Stay on Cutting Edge of Technology or Risk Extinction?

Emerging Technologies

Technology continuously evolves; moreover, technology changes rapidly.  In turn, leaders today keep up with this constant change.  For example, Microsoft’s strategy was to dominate the personal computer and game console as the primary channels to the end user.  Enter smartphones and the advantage swung to Apple and Samsung!  Similar to Apple and Samsung, how does a leader stay relevant? 

To stay current, leaders are lifelong learners and commit to researching and studying emerging technologies.  In essence, leaders stay on top of the latest technology trends by reading predictions for the future.  To illustrate, Kelly (2011) provides six trends for how the future will be different.  In reflecting on these trends, the author of this blog sees a future with Kelly’s (2011) screens of ubiquitous nature, spectacle display glasses, and interactions through the full use of body when utilizing technology.  For example, imagine the day when we walk down a city street and pertinent advertising pops out at us on screens displayed on buildings.  At the same time, our glasses act as a navigation system to meet a friend at an unfamiliar park.  Afterwards, we head home and use our hands and eyes to redesign the layout of the rooms in our house.  The increase in productivity is evident and the possibilities seem endless.  Thus, a strong leader constantly develops knowledge of the latest technology trends and auguries.   

To adapt, leaders are open to technological change because the old way of doing things may not work in the future.  Furthermore, leaders sift through the trends and predictions and identify a vision of the emerging technologies that impact the future of their organization.  To illustrate, Meeker & Wu (2013) provide low-cost drones as a technology trend for the future.  Similarly, Amazon’s CEO, Jeff Bezos, recently provided a futuristic vision, which he expects to take place in the next five years, where customers order products on the company’s website and drones deliver the packages directly to customers (“Amazon’s drone delivery,” 2013).  This change disrupts the supply chains of many businesses as they are today.  Furthermore, what will FedEx look like?  Will it change or even exist?  Gazing into the future of the author’s own organization in financial services, an investor uses a tablet device to take a loan or withdrawal from their account.  Within an hour, a drone delivers a check right to the investor’s door! 

Other examples demonstrating his firm’s emerging technology impacts are Wikipedia’s emerging technology of artificial brains (“Emerging technologies,” n.d.) and Kelly’s (2011) sharing of information.  His company is already using Wikipedia’s emerging technology of voice recognition (“Emerging technologies,” n.d.) software to identity an investor when call in.  Looking into the future, artificial brains are opportunities for his organization.  For example, a frequent question his firm receives from investors is where to invest?  Imagine if an artificial brain made the initial investment selections on behalf of the investor and monitored the investment strategy ongoing!  In addition to screens and interactions alluded to above, Kelly (2011) provides sharing of information as one of his six trends for how the future will be different.  Today, investor’s financial information is disjointed and groups that service the investor such as investment providers, accountants, and attorneys operate in silos.  Applying sharing, all of the investor’s financial data is shared on a cloud enabling these professionals to provide one comprehensive plan for the investor.     

The future of technology is not easy to predict.  To reiterate, Microsoft missed the smart phone boat.  Likewise, Apple and Samsung risk relevancy if they do not continue to evolve with technology.  By staying up to date on future technological trends and predictions and being open to change, leaders analyze the impact of these trends, identify opportunities to capitalize on emerging technologies, and execute the necessary adjustments.  In doing so, leaders put their organizations in a chance position for success.  What do you think? 

References

Amazon unveils futuristic plan:  Delivery by drone. (2013). Retrieved from http://www.cbsnews.com/news/amazon-unveils-futuristic-plan-delivery-by-drone/

Kelly, K. (2011, July 22). NExTWORK: Kevin Kelly [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zXPfSrmzLo0

List of emerging technologies. (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved December 2, 2013, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_emerging_technologies

Meeker, M., & Wu, L. (2013). Internet trends D11 conference [PowerPoint slides]. Retrieved from http://www.slideshare.net/kleinerperkins/kpcb-internet-trends-2013?ref=/

     

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15 thoughts on “Stay on Cutting Edge of Technology or Risk Extinction?

  1. I really enjoyed the Kelly You Tube video and I do agree with his assessments of what the future will be like (Kevin Kelly, 2014). I think it is amazing the advancing in technology that has shrunk our world. But many times the technology is created before a full use is known. Like Friedman’s discussion of the massive explosion of telecom and how the fiber optic lines laid were under used because the rest of the technology did not exist (Friedman, 2007). I am a closet Star Trek fan and I used to marvel at all of the cool gadgets that the crew of the Enterprise would get to use. Now I look around and I see those same technologies being used today. I know it sounds funny, but one of the things I thought was the coolest that the Star Trek crewmembers used was Velcro. Just like a lot of products we use nowadays, Velcro was actually invented in 1948 but there was not a market for it (Acciddental Inventions, 2014). NASA found a use for it during their space travel programs and it became more main stream during the 1960s.

    Creation of products usually outpaces the needs of consumers. An excellent example of this is how Gorilla Glass was invented by Corning in 1962 and not having any applicable application until now (Dobbin, 2010). Gorilla Glass is an ultra-strong piece of glass that has hardness properties equivalent to a sapphire but cheaper than using actual sapphire (Helmenstein Ph.D., 2013). Over forty-five years ago Corning had this technology but there was nothing to use Gorilla Glass on. Now Corning is reaping the benefits of this technology as Gorilla Glass is being used on smart phones and tablets due to the strength and thinness that the glass affords.

    As a leader I think about how we all try to envision what the future will look like. But with so many examples of technology that is invented but not having uses, how can I be certain that I am presenting accurate leadership? I think that time will tell how I will have contributed as a leader. What do you think?

    Troy

    References

    Accidental Inventions. (2014, December 7th). Retrieved from Brain Candy: http://www.vat19.com/brain-candy/accidental-inventions-velcro.cfm

    Dobbin, B. (2010, August 2nd). Gorilla Glass, 1962 Invention, Poised To Be Big Seller For Corning . Retrieved from Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/08/02/gorilla-glass-1962-invent_n_667416.html

    Friedman, T. L. (2007). The World is Flat 3.0: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century. New York: Picador / Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

    Helmenstein Ph.D., A. M. (2013, December 7th). What is Gorilla Glass? Retrieved from About.com Chemistry: http://chemistry.about.com/od/howthingswork/f/What-Is-Gorilla-Glass.htm
    Kevin Kelly. (2014, December 7th). Retrieved from You Tube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zXPfSrmzLo0

    • Hi Troy, Great comments and examples. I do not think we know the answers as to which technology will hit. Many moons ago, I was a sales analysts for my company and asked the sales manager how do we know if we have the right sales strategy when we conduct a sales final for prospective clients? Her response is something that stuck with me ever since. She said we don’t! However, she said we develop the best strategy we can based on the information we have and execute it! She also added that she did not mind if the strategy did not resonate with the prospect. Her view was let the chips fall where they may. Rather, she was not happy when we did not execute the strategy we intended.

      I take the same approach to technology. To reiterate, we do not know what technologies will emerge in the future. As leaders, we must develop strategies for technology using techniques that all of our peers recommended on their postings this week like research, conferences, and experts and let the chips fall where they may. What do you think?

      Regards,
      Peter

  2. Just a few minutes before reading your post, I saw a story on the news about the Amazon Drone Delivery. A panel was debating and discussing the future of such an approach. From my view, I think it is something that will likely occur int the future, but the question is HOW SOON into the future. While the technology currently exists, is America and the Government ready to see drones flying overhead whizzing around to deliver packages to our doorstep. I am! But I can also see a few technical challenges that will need to be addressed including security and safety concerns. But the prospect of getting same-day delivery of something I buy on Amazon is pretty amazing. I live near one of their distribution centers in AZ so I have already been amazed at a next morning delivery of several items. Technology is really helping impatient guys like me!

    • Living out in the country, I am wondering about the legal implications of drones flying over farmland populated with shotgun toting “hunters”…I foresee interesting legal questions due to non-delivery from skeet shooting miscreants!

      • Hi Arizona126 and Dr. Watwood. I think we may be far off for drones. Manjoo (2013) provides the counterargument to Jeff Bezo’s view of drones by suggesting it is a ploy by the CEO to bring attention to the company for the Holiday shopping season. Moreover, Manjoo (2013) concurs with both of you that Bezo’s plan is blocked by United States regulation and technically and economically questionable. Friedman (2007) discussed the people in rural countries who are not able to join the flat world. Manjoo (2013) provides that drones are a way to get medicine and supplies to some of these people where roads are not accessible. Pretty awesome stuff! What do you think? Regards, Peter

        References
        Friedman, T. L. (2007). The world is flat (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Picador.
        Manjoo, F. (2013). Why Bezos’s Drone Is More Than a Joke. Retrieved from http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303722104579238312058025896#printMode

  3. An interesting concept – “Gazing into the future of the author’s own organization in financial services, an investor uses a tablet device to take a loan or withdrawal from their account. Within an hour, a drone delivers a check right to the investor’s door! ”

    Bigger question is whether new technology will make “a check” obsolete? I could see voice-activated financial transactions through tablets that use voice recognition to allow approval of loans and automatic depositing into accounts…bypassing all the “paper”. Obviously, there are pros and cons to such a system…is the industry ready, and are the consumers ready?

    • Hi Dr. Watwood, Your question made me reflect and I may have jumped the gun a bit and been too aggressive. We have a service called Automated Clearing House (ACH) which is an option to wire money to a bank. Compared to a check, ACH is a more secure transfer of assets. Surprisingly, some of our investors insist upon a check. Thus, some are not ready. The limitation of ACH is that the check must go to the investor’s bank.

      If the investor wants to rollover Individual Retirement Account (IRA) money to another financial institution, we do require checks in the industry. Manjoo (2013) envisions drones operating as a point to point network. I see an opportunity for the financial institutions to use drones back and forth to transfer assets by checks. However, given checks are still being utilized for IRA transfers, I do not think the industry is ready. Thoughts? Regards, Peter

      References
      Manjoo, F. (2013). Why Bezos’s Drone Is More Than a Joke. Retrieved from http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303722104579238312058025896#printMode

  4. I agree with you that it is difficult to foresee technological advancements too far into the future. However, that does not stop corporations from attempting. Gartner Inc. is a company that puts out a lot of information on coming trends via their Hype Cycle every year. The topics they cover are astonishing. I find that Gartner’s predictions are very interesting in that they categorize things by how far into the future a plateau will be reached for a specific technology. In 2010, Gartner said 3-D printing would reach its plateau of productivity within 5-10 years. While 3-D printing has surfaced, it has not been widely adopted by consumers due to the high cost of each unit. As of August of 2013, Gartner says 3-D consumer printing was still 5-10 years out. These predictions need to be just as dynamic as the people who interpret the predictions in order to make the information relevant to our current organizations.

  5. Hi Peter,
    In our industry, telecommunications, the technology has been changing and evolving over the past 30 years. As industry leaders, we have had to continuously learn and develop repair solutions for the new technologies.
    By staying up to date on new technological trends and being open to change, we have been able to embrace new opportunities that have developed because of new trends such as connected home technologies, cable modems, residential gateways and tablets as opposed to the older circuit switch technology for the voice systems. Some of those technologies referred to as wireline technology are on the verge of extinction. Because we invest in new technologies, embrace change and provide the services that our customer’s need, we are able to grow in a business sector that is challenged by a flat world concept.
    Regarding glasses with navigation system, I don’t think that day will come where we would wear a glass to meet a friend in an unfamiliar park :)! Today, we don’t even use a free phone to call our friends! We just got together for dinner with my wife’s former colleagues and realized it has been 8 years since the last time we got together for dinner! But then again, at this rate, we may need a bifocal glass with navigation system!
    Peter, thank you for your post. You made great observations and I would not be surprised if my son asked Santa to bring an Oakley or one of those Google glasses with navigation capability in the next few years.
    Regards,
    Mo

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