A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step
I have had the feeling for many years, that we are standing in the face of incredible change. I can pinpoint the first time I had this feeling to a time and place in the early 1990’s when I first saw the internet. My first online experience pre-dated the world wide web, it was slow, cumbersome, clunky and text based, but I was bitten.
Even though I couldn’t verbalise my thoughts regarding the internet at the time, I had a visceral feeling that the ground rules had shifted and everything was about to change.
Despite my feeling that the internet was a game-changer, I did not appreciate at the time how ubiquitous it was to become, or indeed, how wide ranging its impact was going to be. It is fair to state that the internet has altered every aspect of modern life.
In many ways, the internet has so far unwrapped itself slowly. There have been many on-ramps along the way for individuals and organisations to get involved and enjoy the benefits bestowed by this unprecedented level of interconnectivity. That being said, many established businesses were at first, slow to embrace the internet. The reasons for this have become more evident in hindsight; the internet was after all truly unprecedented and companies lacked the experience, the understanding and often even a vocabulary to deal with such rapid adoption of this powerful new medium.
To their credit, many of the large management consulting practices have aided progress significantly by highlighting the economic benefits to organisations and creating useful internet and web adoption frameworks. Right now, everyone accepts the importance and perpetuity of the Internet, and most businesses have engaged at some level. For end users, it has become like electricity, ubiquitous and practically invisible to most people who use it except when it’s not available.
As we begin 2017 we are facing incomprehensible changes. In addition to exponentially improving technologies, we are contending with mass urbanisation, demographic changes, climate change and political uncertainty. The confluence of these forces is creating significant market volatility that demands a response. Quite simply, stasis is not an option. Winners and losers are emerging based on their ability to understand and adapt to these forces. Traditional strengths such as market experience and past success are worth much less than they used to be, and are often a liability.
In addition to contributing to the discourse, management consulting has added much-needed vocabulary to the conversation, “disruptive-innovation”, “digital disruption” and “digital innovation” are all now hot-button issues for business leaders because of the alarming pace at which many industries are being disrupted.
The disruption companies and consumers will face in the next decade will dwarf the changes we have seen so far as a result of the internet. According to an estimate by the Olin School of Business at Washington University, 40% of the Fortune 500 companies will be out of business within ten years. Advances in Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, Synthetic Biology, 3D Printing, Blockchain, VR and Data Science are happening at a frantic pace. The rate of change is hard to imagine.
While some people understand the challenge that all these disruptive forces pose, it has become clear to me that many others are ill-prepared for the wave of change that is barrelling down upon us. I often hear from people who are so engrossed in their ongoing business commitments that they haven’t had the opportunity to explore the impact these disruptive forces will have on their businesses. To that end, I have decided to go on a journey of exploration and explanation. I intend to explore topics which;
- Will have a broad business impact.
- Interest me (and hopefully you too).
- Are disruptive in nature.
- Are not generally on the radar of the majority of people around me.
With a view to identifying the trends, key takeaways and appropriate strategies for success that you can adopt to benefit from the topic under discussion.
Different people have varying levels of awareness about the disruptive forces at play and the “state of the art” in technological change. Thus, I will start with baby steps and build from there. If you are already well versed in the subject, feel free to skip ahead at any point. I intend to cover the material in-depth once we all get up to speed. I hope that you find the information included helpful and welcome any feedback you have.