Weather experts constantly evaluate data, construct models, and examine historical evidence, ultimately forecasting based on their results. If founders and CEOs do likewise, they might just stay three steps ahead when it comes to adopting emerging technology solutions. After all, just because storm clouds are hundreds of miles away doesn't mean they won't eventually reach your location.
Future technologies may appear as distant possibilities, but they're becoming part of our everyday lives. Who doesn't own a smartphone now? Or have experience with artificial intelligence in the form of Alexa or Siri (which 72 percent of executives consider a business advantage)? Often, technology becomes so embedded in the communal psyche that it barely makes a blip on our radar.
Make no mistake, though: Being aware of technology is as essential for protecting your organization as the umbrella that saves you from a sudden cloudburst.
Developing a predictive mindset
Meteorology is fraught with risks because it's imperfect. So is focusing on technology. But doing nothing isn't a viable option in modern times. As an investor, speaker, and tech futurist Nicklas Bergman has noted, the jeopardies pale in comparison to the wait-and-see approach.
"There are risks and rewards associated with both options," explains Bergman. "If you jump in headfirst and are the first to succeed, you'll go down in history as a pioneer...But if just the idea of taking risks makes your palms sweat, you might be better off letting someone else try it out first."
Of course, ignoring what's coming amounts to leaving you and your business unprotected. As Bergman advises, "What's important, though, is to make up your mind on how to relate to new technologies."
The good news is that you can minimize your risks and increase your chances of correctly forecasting the technology climate of next month, next quarter, next year, and even next decade. Begin by doing an impersonation of a meteorologist and implementing these strategies:
1. Stay informed.
You can't make an educated guess on anything with hunches alone. Gather all the information you can on emerging technologies by attending conferences, reading books, watching podcasts, and availing yourself of chances to learn. The more you know about the innovative tech topics swirling in the air, the more likely you are to consider applying them to your business model.
Consider the Internet of Things. We already have more things connected online than people; by 2020, the IoT is expected to reach 50 billion connected objects. Use information like that to explore options for your team, such as how you can piggyback on IoT advancements to streamline internal processes.
2. Conduct due diligence.
Excited about a certain technology you're sure will make international headlines? Before you make it a core part of the company you own or run, analyze all the possible outcomes. How will it advance your abilities to increase revenue? What are the potential pitfalls, and how can you dampen or negate these outcomes? Risk comes with early tech acceptance, but you can temper the risk with due diligence.
In other words, don't dive into virtual reality headsets just because 500 million will be sold each year by 2025. Adopt VR because it's right for your company's mission.
3. Forecast the far-reaching impacts of evolving tech.
Preparing for a major snowstorm goes beyond the immediacy of shovels and salt. Likewise, leaders must consider the impact of new tech beyond widespread adoption. For instance, 19 percent of people use Alexa monthly, and 37 percent use Siri as often; these groups have given up their personal privacy for convenience. As AI slides into workspaces, we'll be giving up lots of data to marketers via our phones and laptops.
Like the weather, technology changes constantly. Take a prognostic approach; evaluate, contemplate, and (sometimes) adopt. You may be wrong some of the time, but you're likely to get it right more often than not.