So far the Internet of Things has shown great promise and virtually no scale. Mostly because nothing of any widespread use was created.
That will change with the arrival of truly useful and affordable devices like Nest, which manages home heating through a phone app. A whole host of consumer products will follow.
The Internet of Things is the network of physical objects or "things" embedded with electronics, software, sensors and connectivity to do useful things by swapping data with the manufacturer or other devices.
How many companies can get to $10bn dollars in 10 years?
This number will rise rapidly, even after equalising for inflation. We’ll see start ups mushrooming into huge companies much more often.
The demise of the corporate will stem from this – and from many other factors.
Small businesses will be able to compete directly with corporates. Purpose-led businesses are going to appeal more and more to customers and employees – a harder furrow for the traditional corporate to plough.
The rise of the knowledge worker – and how to manage them – is going to become the most important thing for companies, both large and small.
The Gen Y and Millennial approach to working will also have an impact on the demise of the corporate.
These generations don’t care about the job title or the pension.
They would rather start a company and build something themselves than work for a traditional corporate.
Corporates that carry on working the same way they have for the last ten years are going to be superceded. Even those who are making a good fist of doing things differently. The market will be cannibalised by start ups. The cost of building a global company has suddenly diminished. A global advertising campaign that previously only a corporate could afford to do is now available to anyone with a clever viral idea. The corporates who rely on a steady product and customer base will find their lunch eaten by fast growth competitors.
We have moved from the era of manufacturing to era of information.. and now to the era of innovation. The old way of creating a new product - get a big investment, build a product, big bang launch – will disappear. Everyone will understand how to manage their biggest risk: that people won’t buy their product. Failure is now good.
“I don't care that they stole my idea.. I care that they don't have any of their own”
- Nikola Tesla
Already, you can design a circuit-board in your browser, place an order and have it shipped to you. You can do this online, in your spare time. In the past we relied on large volumes to offset high cost – and therefore created high barriers to entry for new competitors. Launching a physical product has traditionally taken a long time. No longer.
Indigogo is a great example - it's funded by interested parties and products are crowdsourced. Batches are now smaller. Niche products are suddenly viable. The cost of a prototype is almost nothing. Ten years ago, you would remortgage your house to pioneer your invention. In 10 years time, the product development process will have matured and cheap prototyping will be the normal way of doing things.
Companies that rely on scale and 'being the big guys' will be cannibalised. Craft cars are already being built. Sous-vide machines used to be only affordable by huge restaurants. Now you can pay $200 for an Indigogo sous-vide machine. All the tools that were only available to corporates are now democratised. 3d printing chemicals radically change the way drugs are distributed and as a result disrupts our current methods of research and legislation.
Roles for niche knowledge worker roles will increase. But commoditised roles will have the human element carved out.
Take Uber. Here’s what one blogger says:
“Free market zealot and Uber CEO Travis Kalanick has proven he has no real loyalty to drivers. He has long defended surge pricing by saying it was getting more cars on the road and more drivers on the platform, and that eventually, he hoped all that supply would then force prices down across the platform. And at this past year’s Code Conference he practically salivated at the notion of a network of self-driving cars that could take out the “cost” of human drivers. You know the old adage about transporting the scorpion across the river... Kalanick has made his loyalties clear and they aren’t to drivers or riders, but the free market.”
The focus will shift from bureaucracy and ‘how we work’ to the citizen and ‘what they need’. This means a big push to enabling participation. Citizenship will take on a new meaning.
Social networks have already increased the demand for transparency in global governance - the Arab Spring being the most explosive example. This type of ‘small power’ will increase in influence. The USA will be the dinosaur.
The seeds of this have already been planted via the UK government’s most innovative department, Government Digital Service (GDS).
They are pioneering transparency, getting rid of dinosaurs, opening up the market, educating the civil service to understand how to build great digital products and services.
There will soon be a generation of civil servants who go into the corporate world, pioneering this new kind of organisation and leadership. The UK leads the world in government digital service transformation.
Ecommerce has already changed the way we buy. In 10 years time, we will see major disruption to the way logistics companies work, from driverless trucks to crowd sourced delivery of goods – all powered by digital. Logistics companies will likely still own the distance from manufacture to retailer, but the last mile problem of retailer to customer is ripe for innovation and disruption. Trucks driving round from FedEx, UPS etc will be replaced with drones or Uber for delivery.
The future is arriving fast. Nature magazine tells us: “Advocates of ‘quantum computers’ say that these machines will be able to perform tasks too big for classical computers to tackle, such as cracking the codes that protect bank transactions. Now several teams have solid evidence that quantum physics does indeed embody a level of complexity that classical computers could never match.”
In practical terms, this means that we may be able to solve complex probability puzzles that are currently too intensive for current computer capability. For example understanding the origins of our solar system or exploring the future of our planet require complex calculations run on high-power computers.
Energy efficiency is the other big news. Researchers at HP have been working on an alternative computational design that promises significant energy efficiency. They are close to completing key edge cases before they target major organisations with huge IT architecture.
It gets interesting at a consumer level around increasing battery life of hand held devices where there has been little innovation. Instead companies like Apple and Intel have tried to reduce size to create space for bigger batteries. But there’s little more they can do. The battery of an iPhone’s takes up to 70% (or even more) of the device’s whole size.
So the arrival of optical (photonic) computing transforms uptime.Imagine a phone that you don’t need to charge every day, but it could work up to 3 days in a row. It’s still not going to be a Nokia 3210 that used to work for a week but it’s already a HUGE improvement over our current standards.
Unboxed Consulting has been putting together digital products for 10 years and is looking forward to working on exciting products with innovative teams over the next 10 years.
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