October 2, 2013

Using Predictable Changes to Create
Competitive Advantage

James Giese | UWEBC Communications Director

Daniel Burrus is considered one of the world’s leading futurists on global trends and innovation. He gave the closing keynote “Technology-Enabled Innovation: Leading with Strategic Foresight and Certainty,” during the 15th annual UW E-Business Consortium (UWEBC) Business Best Practices & Emerging Technologies Conference held Oct. 1 in Madison, WI.

His presentation addressed the driving forces of predictable changes and how companies can develop game-changing strategies by capitalizing on emerging technological trends.

closing
Daniel Burrus giving the closing keynote during the 15th annual UWEBC Business Best Practices & Emerging Technologies Conference on Oct. 1, 2013.
“It is possible to create anticipatory organizations that can use the science of certainty to reduce risk,” said Burrus. The key is to separate hard trends (trends that will happen) from soft trends (trends that might happen) to understand the driving forces of predictable changes. Hard trends can be foreseen with certainty.

There are two types of change that are everywhere, are very visible, and that tell you a lot about the future. The first is cyclical change. Examples of cyclical change are weather cycles and business cycles. The second type of change is linear change. “Once this type of change hits, you’re never going back to the old way,” said Burrus, “For example, once you get a smart phone you’re never going back to a dumb phone.”

“Ask yourself, what linear changes have been happening and then look out from there, you can see what’s next and can turn the predictable changes into competitive advantage,“ said Burrus, “That’s how you can be anticipatory.”

Over the next five years, Burrus said that we will be transforming how we sell, market, communicate, collaborate, innovate, train, and educate. Briefly, Burrus discussed several trends that give organizations the ability to anticipate change, including:

On-Demand Services
On-demand services will increasingly be offered to companies needing to rapidly deploy new services. Hardware as a Service (HaaS) joins Software as a Service (SaaS), creating what some have called “IT as a service.” Burrus said that the next step in on-demand services is Everything as a Service (XaaS).

Virtualization of Storage, Applications, and Networking
Virtualization will see continued acceptance and growth by both large and small businesses as virtualization security improves. Burrus said that we will continue to see the virtualization of processing power, allowing mobile devices to access supercomputer capabilities and apply it to processes such as purchasing, logistics, and other areas.

Gamification of Education
The gamification of education will fuel a fast-moving hard trend using advanced simulations and skill-based learning systems that are self-diagnostic, interactive, game-like, and competitive, all focused on giving the user an immersive experience thanks to a photo-realistic 3D interface.

According to Burrus, change means doing the same thing, only with a difference, but transformation means doing something completely different. “Blackberry changed the cell phone, giving us access to our email; Apple transformed it, giving us access to everything,” he said.

“Based on predictable hard trends that are already in place,” said Burrus, “over the next five years, every business process is going to undergo a major transformation. And someone has to both drive and oversee internal, as well as external, transformation.”

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