In this first in a series, members of the U.S. commercial emerging technology practice discuss the technologies that have reshaped business and society in the past decade, and will continue to transform the ways in which we live and work in the next one.
What have been the most profound changes in business and society over the last decade?
The mobile-first approach has given rise to the whole gig economy that’s taken off.
I’d say smartphones and a mobile-first approach have had the biggest impact over the past 10 years. The previous decade was really all about making sense of the web – having a presence on the web, or creating a web portal was critical, and that’s where much of the startup energy was focused. That really changed in the 2010s, and you see many startups and even established companies have shifted their attention to the mobile experiences of their customers.
Ride sharing apps are the perfect example of the expectations and experiences of consumers interacting with technology. In many ways, the mobile-first approach has given rise to the whole gig economy. As we became more connected with our phones, the ability to match people looking for a particular service (whether it’s dog walking or specialized white collar work) with service providers has taken off.
Everyone wants everything right now.
I think Kurt’s right. That increased dependence on and connection to our mobile devices also means that everyone wants everything right now. That has really changed our expectations of speed to market. Customers wanting to have something of tangible value sooner rather than later has been a big change, and companies have had to find a way to deliver much quicker value from their products.
Our expectations of technology have begun to outstrip what is available.
I agree on the whole “need for now” and speed thing being key. It’s funny, I was trying to remember what the world was like in 2010; the iPhone was just a few years old. As consumers, we have gone from a place of delight and wonder at the start of the decade to the trough of disillusionment with technology. The idea that you’ve got this machine in your pocket, can ask it any question and it provides the answer in seconds, or that there’s an unlimited supply of apps that can be customized your unique needs was amazing.
The keyword there is was. I think at the close of the decade, our technology expectations have begun to outstrip what is available. Where we expected things such as self-driving cars, or basic artificial intelligence (AI), to be at the close of the decade is out of whack with what innovators are currently delivering. And for many of us, that’s disappointing. For the innovators among us though, it’s actually pretty exciting as it gives us targets to shoot for in the tech we look to create. It’ll be interesting to see how that balances out early in this decade: if technology catches up, or if our expectations level back out.
Innovators and society are ready for what’s next. Organizations may not be.
The way I see it, the innovators are delivering, but many businesses that could be commercializing these innovations aren’t structured for, or struggle to adapt to new business and operational models to allow for commercialization. By not moving to the new business models needed to capitalize on innovation, they are making it difficult to get the latest advancements to market. I think the innovators are ready, I think society is ready, but organizations that choose not to evolve their operational models are becoming the slow cog in the wheel.
The exponential growth in the amount of data being created is staggering.
The other big thing you see because of smartphones and other devices is staggering growth in the amount of data being created. Every two years, it is doubling. In fact, 97% of the data on the planet now was created in this past decade alone[i]. And then there’s the exponential growth of computing power: we’ve got more computing power in our pockets now than was used for the Apollo space mission!
I agree with Adam that end users are much more digitally mature compared to what most organizations can adopt. Not to get too far ahead with what to watch for in the next decade, but I think we’re going to see a similar exponential growth in what AI can do.
Exactly, Suren. I think our expectations of what AI can do have leapt way out in front, but in reality, the tools for broad adoption of AI aren’t there yet. When we start talking about 2020 and beyond, that’s where we’ll see AI really becoming part of the story as we learn how to work more productively alongside intelligent machines to augment human abilities, and not replace them.
In Part 2 of our predictions 2020 blog series, we’ll examine what our experts predict will be the most transformative forces for this new decade.