The HERE/FORTH newsletter, C_NCENTRATE, recently sent its 500th issue and soon after we asked the +20,000 readers what the biggest issue they faced was. Keeping up with emerging technologies and the big picture were their top two issues. I asked around and this was echoed by more than a few friends and colleagues. So I thought I would write a post on how I do it. Let me know what’s your strategy here and I’ll update the post.
1) Find the time.
The hardest part. Emerging technologies happen all the time, big or little, they require your attention and that’s literally time with the ability to focus. Find a place, time and stick to it and know you’ll never catch it all but the big stuff will usually find you. The best strategy is either to come in late or block out time in your calendar and go to a new location.
2) Let others aggregate for you.
Flipboard is especially good to use here as others curate magazines for you and the algorithm surfaces interesting nuggets once you train it. I haven’t found Apple News as great yet but there are improvements being made. Twitter Lists are a great source of high-quality information and save you a ton of time. Google Alerts can also be invaluable if you adopt this strategy. Start prepping people to send you things, tell them what interests you and say keep it coming and ‘thank you’ a lot.
3) Identify your north stars.
North stars are people whom I trust to curate a subject for me, give me the right steer and people who to set opinions. Some will be journalists, some will be experts others will just be obsessives, people who are just super into things. These are often the most useful as they scan the entire landscape and can draw dots between things often without knowing they’re doing so. A great example is Coursera’s Andrew NG (@AndrewNG) – his AI background and tweet style are a powerful combo. Cool Hunting (Disclosure: I write for the site) is an example of a great collective to subscribe to.
4) Use the tech to find the tech.
From Techmeme to Alltop, aggregators are everywhere, not all are great but all offer value. Techmeme offers some paid options (Leaderboard) to find out who are the top people in their field you may want to use to create product that suit you but a quick ‘Reverse Hashtag Salad’ (RHS) strategy should create what you are after. For RHS you need something like Twitter or Flipboard and a bit of time. Simply add in all the hashtags (see below) you are interested in finding out about and either ‘eat it’ as is or start picking bits out you don’t like by blocking and removing sources. Sometimes the salad gets emptier and you need to refill it so add ‘ingredients’ too. Over time you will refine your salad and get a lot of nourishment from it. Ok, that’s enough metaphor.
5) Go to the source.
Head to places and events that showcase the technologies and not just talk about them so you can explore, touch and speak with the makers. Think EmTech (also in Europe) and emerging material library’s like Materiom. Make it real and you’re more likely to not just remember them but also process the information deeper allowing new thoughts and analogous thinking to occur in the future.
6) Travel and observe.
Travelling helps me see things clearer than anything else I can think of. Observation is one of the most underdeveloped skills in the workplace thanks to big data and sensors. The key here is to expose your brain and eyes to the world and solutions others are employing around them (and you). Doing the following every three to six months will change your perceptions of the world and technologies; go to a new country and go shopping for food, clothes and electronics, take a new mode of transport home, sit in a space you’d never go in and look at how people really use mobile phones, talk to someone at least 10 years older or younger than yourself and ask them what technology doe/n’t do for them. Doing these things sets you apart from the crowd.
7) Emerging doesn’t mean a straight line.
A great example of this is ‘experts’ who say no-one uses QR codes (a particular bugbear of mine) the utility in these smart little things is insane. From pre-written emails to dialling a number, QR codes are commonplace in South Korea and Japan but Western strategists poo-poo them rather than exploring the utility and training consumers/staff. Just because an emerging technology doesn’t fully emerge doesn’t mean it can’t or won’t. Not everything has to be mass to be useful to you or a client.
Your basic ‘emerging technology’ salad:
#AR #VR #MR #emergingtechnology #emergingtechnologies #blockchain #iot #disruptivetechnologies #machinelearning #robotics #artificialintelligence #techtrends #digitaltransformation #augmentedreality #technologytransformation #3dprinting #4dprinting #holography #nanotechnology #drones #quantum #autonomousvehicles #newmaterials #wetware