Beginnings of A Gigantic Innovation Cycle

This post is part of a series – 14 Business and Technology Trends to Look for in 2014


Disruptive technologies and business models will inspire a new level of innovation.

Connectivity and technology are accelerating the pace of change. New technologies and techniques such as sensors, cloud-based architectures, agile development, crowdsourcing, crowdfunding and MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) are creating disruptive business models and new industries overnight. Some innovations come from companies you’ve heard of – witness Nike’s use of data collection widgets, sports clothes and web applications to hold your workouts accountable or Groupon’s model that gives businesses a different way to promote their offerings. Other examples come from lesser-known up-and-comers such as SodaStream, the provider of tasty fizzy drinks via a business model designed to save the planet with a greener supply chain approach, or a tech guy’s best friend, GitHub, which provides elegant tools for collaborative software development.

Futurist  Ray Kurzweil has a strong track record of predicting trends and suggests that we are still in the early stages of an exponential-shaped curve of technology change and we’ll see mind-blowing change from almost every industry sector (biotech, energy, technology, food production, communication, etc.).

Nevertheless, it is an established fact that companies are notoriously bad at innovation. Taking a laissez-faire approach to innovation, however, can no longer be the status quo. Companies need to be more purposeful in their attempts to innovate. Fortunately, there is some hope for charting the course forward given an expansive body of knowledge on the topic. A few of our favorites:

Scott Berkun’s “The 5 Best Books On Innovation Ever” list is a good place to start. As Scott points out, innovation at its essence is really about three things: 1) idea generation 2) designing and building products and 3) successfully running nascent businesses. Rarely do you find all three qualities in one person, and the same is true with books. From Scott’s list, our favorites are Thinkertoys for its idea generation theme and They All Laughed for illustrating how messy the game of innovation is.

Abundance by Diamandis and Kotler is truly illustrative on the booming innovation cycle. Countless examples are provided in the book: water filtration and sanitation (water desalination, nano filtering, sewage recycling and smart water grid); food production (genetically modified foods, vertical farming, in vitro meat and agroecology); education (personalized education, One Laptop Per Child program, Artificial Intelligence education programs, and advancements in educational games, video games and computer programs); energy (solar and wind power, the next generation of nuclear energy and algal biofuel, the smart energy grid and battery-encapsulated energy storage); and healthcare (stem cell therapy and organ creation, robotic medical caregivers and surgeons, genomic medicine and Lab-on-a-Chip technology).

Clayton Christensen’s The Innovator’s Dilemma and The Innovator’s Solution are classics and worth a read.

Harvard Business Review writes frequently on Innovation. Many of its articles are increasingly practical, including this great piece by Parmar, Mackenzie, Cohn and Gann, “The New Patterns of Innovation,” on how to drive innovation by considering new uses for your ever-expanding data treasure trove.

What are the implications?  

All companies will experience disruption. It may be in a product line or division or an entire business, but it is only a matter of time until companies will be forced to either innovate or deteriorate. Companies need to figure out how to effectively embrace and integrate innovation into their operating model in order to stay on the forefront of growth and customer loyalty.

Larry EnglishLarry English is Centric’s President. He is a seasoned consulting executive, having served in executive roles for both private and public consulting firms. Larry’s early experience was architecting systems for Fortune 100 companies at Accenture. He then went on to help develop a Columbus-based consulting company, POV Partners, which was acquired by Whittman-Hart. While at Whittman Hart (which became marchFIRST), Larry filled the role of Vice President of Strategy. Defining company strategy and studying trends for future success are central to Larry’s role today. Contact Larry to learn more.


Other Business and Technology Trends of 2014:

  1. IT Shops Will Leverage Their Knowledge of Legos® to Build Enterprise Systems
  2. The Growth of DIY Healthcare
  3. Data is the New Currency – Mining for Gold in the Internet of Things 
  4. The Emergence of the Professional DIY Data Scientist 
  5. Marketing and IT Sitting in the Tree
  6. Cloud Breaks Out of Infrastructure Groups and Into Strategic Imperatives
  7. Financial Companies Prepare to Advise Multi-Generational Homes
  8. The Re-Emerging Importance of Tech Careers
  9. Responsive Web Design Falls Victim to the Hype Cycle 
  10. Data Scientist Sightings Will (Mostly) Be Proven a Hoax
  11. Non-Techies Grasp the Cloud
  12. Info Synthesis and Collaboration Create a Recipe for 2014 Breakthroughs
  13. Sensors Invade – Big Data Goes Mainstream