We live in interesting times.
The top 5 most valuable companies in 2008 were a mix of energy, retail, consumer products, finance, and a bit of tech. In 2018, all top 5 are tech companies. The tech giants and their products have become so pervasive in our lives that we barely notice anymore how much they have changed our day-to-day existence. And obviously they have impact way beyond how you spend your time with fun apps on your smartphone. They have influence deep into politics, culture and societal structure, often with unintended consequences.
And it’s not just the giants. The increasingly globalized tech startup ecosystem produces a steady flow of new products, many of which we would have considered to be mind-blowing just a decade ago.
The consequences of all this new technology are profound, in ways that are hard to imagine in the present. But it is essential for the success of individuals, companies, organizations, government and society to try to understand what the impact of new technology might be. There is probably no force that influences our world more immediately.
I was lucky enough to be there in the early days of the world wide web, years before most people ever heard about this new technology. I lived through the dot-com boom and bust in a fast-growing (and then rapidly shrinking, for a while) startup, did innovation projects at a large traditional company, helped start and grow several other startups in both Europe and the US and was involved as a board member and investor in others.
These experiences taught me how hard it is to predict how fast and in what way a new technology will develop, get adopted, influence companies, the economy and society, and create or destroy wealth. But it also showed me that there are patterns that are fairly consistent over time, that there are rules and typical paths for innovation. As so often, history doesn’t repeat, but it certainly rhymes and it definitely has a rhythm to it.
I blogged about technology a lot between 2005 and 2010, and I had a great time doing it. Writing and getting all the feedback from readers was always enormously rewarding, and I really missed it in the last few years. Thanks to a change in my career path I now have more time to write again, and I will use it to think about technology trends, try to find interesting patterns, and share my thoughts and ideas. There is no particular expectation for this. Please comment and share if you find these articles useful, and let me know your own thoughts.
There is nothing more effective and satisfying than deep dialogue to explore complex topics like technological innovation.