A few years ago I discovered that my history class had been wrong all along. I’d always been told that in the Japanese invasion of Singapore, the British were essentially caught off guard — that they were ill equipped and failed to recognise the threat until it was too late. In reality, the British were anything but unprepared militarily. The challenge was that they were unprepared mentally.
In a recent address at the World Economic Forum, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau argued persuasively that the “the pace of change may never have been this fast, but it will never again be this slow.”
As another year draws to a close, it’s worth pausing and taking stock of just how much has changed in the space of 12 months - while recognizing that the coming year will see changes of even greater scale and significance.
In this 2019 Tech Trends Review, I explore the good, the bad and the bizarre. In other words, which breakthroughs have been most positive and hopeful, which trends are slightly more concerning (in my humble opinion), and which new technologies have been downright strange.
One thing we know about disruption is that it is definitively unpredictable. Perhaps the most unprecedented disruption businesses have faced in recent years has been that of environmental sustainability. As awareness of climate change and its dangers has grown exponentially in the last few years, with student protests filling cities and legislation being passed in many countries, businesses are having to respond to the overwhelming consumer demand for environmental sustainability in products.
The need for industries and brands to stay relevant to the next generation has always been important, but today it matters more than ever. Younger generations can either represent a breathtakingly large opportunity or one of the most significant disruptions any brand or industry is likely to face, and not just as consumers. Engaging the next generation in the workforce is just as vital, and it only takes one look at today’s job scene to see the impact Millennials are making on it.
“The electric light did not come from the continuous improvement of candles.”
I love the pertinence of this statement of Oren Harari for our culture. As a former business professor at the University of San Francisco, he is sure to know a thing or two about the trends and changes in the business world over the last few decades, and with this one, I believe he is exactly right.
Imagine a world where you enter a retail store and are instantly identified by your mobile phone. Your preferences, credit card details and buying history are immediately recognized along with your identity and from that moment on, the entire in-store experience is customized to your needs and desires. You select products either by scanning a code on your smartphone or by placing items in a physical shopping cart the old-school way. When you are finished shopping, your shopping tally is calculated as you walk past sensors near the exit and the amount owing is immediately charged to your default credit card.
Sound fanciful or futuristic? Well this is almost precisely the automated retail experience shoppers are already enjoying in Amazon’s recently opened bricks-and-mortar retail stores.
‘You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.’
This old proverb has been renowned and repeated through the decades, declaring that it is impossible to retrain someone or something that is aged and set in its ways. In our current age of disruption in the world of business, this is a toxic way of thinking that destroys the companies which live by it.
The unprecedented success of the iPhone is a globally recognised fact. It is known to have broken profitability records, dominated its competition and overwhelmed the market. It is likely that you are reading this article through the screen of an iPhone, and it is equally as likely that if you glance around you will see several more similar to yours in the hands of commuters or crowds or co-workers.