It took up the space of an average high school classroom.

I was part of the team put together to explore the future of computing via remote access.

The ideas were absolutely cutting edge in the 70s.

So new in fact that no one really knew exactly what we were going to do with the computer.

Today of course, remote computing is commonplace to the point that most people completely forget they are doing things remotely.

Smart phones, tablet devices, cloud computing, the web, the "Watch" and Wi-Fi are woven into almost every aspect of our daily lives.

Back then, our first successful experiments were to use dial up devices to connect to our main frame computers some 20 miles away in the Houston suburbs.

These were huge accomplishments.

Since that time I have been involved in many futurist projects, conferences and discussions on science, computing, economic development, education and our future society.

These discussions are driven by people that are always looking forward, and make it a habit to seek out every new trend and development.

The future offers great business opportunities and you can benefit from those if you are positioned to do such.

Take for example the rapid development of Intelligent Marketplaces.

While most massive retail corporations continue to use huge warehousing and distribution centers to support their stores, the growing Internet of Things (IoT) and the Internet of Everything (IoE) allows for greater use of timely sales, stocking and transportation data.

Massive warehouses are expensive to build, heat and cool and maintain. They add to the cost of every product sitting inside.

The days of massive distribution centers and trillions of dollars of static inventory are numbered.

Inventory; all inventory, are goods frozen in time.

The old fear was not having the right item for the customer.

That fear drove (and still drives) most businesses to overstock and in many cases to do so with reckless abandon.

Advancements in Just in Time (JIT) inventory led to some improvements with excesses, which in turn have led to Lean Business concepts.

The idea is to make all aspects of your business lean thus nimble, cost efficient and fast.

It does take some time to develop the supplier relationships needed to lean your business, but once you have done it you will wonder why you did not do it earlier.

The remote computing center I worked in during the 70s was a precursor to our current mobile society.

It marked the beginning of the tools these latest business trends now rely on.

Trends such as knowledge management, Artificial Intelligence enabled support systems and deeply connected vendors are all part of how future businesses, especially small businesses, will operate.

These are the tools you will need to make your business competitive over the next few years.

Look into these concepts.

Trust me, your competition is.

Charlie Auvermann is a longtime Dawson County resident and former editor of the Dawson Community News. He is also the executive director of the local development authority.