Nigel Phair believes organisations that do not place exponentially advancing technologies at the heart of their strategy development will be left behind.

    Exponentially advancing technologies are placing the tools of creativity, innovation and disruptive change in everyone’s hands. With traditional productivity gains becoming harder to achieve, now is the time to disrupt your market through exponential technology.

    Innovative organisations should turn their traditional use of technology on its head in an effort to create disruptive business models and plan for growth. The secret is to use the latest technology to develop the next.

    Company directors need to understand how emerging technologies will affect or disrupt their careers, organisations and industries in the coming years. There are a number of examples, including the mainstreaming of robotics with artificial intelligence capabilities which are rugged and multi-functional; virtual currencies, such as Bitcoin, which are creating a shift from traditional centralised currencies to decentralised digital monetary exchanges; wearable computing, such as Google Glass, allowing users to find information, record and share data; and driverless cars, once thought of as fanciful, but now attracting serious investments from mainstream car manufacturers like BMW, Nissan and Toyota.

    The capabilities of digital devices double every two years, along with improvements in storage and bandwidth, for the same cost, with such enhancements affecting nearly every segment of the global economy. One way to exploit this opportunity is through the use of artificial intelligence – the intelligence exhibited by machines or software – to complement human employees.

    The current generation of “digital natives” have now entered full time work, carrying with them expectations and ideas of the workplace of the future. It is time to turn to technology to leverage their skills, but also the skills of the next generation who will have a completely different mindset about the use of the online environment, particularly automation.

    Instead of phoning call centres with questions or queries, this generation wants to interact with organisations via “live chat”, a text-based application allowing organisations to provide online assistance to users. The benefit to organisations is that one trained operator can handle up to seven simultaneous “chats” as opposed to one telephone call. Add artificial intelligence to the process and the benefits are further multiplied.

    On top of this is the advantage of collecting and evaluating this “chat” data and combining it with other automated sources to improve customer experiences.

    Disruptive innovation can also shake up markets – think about Google Maps.

    Despite traditional GPS devices becoming cheaper, Google created a product which was more user friendly, more up-to-date, more portable and provided it for free. The captured geo-located data of its users has allowed Google to enhance its other offerings, such as email and social networking, providing advertisers with highly targeted consumer information.

    Technology allows organisations to disruptively enter markets simultaneously with better, cheaper and more customised products and services than incumbents.

    Geo-location, facial recognition, 3D printing and online social networks have become part of our daily lives. Combined with access via smart mobile devices, this allows us to shop, work and study from any location.

    While large organisations often have assets to fuel innovation, the threat of disruption by entrepreneurs and nimble tech firms should keep many directors awake at night. They need to be alert about small-scale experiments and start-ups even remotely related to their business.

    Organisations should de-risk new products and services and accelerate their time to market, while forging relationships with innovators. One way to do this is through crowd-sourcing, soliciting contributions from a large group of people, especially from an online community. It increases the speed, yet decreases the cost of innovation. An idea can quickly be bootstrapped by engaging a team of overseas-based freelance developers and deploying a cloud-based storage and web solution.

    The explosion of data, collected from many disparate sources, aggregated and analysed, poses new thinking for its storage and utilisation.

    Organisations should achieve change through a combination of more and better technology.

    Technology should be paid for on a per-unit basis, ensuring it is available on demand with no minimum or maximum limit and is elastically scalable.

    In a modern economy, information is a prime asset. It can create new products and services, improve decision-making and create a competitive advantage for companies.

    As company directors seek to ignite the growth of their organisations, they should place the use of rapidly growing digital devices driven by inventive thinking at the heart of their strategy development.

    The environment may be increasingly difficult to navigate, but innovative digital technologies are opening the door to opportunity.
    Twitter: @nphair

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