Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Brands, Change & Innovation

The rate of change in our society continues to accelerate. This causes many people quite a bit of anxiety. Emerging technologies have replaced millions of jobs but, so far, they have created more jobs than they have eliminated

Consider what digital photography (invented by a Kodak scientist) did to Eastman Kodak company. Consider what Uber is doing to traditional dispatcher-led taxi cab companies. Consider how airbnb.com is impacting the growth rate of hotel chains. What did laptop computers do to desktop computers? How are pad computers and smartphones impacting laptop computer sales? Consider how Hallmark and American Greetings are impacted by digital technology. Consider what CreateSpace and other self-publishing platforms have done to traditional book publishers. What will artificially intelligent medical diagnosis systems do to medical internists? With self-driving automobiles, how will the auto insurance business change? What will Tesla and its battery-driven vehicle revolution do to the oil industry (and the auto industry and gas stations)? Where will drones ultimately take us? What will increasing aerial surveillance do to our ability to capture criminals and prevent wars? Consider that AI experts are exploring how to give computers the capacity to innovate. And this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Consider how Einsteinian physics superseded Newtonian physics and consider how quantum physics recast Einsetinian physics and consider the potential impact of superstring theory and multiverse theory. 

Research universities and company R&D labs are working on these disruptive technologies - energy storage, fuel cells, genomics, advanced materials, autonomous vehicles, renewable energy, advanced robotics, 3D printing, mobile Internet, automation of knowledge work, cloud technology, integrated digital design and photonics.

We were recently approached by a company that is on the verge of commercializing human organ regeneration. And consider the LED revolution. Incandescent and florescent lightbulbs may soon become historical artifacts. And several companies are working on developing direct computer-brain interfaces.

In a rapidly changing world, no business is safe from technology-driven obsolescence. So, what is a brand manager to do? For that matter, what is any business manager to do? Here is what will matter for future survival, and more importantly, to thrive well into the future - higher education, advanced degrees, lifelong learning, a solid understanding of math and science, diverse interests, diverse reading, personal flexibility, ideation skills, courage in the face of uncertainty, the ability to change course at a moment's notice, understanding the intersection of many different scientific disciplines and technologies, an opportunistic attitude, entrepreneurship, the ability to take risks, a penchant for action, an optimistic attitude and the ability to discern patterns and recognize meta-themes.

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