Designing The 21st Century Enterprise


Science & Technology: Strategy

"Perhaps there was a time when it made sense to play the one-upmanship game of keeping up with the competition. But the dramatic changes spawned by science and technology have made that a perilous game for the present and a formula for disaster for the future. Just the way technology has changed reality, making traditional war obsolete, technology and the rapid pace of change that it has generated have made competition obsolete. It's too dangerous to compete. We have too much to lose to compete. I want a sure thing. And the only way to get it is to adopt a personal and business strategy for integrating technology and people for the purpose of achieving our ideal goals."
TECHNO TRENDS; Daniel Burrus, 1994

Strategy must be a vector which brings to the present a predicted future. Given the accelerating rate of innovation, what considerations should be taken into account as the 21st century enterprise creates strategy with respect to science and technology?

"Energy forecasters have a nearly unblemished record of failure in the past two decades, overestimating the amount of nuclear power the world would now be using by a factor of six, and predicting in 1980 that oil would cost $100 a barrel by the early 1990s. These forecasters seem to look at the future through a rearview mirror, assuming that oil and coal will continue to run the world's automobiles, factories, and power plants with a little added natural gas and nuclear power, and no major technological advances. Such assumptions are likely to be wrong. In our rapidly changing world, one of the least plausible scenarios is a thirty-year continuation of the status quo."
POWER SURGE; Christopher Flavin and Nicholas Lenssen, 1994

Your response

Historians will look back on the late 20th -- early 21st century as the end of one kind of era and the beginning of a dramatically different one.

"Many of the most critical information systems used to distribute target and battle information during Desert Storm did not exist on the day that Iraq invaded Kuwait. Instead, they were improvised, on the spot, by technicians who, upon discovering that communications and computer equipment would be late in arriving and lacked range, capacity and connectivity to meet operational needs, contrived networks by unorthodox and unauthorized use of agglomerations of military and civilian informationware."

Your response

How adept is your current organization at this kind of improvisation and responsiveness to customer needs?

"Most 'new' industries created over the years have provided services that complement services offered by existing industries or have substituted for existing, less efficient services. They have tended to be stand-alone industries that attract new entrants and exploit economies of scale or scope. But today the fusion of information technology and telecommunications is permeating most industries and often restructuring the underlying basis of competition. The integration of these technologies and their complex application to the essence of the underlying activities . . . is becoming the very basis for executing, coordinating, measuring, and communicating about activities within firms."
GLOBALIZATION, TECHNOLOGY, COMPETITION; Stephen P. Bradley, Jerry A. Hausman, and Richard L. Nolan, 1993

Your response

Do you believe that it is possible for you know who your competitors will be ten years from now?

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