One important life lesson we have learned from arguably the greatest of all philosophers is profoundly simple: “Do or do not. There is no try.” One has to imagine that Yoda would apply this important directive to any endeavor, but I find it to be the perfect challenge to those of us focused on the internet of things.
In speaking with prospective customers, friends and acquaintances, I often have to laugh as I explain the capabilities of machine-to-machine (M2M) and IoT technologies as they are applied to solve real world problems. Inevitably I am soon asked “Could it do …?”, followed by some hypothetical example. Mostly as a dramatic gesture, typically I simply interrupt the question with a quick “Yes” and then explain that, in most cases, we can craft a solution to the problem, need or want, only needing to select or develop the proper technology. I especially enjoy watching that special twinkle in the eye of someone who soon starts to imagine the infinite possibilities, creating scenarios where everyday problems or inconveniences can now be eliminated.
The internet of things has allowed us to bring “intelligence” to devices of all kinds. In fact, we refer to smart phones or light bulbs, appliances and so on. We have made them “smart” by connecting them wirelessly to other devices, which allows for interaction without human intervention. So whether it is a smart vending machine calling in a need to replenish inventory, a self-driving car, a thermostat that learns our comfort preferences or a drone that automatically follows us as we speed down a ski slope, shooting 4K video all the way down before landing safely in the palm of our hand – the technology to facilitate these solutions seemed unimaginable not so many years ago.
Where are we headed? The next truly disruptive innovation will likely not be incremental, but rather a leap to a new level. Almost by definition, quantum innovation does not consider mere improvements to the current situation. Instead it ponders “What if?” and strains to imagine that which does not exist today. In fact, we can’t always ask customers what they want in terms of new technology. As summarized in a famous quip often attributed to Henry Ford, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” Creativity and innovation often go hand-in-hand, but creative thought will not become disruptive innovation without that next essential step: action. In our business, that means constant iteration, creating new solutions and testing them through customer input, creating a continuous feedback loop.
Our challenge for the future? Simple. Do or do not. There is no try.
Quantum innovators: may the force be with you.