Saturday, January 10, 2009

Discussion of the Week - Exponential Times

We had several interesting discussions in class this weekend, but I'll go ahead and pick a discussion from our IT Mgm't course as the introductory "Discussion of the Week" topic.  I actually learned more in the early discussions in the OpsMgm't and StratMktg courses, but I think this discussion had broader relevance to our overall MBA program.

The discussion centered around a snazzy Exponential Times video, looking at the pace at which our world is changing due to this technology they call "the Internet".  Prior to watching the video, we were asked a simple question, "How do you see the trends of the last 10 years continuing (or failing)?"  The responses ranged from Globalization to Big Box Retail to Greater Customization, alot of stuff that you read about in the press on a daily basis.  All good answers, but then we watched the video.  

As a group of (on average) 30-40yr old folks, the immediate response in the room was fairly quiet.  When you're between the Boombers and GenY demographics in the US, and the mass of humanity in both India and China, it's an interesting place to say the least. 

As a group, we face several challenges and opportunities:
  • While we're technology literate, we're really the first generation to move through this as a learning curve, not as a part of our DNA (sorry're on the way out, so I'm not counting you anymore)
  • We've grown up in a world where companies followed the strategies and models defined in the 20th century.  We learned and been trained in companies that sold locally and regionally, and that survived over many decades.  Our MBA program is somewhat of a bridge between those 20th century models and scratching the surface on 21st century ideas.  
Having lived on Internet time for the past 15 years, I felt comfortable (as much as anyone can be) with the explosiveness of the numbers in the video.  I've lived with growth on that scale for a long time.  What I need to get my head around is the idea that many of the current business models I know will be (or already are) obsolete.  The good news is I have Fred, Seth and Umair to balance my work experience and MBA learnings.