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Don't Just Stand on the Sidelines

Apr 13, 2012

by Brom Hoban, TSSA Director of Communications

“The world has changed far more in the past 100 years than in any other century in history. The reason is not political or economic but technological — technologies that flowed directly from advances in basic science.”

So spoke Stephen Hawking, the preeminent physicist of our time. 

But what does that mean to us as businesspeople? 

It means speed.

To me, that’s what it all comes down to. Futurist Ray Kurzweil, speaking at South by Southwest in Austin, talked about the “exponential” pace of technology.

 “Every field is being empowered by these increasingly inexpensive, but powerful tools," Kurzweil said. "Twenty years ago, if you took out a mobile phone in a movie, it was a sign that you were a Mexican drug lord. Now there are six billion phones and a billion smartphones on the planet."

 “An analysis of the history of technology shows that technological change is exponential, contrary to the common-sense “intuitive linear” view. So we won’t experience 100 years of progress in the 21st century — it will be more like 20,000 years of progress (at today’s rate),” Kurzweil added.

That’s quite staggering. And it means that as a businessperson, you’ve got to keep up, like it or not. If the storage facility down the street offers online payment option for their tenants and you don’t, that could have a potential impact on your storage operation. No matter how good your customer service is, people like convenience.

  Industry made great strides during the 20th century, ushering in whole new ways of manufacturing. We live in times that are changing at a far more rapid pace, and these changes continue to impact the way we work, play and conduct commerce.

If you often find yourself learning new software, getting used to a new “user interface,” or mastering how to use a new device, that’s a good sign: it means you’re a survivor, and that you are embracing the changes being thrown at you. If you don’t fit in that group, you might want to take a closer look.

“If you can anticipate the next revolution from the beginning, you will have an enormous advantage in learning to use and profit from new inventions and discoveries,” says Martin Mak, an educator known for his online articles.  “Furthermore, becoming a participant will give you a head start over people who watch from the sidelines.”

It’s often been said that “only the strong survive.” More recently, that has been changed to: “It’s not the Strong but Those Who Adapt to Change Who Survive.”

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