Monday, July 25, 2016

The world of technology led disruptions beyond SMACS

It was an interesting conversation with a veteran technology industry observer who had spent more than a decade with technology vendors and users alike, narrating their stories to the world. His insights were always incisive and valued by the industry as key markers towards adoption and success. We ruminated about the past and the fast pace of change that had everyone scampering for a Digital strategy; but even that is now in the past. Execution challenges and failures make better reading than laggards who are yet to decide.

Unicorns aside, disintermediation and asset lite new business models were key digital drivers for startups threatening to disrupt existing business models, only to realize that survival rate for paper tigers has been extremely low after success of first few in an industry segment. Consolidation and shift from broad to narrow and broad again, hyperlocal to nationwide and back again to niche had everyone struggling to find a profitable equilibrium; churning trends also left many on the wayside never to rise again.

Few years back for conventional enterprises enamored by SMACS (Social, Mobile, Analytics, Cloud and Security), the first mover or competitive advantage frittered away with the rest catching up. Digital engagement, delivery, customer service, and experience are beginning to level off, the aura of the brand coupled with carpet bombing advertisements across channels has waning interest in products and services. Customers are expecting more for the same investment, the quality bar is raised in a buyers’ market.

CIOs and CDOs are being challenged to explore new opportunities using old and the as yet untested new, which can offer solutions to the unmet needs or a better value proposition to existing ones. Design thinking and deep learning are no longer buzzwords, they are being applied to invigorate organizations and solve real life problems. Discussions are no longer about incremental innovation, focus is shifting to create exponentially better products and services; and technology is expected to play a role in making it happen.

Watches and wearables – new miniature screens pose new challenges and opportunities with almost complete association with the wearer. Body vitals, moods, behaviors, eating habits, alerts, nudges, tracking almost everything that matters and some that don’t, the wearable is like the IoT device streaming data imploring to be analyzed. Location tracking, your address book, browser history, nothing is private anymore. Fitness is the current killer use, critical care and health monitoring additional benefits to the provider and consumer.

Virtual Reality could not live up to the promise with refinements taking time and the cost of devices; Augmented Reality now creates new paradigms. The future may blur the lines between the real and augmented interchangeably making it difficult to differentiate thus passing control of individual and collective experiences in the hands of ethical providers and willful manipulators. Mind and thereby actions influenced by governments or lawbreakers bring back scary images from the literary world of George Orwell four decades later than his predictions.

Workplaces monitoring of activity and outcomes which otherwise appear unsupervised would create a hyper-efficient work culture with high levels of automation and efficiency. Segmenting performers aided by data shall eliminate the unfit and inefficient; productivity norms would render meaningless the need to publish reports and dashboards, everything tending to Six Sigma. Bordering on utopian ? This scenario can be easily created with culmination of existing technology solutions with some innovative analytical models.

The outliers would be the Digital hermits who have been able to recuse themselves by virtue of their power, wealth, or fugitive status. Digital vacations much sought after to experience real life, real people and the real world devoid of augmented embellishments; the real look, touch and feel, to be cherished and imprinted into real memory. Self-learning computers are already making advancements where they optimize their own learning algorithms to create better neural networks conceptualized by Arthur C Clarke; the tipping point is not far.

Science fiction of the past is no longer unreachable; if you can imagine it, you will find someone already attempting it. Be the dreamer, not the subject of subjugation by others; it does not matter if it is an individual, corporate, government or a nefarious mind wanting to control. It is not about the control, it is a display of power over others destiny. It is not about technology, it is about changing the world because you can. It is a world where the human race is a slave to technology which is a slave of humans.

Sounds far fetched ? Are you really reading this or …

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