How To Identify Technologies That Matter


Many of us are looking for the next, big, shiny new technology tool.

Yet the noise about new technologies makes it very difficult to identify which tools really matter.

The parade of new technologies and advances is persistent. So many new apps or tools appear on the world stage that we often feel overwhelmed about where to look and which to try. Some rise to the top and seem to gain public acceptance fast. Some have slow acceptance and others appear and disappear almost overnight.

Four Traits To Help Identify Technologies That Matter

The May 2013 report, Disruptive technologies: Advances that will transform life, business, and the global economy, from the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) has identified four characteristics to identify technologies that matter.

1. High rate of technology change.

The technology is rapidly advancing or experiencing breakthroughs. Disruptive technologies often demonstrate a rapid rate of change in terms of performance/price as compared to other alternatives. Sometimes they experience breakthroughs that drive accelerated rates of change or improvements.

2. Broad potential scope of impact.

To be economically disruptive, the technology must have a broad reach. It touches many companies and industries affecting a wide range of services, products and machines. The mobile internet is one of those disruptive technologies that is having a broad impact affecting billions.

3. Large economic value that could be affected.

A disruptive technology must have the potential to create massive economic impact. It has the likelihood to disrupt large profit pools and render some capital investments obsolete. It may even result in additions to the GDP.

4. Substantial potential for disruptive economic impact.

Technologies that matter have the potential to dramatically change the status quo. They are transformative and can change how people live, work and play. They often create new opportunities and shift surplus for businesses.

As MGI authors state, “Many technologies have the potential to meet these criteria eventually, but leaders need to focus on technologies with potential impact that is near enough at hand to be meaningfully anticipated and prepared for.”

What recent disruptive technologies have you experienced that you think may have a broad appeal? What drives an organization to adopt a disruptive technology?

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