The Next Big Thing
Posts about next generation technologies and their effect on business.

The way the future, wasn't

Over the last day or so I have been watching the news reporting around Kodak filing for bankruptcy protection Because of the impact of digital photography on their business. It made me think about the issue of lost technologies, things that once were important technologies but got superseded. I remember seeing an article somewhere on the internet, sorry I can’t remember where, pointing out that you could verify people age by showing them a picture of a video cassette and asking what it was...

Since the turn of the century, we have seen huge new industries grow up around the world-wide web, smartphones and tablets, and many others. This has created winners and losers, internet book shopping, for example, has hit the traditional brick and mortars stores. If you want to understand the impact some of these technologies have had, just imagine how classic films would play out today. Picking an example at random, Psycho, I mean would Janet Lee have stopped at the Bates Motel after looking it up on TripAdvisor using her smartphone from the car. And don’t get me started on all those horror films that start when the protagonists get lost. GPS technology really has become a huge part of the world we live in.

So what of the future, what will be the major technology losers in the next 10 years? Here are some potential candidates:

  • The home telephone, why would you continue to have fixed telephone line at home as mobile telephony becomes so prevalent, after all mobile telephony has already pretty much killed off the phone box.
  • The CD, DVD and Blu-Ray disks and the local music store, as digital download becomes more popular and internet connection speeds increase, the traditional music store may also become a thing of the past.
  • Paper books, comics, magazines and libraries, will e-books kill the traditional paper book?
  • Separate Computing/Music/ Television systems, increasingly these devices will converge into a single media consumption device.
  • The desktop PC, will you still need a desktop in a world of tablets serving web and cloud based applications?
  • Separate work and personal devices, increasingly people are blurring the lines between work and personal devices, the rise of a prosumer model could spell the end for the traditional office desktop/laptop as people increasing use their own devices for work as well.
  • The traditional PC Operating system (OS), as cloud and web technologies become more pervasive will there still be value in having a traditional thick OS? Or will the future be a mixed environment where people use hybrid devices and solutions.
  • Traditional models for healthcare, sensors and smartphones could allow healthcare to shift from a reactive to a proactive model where your healthcare provider uses data collected remotely to ensure you never get ill.
  • Traditional models of education, how should we teach in a world where the internet provides real-time access to all human knowledge?
  • The Computer hard drive, as solid-state drives (SSD) Become more powerful, and affordable, will the relatively slow hard drive disappear. Technologies currently in development like the memristor Could accelerate this disappearance.
  • Traditional television channels, already many people time shift their viewing, choosing what to watch and when, can traditional channels continue to survive in such a world?
  • Real life, if we can all be heroes in virtual worlds will we all migrate to them?
  • The traditional monolithic legacy application, these huge expensive legacy applications may well be superseded by smaller apps, or web services, that are smaller and focused on a single function.
  • The traditional IT department, It is now fundamental to business, and the role of IT is changing from managing the procurement of owned IT assets and controlling the IT budget to being the service aggregator that provides the services the business needs.
  • The venerable computer mouse, could touch screen, and multi-touch, technologies, spell the end for the computerized rodent?

And that’s just a small sampling from the stuff we already know about, and without worrying about replicator technologies, nanotechnology, quantum computing, eternal youth, artificial intelligence and all the other big ideas. And perhaps the best test for futurists will be their ability to win bets on what the future will bring...

For me the key takeaway from this for businesses is that they have to develop the ability to see the opportunities of new technologies, and have the courage to move away from their old technologies and business models which have often been the source of company strength in the past, at the right time to allow them to keep growing their business.

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