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Gustin Partners | July 13, 2015 | News

Exploiting Emerging Technologies

The future is binary. Not 1’s and 0’s. “Exploiters” and “Exploited”. When the “One Great Scorer comes to mark against your name” [apologies to Grantland Rice, “Alumnus Football”] he/she will parse executives into two buckets – leaders who knew how to make technology work for them and Morlocks [homage to H.G. Wells] who worked for the technology. Technology Imagination [i.e., what technology can do for us and what we can do with technology] is a business process and enterprise competence that has to be managed, measured and very much improved upon. 

As a futurist I am frequently asked to give “flying car” lectures. These are talks depicting a future filled with amazing devices. In the 1950s these talks prominently featured personal nuclear reactors powering and flying cars. Hence, emerges the label “flying car” lecture. Such lectures are great theater. They transport us out of our quotidian existence to a better place. I don’t think “flying car” lectures ask enough of their audiences. “Flying car” lectures entertain but they do not typically change behavior. I think we need a new genre of oratory. What should we call a speech exploring the behavior change required to prosper in a world defined by rapidly changing disruptive technologies?

Where Should We Start Our Preparations for Living in a Tech Disrupted Future?
Aaron Frank of Singularity University delivers an exemplary modernized version of a “flying car” lecture. He sets forth six areas of technology change:

Artificial intelligence & Robotics
Biotechnology & Bioinformatics
Medicine & Neuroscience
Networks & Computing Systems
Energy & Environmental Systems

When preparing for the future I suppose one could start with the technology. Indeed, most “futuring” initiatives in large enterprises do. However, deciding to BUY/ADOPT/DEPLOY new technology does not create value. KNOWING about new technology does not create value in and of itself. It is only via applying new technology that the opportunity to create value presents itself. I readily acknowledge the Zen koan ambiguity of the question, “what came first the chicken or the idea of the chicken?”

Theodore Levitt was editor of the Harvard Business Review, a professor at the Harvard Business School and author of the seminal Marketing Myopia. He counter-intuitively pointed out that creativity [i.e., thinking up new things] is different from innovation [i.e., doing new things].

His definition of corporate purpose was “to create and keep a customer.” The real question for Professor Levitt was who is our customer today and who will they be tomorrow? In the context of exploiting the capabilities of emerging technology sets to business/enterprise purposes, we need to know:

1. What are the rules and roles currently in place for creating customer experiences?
2. How large is your “customer experience” budget? How large should it be?
3. Who should be involved in deciding how big and where “customer experience” resources should be allocated?
4. What are examples of exceeding customer expectations?
5. How are customers influenced by the behaviors and comments of others?
6. What is the current “exchange rate” for data passing between your organization and customers [i.e., what benefit does the customer get from sharing their information with you]?
7. How does your product/service impact the customer’s “digital self?” [i.e., for retail customers - the persona they are projecting on-line and for B2B customers –their brand narrative]

Technology is a tectonic force reshaping what is possible [i.e., new ways we can delight our customers]. How are you amplifying the technology imagination of your enterprise?


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