Seeing Around Corners: The World of Emerging Technologies in 2020

The talk was held by by Dr Chris Brauer, Director of Innovation at Goldsmiths University.

He talked about the world of emerging digital technologies and associated pressures and opportunities on companies and institutions. He explained in detail why consciousness about the empirical S-curve model or technology lifecycle is so important when it comes to long-term profitability. The S-curve model is one of the most famous concepts in innovation. Products or businesses usually follow an S-curve, where new launches are characterized by a shallow start, where only early adopters and niche markets buy into the product or invest in the company. Consecutively they experience rapid growth, and the product or business gains a dominant position in the market. Ultimately, these businesses mature in saturated markets before they either decline or manage to jump onto the next S-curve. Nowadays the pressure of reinventing a new S-curve is becoming stronger for organizations due to exponential technology developments and many of them fail to manage to prepare for the future. Chris Brauer provided a striking example of disruption within the educational industry: 30,000 USD student fees at Goldsmiths University, contrasting 2 USD for students participating in an Massive Open Online Course, ultimately resulting in the same degree. According to a recent publication, 70% of all companies on the S&P 500 in 2030 do not exist today, and average time of multinationals being featured within the S&P 500 is down to 14 years. What can companies do to stay competitive? Just bringing in new technologies will not help to solve problems and create growth. Leaders are asked to foster and generate the kind of organizational culture and mindset that flourishes under the pressure of disruption. Ultimately those that can regenerate business models and demonstrate continuous innovation will reap sustainable competitive advantages in the market. Chris Brauer shared insights on the mindset that organizations should employ in order to meet these challenges, especially tackling belief systems and positive “can-do” attitudes which are necessary to be able to anticipate and prepare for the future through constant innovation.

The event was attended by around 30 professionals from OMV and the WU Energy and Strategy Think-Tank, who were actively engaged throughout the session.