02/23/2015 12:45 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

New Solutions to Old Problems

Mario Andretti once said, "If everything seems under control, you're just not going fast enough."

It's one of my favorite quotes, and its business applications run the gamut. Put differently, safe is the new risky. Companies that cling to legacy business models, technologies, and mind-sets have always run the risk of becoming obsolete. (Polaroid, Kodak, and BlockBuster are but three cases in point.) This has always been true. Today, however, the twin threats of disruption and irrelevance are stronger and faster than ever. The Innovator's Dilemma is alive and well.

As a result, the most successful leaders today are making billion-dollar bets on the future. Whether it's Larry Page, Elon Musk, or Jeff Bezos, progressive CEOs aren't just preparing for a future that doesn't resemble today; they're making those futures happen now. They are embracing new ways of doing things, ones that significantly differ from their antecedents.

Against that backdrop, more than 20,000 attendees have descended upon Las Vegas for IBM InterConnect 2015. IBM VP Robert LeBlanc kicked off Monday's festivities by citing some interesting data:

  • 84 percent of CEOs rate mobile apps as critical for reaching customers. (I'd love to meet the other 16 percent -- those who evidently think that technology is cyclical.)
  • Within five years, machines (not humans) will generate 42 percent of all data. That is, more and more data will be passively generated, a point that I make in Too Big to Ignore.
  • By 2020, 70 percent of all patients will be wearing devices that track and monitor their health. We're just getting started with wearable tech.
(If you'd like to attend IBM InterConnect 2015 remotely, you're in luck. You can watch the conference free via live stream.)

The implications of powerful, new technologies and data are impossible to understate. I'm hard-pressed to think of an industry that will remain unaffected. For instance, flight delays cost air carriers more than $8 billion every year in the US alone. The recent snowpocalypse may have set records, but its financial impact only differs from others in terms of degree. Airlines have always lost money when weather conditions wreaked havoc with schedules.

What to do?

There's no one simple answer, but new technologies and data can improve the quality of predictions, ultimately saving companies a great deal of money. So said Pascal Fourn, Head of Resource Planning at Airbus. Fourn spoke about how his company has made its fleets "smarter" via new technologies and data sources. Together, they have helped Airbus optimize takeoff and landing performance, saving considerably on fuel costs.

Simon Says

This is not 2007. No longer are organizations "on the bleeding edge" by embracing cloud computing and Big Data. Keep your head in the sand if you like, but successful case studies are emerging every day.


What say you?