In today's world, strategy is far more important than we have ever seen throughout history. At this time, strategy must look beyond today and tomorrow and examine what is on the horizon. This gives organizations a narrow window of time to put in place their strategic plan of action to capture emerging opportunities and prepare for the disruption about to be delivered by breakthroughs in science and technology. This is not an easy task by any measure, but essential for organizations of nearly every size and within every industry.
There are a number of strategic implications when it comes to the emerging technologies that are on the horizon. Unlike other periods of time where a single technology drove disruptive change, this time multiple technologies, some working with others will have a cumulative effect where their combined impact will truly be highly-disruptive when it comes to our existing business models and many of our mental models as well.
High Level Approach
Many organizations are likely to find themselves faced with sudden, violent disruptions that may threaten their existence. Reacting to these disruptive forces may not be enough. Therefore, anticipating and preparing for the numerous implications that are on the horizon is required and no small task. It will undoubtably include; new educational requirements, changes to financial models, enhanced competitive differentiation as well as new product and service offerings worldwide. Examining the implications of emerging technologies and disruptive forces that are on the horizon is essential. It is the foundation when it comes to guiding where organizations should head.
Some of you may be wondering what confrontation and emerging technologies have to do with one another. The answer is a fair amount when you put it in the context of change. Emerging technologies are likely to bring with them change. Some people fear losing their jobs, losing power, losing money and losing influence that may accompany change. Others may just fear their ability to adapt. Regardless of what drives them, some people take action to delay the change or derail what is driving the change.
Opposition or resistance to change, modifications or transformations that alter the current operational models is becoming much more common these days. Arguably the increase frequency is due to technologies that are emerging. Resistance to change is not uncommon and most if not all of us have dealt with this issue in our role as a program or project manager. What is allot less likely that many of us have seen this taken to the next level. Some people choose to confront the change directly. We have begun to see their opposition taken to the next level and that is efforts to sabotage a program or project.
Some people try to discredit the initiative and claim it will not provide the estimated value. A few others take it to a much greater level. One recent event provides a great example of an effort to sabotage and initiative. One individual purposely failed to file the required paperwork to maintain an exclusive license for an essential piece of technology and that agreement restricted the vendor from selling to a key competitor. The task was identified as complete and the document was identified as being sent to legal and in the project repository. Nothing had been done! Luckily, this was uncovered 5 days before the grace period that was in the contract was due to end.
Countering project sabotage efforts is not easy. When sabotage activities take place, the perpetrators must be confronted. This is something you should not do alone! The question we all need to think about is if we are truly prepared for confrontation that may accompany an emerging technology program or project that brings with it disruption or change?
5G growth hits the brakes
Technology advancement is in continuous motion these days. One of the technologies currently in motion is 5G. 5G stands to create new opportunities for organizations to interact differently across their stakeholder communities. MarketWatch recently reported that the global 5G Infrastructure Market back in 2016 had a value of $0.56 billion – that is not much at all. Currently it is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of just over 51% through 2025. That means it is currently projected to reach an incredible $22.93 billion USD by 2025. Once again, that is a very aggressive growth projection given a significant problem that is currently being experienced!
INSIGHT: In a recent poll, a mere 13.6 percent of respondents believed 5G was the technology innovation that would have the greatest impact in the next 3 to 5 years!
In January 2020, the U.S. Senate held a hearing with authorities in 5G. Once again, a common issue in emerging technology came up and was discussed. The shortage of properly skilled workers is, and will, inhibit the progress of changing / installing the infrastructure needed to support 5G. Fiber technicians, trench technicians, tower technicians and many more job titles were discussed. One metric that was given was the current 'tower climber' workforce is around 21,000. They estimate another 20,000 tower climbers are needed to support the transition to 5G.
During their discussion they stated that some training programs are in place and others are in the pipeline while additional programs are under consideration. However, some programs are having trouble attracting people to enroll and take the courses! Once completed, the individuals are tested and if they pass, they are certified to perform a certain role, it's functions and job tasks. Where will all those workers come from given the U.S. has the lowest unemployment rate in about 50 years? How will we get the training delivered and get them certified to perform this work? How long will this take? How much will this delay 5G?
Note: One individual that testified stated, additional skills are necessary for these individuals even once they graduate and received the certification (card).
This problem is so profound, companies are beginning to go back into the high schools to recruit, offer scholarships and even working - apprenticeships to try and overcome the problem. The availability of properly skilled workers is a common and growing issue in all emerging technologies. There is no easy, quick reactive answer. Some large organizations are beginning to examine creating their own college/university as a benefit they offer to attract workers right out of high school and to provide reskilling of their existing workers.
Additional information about the Talent issue - LINK: http://m.vertu-copy.cn/articles/610748/The-Talent-Dilemma--Dealing-With-Departure-Disruption-5G
There are many aspects of 3D printing that are accelerating and expected to continue to aggressively advance in the next few years. Its impact is being felt from conceptualization through development and production into post production service and support. 3D printers are also being called additive manufacturing equipment with a projected transformational impact to traditional and existing / current production lines and manufacturing facilities. Currently a growing number of researchers, analysts and advisors are beginning to call 3D printing a “core technological enabler” for the current decade as well as a significant contributor to Industry 4.0 that this blog has mentioned before.
INSIGHT: The World Economic Forum (WEF) 2020 produced a document titled, “3D Printing: A Guide for Decision-Makers” and this clearly shows the level of interest and likely impact of this technology.
Mordor Intelligence reported in 2019, the global 3D printing market was valued at $13.7 billion USD. They went on to project that the global 3D Printing market, is estimated to grow to nearly $63.5 billion USD in 2025. Once again, like many emerging technologies, 3D printing has a robust compound annual growth rate (CAGR) and this time it is nearly 29.5% over the forecast period (2025). It should be noted that some regulations and restrictions are currently under consideration and that they have the potential to slow the projected growth.
The current major and dominant 3D printing market segments include the following:
NOTE: Human Tissue is an emerging market segment that stands to have huge implications. It could produce replacement human tissues and organs that do not experience rejection by our bodies.
It should be noted that nano-materials are expected to continue and produce elements for use in 3D printers as well as bio-materials and other technologies. This will continue to fuel application in industries such as aerospace, automotive, construction, consumer products, defense, dental, healthcare, industrial products, jewelry, manufacturing and so much more and that includes new products as well as supplying spare replacement parts.
CASE STUDY: An aging electro-mechanical system broke down and was in need of a replacement part. The model was no longer supported and would require 6 weeks to produce the replacement part by the original manufacturer. The system would be inoperable until the part arrived. One of the maintenance workers contacted a local 3D printing vendor and provided drawings of the part. The part was produced in a couple of days and cost much less than was quoted by the original manufacturer of the system. It should be noted that one professional expressed concern that this example could result in a legal dispute given the original system developer/manufacturer that designed and produced the product, may feel they own all the rights to it. An interesting legal consideration for sure.
Please contribute to the current 3D Printing utilization poll. LINK: http://m.vertu-copy.cn/contentPages/poll.cfm?ID=607173&thisPageURL=/polls/607173/Has-or-is-your-organization-examined-or-is-examining-the-potential-implications-and-use-of-3D-printing-in-prototype-development-and-or-in-manufacturing-of-products-or-as-a-component-of-your-services-&msg=Your%20comment%20has%20been%20posted%20below%2E
Clearly, 3D printing as another emerging technology that will likely rapidly evolve over the next decade and create new capabilities that are used to produce products and services. We all know PMs will be the ones expected to bring these to reality. Just think about the overall impact on traditional supply-chains and the maintenance profession! Is 3D printing in your future? Certainly, something to think about.
Quantum technologies continue to advance beyond the expectations of many. At this point there are a dozen technological advances that fit into the emerging technology category. We should forget for a while, about all the fancy titles and get to what is important and that is the issues and opportunities that each of these underlying quantum technologies are likely to create. One of those quantum technologies has emerged recently that looks to have a substantial impact and robust projected market. For now, let’s look specifically at Quantum Networks. Some are calling this a second quantum revolution. It should be noted that the quantum network is often referred to as Quantum Internet, Quantum Communications, and Quantum Telecommunications.
Quantum networks (QN) function much in the same way as the traditional communications networks that I am sure we are all familiar with. QNs are the result of the integration of quantum computers and quantum communication technologies into an operational system. They operate to transmit data and information in quantum bits (qubits) rather than the bits and bytes that have been in use for decades. The biggest difference is the level of security (quantum encryption) of the information transmitted over quantum networks. That specific value is the main driver of the market for this emerging quantum technology segment.
According to a new report from Inside Quantum Technology (IQT), the market for quantum networking is expected to reach $5.5 billion USD by 2025. LINK: https://finance.yahoo.com/news/quantum-networking-5-5-billion-151345253.html While quantum networks are basically non-existent today, reaching the $5.5 billion USD market estimate they reported will have to have a huge compound annual growth rate (CAGR) over the next few years. It should be noted that a number of analysts, researchers and advisors believe the quantum internet might be closer than is being projected. At this point there are no referenceable reports available that acknowledges a quantum network in operation today. Given that piece of information, a substantial amount of work will have to be done in the next five years (by 2025). For those of you that regularly follow this emerging technology blog, I am sure you are beginning to see a pattern here. There are a number of emerging technologies with billions of dollars of market by 2025 and they are adding up to a substantial number of programs and projects that have to take place in the next few years to meet the financial projections put forth by market analysts!