“…everything that can be invented has been invented.”
Unsubstantiated quote attributed to
Charles Duell, Commissioner of the U.S. Patent Office, 1899
Having spent some time in the Intellectual Property arena, the above fictional quote attributed to Charles Duell, the patent office commissioner at the turn of the 19th century, is one of my favorites. I like it in part because my maternal grandparents were both born in 1898. Looking back over their lives, they witnessed mind boggling technical advances such as the automobile, airplane, landing of a man on the moon and disposable diapers (I’ll never forget my grandmother’s dismay when she first saw me change one). I wonder what they would have thought of smart phones, the cloud, 3D printing, gene therapy and the multitude of other innovations that have emerged after their lives.
We live in fascinating times, where the pace of change and innovation never slows down and continues to accelerate and disrupt our world in ways we couldn’t imagine a short decade ago. It is only fitting as 2016 comes to an end, that I share my Top 3 Future Technology Disrupters. There are dozens to choose from and I’m interested in hearing from many of you about your favorites.
1. Self-Driving or Autonomous Vehicles
In the 1900’s we removed the horse from the equation and a little over a hundred years later we are ready to remove the human driver. The potential for autonomous vehicles to drive major transformation on many fronts is enormous. Thinking back to my time in the Property and Casualty sector, I can only assume traditional auto insurance executives, repair shop owners and parts manufacturers are quaking in their boots. How will policies be rated and priced? Will premium levels sustain the current level of insurance company overhead (hint, no)? Who will be held liable and responsible in a driverless accident? How will bodily injury attorneys replace lots of lost billable hours? How much will demand for auto parts decline when accidents decrease? How will health care costs be impacted? Get ready for some unexpected major consequences across this massive sector of our economy, including potentially millions of lives being saved and injuries avoided.
2. Amazon Go
No, I do not own Amazon stock but perhaps I should have bought some a while ago. I couldn’t help but be fascinated by their vision of the retailer of the future outlined in a recent article. The concept – you walk into a grocery store (or any business), pick the items you want, and walk out the front door without waiting in line for a cashier to scan and bag your items – would have seemed like grand larceny just a few months ago. But Amazon has harnessed technology to make it happen. Not only is the consumer convenience play a huge one, but the impact on a major job category is monstrous. There are millions of cashiers and grocery baggers whose jobs are going to the place where travel agents, typists and many other obsolete careers have gone to eternal rest. I wonder if my self-driving car or drone (honorable mention – probably number 4 on my list) will be picking up my groceries? How can you leverage self-service and similar capabilities in your business?
Here I go dating myself again, but an early favorite robot of mine was “Robot” in the 1960’s TV show Lost in Space. Today’s robots are not your grandparent’s or parent’s robots. At the industrial level, from warehouse order picking, to assembly line manufacturing, millions of jobs will continue to be automated out of existence. At the human level, relationships and personal interactions look likely to change in ways that would have made my grandmother blush. Combined with advances in artificial intelligence, machine learning, the IOT, big data analytics and other technology, this whole arena poses some big threats to our traditional notion of employable skills while presenting significant potential for improvements in our daily lives. What are your competitors doing to leverage robotics and related technologies? Stay tuned, lots of interesting change is coming here. I can hear “Robot” warning “danger, Will Robinson.”
That’s my list. What’s on yours? At TSI, we advise our clients on how to foster innovation and effectively utilize technology to drive major performance improvement – Click here for more: http://transforming.com/services/business-transformation/
Contact Dan Spaeth at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about how TSI can help your organization stay ahead of technology in the face of major disruption.