Monday, January 21, 2013

A Rave of Innovation

Lots of innovation happening...and it is sexy
There are many ways to get excited about technology.  Technology people being smarter than the average bear also like to argue about technology.  It is just the nature of working in the business and some feuds have gone on for decades.  One of the more interesting discussions going on right now is from the January 12th, issue of The Economist.  The magazine does not seem very bullish on the future of innovation in the 21st century.  I rarely disagree with the good people at the Economist but as someone working in the innovation trenches I think they are wrong.

The magazine makes a very convincing argument stating that the first forty years of the 20th century saw a huge increase in Gross Domestic Product and standards of living in the developed world.  Ice boxes gave way to refrigeration and refrigeration begat TV dinners.  They also illustrate that the growth of technology has not lead to the increase of median wages over the last fifty years.  Finally, they point to IPO and the Dot.Com bust of the last 20 years as proof that innovation and technology are two very different things.

Those things said and argued convincingly, I think they miss the point.  First comparing the early 20th century to the current time is a little foolish.  Women were not allowed to vote, Jim Crow laws were alive and well in the south, and quantum mechanics wasn't even conceived.  We were just beginning to reap the rewards of electricity and most of the nation did not have paved roads.  Change when it came was going to be dramatic and life changing.  Today woman can vote, Jim Crow exists but outside the realm of law and every technological device we use depends on quantum mechanics.  The world of the 21st century is as alien to the early 20th century as elderly people are at a rave. 

I do see some disturbing trends; first, organizational opposition to agile development methods.  Next, I find making every household appliance web enabled to be unnecessary. I also think that social media as epitomized by Facebook being treated like a get rich scheme is foolish.  However, when we look back on this period of history, I think you are going to see plenty of innovation percolating under the surface looking for the right moment to explode.  Just wait you have not seen anything yet. 

I say this because the expansion of cloud computing is going to make business intelligence faster and cheaper.  I also believe that mobile computing as epitomized by Android devices and Windows 8 is going to change the way we do business.  Paperwork is going to be digitized in a flash.  Managers can now manipulate their supply chains like a teen-ager playing a video game.  Finally, business standards can be spread around world at the speed of the web. 

I am glad that I am leading this effort.  I founded my firm to help businesses take advantage of these trends.  I want to help small businesses have the skills and agility to beat the big guys.  If I can make one more business hyper-competitive and able to grow then I have achieved my dream. 

This is an exciting time because business is learning how to use technology to do business better.  What that means is better profits, more employment, and growth.  I can't think of a better thing to be involved with.

Until next time.