Executive Education

Emerging Technologies – Preparing for Disruption

Internet of things

We live and work in a technology intensive world. By most accounts the level of technology involvement in our lives is at an all-time high.  That being said, it is about to increase significantly in the next few years. We have just entered a period of technological advancement that is unlike any other in history.  It will have a far broader impact and be fueled by not one, but ten or more emerging technologies.  These emerging technologies will push us in ways that are unimaginable. Given the innovative nature of these technologies, their adoption and advancement will bring sudden and dramatic effects that will impact our strategy and operations in way that are unimaginable. At this early stage of their evolution, these technologies are projected to have between a $15 to $40 trillion impact.  The turbulence created by the introduction of some of these technologies, even ones that fail, will create an environment of uncertainty for businesses of virtually every size.  The following is a list of the top five technologies that I believe will become the most impactful.  That does not necessarily mean they are the largest in terms of market dollar value.

  1. Internet of Thing (IoT)
  2. Smart Cars (including 3rd party application software)
  3. Mobile Computing Connectivity
  4. Robotics
  5. 3D Printing

These multiple emerging technologies are creating forces that are just now beginning to have a substantial influence on professionals and on organizations.  The key trend is multiple new technologies, some that stand along and others that work collectively, emerge in a narrow window of time that create disruption that extends far beyond the technology market space.  Clearly, the next ten years will be a period of disruptive innovation.  The speed of change is likely to be so rapid that the nimblest of organizations find it difficult to keep pace.

One of the more troubling forces that has already begun is the dramatic shortening of the lifecycle of some products.  The time from product introduction until obsolesces has plummeted in some cases.  In fact, we are already beginning to see that take place today.  There are some apps that have a 30-day birth to obsolesce cycle.  A second and equally troubling aspect associated with these technologies deal with their vulnerability to cyberattacks/data breaches.  The cyber security aspects of these new technologies are virtually unknown.  Just recently a distributed denial of service attack (DDoS) took place that had compromised and used over 150,000 IoT devices. In fact, it is being referred to as the largest distributed denial-of-services (DDoS) attack ever seen.

That is particularly troubling given the increased percentage of business that is currently digital and by all indications that percentage will only increase in the coming years.   In fact, Gartner recently predicted that every industry will be transformed by digital business by 2025.  All this points to the need for organizations to become much more adaptive and responsive to current technology forces and those that we will experience in the next several years.  In order to increase our adaptively, it is essential we identify and track disruptive technologies.  This is no longer an effort for the IT department.  Individual business units and the organization’s operations must become part of the team that identifies, tracks and evaluates the potential disruption these emerging technologies are likely to cause.  The board has even become much more involved with technology issues as of late.

It is highly doubtful if any industry is unchanged by these emerging technologies.  That being the case, executives must become involved and lead these efforts within their organization.  After all, their future and that of their organization may very well depend on it!  Executives should seek out independent and objective opinions and views on the business aspects of emerging technologies that will have the most significant impact, both positive and negative, on their organization. In addition, they must be involved in the analysis of emerging technologies in the context of their business and their current strategy.  Executives must be open to disrupting the way their organization creates and delivers value, as well as how they compete. They must encourage other executives to get involved now and work to identify and understand how these emerging technologies will impact their area of responsibility and how they will enable them to enhance their operations.  Finally, executives must hold themselves and all of management accountable for keeping up-to-date with emerging technologies that are driving and enabling change.

When the World Economic Forum gives emerging and disruptive technology the level of attention they did in 2016, it is clearly a matter of significant importance.  These multiple emerging technologies are just beginning to disrupt existing markets and business models and create new ones. The disruption will likely become so significant it displaces established market leaders.  Strategic innovation coupled with the disruption that is accompanying the emergence of multiple technologies creates new markets and opportunities. It also creates additional competitive threats.  Investing in your understanding of emerging technologies and that of your organization is the best investment you can make. Given the current state of global competition, time is of the essence.  Perhaps a good first step is to seek out credible, independent and objective insights from a couple of individuals that are not trying to sell you a product or services and take them to lunch.  Ask them what they believe to be the most disruptive technologies (in general) that will impact businesses over the next several years.  After you develop a relationship and are comfortable with them, ask them specifically about your industry.  Find a couple of online resources that speak to the business of technology not just the technology itself.  That is harder than it sounds!  Use these sources of insight to craft the vision for your organization’s future.  All of this will create a foundation so that you can position you and your organization to take advantage of the technological changes when the time is right.

The only question that remains is whether you and your organizations will lead. . . quickly follow. . . or be pushed aside?  The answer could very well rest in the actions you take to prepare for the emerging technology driven disruption that is just dawning.

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Written by: Kevin Coleman, corporate event speaker at KCInsights.

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Kevin Coleman
Kevin Coleman is a dynamic speaker, author, advisor, and visionary that provides riveting insight on strategy, innovation, creativity and the high velocity technology era that is just around the corner. He was Chief Strategist at Netscape and at another start-up that grew to be BusinessWeek’s 44th fastest growing company. Kevin has spoken at some of the world’s most prestigious organizations, including the United Nations, U.S. Congress, at U.S. Strategic Command, and before multiple Fortune 500 organizations and briefed executives in 42 countries around the world.