William Higham



William 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 the minute they return to their desks. His talks leave audiences excited to face the future: armed with innovative ways to handle tomorrow’s consumers and employees.

He reveals what customers, employees, 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 on the future of work as tomorrow's ethical consumer or how the Metaverse, Web3 and AI will actually impact business.

An engaging and inspiring speaker, his talks have inspired thousands globally to face the future without fear, from Texas to Korea. He's spoken at conferences for FT to Barclaycard, leadership events for Walt Disney, BT, Jaguar to Colgate.

William’s led popular consultancy Next Big Thing for 20 years. He’s worked with clients in multiple sectors: Amazon to Vodafone, HSBC to MTV. He can be seen in Netflix’s new ‘Future Of’ series. He warned the drinks industry of the New Sobriety; saw Wellbeing 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), which 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, The Director. He’s helped Cambridge University Innovation Forum and judged WARC and IoD innovation awards.
William 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 Kelloggs to Findus. He set up Next Big Thing in 2003.

Tech To The Future: A hype-free guide to tomorrow’s technology

What new, emerging technology do you need to know about now? How are your customers’ - and employees’ - expectations around technology provision likely to change? What impact will developments in AI, AR, VR, 3D printing and the Internet of Things have on your industry or your customers? When, if ever, will the Metaverse, blockchain and Web3 hit the mainstream, and what will it mean if they do? 

Working From Hybrid? Where will tomorrow’s employees want to work

Post-pandemic, many businesses’ primary concern was simply getting back on their feet. Where their employees worked while they did that was of less concern. But now the dust is starting to settle, companies are looking at long term workplace policies. One of the key factors will be understanding what tomorrow’s employees will actually want. William’s new talk can really help: by looking at shifting employee attitudes to the work/life balance and what it means for office vs home working policy. 

Building a Faster Horse: Five reasons why consumer-led innovation is the easiest way to boost your bottom line.

Three BIG Words: Why Control, Comfort and Community are what your customer will want tomorrow and what it means for your business. 

Securing the ‘Smart Employee’: How to hire, and retain, the right talent to make your company fit for tomorrow.

Culture Club: You can’t progress without innovation, and you can’t innovate without an Innovation Culture

"Will offered great insights into how consumers are changing and how companies will need to adapt.”

Michaela Ridgeway, FT Live, Financial Times Events

“Will was engaging and thought provoking and set our agenda for change. It was great working with him.”

Mike Hulse, Sales Director, Philips

“William got the brief exactly, and delivered just the kind of speech we wanted him to.”

Laura Kozasvili, Head of Events, British Property Federation

“A superb session, especially in the difficult environs of Zoom. The delegates found it really valuable.”

Kevin Richardson, CEO, Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport

“Will’s insights into the changing attitudes and behaviour of consumers proved really useful.”

Wayne Garvie, Head of Entertainment, BBC

“Will has the unique skill of being able to identify those trends which are important and those which are just fads, then translating them into a commercial opportunity for your business.”

Alex Owens, Head of Insight, Sainsbury’s

"Will’s talk was a great way to start our strategy conference. He brought new, provocative insights into evolving consumer behaviours, inspiring the audience to think of new ways to serve tomorrow’s consumer.”

Matt Houston, Director of Strategy & Business Transformation, Primark

“William gave us great insights into how consumer attitudes are changing, and how companies will need to adapt to better appeal to tomorrow’s new ‘smart’ shopper.”                                              

Michaela Ridgeway, Senior Editor, Financial Times Global Conferences

“Will offered a unique perspective on how companies can remain competitive in the 21st century, in a compelling, entertaining and convincing manner: encouraging delegates to rethink their approach to consumer behaviour.”

Jim Hodgson, Department for International Trade, South West

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Video/Audio Showreels

William Higham - Showreel