Exponential watch list: Innovation on the horizon

Brad Milliken, Deloitte Digital Partner outlines what leading organisations need to do to respond to emerging technology change catalysts despite many organisations still being ill-equipped to handle exponential innovation.

In order to sense, experiment with, incubate, and scale exponential opportunities, organisations need to develop disciplined innovation responses and capabilities. The challenge is that our linear brains, and our linear corporate strategy and business models, are not wired or designed to harness exponential growth. And many organisations lack the structures, capabilities, and processes required to innovate effectively in the face of exponential change.

Despite the media hype, emerging exponential technologies, such as Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) and Quantum Computing & Encryption, are unlikely to manifest throughout business and government for at least five, and possibly more than ten years’ time. However, businesses and governments should already be constructing an innovation environment conducive to harnessing these ‘small dots’ on the horizon.

The high degree of ‘unknowns’ around exponential innovation results in significant challenges and risks. Researchers at Doblin, the innovation practice of Deloitte Digital, studied how effective innovators are approaching this risk. Successful innovators clearly articulate an innovation ambition, and maintain a strategically relevant, and balanced risk and return weighted innovation portfolio across core, adjacent and transformational ambitions.

A disciplined approach to exponential innovation

Taking any innovation – particularly one grounded in exponential forces – from sensing to production, is not a two-step, or accidental process. Innovation is a programmatic, disciplined effort carried out over time in a considered portfolio approach.

Phase 1 – Sensing & research

Successful organisations rely on an advanced sensing and research capability, where the organisation understands which trends are emerging, at what rate, where the trend will have the largest impact, and how the trends will converge and exacerbate each other. As a start, identify an exponential trend and hypothesise its impact on your products, processes, supply chain, business model and competitive environment. Conduct research into the technology, devise and monitor thresholds as well as trigger levels that will guide focus, activity and investment into the innovation application of that technology.

Phase 2 – Exploration & experimentation

Exploration is where you look to better understand the ‘state of the possible’ for the technology. Conduct a market scan to gather an understanding of where this particular technology is being applied globally (including outside your industry). Seek to understand the ecosystem those companies have built to harness the technology. With a deeper understanding of the technology, organisations can now understand the ‘state of the practical’. Examine the technology, and its application to your business through the balanced breakthrough model i.e. is it desirable, viable and feasible? Experimentation involves the development, and prioritisation of business use cases, and the design of prototypes to further validate the concept prior to progression to incubation.

Phase 3 – Incubation & scaling

In the incubation stage, the prototypes are further developed to resemble a production level output. The incubation and proof-of-concept process is a continuous test, learn and refine loop that gradually scales the innovation to production and release.

To find out more about our Exponential technology tech trend for 2018 click here

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