Exponential growth and Earth Day

earthdayOn this Earth Day, there is little doubt that we are living in an exponential society as opposed to linear one. Change is happening so rapidly and broadly that it challenges our traditional (linear) way of thinking. Technology’s ability to enable change in other industries has been discussed by many over the years, but since the disruptions can be so insidious, they can still surprise us. The number and breadth of the change we’re seeing (or that’s happening behind the scenes that we’re not aware of) is staggering.

Whether it is the growth of computing capabilities, data storage or even gene sequencing (as examples), it isn’t the growth in one area where the impact is felt. It is the change in the surrounding environment where those skills can also be applied that offer the greatest surprises. Like using the understanding of genetics to clone the long extinct Woolly Mammoth.

There are many ways that IT can help with efficiency in the world around us, by providing better measurement, analytics, visibility and control to how energy is being consumed and waste produced. I had a post previously that discussed the various levels where sustainability change can take place– even within a data center. The whole Green IT movement reinforces this perspective on using the power of IT to be more efficient thought it could still be expanded to view the problem holistically, since it needs to address more than just green data centers.

Some more references to areas of exponential growth:

And if these are the secondary effects, the tertiary effects to industries like insurance, transportation, law are not close to being understood, in my opinion.

Where do you think we’ll see the impact of these capabilities? Will that make our planet a better place?

Service Innovations over time…

SaaSI was in an exchange with Jim Spohrer (of IBM) the other day about Service innovations and he gave me the following lists dealing with service innovations:

Top Ten Service Innovations in all of History
1. Division of Labor – an entity gets to do more of what they do best, and less of what they do less well
2. Cities – local concentration of division of labor, including security and protection
3. Writing – allows communications over distance and time
4. Written Laws – brings more objectivity into governance and justice
5. Money – brings efficiency into exchange transactions
6. Universities – local concentration of division of knowledge, including preparation of next generation
7. Democracy – collective decision making via voting (citizen -> decision)
8. Republics – two stage collective decision making via voting (citizen -> representative -> decision)
9. Checks – safer than carrying paper money
10. Banks – safe storage of money, and compound interest/loans

Top Ten Service Innovations of Last 100 years

1. Universal Education – increases capability of population, and allows more complex problem solving
2. Universal Service – even rural people can communicate, and have right to communicate efficiently
3. Rural Electrification – even rural people can have lighting and access to modern appliances
4. Credit Cards – convenience and safety
5. Loyalty Programs – incentives for usage
6. Franchises – standard service in multiple places
7. FedEx – overnight package delivery
8. Automobile Transportation – systems of filling stations, roads, laws
9. Internet & Worldwide Web – access to information
10.  Wireless Communication Networks – Radio & Television – conquest of distance and access to service

Top Ten Service Innovations of Last 10 years
(or so)
1. Amazon – market for books and things
2. eBay – market for personal stuff
3. iTunes – market for music
4. Etsy – market for home made things
5. Uber – market for rides
6. AirBnB – market for rooms
7. Smart Phones & App Economy – access to information, communications, and other mobile services, including cognitive assistants
8. MOOCs – massively open on-line courses to augment education
9.  Mutual funds – finance investments that provide benefits of diverse portfolios
10. Global IT-enabled Outsourcing – division of labor between nations and large corporations

I’d add 3D printing to this list myself, but that may be just me.

Top Ten Service Innovations that broke out in 2014
1. TransferWise – lower transaction cost of transferring money
2. Coinbase – bitcoin digital wallet
3. Apple Pay – easier to pay money out
4. Lending Club – easier method to get investments in and out (founded in 2006)
5. Quirky – inventor community (started in 2009)
6. Bill.com – small business pay bills better (started in 2008)
7. Betterment.com (investment personal assistant)
8. Kickstarter – crowd funding (I think this actually started in 2009)
9.  Amazon Echo (home assistant)
10. Google Nest (home assistant) (actually the first Nest appears to be released in 2011)

Some things to think about…
What would be on your list? What should make the list for 2015? Do these innovations have anything in common?