Jul 27, 2012
Given tempo of technological change, we cannot predict far into the future with certaintyBack
London|Natal|Boeing|Cable|Google|PROJECT|System|Search Engine|KwaZulu-Natal Coast|Red Sea|Boeing 747|Cable|Cables|GPS|Laser|Search Engine
© Reuse this
There are many other such wonders in our modern world. When I watch a large passenger jet like a Boeing 747 take off, it looks as if it should not fly. The body is huge and the wings seem too small. If the wave of a magic wand could bring the Wright brothers back for a few minutes to see such a Boeing, they would never believe that the aircraft would fly.
These days, people just accept that modern technological wonders are reasonable. They accept without question and without marvelling at why or how these things work at all. For example, think of cellphones. When cellphones first came out, people were amazed that you could sit in a car and talk while the car moved.
Now people just expect to be able to stand under their favourite tree and make a phone call to anywhere in the world. To the average person, it just feels reasonable. Think of the World Wide Web and the Internet. It is mind-boggling that one can type something like ‘elephant migration’ into the Google search engine and in under a second have tens of thousands of articles to look at.
Consider the global positioning system, or GPS – how can a few satellites way up in space direct my car to a specific house and this does not cost me R1-million? What is more, these few satellites direct millions of vehicles all over the world at the same time.
We have a telecommunications cable that runs from the KwaZulu-Natal coast and runs 17 000 km under the ocean through the Red Sea and comes out in London. It is a fibre-optic cable. This means that it is a thin glass tube not much bigger than a human hair and a laser beam is passed through this cable, carrying telephone conversations – thousands of them. Mind blowing!
Only a few years ago, people would never have believed that cellphones were possible – or GPS or fibre-optic cables . . . the list goes on. But now such technological advances are just accepted as reasonable. Only five or ten years ago, many of these technologies were in the realm of science fiction and magic.
Scientific advance continues, and this means that, in five to ten years, we will have everyday technologies that in this day and age seem like science fiction and magic.
It is, therefore, dangerous to predict too far into the future with any certainty.
This is why companies need to carry out scenario planning. Scenario planning is a case of looking into the future and trying to project the extremes of what may happen so that one can guide the company on a growth path. A standard future projection, which is what most companies do, is known as the default scenario. It is also known that the default scenario is always wrong, so most companies plan on a future projection which is wrong the day they start.
I do scenario planning with organisations and it is always amazing and interesting to witness what comes out of such an exercise when it is done correctly. The participants are always surprised, and then pleased, when they see what they have been able to produce.
The future will have so many unexpected turns, combined with technology advances that will be like magic spells falling on companies that one really needs to stay awake to not be caught out.
Edited by: Martin Zhuwakinyu© Reuse this Comment Guidelines (150 word limit)
Other Dr Kelvin Kemm News
Recent Research Reports
Steel 2015: A review of South Africa's steel sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Steel 2015 report provides an overview of the key developments in the global steel industry and particularly of South Africa’s steel sector over the past year, including details of production and consumption, as well as the country's primary carbon...
Projects in Progress 2015 - First Edition (PDF Report)
In fact, this edition of Creamer Media’s Projects in Progress 2015 supplement tracks developments taking place under the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme, which has had four bidding rounds. It appears to remain a shining light on the...
Electricity 2015: A review of South Africa's electricity sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Electricity 2015 report provides an overview of State-owned power utility Eskom and independent power producers, as well as electricity planning, transmission, distribution and the theft thereof, besides other issues.
Construction 2015: A review of South Africa’s construction sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Construction 2015 Report examines South Africa’s construction industry over the past 12 months. The report provides insight into the business environment; the key participants in the sector; local construction demand; geographic diversification;...
Liquid Fuels 2014 - A review of South Africa's Liquid Fuels sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Liquid Fuels 2014 Report examines these issues, focusing on the business environment, oil and gas exploration, the country’s feedstock supplies, the development of South Africa’s biofuels industry, fuel pricing, competition in the sector, the...
Water 2014: A review of South Africa's water sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Water 2014 report considers the aforementioned issues, not only in the South African context, but also in the African and global context, and examines the issues of water and sanitation, water quality and the demand for water, among others.
This Week's Magazine
Forest products group Sappi has confirmed the selection of its 25 MW biomass-to-power project, to be erected at its Ngodwana mill, in Mpumalanga, as a preferred bidder under the South African government’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement...
Information and communications technology (ICT) distributor DCC is making Windows- and Android-operating systems tablets available through retailers and education equipment suppliers to provide school children with affordable, high-performance education tools. The...
Another cement manufacturer is set to enter the Ugandan market, raising hopes that prices will come down and spur growth in the construction industry. National Cement, a Kenyan manufacturer, has unveiled plans to invest $195-million in a new manufacturing plant in...
With growth rates exceeding that in the developed world – at an average of between 4% and 5% between 2002 and 2014 – African countries provide investors with ample reason to tap into booming consumer demand says Manufacturing Circle executive director Coenraad...
The South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s (Sacci’s) Business Confidence Index (BCI) decreased by 3.7 index points month-on-month to 89.1 in March.