I just returned from the very successful 2009 In-HOWse Designer Conference, sponsored by HOW Magazine, where I heard lots of perspectives and predictions.

I was particularly intrigued by one data point gleaned from a presentation on "Managing Through Uncertainty and Change." She cited a recent survey that asked designers what trends were going to have the biggest impact on in-house creative teams in the next 5 years. Their answer?
#1: Social media
#2: Mobile media
#3: The greening of design

Do you agree with that assessment? If so, what are you doing right now -- today -- to prepare your company, your shop, and your team for the changes ahead?

As you begin to plan for the next year, what conversations should you consider initializing with your team and your management? With the marketers and brand managers? With HR and procurement departments?

What training and research should you be reflecting in your 2010 budgets? What vendors or experts can you ask to help your team get up-to-speed?

How should these emerging trends inform your hiring decisions, career paths, and performance evaluations? How can you identify your up-and-coming in-house gurus, whether they be new candidates or veterans looking for a new challenge?

What customers have proven trustworthy early adopters? Who crave innovative thinking? And might be open to piloting new ideas on upcoming projects?

How would you personally build the business case for embracing these trends?

Today, even the most conservative companies have a Web presence... might the same be said in 5 years of social and mobile media? Of aggressively green design? If you believe so, take advantage of this opportunity. Begin to build your resources, knowledge and capabilities now so you and your team are fully prepared to be a proactive and strategic thought leader in the years ahead.