Technological & Digital Innovation: Current Trends
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Being employed in the Technology Consulting sector offers plentiful insight into the state of play of a number of industries and sectors. Being an Innovation enthusiast (a Tech-Geek!) makes this series massively enjoyable to write about. In this two-series post, I look at:
- Current Trends: The Current State of Play of the Technology industry before delving into the Current Hot Propositions which exist (this post)
- Future Trends: The Future State of Play of the Technology industry before delving into the Future Hot Propositions which are on the horizon.
Current State of Play
In a largely transformational World, we are experiencing businesses, clients, partners, customers-alike adopting innovative solutions. Technological solutions which solve all manner of problems. Internet of Things. 3D Printing. Digital. Big Data. Biometrics. Just to name a small number. Yet such technologies often do not live up to the promise that the innovation presents. Often the more simple and apt innovations which promise smaller incremental innovations come to life whilst the bigger more radical technologies stagnate somewhat.
Current ‘Hot Propositions’
My Industry is currently ripe with a number of demands from both a business and consumer perspective:
Today, Digital is the focus of everyones minds. How can I digitise my operations? How can I digitise my customer experience? The digital transformation is an area I have worked with clients on for a number of years. Focused in the early years, this transformation was focused on the back-end operations, digitising heavily paper-based operations. It was less about the direct customer experience. Yet in the last couple of years, clients have focused on their entire operations. From production through to customer use-cases. It is this focus which has seen a mass boom in the digital space. Consumers are driven by the services which are seamless.
Take the O2 Digital Wallet for instance… launched a number of years, the wallet was cumbersome and difficult to use. Adoption was limited and slow before eventually been disbanded. Comparing to Apple Pay whose customer experience is seamless, adoption and continued engagement has been vast.
Internet of Things
Internet of Things (IoT) has become massive throughout a whole range of industries and sectors. From healthcare in use-cases such as smart sensors/monitoring, manufacturing in use-cases such as big-data driven manufacturing to consumer use-cases in the form of intelligent ovens, fridges, lighting, locks etc.
Technology giants such as Philips, General Electric, Google, Hewlett Packard Enterprise are all making advances in the Internet of Things space. Extensively incorporating solutions at all level of industry and the supply chain. The mass-drive in IoT is that almost anything can be brought to life. From the more practical use-case of a Home Alarm System to a less essential IoT Piggy Bank! The rise of IoT though has created a new dialogue with clients. It has created new innovation opportunities in areas important to business which may have previously been difficult to monitor. As one major use-case, in today’s World of IoT businesses are able to much more closely monitor and track their supply chain. An area of business which a slight inefficiency may be costing a company millions per year.
Linking Big Data with areas of innovation (including the above Digital and IoT) is one of the top-of-mind topics of business leaders today. How can we best use the data we have available to optimise our operations? How can we drive improved customer experience based on what we know about our customers? Such key questions can help vastly in driving sales, operational efficiencies or other less tangible areas such as employee satisfaction.
The boom of ‘Big Data’ though has been somewhat questionable. Many people talk about. But who actually does it? Well surprisingly a lot of us use it already. Anyone with a Smartphone will likely notice location-based preferences. Big Data is not just about the operational or experience aspects. Big Data drives sales. How many times have you bought something which Amazon has recommended? Personally, I use vast amounts of data that my iPhone, Garmin and Fitbit collect for my fitness and wellness. A use-case of understanding my progress towards my goals. A use-case which both big business and widespread consumers may eventually be interested in.
Software, Infrastructure, Printers all the way to Taxis (Uber) and Room Rentals (AirBnB) demonstrate the transition we have made in the technology sector. Gone are the days when IT operations were either ran in-house or at least managed in-house by IT service providers. Through vast data centres, service providers now offer previously expensive IT Infrastructure at a fraction of the cost whilst offering peace-of-mind operational capabilities with scalability to boot.
Why this trend is important is due to the ability this gives our smaller business players to compete directly with the big boys. Amazon AWS offers incredibly low cost storage whilst web services are now readily available at a moments notice, subject complexity of requirements. This transition has seen the Ubers, AirBnBs and Slacks of the World move quicker than ever towards their billion dollar valuations. Without the ‘as-a-service’ capabilities, we seriously have to question if these would exist. Similar, we should considering these models as the future
So mindfulness is now been tagged as a billion dollar industry. Who would have thought? The often deemed ‘woo-woo’ practices spinning out to form one of the biggest industries with massive growth projections. Personally, I understand why. As our we work harder than ever to achieve our goals, we often forget about tuning into ourselves. Are we following the right pathway? Is this our passion? Should we of reacted that way?
Mindfulness practices have boomed big time throughout the World and particularly throughout Silicon Valley. People are starting to realise that working 16 hour days simply does not work. Working all the hours under the sun is not the badge of honour it used to be. Now a balance is often a necessity for one’s career. This balance has often resulted in increased productivity and efficient. After all, how much use is a tired, overworked employee? Whilst Mindfulness is a relatively early stage for the technology industry, it is something to really keep an eye on. Particularly the work by Google at SIYLI
About The Author
Stephen Baines is a Senior Management Consultant and MBA currently working for Hewlett-Packard Enterprise and pursuing a number of external entrepreneurial ventures. The views within this post are explicitly those of Stephen and have no representation of any organisation Stephen represents. If you wish to contact Stephen, please contact him via LinkedIn or his Twitter handle (@baines1986).
Read more about Stephen at Stephen’s personal website
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