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
Article contains comments
Recent Research Reports
Defence 2014: A review of South Africa's defence industry (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Defence 2014 report examines South Africa’s defence industry, with particular focus on the key participants in the sector, the innovations that have come out of the sector, local and export demand, South Africa’s controversial multibillion-rand...
Road and Rail 2014: A review of South Africa's road and rail infrastructure (PDF report)
Creamer Media’s Road and Rail 2014 report examines South Africa’s road and rail transport system, with particular focus on the size and state of the country’s road and rail network, the funding and maintenance of these respective networks, and the push to move road...
Real Economy Year Book 2014 (PDF Report)
This edition drills down into the performance and outlook for a variety of sectors, including automotive, construction, electricity, transport, steel, water, coal, gold, iron-ore and platinum.
Real Economy Insight: Automotive 2014 (PDF Report)
This four-page brief covers key developments in the automotive industry over the past 12 months, including an overview of South Africa’s automotive market, trade figures, production and the policies influencing the sector.
Real Economy Insight: Construction 2014 (PDF Report)
This five-page brief covers key developments in the construction industry over the past 12 months. It provides an overview of the sector and includes details of employment in the sector, infrastructure and municipal spending, as well as insight into companies’...
Real Economy Insight: Electricity 2014 (PDF Report)
This five-page brief covers key developments in the electricity industry over the past 12 months, including details of State-owned power utility Eskom’s generation activities, funding and tariffs, independent power producers and prospects for the sector.
This Week's Magazine
Integrated energy and chemical company Sasol has partnered with Unisa Graduate School of Business Leadership (SBL) professor and founder and CEO of PanAvest Partnership Dr Douglas Boateng to publish a series of books on executive supply chain management aimed at...
The World Wide Fund for Nature’s (WWF’s) 2014 Living Planet Index (LPI) indicates that there has been a 52% decline in vertebrate species since 1970. The Index tracked the trends of 10 000 discrete populations of over 3000 vertebrate species between 1970 and 2010.
Rwanda has joined a number of East African countries seeking to import electricity from Ethiopia as its demand grows. After it became apparent several generation project it is implementing will not come on stream early enough, now plans to import 400 MW from Ethiopia...
Metrorail’s first new passenger train will arrive in November next year, says Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) CEO Lucky Montana. “Next year we will be able to put our hands around the infrastructure and equipment we have been talking about for so long.”
The Competition Commission has launched an investigation into what it says are “price fixing, market division and collusive tendering in the market for the manufacture and supply of automotive components to original equipment manufacturers” (OEMs, or vehicle...
Next ArticleGreat minds come together at Nuclear Africa 2014