Fear the Scondermads!

In the book Good to Great, Jim Collins writes about companies that have succeeded by continuing to become more efficient in their industries. He uses the analogy of a flywheel throughout the book, with Great companies continuing to push harder, sticking to their “Hedgehog.” I am a huge fan of this book, and I once coined my company mission statement around the word GREAT. Our mission was to continue to drive efficiencies with continuous improvement in everything we did, while sticking to a few core strategies in which we had a competitive advantage.

All of this sounds fantastic, but I am now convinced that 90% of companies that stick to this strategy over the next 10 years will be dead.

A tsunami of disruptive technical change is approaching quickly, threatening to engulf every company in its path. Sure, we have had disruptive technologies in the past–PCs, mobile devices, wireless technologies, cell phones, email, Internet, etc. However, many of these technologies simply replaced existing systems and processes, helping a company become more efficient.

PCs replaced typewriters, calculators, and manual ledgers. Email replaced mail, faxes, and Telex. Mobile devices helped us respond quickly. Cell phones helped us communicate from anywhere. Following the Good to Great concepts, managers rapidly figured out how to use these technologies to make their existing processes better, to help their salespeople stay connected and sell more, to help their factories run smoother, etc. All the while, their business of selling insurance, booking travel, manufacturing mufflers, or cooking biscuits did not change. Technology merely helped them to turn the flywheel faster.

Today, however, several technologies are emerging at once that will have a profound impact on companies, if not entire industries. Cloud Computing, the Internet of Things, and Big Data are current buzzwords, and they all are tied together to be a catalyst for massive change. I don’t think these buzzwords accurately capture the technology, and I haven’t heard a term for all of them working together. For this blog, I have coined the term Scondermads. Scondermads are Smart CONnected Devices, using Elastic compute Resources, and MAssive Data Sets.

Scondermads could easily change the following industries:

Transportation: Self-driving vehicles will show up within minutes when you press a Bike or Car icon on your smart phone. Uber 2.0 will not only enable customers to call self-driving vehicles for rides, but also to save money by opting to pick up other passengers on the way to their destinations.

Retail: Sensors in store merchandise will communicate with your mobile device. Product suggestions based on your clothing size, budget, and favorite colors will identify themselves. Purchases on the spot with a click will allow for shipment to your house or immediate staging to the front of the store for pickup.

Pharmacy: Smart pill or medicine distribution will allow your health app to know exactly the dose and time you took your medicine. Smart wearable devices will be able to track the benefits and side effects of a drug in real time. The drug manufacturer will gather data and track diagnostics by the minute for every patient in the world on that drug. Huge data sets from this analysis will be analyzed in real time to look for patterns and suggest immediate changes based on results. Drugs, dosages, and frequency will be prescribed based on massive data sets of predicted effectiveness based on a patient’s age, sex, race, DNA, and other factors. The nearly limitless combinations of drugs that can be taken together for multiple illnesses will now be analyzed for potential side effects (positive or negative) based on individual traits. Cures for current illnesses will be discovered by ever-changing treatment regimens based on data.

Healthcare: In-home care and diagnosis will become not only possible, but the norm. Smart connected devices in the home will share health, exercise, diet, and environmental data. Computers will diagnose based on data gathered along with massive data sets of your personal history of blood pressure, temperature, diet, and health of those around you. In fact, you won’t need to do anything. You will wake up one morning, and your phone will tell you that you likely have the flu. Computer “doctors” will be able to prescribe a treatment that is optimized for you based on massive data sets of treatments done for other patients.

Consumer Products: With the price of sensors and communication devices plummeting, nearly every product made can now have new abilities to communicate to the consumer, to other devices, or to the manufacturer. My glasses could tell me where they are when I lose them. My golf ball could download my entire round—every slice, shank, and yip. A video lesson to improve my game could be waiting on my computer when I get home. I will apply a couple of band-aid-sized sensors to my body and practice my swing in the yard for immediate analysis and feedback. My hot water heater could call the repairman before it breaks and floods my basement. My pants could let me know when I have put on a few extra pounds, and my white dress shirt could complain with a load screech when I try to wash it with my daughter’s red t-shirt. My wallet, along with every other valuable thing I own, will contact me if stolen. The floors in my house will sense if roaches are running around, and a robot snake will be dispatched to eat them. My son’s clothes could be programmed to interrupt his video games if thrown on the floor. I think you get the idea. Some of these thoughts may be far-fetched or commercially unfeasible. However, all will be possible within a few years using Scondermads.

Good to Great might not be good enough. We must embrace the Scondermads in order to stay relevant and drive new business value.


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