Vision is one of the characteristics of man that makes us unique from all other life. Vision requires imagination. Vision alone is exciting and interesting, but it may not drive success in business or in technology. Vision must be appropriately applied to the physical world through experience, methodologies, and processes. Big data, mobile computing, social networking, and e-content have all been transformational technologies, and most companies have adopted to these transformational technologies. But we must always realize the next transformational technology is just around the corner. The new transformational technologies changing the world now are artificial intelligence and quantum computing. Many companies have embraced artificial intelligence but many others have not moved as fast enough to remain relevant. Artificial intelligence is changing medicine, manufacturing, accounting, and most other areas of business, but none has been changed as much as the auto industry. AI has led the way for smart cars. Automobiles based on electric motors, batteries and computer chips (EVs) rather than gas engines. Tesla is the visionary leader in this market with one million smart cars on the roads today. But Mercedes has announced they will not produce a gas-powered car in 2025. VW has announced it will have 40 electric models on the roads in 2022. GM, Ford and Chrysler all have electric cars on the roads today and China has announced it has 200 new electric car manufactures in production.

This transformation from gas powered automobiles to electric will change many aspects of the world as we know it today in ways we have not even realized yet. For example, experts are predicting that automobile ownership will quickly become a thing of the past as people rent the vehicle they when the need it. The EV will be delivered to their location by a self-driving computer and then you will drop it off anywhere they want, when they are finished with it.

But this actually pales in comparison to the transformation quantum computing (QC) will introduce to the world with production quantum computers running in the Cloud in the next few years. And unlike many people think, quantum computers are not just a faster Intel processor doing calculations. As Google recently pointed out their quantum computer solved a mathematical problem calculated to take today’s supercomputer 10,000 years to solve in slightly more than six minutes. This is not Moore’s Law of processors getting 2x faster every year, but this is computers getting billions of times faster with a quantum computer. Now I am not suggesting quantum computers will be used to run your word processor, but in medicine, in physics, in other areas of complex scientific calculations and modeling you will send your job to a quantum computer in the Cloud, from your cell phone and get the answer back in seconds while your electric, self-driven car transports you to the meeting where you need the result form your query.

We must realize that AI and QC together will transform our society like we have not yet envisioned. It will change the very concept of employment, wiping out millions of current jobs. It will change our interaction with computers from keys boards to spoken communications and probably even thought communications. And these changes are coming in years, not decades from now. This makes the role and needs of Board of Directors to shift from accounts to technologist. And this shift is currently way behind the needs of modern businesses which are not prepared for the radical changes quantum computing will bring.

Many leaders are beginning to form solid visions around the practical application of each of these technologies to create new markets, grow existing markets, and transform existing markets. In the past forty years or more of information technology, we have seen one transformational technology after the other form, mature and evolve, but for the most part each of these technologies had a fairly large window where it was the one and only, unique technology transformation going on. For the first time we have at least four major technology transformations going on in parallel. Big data, mobile computing, e-content and social networking are all arriving on the scene at the same time, and they will mature and evolve to have similar effects on the world as the mainframe computer, the personal computer and the Internet. But the fact that four major technology transformations are happening in parallel creates at least a fifth, if not sixth and seventh technology transformation as well. The combination of these four technologies together creates transformations that are not possible with just one technology, and therefore I am confident that when we look back in ten years, we will recognize that the world of IT went through a bigger transformation during this decade by at least an order of magnitude than any previous transformation.

What does this mean to businesses today? I think it means that now is the time to put a strategic plan in place to create growth never before possible. Companies like IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, Cisco and others have a unique opportunity now to create a new vision for the future of their company and to see that vision become a reality over the next ten years. Companies can easily become complacent, satisfied with the growth and profits they currently generate, and let other new companies pop onto the scene and become the next Microsoft or the next Google. However, with their size and expertise those same mature companies with the right vision, strategy and plan actually have huge advantages to see that explosive growth happen from within their own corporate structure. Take for example publishing. The publishing industry has been around a lot longer than information technology, and it has been a hugely profitable marketplace creating huge corporations and countless millionaires and billionaires. However, it is currently going through declining growth, and thus it may see a new publishing market created that will far exceed the current market. To remain relevant the publishing industry must aggressively embrace e-content or watch Amazon and others become the future of publishing. IBM once dominated the information technology world with seventy percent worldwide market share and now looks across the country to see Apple with a higher market cap, and Microsoft and Google with more users.

It is easy, and in many ways it may seem safe and advantageous, for large companies to stay the course. Mature companies generally focus on core business and let startups take the risks of new transformational technologies; but we live in a different IT world today where size does matter, and thus the real advantage is not with the startup but with the visionary corporations. Many say that size alone creates so much noise, so much distraction, so much operational weight that corporate giants simply cannot have vision, but I believe that these new transformational technologies – big data, e-content, mobile computing, cloud computing, and social networking – together create some unique opportunities that only a large, profitable corporation can effectively implement and monetize!

Big Data Artificial Intelligence
Quantum Computing
Mobile Computing
Cloud Computing