Mr. Bhushan Singh
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Is your company becoming irrelevant?
In 1860 the Pony Express advertised letters delivered to San Francisco from New York in an astounding 10 days. That was pretty revolutionary in that time. Not just the speed of delivery but the opportunities for commerce that speed of delivery afforded.
Since then we have moved by leaps and bounds in increasing the speed of delivery. We have moved from horse drawn carriages to airplanes and satellites in space for communication. So what is the next big thing on the horizon?
In the US, Uber is now valued near the $50 billion dollar mark. Driverless cars may now mean that Uber may have to change its business model in the future. It is also just a matter of time before we have commercial passengers flying on remotely controlled planes or even an app controlled plane similar to a driverless car. Pretty impressive and innovative indeed. What is the next big thing in delivery?
So in keeping up with the innovativeness of the Pony Express, we now have drones. Before you dismiss it there are already huge companies such as Amazon, Walmart and DHL that are currently in some form of testing the platform to use drones for deliveries. Drones have moved past the novelty stage and the commercial attractiveness and applications will only increase in the future. I can definitely see the need for some type of regulations to allow for some type order as with all commercial air traffic but it is definitely coming.
In 1804 the polygraph which allowed two pens to create a copy of a letter was awesome. Then in 1847 Remington came up with the typewriter. After that came Alexander Graham Bell with the telephone in 1876. In 1907 stenographers got the Dictaphone. A great company called Xerox then introduced the copier in 1949 and the world thought that nothing might be able to beat this. But as the world shifted from Newtonian Physics to Quantum Mechanics we got the fax machine in 1964. Email came along in 1971 and now today we have Slack. Yes, Slack. It is a new interoffice chat software that is used by some of the most prestigious companies in the world. It is a 21 month old company that is valued at a whopping $2.8 billion US dollars. It has been suggested by some that Slack would replace email in the future.
Work is feverishly going on in the field of renewable energy. While Solar, Geothermal and Wind are currently in the news. There are a few startup companies that are continuing the quest for energy’s Holy Grail; Fusion. As opposed to fission, which we know of as nuclear energy and produces a lot of radioactive waste, fusion has no such hazardous output. It is also attracting a lot of money. Currently an international consortium is building a fusion reactor in France and is expected to be completed in 2027 at cost of a whopping $20 billion. This is not the commercial model however, just the proof of concept that has attracted $20 billion in capital!
The companies working with the fusion technology are somewhat secretive. But they do have some really big name investors in people such as Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Microsoft’s co-founder Paul Allen and Goldman Sachs to name a few. The companies that are currently working on Fusion swear that it would mean the end of fossil fuels and the answer to climate change. So while many worry about the immediate problems of fossil fuels they may not be the fuels of the future.
Reading through trends
Who would have thought that a timewaster game called Angry Birds or Candy Crush would mushroom into such behemoths. Whatsapp is now as standard as the telephone itself. Being the leader now doesn’t guarantee you first place in the future. In fact you may be more at risk because you may just be trying to preserve your market share around your current product lines. Remember Nokia and Blackberry? Apple came from behind to become a world leader and many analysts are now wondering where does Apple go from here and how will the company keep up despite the fact that the company has almost a cult like following at present.
Just as we all shop on the internet- bypassing local merchants - now there may be some new technology in the future that could make the work that you or I currently do an app instead of requiring a person. The field or artificial intelligence is also rapidly advancing and the possibilities can appear intimidating at times. But this is the future and ready or not it will come and we have to be prepared for it.
Are you prepared?
Is your company or yourself ready for these new forms of disruptive technologies? Most companies are very happy tweaking their business models thinking it is the secret to keeping their companies on forward momentum into the future. But thinking about the business model and not the innovation model is shortsighted indeed as demonstrated by Clay Christiansen. Market forces like the other forces of nature are very strong indeed.
The rate of adoption of these new technologies can be phenomenal. How does your company plan for the future? Most companies in the Caribbean are not big in R&D but are usually act agents or distributors for the parent companies. Will this model be enough to take us into the future? So what is your company working on? What new innovative idea will your company introduce to the world? Don’t take your company’s future for granted. You may become irrelevant.
Mr. Bhushan Singh is a Lecturer, Consultant & Team Lead of the Sustainable and Renewable Energy Project Incubator of the Arthur Lok Jack Graduate School of Business.
Mr. Singh has worked in both the public and private sectors and has served as a consultant in both a technical and professional capacity locally and abroad.