Selecting technology drivers of innovation

June 29, 2016 Focus area: Digital Transformation , Continuous Innovation

We currently distinguish 4 technology drivers of innovation when we consult our clients on innovating their business models: Big Data, Machine Learning, The internet of Things, and Decentralized ledgers (which includes Blockchains, amongst others).

On a regular basis, we get asked about our method for selecting such technology drivers. Therefore, I want to lay out the rationale for their selection below. 

At the start of a new technology trend, researchers and practitioners get caught up in a confusion of tongues when trying to define new phenomena. After a while, the dust settles, and entire industries talk about the cloud, social and mobile, as if they were around for centuries. Separating sustainable technology trends from fads is notoriously hard in the beginning. We therefore apply two simple but powerful heuristics to our technology drivers of innovation:

Omnipresence

We look for potential impact across many industries and settings. More often than not, technology driven new business models break down barriers between industries, or forge unexpected partnerships.

Irreversibility

This means that it is very unlikely that the impact wil reverse at some point. For instance, there is little chance that we will see less data, fewer connected devices, or fewer self-enhancing algorithms in the near future. Selecting technology drivers of innovation by using these heuristics makes their impact more clear, and it helps executives in dealing with the paradox of choice that plagues innovation in many organizations: it feels great keeping options open, but it inevitably leads to analysis paralysis and dissatisfaction with the final choice.