In May, The McKinsey Global Institute released its latest thinking on disruptive technologies. That is, technological advances which have the potential to disrupt the status quo and transform life, business, and the global economy as we know it.
Some technologies detailed in the report have been gestating for years and thus will be familiar. Others are more surprising.
Examples of the 12 disruptive technologies in their report include:
1. Advanced robotics That is, increasingly capable robots or robotic tools, with enhanced “senses,” dexterity, and intelligence—can take on tasks once thought too delicate or uneconomical to automate.
These technologies could improve the lives of 50 million people who are missing limbs or have impaired mobility. Also, industrial, manufacturing, and service robots may change the face of labor.
2. Mobile Internet is expected to improve productivity and delivery of service. McKinsey estimated one application – remote health monitoring – could reduce healthcare costs of by one-fifth.
3. Automation of knowledge work is a brain twister of a category that encompasses intelligent software systems, which could produce output equal to 110 to 140 million full-time workers.
4. The Cloud delivers services over the Internet or a network. It could improve productivity in IT infrastructure, application development, and packaged software by 15 to 20 percent.
5. 3-D printing may offer the ability to manufacture custom goods at home, while the medical industry may be able to bioprint tissue and organs in the lab. (Slide 9)
6. Energy-storage devices or physical systems store energy for later use. These technologies, such as lithium-ion batteries and fuel cells, already power electric and hybrid vehicles, along with billions of portable consumer electronics. Over the coming decade, advancing energy-storage technology could make electric vehicles cost competitive, bring electricity to remote areas of developing countries, and improve the efficiency of the utility grid.[sam id=36 codes=’true’]
The potential benefits of the technologies discussed in the report are tremendous—but so are the challenges of preparing for their impact. If business and government leaders wait until these technologies are exerting their full influence on the economy, it will be too late to capture the benefits or react to the consequences. While the appropriate responses will vary by stakeholder and technology, we find that certain guiding principles can help businesses and governments as they plan for the effects of disruptive technologies.
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