We spend a lot of time reading about “the next big thing.” Every time I see this term I wonder what exactly they are talking about. Last year I attended a seminar where there were six things that were brought up as the next big thing. I think that if you’re not prepared for at least one or two of these you are going to put yourself in a position of being left behind.
I think the more you think about how these fit in with your life, the better choice you’ll be able to make.
Nanotechnology - Miniaturization is real and we’re already seeing it. Both Nike and Under Armour have electronic products that are keeping track of how much you sleep, what you eat, and how your exercise program is working. This will lead to higher levels of health and we’ll only see this trend accelerate.
If you live around Albany, NY you know about nanotechnology. The State University in Albany has spent billions, yes that’s right billions, on building a research center on the topic. We’re seeing the research being commercialized.
Genomics - Several years ago the human genome was mapped. This was only the first step in having personalized health care. In the near future we’ll be having individualized health care plans based on our own genetic makeup. Cancer treatment is already moving in the direction of targeted therapies. We’ll likely see many diseases become diseases of the past. This will change how medical care is provided and I believe will be one of the saving graces in bringing cost under control.
Artificial Intelligence - Just think Siri from Apple. Siri is just at the very beginning of using artificial intelligence in a useful way. IBM has built big blue. This is another early example of what artificial intelligence will bring.
In the future we’re going to be using computers to helps us find information faster and more accurately. Heck, we’re already seeing this with the incredible accuracy we’re receiving from search engines, and as the saying goes, “You haven’t seen anything yet.”
Robotics - There is good news and bad news with this technology. The good news is that robotics is one of the drivers of seeing manufacturing coming back to the US. The bad news is that robotics is going to replace an awful lot of middle class workers. This will only make our challenges bigger for having a vibrant middle class.
I’m already seeing what used to be prohibitively expensive machinery showing up in companies with less than 100 employees. You can now buy a 3D printer for less than $3,000. If you’re in manufacturing you better understand what robotics means in your business or you’ll likely be left behind.
Total connectivity - Another theme that is already here. We are so plugged in that anyone can get in touch with us anytime they want. We beep and ring all day long. How many text messages do you answer a month? If you’re under 30 recent research shows that the number might be over 3,000.
The challenge with total connectivity is that we need to find a way to wind down and turn our electronic connections off. We need as employers to not expect that our employees are available to us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Disruptive technologies - We could say that all of the themes listed above are disruptive technologies. We’ll see many more than just these six. Think about the Lean movement in manufacturing. This is an incredibly disruptive technology and not disruptive in a bad way. It’s changing how manufacturing companies think.
Just wait until we start seeing lean strategies in health care and education. This will cause big changes in what we thought were the best practices and probably cause more labor dislocation than the manufacturing revolution did in the last thirty years.
The world is changing. If you’re not on the bus, you’re going to be left behind. I think we need to be thinking and teaching about these changes in our public school systems. We can’t afford to have only the middle to upper middle class being able to take advantage of what’s coming down the pike.
We’ve started our own disruptive activities at Stage 2. We’ve learned how to cut down the time it takes to communicate about plans you’re interested in. One of the ways we do this is through our mind mapping programs. If you’re curious about what a mind map is how they work, I encourage you to click on the button below and visit our mind map resource center. You can download maps that pique your interest there.