Hyper innovation, adoption and collaboration in the Digital Era
Let’s talk human civilization, big picture. For lovers of technology, the coolest stuff in human history has arrived in the last century or so, a mere speck at the very end of civilization’s timeline to date. This last century is when the long, languid hunter-gatherer and agrarian eras gave way to the mercantile, industrial and current “fifth” era characterized by digital computing and biotech.
The Earth’s population is approaching double-digit billions. Global connectivity is in real time. There is frictionless access to information. Technology is growing at an unprecedented, exponential rate.
With a simple click you can post and publish an article for millions to read, get products delivered to your door, remotely lower the thermostat in your home. One touch on a dashboard and you’ve got directions. One swipe and you have your boarding pass. For better or worse, we live in 24-7 productivity with every corner of the world connected in real time.
This new Digital Era is characterized by three key interdependent forces: Hyper Innovation, Hyper Adoption and Hyper Collaboration.
It starts with hyper innovation. The rate of innovation over the past 100 years has been staggering., with many of these innovations occurring within our own lifetime. In the last 30 years alone, the rate of innovation has exploded with many technologies building on one another creating a compounding effect.
Then there is hyper adoption. We are seeing the democratization of innovation because information and technology are now available to just about anyone at any time. Think of it this way. Electricity took 70 years for mass adoption. For the Internet, it was approximately 20 years. Mass adoption of today’s Internet of Things took a mere 8 years.
The third, and potentially most important factor of the Digital Era, is hyper collaboration. The sharing of human thought, experience and intelligence is the crucible in which innovation and adoption occur. And the crucible of choice is networks. It’s networks that have always enabled and facilitated the advancement of technology – but not always at the speed of light, like we see today.
In the past, cafes and classrooms were the “networks” that facilitated the advancement of technology. Today’s cafes of innovation exist on digital networks. Around the clock, and in real time, people collaborate between countries and between disciplines. The seamless, unbiased nature of this collaboration enables innovation to grow at an exponential rate.
And at the core of today’s networks is communication – enabled by personal computers, optical fiber, servers, mainframes, data centers, and global carriers.
Now the interesting thing about hyper innovation, hyper adoption and hyper collaboration is how the bar resets to zero. The disruption and the inflection points are everywhere. Consider the smartphone:
In 25 years, there have been at least six inflection points that have reset the bar, starting with the Newton in 1993 (a radical idea for a personal digital assistant at the time). The industry then raced through the Palm Pilot, Flip Phone, Blackberry and just 10 short years ago, the iPhone introduced touch functionality and apps, essentially disrupting an already disrupted industry. And then the Samsung Note delivered a large OLED screen and a stylus – yet another disruption.
And who knows what the future holds? Flexible phones? Voice control? Artificial Intelligence?
Here’s the takeaway: In this digital era of hyper innovation, hyper adoption and hyper collaboration, past isn’t prologue. It’s wise to anticipate more progress faster.
When Thomas Edison had the idea for the light bulb, he came to Corning for that glass envelope that would make the product commercially available. By developing television panels and funnels, Corning helped enable black and white television and subsequently color TV – leading to the proliferation of mass media (for better or for worse!). The modern age of data communications started when Corning developed the first low-loss optical fiber, triggering the broadband revolution. Our development of glass for liquid crystal displays enabled LCD TVs and the displays on the phones in your pockets. And ten years ago, this innovation led to a durable cover glass -- Gorilla Glass, which is mostly likely also on the phone from which you’re reading this article.
Throughout our history, Corning has focused on innovations and inflection points that make the world a better place. And we deploy those technologies in a global manner, connecting with local talent, knowledge and resources.
It’s all happened so quickly, especially toward the far end of our timelines. As Corning innovates, so does the world. And hyper innovation, hyper adoption and hyper collaboration continue unabated. In a lot of ways, it’s all making life better. Faster.
We can’t wait to see what’s next.