I came across something called the ‘Gartner Hype Cycle’ just recently – it’s been around for a while but hadn’t registered on my radar. It provides a model for unpicking the hype or froth that’s typically associated with new technologies and their potential relevance to real life business problems.
It reminds me of Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’s Five Stages of Grief – quite apt in a macabre way you might say in the technology space – and it’s also broadly similar to many of the models change management consultants use! So, together we have three of the things that many people – business people in particular- really don’t want to think or talk about – Technology, Change and Death.
Let me remind you of the pace of technological change – just look at the adoption rate of smart phones. So what? you might say. Well, this is a pretty dynamic space at the moment as more and more people move away from the static environment of their office and their PC’s. To offer a perspective, I still remember having to queue up outside a phone box in France to let my parents know what a great holiday we were having. So, the trend – and it’s irreversible and unstoppable – is towards online access anytime, anywhere, anyplace as the old Martini ad said. Not just two Jags, two pools but now two screens as people watch television and use their iPhone or iPad at the same time. This isn’t about technology per se, it’s about what people can do with it and here the ‘digital natives’ have a head start on many of us with their ready-made fluency with today’s devices, instant media consumption and – one might hypothesise – shorter attention spans.
So, how we deal with technology is a sort of metaphor and probably no different from how we deal with change – the natural response is to resist it. I don’t want to go in to the mechanics of change management here. But, it’s axiomatic now, that we are all on a learning journey – lifetime learning is inevitable if we are not to fossilise. It’s a challenge I welcome, learning new skills and working with new groups of people. I’m currently doing Squared Online’s digital marketing programme. Does it get a bit too granular for my strategic mindset from time to time? Yes, it does! Do I get overwhelmed by the information overload during the on line sessions? Yep! Am I outside my comfort zone? Affirmative! But at least I’m making time to do this – what are you making time to do that’s new, provocative and develops 21st century skills and value?
Here’s some good news – yes, death is still going to happen but it could be delayed and the probability is that there are people around today who are actually going to live to 150! One of the key areas Frost and Sullivan identify in their 2025 Megatrends Report is the growing use of cyber technology in the medical space – such as e-health, m-health, gene therapy and non –invasive surgery. Could you imagine a robot doing surgery? Could you imagine being monitored by near body, on body or even in body devices – maybe all at once? Would you – like me – go for having your knees replaced like changing a print cartridge? Some of this, of course, is happening already. So, what’s the underlying message here? Well, we can put our heads in the sand, rely on thought processes and working models that served us well in the past but when it comes down to it are as about as useful today as the legendary King Canute trying to stop the sea coming in. The answer, give technology and the change it represents a great big hug now!
By Chris Farrance