For the past 20 or 30 years, innovation, especially in the digital space, has been fairly straightforward. We could rely on technology to improve at a foreseeable pace and that allowed us to predict, with a high degree of certainty, what would be possible in the years to come. That led most innovation efforts to be focused on applications, with a heavy emphasis on the end user. Startups that were able to design an experience, test it, adapt and iterate quickly could outperform large enterprises that had far more resources and technological sophistication. Agility was often the defining competitive attribute. Yet in the years to come the pendulum is likely to swing from applications back to the fundamental technologies that make them possible. Rather than being able to rely on trusty old paradigms, we’ll largely be operating in the realm of the unknown. In many ways, we’ll be starting over again and innovation will look more like it did in the 1950’s and 1960’s.
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