Disruptive Innovations VI

Ten More Things to Think About

When we think about innovation and the change that it brings about, there is a tendency to say things like ‘it seems to have come out of nowhere’ or ‘it happened in a heartbeat.’ The same can be said about fads. On a Monday you’ve never heard of a Click Clack, a Pet Rock, a Furby, or a Fidget Spinner, but by what seems like the lunchtime, you can’t turn a corner or walk past a school playground without seeing them everywhere. Innovation has the same feeling as a fad — we go from not thinking we need a mobile phone to not being able to leave the house without it. Over the past few years, it feels like this technological change is accelerating. But is it?

Vanessa Colella, Chief Innovation Officer at Citi, writes that innovation isn’t always instantaneous: The hardest challenges to identify and react to are the ones that arise slowly. Large-scale societal, economic, and technological trends that emerge gradually and continuously over time are easily overlooked, but in reality it is these trends that can create the biggest impact. Tracking slow change, she notes, by asking which trends are impacting businesses and clients in ways that are both accelerating and irreversible can help to create improved systems that reduce friction or shift society in such a way that returning to the old practices seems inconceivable.

In this new report, we once again look at some of the leading-edge concepts across sectors and identify new products that could ultimately disrupt the marketplace. One notable point is that a number of the concepts we look at have actually been around for a while — all-solid-state batteries, anti-aging medicines, eSports and offshore wind turbines — but something has changed in each of them, such that we’re now at a tipping point of accelerated adoption. Telecoms take a spotlight this year with two new concepts: 5G and Dynamic Spectrum Access (DSA). 5G technology has been under discussion for the past five years, and although unlikely to show major improvements in consumer smartphones, we see huge potential in commercial and industrial areas such as connected & autonomous vehicles, smart manufacturing, digital health, and smart cities. DSA works in conjunction with this by disrupting the model currently used for wireless spectrum allocation.

In healthcare, the search for the fountain of youth goes back hundreds of years, and attempts by modern medicine have historically failed. But today, there is a new breakthrough in the understanding of why we age could lead to novel drugs on the market by 2023. Healthcare data — the result of electronic health-record legislation in 2009 — is growing by leaps and bounds, and new tools like artificial intelligence, machine-learning and natural language-processing will help drive data utilization and lower healthcare costs.

Autonomous vehicles (AV) could be available in the mid-2020s and create new ways to use cars, with RoboTaxi driverless car services and AV Subscription ownership, while the development of all-solid-state batteries could accelerate the uptake of battery electric vehicles. eSports could eclipse traditional league sports for viewership and sponsorship, wind generation uptake can be accelerated by the use of floating wind-turbines in deep waters, buying and selling a house can be transformed with FinTech solutions, and smart assistants could be the primary interaction with data queries in the near future.

Hope you can avoid the acceleration and slow down to read the report.