Ten years ago, Steve Jobs stood on stage and changed the world. He took all information ever created and put it in our pockets, along with a mobile telephone and a music player. And it blew our minds. The launch of the iPhone was a defining moment in our history not for what is was, but for what it became and the advances that it led to. Technical developments have come thick and fast in the last decade, and the exponential advances have not only led to a huge boost on Wall Street but also spilled over every industry from security to health, entertainment to architecture, e-commerce to transportation, and created real change in billions of people’s lives.
With so many different industries being transformed by technological advances, it’s hard to know which is going to create the biggest change. Experts from a plethora of industries are predicting the trend to watch to be across hundreds of verticals, including AR/VR, cloud migration, nanotechnology, blockchain, AI and mass personalization, but these all miss the biggest trend that is guaranteed to touch upon companies, governments, institutions and individuals alike.
The ideological shift to incorporate continuous transformation will be the defining hurdle for every business or individual trying to stay relevant. This may sound abstract, but in reality, is simple: Organizations spend huge amounts of money every year to stay on top of current trends. They get Facebook pages, and Twitter accounts (or even Snapchat), optimize their SEO to adapt to Google’s new algorithms and ensure their systems are running on the newest technology (usually upgrading only once every few years). These adoptions or transformations come at a cost, with the need for new training, deployed slowly through the organization to ensure proper uptake and adoption. The issue facing organizations today is that the speed in which these advances are being released is increasing, and the need for their adoption likewise must be faster, else they run the risk of being outpaced by the competition.
Continuous transformation requires a shift of focus away from the improvements gained from the adoption of new technologies or processes to concentrating on bettering the adoption process from what is usually a slow, costly and cumbersome process, to a streamlined natural integration. Becoming agile in this way will allow companies to evolve faster, more effectively and cheaper than they are doing currently — a lifeline in the current ecosystem of breakneck speed innovations.
Being able to adapt at speed will be the deciding factor in the success or failure of every company, regardless of size or industry. Right now, there is a high school kid working on something in her garage that has the potential to destroy Facebook, college students are in their dorm rooms busy coding a program that could flip everything we know about AI on its head, and startups around the world are creating new innovations that massive enterprises will need to adopt to stay on top of their game. Without a mindset of continuous transformation at the very core of a business, it becomes fragile no matter how large or established it is.
I’d love to know your prediction for the biggest trend for 2017, and how the mindset of continuous transformation manifests in your companies, let me know in the comments below.
Marketing and Communications Consultant
This article was originally published on Entrepreneur.com on March 29th.