Our world is in transition; from the information age into the innovation age. The symptoms are the unprecedent accelerations in the speed of change all around, particularly where technology is the subject matter at the core. Upon the transition, what awaits ahead, is a prolonged period of time that is innovation-centric. Our world and our lives, will revolve around innovating.
The Broad Reality of the Present
There is an old adage that reads, “Necessity is the mother of invention”. The new one, that I propose, as reflective of present times, is that, “Necessity is the mother of innovation”.
The broad reality of the present day is high unemployment, particularly amongst the young and the educated. This is not in one country or region of the world. This type of unemployment is global. Then there is the constant rise in costs of living everywhere due to inflation and appreciation. Much of the unemployment the world current sees, and its rise, is due to the rammifications of the last global financial crisis that the job market has never quite recovered from, and is unlikely to recover anytime soon due to a myriad of complex financial & economic issues that have unceasingly plagued advanced economies since. As this situation protracts and perpetuates, the conventional job market will only continue to become a less of a hope, to provide an income opportunity, for the generations leaving education through the period.
In conflation, the experience these factors create for the young and educated in the present is a negative one. The narrow path that the conflation leaves open, is that of enterprise and creation. This on the philoshopical principle, that if opportunities do not exist, you have to create them.
The information age brought about a massive shift in the story of mankind going beyond paradigms. The reach and accessibility of information transformed during the short age, to a previously unimaginable proportion, mainly thanks to the internet’s advent. It has created options for generations born from the 1980s and onwards that were not available to preceding generations.
The new empowered generations are able to question, enquire, source and learn on their own the way no preceding generations could. In 2013, the world learnt that an 18 year old developed a supercapacitor that may help to charge your average smartphone in 20 seconds or less, leaving it powered for a longer period of time and a 15 year old invented the human powered flashlight. Both succeeded in inventing what they did, at home, on their own. The flood of unbriddled information has lead to innovation unabated.
A generation that is able to innovate, is a generation that does not need jobs, will be perhaps an adage echoed someday in the future.
The Conflated Effect of Empowerment and Necessity
It is indeed the internet, and its encapsultation of the world that has lead to a leapfrogging stage in humanity’s technological evolution. The reason is, as one may explain philosophically, that information is power. The empowerment through information, as well as knowledge, with wisdom also taking shape as part of the consequential chain, individuals are able to achieve the unprecedented, which translates into innovation. This is an ability to create, something new.
The lack of opportunities in the external locus of control (meaning income opportunities outside of their control, such as the job market), adequate ones at least if there is no quantitative lack for some, serves as the motivator for creation. Take this motivator, see it in conflation with the power to create, and it becomes apparent as a perfect formula for the rapid changes or emerging developments we see around us today.
With the empowerment, through information, knowledge and wisdom, also comes a sense of confidence as well as independence. The sense of independence is further enhanced by the necessity factor, particularly that to do with income and capital accumulation, with external locus of control being perceived as a frontier, seemingly, beyond which one should not expect much.
This leads to the rise of the enterprise culture, where more school leavers or graduates or even students still engaged in the education process, embrace entrepreneurship and innovation.
With a rising enterprise culture, seeing emergence of low-capital businesses built around specialised talents, skill sets or competency sets of the starters or founders, the market landscape with constantly and consistently become one that is about who is offering the best fit to the buyer’s needs, at the best price. This would mean a stimulative motivator in the market landscape of enterprises to engage in constant re-engineering, redevelopment, reinvention and transformation of one’s products, strategies and processes. To do so, one will need a constant innovation effort that is ever ongoing.
Every product, that is an output of an organisation in this scenario that the world is headed into, will be effectively, a product of innovation, and subject to either improvement through or disruption by subsequent innovations or innovative methods of manufacturing, distribution and sale. Ultimately, all activities of economy and commerce, will grow to centre around innovation – hence giving us an innovation centric future.
We are going to see all our electronic devices get powered faster, easier and for longer. We are going to see a world where everything gets cheaper, such as for example, everything runs of solar or other alternative energy sources, where we do not need the grid anymore.
Creation of products and solutions for the masses will no longer be a prerogative of the large organisations. If a 15 year old school-goer is able to produce a human-powered flashlight from her bedroom in 2013, when scientists and engineers with CVs listing reputable PhDs could not anything similar after years of pursuit, you can imagine the broad possibilities.
If laws of science allows something, that can improve a way of life, or reduce the cost or accessibility of something that exists, the emerging generations will figure out how to either implement it or produce. Whether it is robot-butlers, rugged sport-shoes costing half of what the ones from brand names made in China cost today or new online platforms to connect people faster and more reliably, we will see it all come rapidly, with constant emergence of either improved models or more attractive alternatives.
In sum, the two pronged outcome, is that the human life experience is about to get better, with increase ease through processes and technologies, while engagement in commerce is going to centre entirely around what till now has yet been a peripheral value-add; innovation.