William Higham is a global authority on the Future of Business.
An experienced Marketer, his practical approach to the future mixes strategic inspiration with tangible advice audiences can apply when they return to their desks.
His talks excite audiences to face the future, armed with innovative ways to handle tomorrow’s consumers and employees.
He reveals what customers, employees, and clients will want and expect from companies tomorrow. And the strategies businesses must adopt to attract and retain them. His data-led approach means he’s as comfortable speaking about the future of work as tomorrow’s ethical consumer or how the Metaverse, Web3, and AI will impact business.
An engaging and inspiring speaker, his talks have inspired thousands globally to face the future without fear. He’s spoken at conferences for FT to Barclaycard leadership events for Walt Disney, BT, Jaguar and Colgate.
“William is a rare talent, cutting through the hype to reveal what is really around the corner.”
William Higham has led the popular consultancy Next Big Thing for over two decades. As a result, he’s worked with clients in multiple sectors: Amazon to Vodafone, HSBC to MTV.
A go-to commentator of future trends, he can be seen in Netflix’s new ‘Future Of’ series. He warned the drinks industry of the New Sobriety, saw well-being and consumers a mile off, and championed ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ (‘Dancing With The Stars’) to BBC.
He wrote the first practical handbook for UK trend strategists: ‘The Next Big Thing: Forecasting Consumer Trends for Profit‘ (Kogan Page, 2010). This has since been translated into five languages.
He’s been interviewed across media: BBC to Bloomberg TV, Fast Company to The Times. He presented a TV show for CNBC, written for The Economist, Advertising Age, and The Director. He’s helped the Cambridge University Innovation Forum and judged WARC and IoD innovation awards.
William Higham first made his name in the music industry. Working at Sony, Virgin and Universal, William ran marketing communications for artists from Michael Jackson to The Rolling Stones. His fascination with music consumers led him to the trends industry. He began as a trends consultant for brands from Levis to BT. He spent a year as MD of online research company OnePoll, attracting clients from Kellogg’s to Findus.
William Higham, Futurist and Trends Speaker:
He is an engaging and inspiring futurist speaker. His talks excite audiences and leave them ready to face the future, armed with new, practical ways to handle tomorrow’s consumers and employees.
Popular speaking topics include:
The Flexible Organisation – The Future of Work
In tomorrow’s uncertain business landscape, the most successful companies won’t be those with the best products or marketing teams. They’ll be the ones that can best adapt to new circumstances. The ones with the best organisation: the most efficiently run offices, smartest workflows and resource allocation, inspiring cultures and engaged, productive employees.
But old-fashioned environments and reporting structures hamper many companies’ productivity, engagement and efficiency. Introducing hybrid is a good start – but much more needs to be done.
In this Future of Work talk, William looks at what CEOs and the HR department can do to rebuild the enterprise: creating environments and organisational structures fit for the future. That gives individuals the autonomy and flexibility to excel – while fostering a collaborative, engaged community across blended workforces. That builds flatter, team-based, results-driven hierarchies working towards a common purpose. They use new technologies like generative AI and smart materials to empower individuals and improve workflows.
Customers as Family – The Future of Loyalty
Brand loyalty and employee engagement are at an all-time low. According to one study, 92% of consumers say they aren’t even loyal to their favourite brand. And 85% of employees admit to being disengaged at work.
But, despite such disturbing statistics, I believe it’ll be easier to build loyalty tomorrow than in the past for both consumers and employees. Why? It’s all down to a growing desire to belong, to ‘feel part of something’, to have the support of ‘people like me’ in an increasingly uncertain world.
In this talk, William uses examples from social media to competitive leisure, neighbourhood groups to book clubs, to show how smart companies can foster loyalty by creating ‘brand families’. He helps audiences identify passions and values that unite their employees and engage their customers. He also explains how to use events and advice to unite customers and give people a voice without losing yours.
Managing Uncertainty – The Future of Leadership
Those who thought business life might calm down post-Covid have been disappointed as the economy hits new bumps and ChatGPT heralds the return of disruptive tech. Far from diminishing, the volatility of the last three years looks set to become the norm. That’s a problem for anyone planning for the future, whether trying to create new marketing strategies, justify spending on new technology, or identify the skills needed in tomorrow’s workforce.
So, how do you plan for an uncertain future? William reveals five practical ways managers can do that in this new talk. You’ll also learn to boost your adaptability, embrace uncertainty, focus on your strategic vision, grasp scenario planning, and build a change-friendly team culture.
Hype-free Guide to AI & Beyond – The Future of Tech
Sometimes, the world feels full of acronyms – AI, AR, W3, GPT – with everyone getting hyped by the media and consultants. But some will matter much more than others – and some won’t. So, how do you tell which innovations you need to focus on and which you can ignore? Which can help, and which will hinder, your business model?
In this talk, Higham cuts through the hype to identify the new technologies that will matter, what makes them unique – and what they can do for your business. Furthermore, he reveals how they’ll impact customer strategy, employee engagement, administrative efficiency and new product development.
How Geopolitics could impact your business
According to EY, geopolitical trends are having a more direct impact on commerce today than they have in a generation. As a result, companies increasingly need to know how these trends will develop, e.g. Ukraine to the Middle East, ocean trade to environmental change, data privacy to export curbs and what impact they will have on:
- budgets, supply chains, workers
- customers’ behaviours
- business strategies
- investment opportunities