We’re deep in an age of technology uncertainty. While cloud, mobile, and social technologies have established themselves as foundational, there are endless unknowns about which technologies will shape the next two decades. As we fly through the 2020’s, the age of convergence that we experienced in the past decade is being replaced by an age of divergent opportunities.
In this post, we will explore the three fundamental technological unknowns that companies need to navigate to create the future and we will provide some tips on how to experiment and stay ahead of the competition.
Three tech tussles shaping the next decade
1. Interaction: From screens to immersive worlds
The first fundamental unknown is which interface we will use to interact with our computers. With at least 6 billion smartphones in use globally, the rectangle of glass in our pockets isn’t going away and will continue to be a critical tool in our lives. However, we’ve already seen new computing form factors appear in watches, tablets, cars, smart speakers and earphones - and it’s likely we’ll see many more. It’s a safe bet that many devices that put a computer directly in front of our eyes will be sold but there’s still a lot to find out:
- Is AR or VR the bigger deal? Which will have the greater impact on our lives?
- Which use cases and applications will catch fire?
- Is the metaverse a discrete thing, or is it just an extension of the internet or the mobile ecosystems?
- How will face-worn devices such as glasses or headsets play with our other computing devices?
2. Cognition: From computing to brains
The second unknown is about cognition; the ability of our computers to acquire knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses. From Jacquard to Babbage and Lovelace there’s almost two centuries of foundational work creating machines that mimic human capability. The last few decades have seen us able to provide systems with the ability to follow complex logic and almost appear to be ‘thinking’, but we may now be on the cusp of a significant change. New techniques in the machine learning field are providing us with a blooming of new tools and products. In the three months of 2023 we’ve seen more tangible progress than in many years previously, but this could just be a small taster of what’s to come:
- To what extent, and how, will we regulate and control these new systems?
- What use cases become mainstream first?
- How do the AI tools fit into our lives? How do they surface in our computing platforms and behaviours?
- Which layers get commoditised first? Which will become defensible?
- How will we gain a level of assurance, reliability and trust in their outputs?
- Is the current rate of change normal, or will we see short bursts of activity then a pause before more breakthroughs?
- Which businesses and jobs which get swallowed whole? Which new businesses and jobs will emerge?
3. Memory: From cloud to decentralised technologies
The third fundamental unknown is about data layers. Many large businesses are still spending huge amounts with consultancies to shift their data from servers in boxes they manage to servers in the cloud managed by Amazon, Google or Microsoft. However despite this appearing to be a settled debate some businesses are now reversing their moves to the cloud, noting that many of the promised benefits are hard to realise.
In addition, after an initial peak of buzz, ‘Web 3.0’ technologies are finally finding real world problems to solve. This will only accelerate over the coming years, with the potential to transform the way we store and manage data and to give users more power over their data. These less centralised architectures will mean data being housed in more places, by more people, but there are lots of outstanding questions to answer:
- What data does it make sense to decentralise, and what secondary and tertiary effects does that have?
- What role will centralising authorities like central banks, governments and large technology firms play in setting standards, rules and regulation? Or even picking winners?
- How much will everyday users know or need to know about ‘web3’ when apps powered by it go mainstream?
Within each of these layers, interaction, cognition and memory, there are tussles and multiple possible outcomes. Looking across the big questions, there are infinite possible futures, but not decades out, all three are progressing at a pace that could make big changes to our lives at the end of this decade.
How to experiment and create your future
Experiment through - So what can we do in the face of this uncertainty? The answer is to experiment through it. We must be intentional about our learning and experimentation and we need to do it fast. Our approach is designed to foster the conditions for rapid, deliberate learning and iteration.
Work cross-functionally - To do this effectively, we need small, skilled, cross-functional teams who are focused from day one. At Loomery, we build teams who do this. We believe in cutting the thinking and doing dichotomy and converging making and strategy in learning loops. This means putting strategic thinkers alongside designers and engineers to validate your strategy faster. Find out more about how we do this here.
Be open but informed with technologies - It is also important to keep an open mind when it comes to technology. We need generalist technologists who are not wedded to a single platform. These pioneers need to be willing to learn and rapidly test new technologies, carrying lessons across platforms. At Loomery, we hire informed full-stack tech generalists who are constantly learning and experimenting.
As we’ve begun to explore above, uncertainty is the new normal in today's rapidly evolving technological landscape. To succeed in this environment requires a high level of flexibility and openness to change. Those with a learning focused mindsets will succeed in creating the future and staying ahead of the competition.
Loomery accelerates product progress. Our trusted team of makers, deep expertise in emergent technologies and making-led strategic approach, mean we can demonstrate progress on your priorities next week, not next year.
Loomery teams are helping Diageo, LSE and Digital Catapult innovate faster and are building quality products at pace for Tesco, the University of Exeter and The Office for Students.