In our post last Friday we discussed some of the momentous ways that emerging technologies in recent years have transformed our ways of life and how we do business. Particularly, we pinpointed the confluence of mobile, cloud, and Big Data as the forces behind unprecedented new levels of collaboration, development, and production throughout all sectors of society. Just take, for instance, the transformations posed by the era of cloud computing on a small business. It used to be that setting up a data infrastructure was no small undertaking and required months of onsite preparation, including servers and frameworks along with paperwork and testing and customization. But now anyone with a credit card can setup a whole infrastructure in less than 5 minutes.

As Steve Case has said in his recent book, the Third Wave of the Internet is promising to be many times more disruptive than the first instantiation 20 years ago. In the past two decades we’ve progressed beyond the age of information sharing and sociability to the point now where everyone and everything is becoming connected virtually whether on the road, at home, or in the office. This new era of technological change will transform everything we thought we knew about the world and more.

This includes even the very nature of work. Thanks to advances in machine learning, artificial intelligence, and the emergence of cognitive computing (think IBM Watson) machines are now smart enough to do jobs once consigned only to humans. If there was ever a concern that robotics might steal your job, then now is the time to skill-up and keep one step ahead of them. Market predictions tell us that global robotics will increase by well over 400% in the next 4 years!

So this brings us back to some of the questions we started to pose in Friday’s blog. How can businesses today of various sizes adequately prepare for the “tsunami” of changes that will be coming in the next few years without being swept away? How can your organization get onboard with the Internet of Things? Or survive the robotics revolution for that matter?

FOR STARTUPS

If you’re a fledgling startup, the market can be your friend precisely because you’re fresh and un-encumbered. But here are a few more considerations to keep in mind:

  • Make Internet of Things a central part of your customer outreach; embrace the technology and use it to set yourself apart from the competition.
  • Brainstorm about what parts of your operation can be more easily automated.
  • Start testing and experimenting with robots and consider adopting Telepresence devices to enable employees to work remotely. By keeping new technologies on everyone’s radar you send the message that you’re forward-thinking.
  • Preserve a culture of innovation and continually disrupt yourself in order to stay market relevant.
  • Being nimble and agile is an advantage, leverage it!

FOR SMALL BUSINESSES

If you’re a “brick and mortar” company there’s usually a built-in tendency to follow business as usual. That would be the worst mistake at such a critical time. Since markets are changing at lightning speed, disruption is inevitable. Here is what you need to do to be self-disruptive:

  • Hire a market strategist to advise your leadership on how to pivot towards becoming a digital organization.
  • Don’t try to boil the ocean but find out how to start with incremental changes in your products and services and then extend your reach to untapped markets. Setup some key performance indicators that can be adopted to measure your initial progress.
  • Adopt a content-and-audience-first approach by using blogs, podcasts, and videos to build a faithful online following you can leverage to promote your brand and drive sales.
  • Provide regular training and new opportunities for employees to “skill-up” and then let them leverage that new knowledge on the job.

FOR MID-TO-LARGE ENTERPRISES

In this category revenue is usually not a problem, but it is much easier to trip over yourself. Here are a few pointers:

  • Engage with Gartner or Forrester to provide market research and analysis on the latest disruptive technology trends and organizational impacts.
  • Leverage cognitive computing, machine learning, and artificial intelligence as a central part of your R&D, and start to find ways to build solutions around these technologies.
  • Promote continual innovation and disruption, encourage employees to become intrapreneurs within the organization, and then reward those who lead the charge.
  • Consider Myria Research’s perspective on how the rise of robots will extend to the executive suite with the new role of CRO – Chief Robotics Officer.

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