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One day, will we attend concerts in virtual reality? ABBA is testing the concept

The four members of the Swedish pop group ABBA hold Japanese oil paper parasols in a light rain in the Japanese garden of a Tokyo hotel in 1980. The members are reuniting for a virtual-reality concert in 2017. From left: Benny Andersson, Agnetha Faltskog, Bjorn Ulvaeus and Anni-Frid Lyngstad.
The four members of the Swedish pop group ABBA hold Japanese oil paper parasols in a light rain in the Japanese garden of a Tokyo hotel in 1980. The members are reuniting for a virtual-reality concert in 2017. From left: Benny Andersson, Agnetha Faltskog, Bjorn Ulvaeus and Anni-Frid Lyngstad. AP

I’m ready for the Year of the Monkey to be finished. Bring on 2017, which also means it’s time to peer into the future.

One of my favorite websites — trendwatching.com — posted trends for the upcoming year. Let me give you two that struck me.

1. ABBA comes to you no matter where you are.

Kevin Kelly is a founder of Wired magazine and prolific author, most recently of The Inevitable, where he suggests 20 future trends that are bound to happen. One is virtual reality. He claims that if you gain any expertise in this field, you’ll be leading the pack.

Interestingly, trendwatching.com says the same thing — and that virtual experiences may become as powerful as, or in some cases better than, actual ones in some fields. Take concerts, for example.

With concert ticket prices skyrocketing, and traveling to concerts difficult for many, what if you could attend virtually?

Thanks to the Swedish band ABBA, you might be able to. Apparently the band rarely travels, but people still want their music and would love to experience a concert. So ABBA has joined in partnership with a music company to offer a virtual reality experience (planned for 2018) that could be better than the “real thing.” The true measure of whether this succeeds may well be, of course, the price of the virtual experience tickets.

2. Reverse delivery

As people order meals for delivery, the service has expanded in many large cities. But that also means once a meal is dropped off, the delivery person returns to a restaurant “empty.”

A food bank in Sao Paolo, Brazil, came up with an idea that is a winner both for the restaurants and the food bank: reverse delivery. When the delivery person delivers a meal to a customer, she asks if the customer has any food to donate. The delivery person returns the donated food to the restaurant (some 35 restaurants now participate) and a reverse-delivery person picks up the food and takes it to the food bank.

The idea, of course, gets to the notion of how to tap unused capacity — whether in delivery or anywhere else within an organization or its processes. Reverse delivery could apply in so many other settings, such as a dry cleaner asking customers if they have clothes to donate.

The key is that leaders, and individuals, review their own systems regularly to see where they might be more sustainable and perhaps solve bigger problems.

So many of these trends just seem ripe to happen, because people are creative, because they think through practices that have been used for a long time, and because they do things differently to get better.

Bring on 2017.

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