Kevin Werbach writes: “Want a sneak peek of tomorrow’s technology? Look to generals, gamers, and fashionistas, where the real innovations will come from.”
In today’s technology industry, the three hidden factors shaping the innovation environment are guns, games, and style.
“Guns” means the military and the vast associated intelligence and homeland security apparatus. From battling distributed global terror networks to providing soldiers with real-time information on the battlefield, the military faces a plethora of challenges that call for cutting-edge technology. And with an annual budget in the hundreds of billions, it has the resources to pay for it.
Something similar is happening in the gaming world. Computer games are a big business, rivaling the movie industry in revenues. Moreover, they’re the most demanding application most users have for their PCs and other devices. A machine that can browse the Web in its sleep will still strain at the three-dimensional rendering demands of today’s games.
Style, the third element, may seem particularly incongruous in a technology discussion. Yet it’s an ever more significant driver of innovation. As the IT industry matures, raw technical specifications become less important. The baseline level of functionality is usually good enough. That puts a premium on aesthetics, buzz, usability, and other “soft” factors.