Every five years or so, giant IT consulting firm CSC (Computer Sciences Corp.) gathers its best thinkers to outline trends they believe will be "disruptive" -- what I like to call "game changers," technologies that reshape business.
The latest CSC report lists 10 game changers. Although I found some to be suffering from overexposure (e.g., "new media is breaking down traditional big media, giving voice to millions of individuals and unleashing new talent and creativity"), other disruptive technologies were less obvious (e.g., "researchers have already developed a molecular computer that uses enzymes to perform calculations from within the human body").
To get a better sense of the big picture behind these game-changing trends, I spoke with Paul Gustafson, director of CSC's Leading Edge Forum, and Alex Fuss, lead research at the Leading Edge Forum and author of the final report under discussion here, "Digital Disruptions."
Fuss has posted a video to YouTube to explain a bit more about the new age of the "networked information economy" -- a phrase, Fuss reminds us, that comes from Yochai Benkler's book The Wealth of Networks.
For CSC, there is a very practical side to this discussion. As Fuss points out, the idea behind the report is to "identify technology trends that will impact our business and the business of our clients so that we can leverage it to advantage." CSC is so practical, in fact, that it reported revenues of $16.5 billion last year.
As Fuss sees it, the world is moving from an "industrial information economy, where we had a layer of information that just was really on top of a hard-goods-based economy," to this networked information economy, where information has more value than the actual hard goods.
Watching Fuss' video, my skeptics antenna started to twitter, especially when he said, "We may still need cars and food and sneakers" -- yes, I thought, how else will I get to work, survive, and run the marathon? -- "but the information that is provided by those devices eclipses the hard goods themselves."
Now I had to call to see what in blazes he was talking about.
Gustafson took up the challenge. "Let's take sneakers," he said.
It seems Nike has a sneaker into which you can drop a GPS disk, and it sends data on your run -- such as speed and location -- to an armband or your iPhone or even a Web site that makes the data available over the Internet. A runner can share information and perhaps have others coach him. I'm sure there will be other sensors available that can tell the runner or coach how hard the runner's feet are hitting the ground or any other relevant data.