For millennia, a stable industry was the local buggy whip factory. Tools to encourage horses and mules to move quicker seemed like a safe bet. Who could have seen the industry dying in less than 20 years, due to one of the biggest disruptors of the 20th century, the car? Some will fixate that thousands of jobs were lost forever. However, millions of jobs were created building roads and cars and trucks. Improving speed to market, slashing the cost of transportation and eliminating the danger of riding a horse enriched us all.

It is critical that we understand that big changes are accelerating. Adapting to these tectonic shifts will lead us to prosperity and not the unemployment line.

In 2013, McKinsey Global Institute published a well-researched report entitled, "Disruptive technologies: Advances that will transform life, business, and the global economy" that have identified ascending disruptors that will change the lives of millions by ending many industries and creating even more jobs and prosperity in new avocations we could never have conceived.

  1. Mobile Internet--today many employees are tethered to their desktops to get the latest updates on the progress of the firm. Creating platforms that are easy to use on your handheld devices will empower your employees to go to where the action is and not lose a beat. Marlin Steel employees have the ability to access production schedules, client inquiries and accounting software from their mobile device. What will be the next frontier developed to simplify business when you are on the road?
  2. Automation of Knowledge work--creating artificial intelligent systems that can discern patterns and refine your firm's activities dynamically is going to optimize our systems. This will spur our employees to be even more productive.
  3. Internet of Things--having our robots talk to each other while simultaneously monitoring overheating systems or maintenance emergencies by smoothly and concisely reporting their progress to managers via wifi and the internet is already happening at Marlin. We can get text messages if there is an error message on a laser or a wire bending robot. Having the robots pivot and adjust to our production schedules is next. What formidable development will empower our equipment to get even more nimble?
  4. Cloud--At Marlin Steel all of our data is saved in the cloud every 15 minutes. If a meteor or a flood were to hit our facility, it would be ugly but at least our information will be secure. Not investing in 20 servers and their daily maintenance reduces our aggravation and saves us money. What else can we launch into the cloud so we can focus on our core mission--making products for our clients?
  5. Advanced Robotics--NIST, MIT, Johns Hopkins University are all at the forefront of leap frogging the repeatable, but dumb, robotic slaves we operate now in our factories. Check out Dr. Hager and his revolutionary innovators develop groundbreaking improvements at Johns Hopkins that will impact the world for generations.
  6. Autonomous and near autonomous vehicles--eliminating the unsafe and tedious task of human drivers will extend our life expectancy and reduce our transportation costs. If 1,000,000 conventional eighteen-wheelers disappeared from the roads, think about the labor cost savings and traffic fatalities saved by easing out fatigued drivers. Running robot trucks 24 hours a day without rest and optimized for fuel economy will be a boost to the economy because we will be able to get things from here to there quickly and cheaply.
  7. Next generation genomics--miracle drugs and extended life expectancy will grow our population and we will live more comfortable in our old age. Diseases will be disarmed fostering more consumers and a bigger economic pie for us all to market our wares.
  8. Energy Storage--my mobile device battery dies before noon on busy days. I take charger plugs and mophie packs everywhere I go so I am never offline. This waste reduces our productivity and tethers us to walls. On an industrial level, if we can draw power from the grid at "cheap hours" and use it when we have client demand, our profits will soar and our utilities could close their dirtiest and most expensive power plants.
  9. 3D Printing--Gardner Carrick with the Manufacturing Institute is focusing on how to position our workforce so they are best able to thrive with the changes that are coming. The Institute is spearheading the study of emerging technologies that will create thousands of new jobs and has identified 3d Printing as a powerful change agent. We will be able to make parts locally and fast without tooling. We can share files and print our parts. In the short run, this will eliminate expensive and cumbersome tooling and the expensive nature of prototyping. In the long run, large-scale factories may be in jeopardy. Will this disruptor eliminate the benefits of economies of scale?
  10. Advanced Materials--we are exploring composite alternatives for our clients besides stainless steel and aluminum. We use cutting edge coatings that can withstand the most oppressive environments. As we enter this new age, McKinsey believes we will have access to cheaper and stronger and easily formable new products to make material handling baskets. How will this impact your product?
  11. Advanced Oil and Gas Exploration and recovery--revolutionary strides have been made by companies like Devon Energy creating horizontal and fracking techniques to extract more methane, natural gas and petroleum from under the surface. These innovators have made the USA, the "Saudi Arabia of natural gas" in a mere five years. This has driven down our energy costs (we are one fifth South Korea and one third Europe) making our factories more profitable and competitive so we can grow more jobs. Our poor people can more easily afford winter heating bills. Can you imagine what other extraction techniques will be unveiled to further our edge so we can create more jobs and save the poor even more money?
  12. Renewable Energy--if we could finally exploit the sun and wind power so it is more economical than hydrocarbons, we will have a clean source to grow our nation. These sources of power are still uneconomical despite government subsidies so the innovations renewables would be welcome.

Special thanks to the authors of the Mckinsey report which was written by James Manyika, Michael Chui, Jacques Bughin, Richard Dobbs, Peter Bisson, and Alex Marrs.

Published on: Sep 3, 2014