Capital Buzz: A futurist gives a glimpse of what’s ahead

At next week’s World Future Society annual meeting in Orlando, attendees will hear things such as how to invest in technology and how the stock market might predict epidemics.

Hmmm.

Amy Zalman, 46, who started last week as the nonprofit’s president and chief executive, responded to some business questions we fired her way.

Zalman most recently served on the faculty at the National War College in the District, where she specialized in national security.

How will the future change the business world?

Radically. What we think of today as a company or business may not exist in 50 years because of technological changes.

Offices could disappear, and we will be able to work from anywhere. Automation and robots will do our rote tasks, while workers perform uniquely human face-to-face work or do higher order cognitive and creative work.

Can Washington-based businesses, whether it’s a big defense contractor, hotel chain or computer software firm, learn anything from the WFS?

We offer Washington-based businesses techniques for looking ahead and figuring out how to prepare for threats and opportunities. Alternative energy systems, alternative food supplies, managing the effects of climate change — these are all business opportunities of the future.

Your field is national security. How does our national security look right now?

The international balance of power is radically shifting. We face transnational threats like climate change. Domestically, failures to educate and employ Americans may be a national security threat.

National security would benefit from a stronger focus on foresight and the future, instead of efforts to hold onto programs and systems that don’t really protect us from tomorrow’s threats.

Hello. We’re open

The new owners of the National Conference Center and West Belmont Place in Leesburg are busy reintroducing the facility to the neighbors in hopes of boosting business, which was ailing for years.

The center has expanded its Internet WiFi capabilities. The new owners hosted wine-tasting classes last week, and is beginning a six-week, free outdoor family movie series every Friday night, starting July 11. A wine festival is planned this fall.

The center, whose 250,000 square feet of meeting space filling 250 meeting rooms, is the largest government training center in the mid-Atlantic. It was originally built in the 1970s as a training center for Xerox. It is now used by private and public sector industries as a place to train employees.

Its business took a hit during the Great Recession. Earlier this year, it was acquired by a joint venture of Connecticut-based Stoneleigh Capital and a real estate management firm.

The NCC derives revenue from two sources. Training, seminars, trade shows and conferences are one source. The other is social, which includes weddings and special events, such as wine tastings, and receptions.

The Buzz hears:

Xappmedia is holding its launch party at the National Public Radio offices on North Capitol Street July 9. Xappmedia allows radio listeners to talk back to ads on mobile devices and connect with offers made through those ads. The company was founded in 2012, but it released its products March 31, 2014. It went live on the NPR news app on April 8.

The company launched through NPR because the nonprofit radio organization has an online audience reach of 23 million listeners and NPR’s innovation is a good fit. And Xappmedia wanted to take advantage of NPR’s record of innovation.

Xapp Ads enable two-way communications by voice when consumers are listening to audio content through mobile apps.

Changing of the guard?

The corner offices at the Carlyle Group may still be occupied by its three founders, but change is afoot. Wall Street bigwig Mike Cavanagh settled into his Carlyle offices last Monday as a co-president. Carlyle earlier this year recruited Cavanagh, once considered the likely successor to JP Morgan’s chief executive Jamie Dimon, to be one of its next generation of leaders. Cavanagh took a $10 million pay cut in return for the potential to earn much greater long-term compensation at Carlyle. He teams up with Glenn Youngkin, a 20-year Carlyle veteran, in the new senior role. It’s a big step on the way to taking the reins from founders David Rubenstein, Bill Conway and Dan D’Aniello.

Thomas Heath is a local business reporter and columnist, writing about entrepreneurs and various companies big and small in the Washington Metropolitan area. Previously, he wrote about the business of sports for The Post’s sports section for most of a decade.
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