Next Generation Automation


This next post in the analysis of disruptive scenarios focuses on next generation automation enabled by combinatorial innovation. By way of reminder, the visual below depicts a convergence of innovations that have historically been viewed in isolation. As the building blocks of innovation multiply, their combination drives disruptive scenarios. By analyzing these scenarios, future implications and potential responses are determined.

Combinatorial Innovation

What are the key innovations that combine to enable the next generation of automation? A recent forward looking McKinsey report assessed the potential impact of Disruptive Technologies, providing a perspective focused on the year 2025. Looking at their list of twelve disruptive technologies, I see five primary drivers of advanced automation: the automation of knowledge work, advanced robotics, autonomous vehicles, the Internet of Things, and the mobile Internet. Based on McKinsey sizing, these five disruptive technologies could have an economic impact between $14 and $30 trillion.

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The Smart Home


This post continues a disruptive scenario analysis focused on assessing the transformative environment that faces companies, Industries, Governments, and society as a whole. Much attention is paid to several digital forces (e.g. Mobile, Social, Cloud, Big Data, The Internet of Things, AI, Robotics), but for the most part, the focus is isolated in nature. As described in The Second Machine Age, the combinatorial effect of these forces enables disruptive scenarios at an unprecedented pace. While some of these forces and their combinations are growing more visible, many are far off on the horizon, and countless scenarios are not yet visible. The visual below depicts this phenomenon, underscoring the difficulty of responding to the forces in our line of sight – and the near insurmountable task of responding to those further on the horizon. At its furthest point, lack of visibility to future combinatorial innovation drives a high degree of uncertainty.

Combinatorial Innovation

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Transforming Medicine


The last two posts focused on disruptive scenarios driven by the future introduction of autonomous vehicles. However, the context for viewing disruptive potential must be broad – not just one possible scenario. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the Healthcare industry with a broader lens. The authors (Chunka Mui and Paul Carroll) of The New Killer Apps do a masterful job of doing just that. They make a rather bold statement in a chapter dedicated to the Healthcare industry – specifically: 

“Without a course correction, hospitals will lose their central place in medicine and many will disappear.”

Strong maybe, but not hype. The risk is real and not limited to Healthcare. The visual below is a great representation of the law of disruption. The progression of technology is riding an exponential curve. With this acceleration comes a progression of disruption where incremental business change can no longer keep pace. Disruption and the need for transformative actions occur when this scenario takes hold, and the enterprise has not taken steps to respond. A failure to respond in this fast paced, change oriented world is likely catastrophic, but the opening for killer apps depicted in the visual presents both risk and tremendous market opportunity.

The Law of Disruption

The Law of Disruption (source: Unleashing the Killer App)

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Autonomous Vehicles: The Automotive Ecosystem


This post continues the disruption scenario discussion initiated by my earlier Insurance Industry Case Study. I’ve been using the autonomous vehicle (AV) as an example of a disruptive scenario with potential societal, economical, and environmental impact. In this post, the focus shifts to the scenario’s possible effect on the automotive ecosystem.

Autonomous vehicle technology can be viewed using a five-part continuum suggested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), with different benefits realized at different levels of automation:

Driverless Car Continuum

Last month, an IHS Automotive study predicted the world will have nearly 54 million self-driving cars by 2035. The study also predicts that nearly all vehicles in use are likely to be self-driving cars or self-driving commercial vehicles sometime after 2050. Meanwhile, automakers and others are unveiling both their plans for – and introduction of – automated features: 

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Why Focus on Disruption?


My post on the disruptive implications of the Autonomous Vehicle generated dialog that has been very insightful and provocative. Before posting additional analysis of the societal, economical, and environmental impact of emerging disruptive scenarios, I wanted to restate my reason for doing so, and share some great perspective from leaders that engaged in this recent dialog. I launched this last series to support the growing belief that: 1) we are entering what is likely the most transformative period in history, and 2) this should drive a sense of urgency for leaders everywhere. This coming period brings with it many possible disruptive scenarios, each with its own set of consequences. In my experience, leaders view these scenarios as too far off into the future to warrant their time – we’ve been conditioned to think short term. In their new book The Second Machine Age, Andrew McAfee and Erik Brynjolfsson provide their perspective on why the time to focus on the future is now. The three forces they describe (exponential, digital, and combinatorial) are perhaps the best description of the drivers behind the accelerating effect of disruption.

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Autonomous Vehicles: A Disruption Case Study


At a recent news conference, U.S. federal transportation officials described Talking Cars and their ability to avoid deadly crashes by seeing it coming before you do. The U.S. government will likely require automakers to equip new vehicles with technology that lets cars warn each other if trouble lies ahead. A radio signal would continually transmit a vehicle’s position, heading, speed, and other information. Your vehicle would receive the same information back from other cars, and the on board computer would alert its driver to an impending collision. Alerts would come in varying forms: a flashing message, an audible warning, or a driver’s seat that rumbles. Some systems might even automatically brake to avoid an accident if that option is included. Examples of what the technology enables:

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The Second Machine Age and Business Evolution


I just finished reading a new book titled The Second Machine Age written by Andrew McAfee and Erik Brynjolfsson – both from MIT. The book is a must read for leaders everywhere. Its journey offers a view into the potential societal, economic, and business impact of technological advancement in the digital age. Although I am fascinated by each of these, my interest in summarizing this book is to connect their perspective to the future of business. Consistent with my recent disruption theme, the question is: how does the world that the authors envision impact the future of business?

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