Depending on who you read, we are in the fourth or fifth wave of computer technology development. In 2005, Om Malik and Michael Copeland published The Fifth Wave in Business 2.0 Magazine. They defined their waves as the eras of mainframe, mid-range, PC, Internet and networked computing. Written six years ago, their premonition preceded smartphones by many years.
In 2009, Forrester Research VP Andrew Bartels cited US Department of Commerce data showing that we are in the fourth wave of technology investment. Specifically, the four waves are:
- 1951 – 1976: Mainframe computing
- 1976 – 1992: PC computing
- 1992 – 2008: Network computing
- 2008 – 2016: Accelerated innovation
Each of the waves experiences two phases – innovation and growth followed by refinement and digestion. The current phase of accelerated innovation is in the innovation and growth phase, coinciding with the global economic recovery cycle. Bartels substantiates his position by analyzing the US IT investment to GDP ratio CAGR for each phase. The average ratio for the growth eras is 4% while the average for the refinement eras is -1.13%.
That would seem to provide statistical evidence of what we observe in our daily lives. Social networking, smartphones, tablets, and 4G LTE wireless network infrastructure are all converging in front of our eyes. Innovation is exploding. But, despite the fact that the banking and financial services industry sector consumes more technology than any other industry, we have seen little technology advances in our daily lives over the past thirty years. True – ATM’s, online banking, online trading and debit cards are a far cry from passbook savings accounts; those conveniences seem paltry compared to the hundreds of billions of dollars banks spend on IT.
I watched two television commercials for banks recently with very different reactions. One highlighted new innovations like being able to deposit cash or checks with no envelope or deposit slip – boring. After all these years, is that all we’ve got? Another showed a newlywed couple depositing the checks they received as gifts by taking pictures with their smartphones. Now that’s innovation that we can really use in our daily lives.
But, there is so much more to do. With location based services, mobile web, mobile search, social networking, sentiment analysis, context aware computing, augmented reality and an ever growing list of truly mind boggling capabilities, we are at the very beginning of the innovation and growth phase. This is a phase when organizations and companies can embrace their customers through technology to truly enhance the customer experience.
Calvin Grimes from Fiserv wrote an article for Credit Union Times last week on mobile payments. He says “…think beyond bolting on another piece of mobile software or a chip to handle payments.” He also advises to get started now so as not to be left behind.
Last month, Jeanne W. Ross and Peter Weill wrote a great article for the Wall Street Journal – Four Questions Every CEO Should Ask About IT. Their very first question is – Are we using technology to transform our business, or are we just adding bells and whistles to existing processes? Their question addresses the same issue as Calvin from a more generic perspective. The application of mobile technology must fundamentally transform the business and the customer experience or we are simply replicating old processes through new interfaces.
The trick is, how do we get that done? Is it IT’s responsibility? The business side? Marketing? The answer is all of them and more in a highly collaborative and innovative environment that breeds new thinking and challenges the organization to go beyond conventional wisdom.
And, if you are wondering how to get started with the Accelerated Innovation phase by leveraging mobile as a technology, join our webinar – Overcoming Challenges in Early-Stage Enterprise Mobility Programs, tomorrow at 11am ET. Register here.