THE BLOG
08/22/2013 10:07 am ET Updated Oct 22, 2013

Convergence: A Power Tool for Innovation

A powerful strategy for driving innovation, and one I discuss in my latest bestseller Flash Foresight, is called convergence. It's about taking separate things and bringing them together in a whole new integrated and unified way.

A good example is one we have all seen unfold in the past few years and that is when you converge features and functions. For example, at one time we all owned many independent devices: camera, video recorder, music player, GPS unit, etc. Today, all those things and many more are converged into one device: our smart phone.

Think about your own smart phone. You likely have your photo album in there, your past emails, your books, and your magazines. You also have your access point to the world via the Internet and video conferencing capabilities. Plus you have apps for all the essential things in your life. Because of all the features and functions you have in the one device, you may think the smart phone is full. Surely nothing else could fit in there.

Think again. It's not full--not even close. Because it's digital and you can access the cloud, you can put almost an infinite amount of things in there. You just have to think, "What else would I want to converge?"

Of course, features and functions are just one aspect of convergence. There's another type of convergence that might be invisible to you right now. It's called industry convergence.

Once upon a time, industries all existed independent of each other. They had their associations and their meetings, and they didn't work with other industries that were unrelated. But today, thanks to digitization, industries are converging.

Take a look at the telecommunications industry--your landline and your cell phone. Now it's converged with the computer industry, which has converged with the entertainment industry, which has converged with the publishing industry ... and the list goes on.

What industries haven't converged yet but could to create something new? How about if an electric utility converged with the automobile industry? They never worked together before. Could they now? Most definitely! In fact, they need to now, in new and exciting ways. And how about your electric utility and home security? How about home automation systems? The possibilities are endless.

Whatever industry you're in, it is no longer an island. Ask yourself, "What unrelated industries are actually converging in this digital world to create amazing, new opportunities?" You'll be amazed at the new possibilities you will discover for partnerships, alliances, vendors, mergers, acquisitions, new products and services ... you get the idea. What new opportunities do you see?