Technology has now become a horizontal layer across all industries and institutions, with the ability to drive hyper efficiency & effectiveness of processes -- and importantly, products & services that matter to people’s lives.

I have lived this transformation firsthand for over a quarter of a century in Telecom, Tech and Financial Services.

Great Equalizer

Connected Company,2817,2330776,00.asp

It didn’t use to be like this.

When I was in college, the first IBM PCs came to market. It had as I recall a 4.7MHz processor, 64kB of memory, 264kB of disk. And we used to connect it to the central computing facility at 300 baud (c300 bits per second).

That is, since my college days, there has been orders of magnitude improvement in capacity in every aspect of computing, storage and communications. For example, the FiOS (fiber-to-the-home) consumer internet speeds are now commonly at 50Mbps downstream and 50Mbps upstream – i.e., from 300 bits-per-second at college in 1980s to 50-million-bits-per-second at home in 2014.

Of course, the end-to-end improvement in the ecosystem is multiplicative across the chain: Computing x Storage x Communications – with each link in the chain having improved by orders of magnitude since my college days.

This is an enabler “big bang” – with the key chain now comprising Smart Devices + Ultra Broadband Networks + Cloud Ecosystem/Big Data Analytics.

All this is the catalyst for the Rise-of-the-Creative-Planet – with people across the world taking charge of the innovation agenda. From the ‘agri apps’ and ‘mpesa mobile money’ in Africa, to uber, to bio-x initiatives, …

For established industries and institutions to lever the “big bang”, they not only need to embrace the technological shifts, but also new-ways-of-work.

The majority of people in the workforce today were schooled in the 20th century “Henry Ford model of work” – the assembly line, manifested by vertical organizations (the typical org chart) working together as a bucket brigade to get the job done. This model of work is ill suited for break-through innovation that requires people to work together horizontally across departmental boundaries, getting everyone engaged, at the same time, and with full context sharing.

By its nature, the horizontal working model also substantially increases the chances of driving innovation at the boundaries of traditional disciplines, where many break-through innovations that are ultimately successful, increasingly live.

Having diversity -- in thinking, experiences, context -- is an important dimension for driving innovation. This is relevant within corporations and institutions, as well as across the globe – e.g., truly connecting Silicon Valley to the Great Rift Valley.

And all this takes us back to the Rise-of-the-Creative-Planet, an inflection point in our world’s history with an optimistic view of the future.