By Daniel Burrus
Technology is evolving ... at lightning speed. For that reason, it�s
imperative that your company be focusing not just on the changes
that are happening today, but also on the technological trends that
are emerging and shaping the future of your organization and your
industry. Why? Because the more anticipatory you can be in regard to
technology, the more creatively you can use it to gain competitive
someone who has been accurately predicting the future of technology
for over 25 years, I urge all leaders to focus on the following
three trends that are emerging and reshaping the business landscape
as we know it.
I) Just-In-Time Training
Thanks to cloud-based (storage) technology, we�re on the brink of a
revolution in just-in-time training. This will enable people to use
their laptops, cell phones, and tablet computers as a tool to
receive training precisely when they need it. In the current
training model used by many organizations, people receive training
for a variety of things before they actually need the expertise.
Thus taking people away from their jobs, costing the company a lot
With just-in-time training, companies can keep people in the field
without the specific training. Then, when the person needs a certain
skill set to complete a job or do a task, he or she can receive the
training for it in real time via cloud-based technology.
example, suppose your company specializes in selling and repairing
commercial HVAC units. There are a number of different units your
repair staff needs to know how to fix. But rather than taking your
people out of work and putting them in a multi-day training course,
they can receive the training on how to fix it in real time via
their mobile device as they are servicing the unit.
Now, suppose the commercial HVAC repair-person is onsite servicing
something he�s never worked on before. He uses the just-in-time
training module via his tablet computer. But he�s still confused
about a certain aspect of the repair. All he has to do is touch the
�help� icon on his screen and it immediately connects him to a
master trainer live on the screen. The repair-person can then put on
a headband that has a camera on the front, similar to the headbands
with a light that people use for camping or car repair.
wearing this digital, high-resolution camera that interfaces with
the mobile device, the repair-person can show the master trainer
exactly what the issue is. Now that master trainer can see what the
repair-person sees and can tell him exactly what to do, as if he
were standing right there with the repair-person. A dramatic savings
and increase in efficiency.
This type of technology could be used to train people on new
software, teach salespeople about product upgrades, instruct
employees on new policies and procedures, to name a few. And it�s
better than a standard tutorial, because the training can be
accessed via any device, anywhere, and at anytime ... with an option
for live help. Thus the applications for cloud-based, just-in-time
services are virtually limitless.
II) Processing Power On Demand
increased bandwidth that our mobile devices now receive enables us
to connect to the cloud-based technologies easier and faster than
ever before. And one thing we know about bandwidth is that it will
continue to increase. Because of this, we�ll soon be able to take
advantage of another trend that I call processing power on demand �
or virtualized processing power.
have already virtualized many things. We have virtualized storage,
where we can store our data on a cloud-based network. Many companies
choose this option for data safety and ease of backup, as well as
for the ability to access the data via any device. We have
virtualized our desktops so it can be seen on anyone else�s machine,
just the way it�s supposed to look.
only makes sense, then, that processing power will be virtualized
too. In other words, a mobile device only has a certain amount of
processing power. But if you can tap into additional processing
power via cloud-based technology, you can turn your mobile device
into a super computer that can do advanced simulations and crunch
different data streams together to get real time analytics.
Your hand-held device is now as powerful and advanced as your
desktop. Imagine the increase in productivity if each of your
employees had the capability to do complex work that required
advanced processing power while they were on the road, armed with
nothing more than their mobile device. What would that shift do to
your company�s bottom line?
III) Creative Application Of Technology
both of these trends and others to fully emerge, business leaders
have to consider what their people would do with the technology.
It�s no longer enough to just deploy technology, you also have to
consider how your people can creatively apply the technology in
order to gain competitive advantage.
Therefore, you need to go to your internal customers (all the people
using the technology in the enterprise) and ask what they want
technologically. Give them what they ask for, but realize that they
will under-ask because they don�t know what�s technically possible.
So while you want to listen to what people in the organization are
asking for and give it to them, realize that what they�re not asking
for is the bigger and better capabilities � the things they don�t
even know are possible.
key is to go to the next level and give people the ability to do
what they currently can�t do, but would want to do if they knew they
could. After all, people really didn�t ask for an iPhone or a
Blackberry. The hidden need was the ability to access their e-mail
and internet without being tied to their desktop or laptop.
This is about putting existing technologies together and using them
in a creative way. For example, there are literally thousands of
features in Microsoft Word that you can select. Most people are
using only seven to ten features. And your competitors are using the
same features, which means you�re not getting any true competitive
advantage. So you need to ask, �What features would be great for our
sales group (or HR, or accounting, or logistics, etc.) to use �
features that are so buried in the software that no one knows they
Most IT departments won�t ask those questions because they�re too
busy making sure everything is connected, working well, and safe.
And if they�re not asking, who is? Who in your organization is
looking at the tools you already have and asking if they are being
underused? Chances are the answer is no one. As such, it�s safe to
say that all your tools are underutilized.
Therefore, you need to implement a communication vehicle that
engages all the different groups and departments you serve in the
enterprise, and you need to engage them in helping understand the
power of the tools they have access to. One suggestion is to
automatically show them a �feature of the day� and how it can make
their life easier.
This is about giving them information in short, fun, engaging ways �
rather than a hundred-page document detailing all the features,
which no one will read anyway. Some software programs have features
that give you get a tip per day. Perhaps you can customize that idea
and apply it internally so that the different groups get information
tailored specifically to them and their needs.
Many business leaders will say they are too busy to address any of
these trends. But if you don�t address them, who will? Ultimately,
whoever drives these trends within an organization will be perceived
as a significant contributor to the enterprise � someone worth
keeping. And someone with high value in the marketplace. When that
someone is you, you can drive results to the bottom line and be a
key contributor to the organization�s success.
(Daniel Burrus is considered a leading technology forecaster and
business strategist. He�s the founder and CEO of Burrus Research, a
research and consulting firm that monitors global advancements in
technology driven trends, and the author of six books.)