Minnie Johnson was born in 1889, and she lived for 100 years. I have often wondered about the changes and events my great-grandmother experienced over her lifetime. She witnessed every major American war except the Civil War. She experienced the Industrial Revolution, the Great Depression, the Civil Rights movement, and the first person to walk on the moon. She was there for the invention of the AM/FM radio, television, automobile, airplane, computer, and even the first cell phone.
It’s amazing to think of the changes that happened during her lifetime. So much can happen in a century. What’s even more amazing is that today, we live in a world where major transformations have become almost commonplace. With the introduction of the Internet and the Age of Technology, the pace of change sped up dramatically. What once seemed only imaginable is made possible on almost a daily basis.
According to Flash Foresight author Daniel Burrus, we’re traveling along eight pathways of technological advancement:
- Dematerialization As technology improves, it gets smaller. We are finding ways to reduce the amount of material it takes to build our tools. (Case in point? The ever-growing capacity and functionality of our smartphones now exceeds that which was recently only possible with laptops.)
- Virtualization We’ve begun to translate things that were once limited to the physical world into weightless, representational environments. Our ability to model complex physical realities using software simulation grows exponentially every year.
- Mobility We are finding ways to unhook ourselves from physical anchors, going mobile with our work, our play, our sports, our shopping…our everything.
- Product Intelligence We can now make any tangible item ‘smart’ with the use of sensors and a network.
- Networking Increases in the scope, speed and accessibility of our networks are also expanding their applications. Our interactions are moving from text and voice formats, to video and even 3D video.
- Interactivity As our media formats become more and more dynamic, we’re gaining the ability to interact with everything.
- Globalization High-speed broadband Internet capacity has broken down walls. Today, any person, business or government can impact people across the globe if they have access to a network.
- Convergence This is happening everywhere. Products, services and entire industries are in a state of rapid change as all eight pathways merge.
Last week, we discussed the transformations that are shaping the future of the banking industry. The rapid state of change is impacting the fabric of businesses, governments and organizations. It can be overwhelming and difficult to prioritize our focus and attention.
For the banking community, market changes are particularly impactful. As I interact with bankers, I hear about common challenges absorbing their time and attention. Banking professionals are engrossed in issues arising from the extended low interest rate environment, increased regulations, intense competition, pricing pressure, talent retention, and cyber security – to name a few.
How do you make sense of it all and stay focused on the future?
Start by understanding your biggest problem. “A difficult problem can easily become a roadblock so large that it seems impossible to get around it. The result is often procrastination and paralysis. The key to unraveling our biggest problems is to recognize that they are typically not our real problem.” It’s easy to get lost in the issue of the day and lose sight of the things that can actually propel our business forward.
It’s a very different world than the one my great grandmother inhabited. If we don’t become preactive, seek to identify and use hard trends, and take an innovative approach to transforming our business, we risk finding our business on the outside looking in, asking that dreaded question what if.
Has your bank considered how these eight pathways to technological advancement will transform the industry? What industry obstacles represent roadblocks for your bank? Get to the heart of the issues holding your business back, and transformation can begin.
 Flash Foresight; Daniel Burrus; January 2011