When we think about the term “emerging technology,” we often think about technology that is early on the Adoption S-curve—technology that is starting to gain traction, momentum and buy-in, but is not yet fully mature or understood in terms of its potential for wide-scale disruption. It’s a newer term, and certainly garnering the attention of executives everywhere, but when you think about it, emerging technology has been here since the dawn of time.

Some of the earliest examples of emerging technologies were the bow and arrow, the domestication of animals, the steam engine… even agriculture was emerging technology at one point!

In the business sector, emerging technology has always played a fundamental role in helping us disrupt and transform to something greater. Consider the late ‘70s when the personal computer was introduced. Employees shifted from making calls to the “basement” (where IT was essentially housed) to having IT out on the floor sitting right alongside them. This caused a revolution in terms of worker productivity, as tasks that required extraordinary brain power could be processed by the computer and employees could instead focus on what they did best.

In looking back and examining the role it plays today, it is evident that emerging technology is nothing new. It’s been happening throughout human history for decades upon decades, but now it’s become well-regarded as a key accelerator and business driver.

Curious where your company stands on the adoption curve? Drop us a note!

Simply put, emerging technology is a core component of every company’s DNA. Whether we realize it, every organization—no matter the industry—is an IT company. All businesses are having conversations about how IT can increase efficiency, add value, promote differentiation, and reduce time to market, among other gains. To compete strongly in today’s economy, a technology strategy needs to be embedded within an overall business strategy.

As business leaders become immersed in the information age, it’s important that we stay current on how to accelerate capability by identifying when individual facets of technology become mature and can start to add real value so that we can be amongst the early adopters—not the laggards. It is the early adopters—more often than not—that are able to leverage disruptive technologies successfully, without having to bet the business or put the organization at risk. They lead the way on the S-curve and, in so doing, position their business for long-term viability and scalability. If you adopt too late or join on the other end of the S-curve—once the technology is well-proven and established—you fall behind.

As you start to examine your company’s beliefs around emerging technology, I invite you to consider the following:

  • Understand that your company is an IT company to some degree. You need to actively introduce disruptive, emerging technologies—think robotics, machine learning, AI, IoT, etc.—to better enable your business. Don’t keep IT in the “basement.” Elevate your beliefs about IT to ensure that technology is ready-for-purpose and transformational in nature.
  • Remain curious about technology. Keep your eyes open and inspire your team to stay abreast of shifting macro trends and the ways in which technology positively transforms business. Regularly ask questions such as, which technologies make sense for my business? Is the technology ready for prime time? Can it move our business forward? And if you are feeling overwhelmed by what you are reading and seeing, call in a trusted technology and advisory partner. Don’t resign to a wait-and-see approach!
  • Pay attention to the technology and time your place on the S-curve. As stated above, you need to be watching. If the S-curve comes and goes and you missed it and technology is already mainstream, you will be too late. Determine when you want to introduce a new technology and make sure it doesn’t run over you – that is, negatively impact your ongoing operations while it is being introduced. Know where the technology is so you can get on at the right stop!

The buzz around emerging technology is a good thing—and the best thing about it is that not only technology leaders but also business leaders are part of it. But it’s not new; it’s a continuing part of the human story.

The way we ride this train to increased efficiency and opportunity is to remain ever vigilant and futuristic and thus a step ahead to make sure our timing is spot on. The train is—and has always been—in motion!