In part one of this series of posts we talked about what exponential technologies are and why we should keep and eye on them and be flexible, as they will completely change industries before most even notice.
Before jumping into each exponential technology, in this post we’ll analyze three forces that are helping to speed up their growth:
The Do-It-Yourself Revolution
There have always been entrepreneurs out there. However, new breakthrough technologies are pushing a new breed of innovators, now more than ever, to solve problems that only big companies and governments were able to solve before. These innovators have free and instant access to information and the the capability to mass-share their progress. This allows an individual or a small group of people to create a new market and to disrupt an existing one within a matter years, sometimes even months.
In many cases, these do-it-yourself entrepreneurs are completely dematerializing industries. Take Uber, the world’s largest taxi company that owns no vehicles; Facebook, creates no content and it’s the largest media owner; Alibaba, the most valuable retailer, has no inventory; or Airbnb, the company founded just six years ago and is now the world’s largest accommodation provider… which owns no real state. The number of rising do-it-yourself entrepreneurs is larger than ever, finding new uses for the growing technologies and disrupting conventional businesses.
The world has now a new breed of multimillionaires, those who have already used technology to change the way we do things and are still young enough to have an appetite for big and bold ideas. Elon Musk (Tesla’s founder), Larry Page (Google’s co-founder) or Jeff Bezos (Amazon’s founder) are examples of individuals that have the money and the ambition to think long term, go against conventional wisdom and take up ideas that are far too risky for governments. With their vision and power, they will play a key role in the success of exponential technologies.
Crowdsourcing, Crowdfounding and the New Billion
Historically, if you were born in a poor country, you were out of luck and there was little you could do to make a difference in the world. The Internet now allows collaborative structures that would have been unthinkable just a decade ago. Now, someone in Vietnam can work in real time with someone in Palo Alto.
There are roughly 2 billion people connected to the Internet today. Those folks are the crowd. Over the next decade, the size of the crowd is expected to more than double, meaning that nearly 3 billion new minds will soon join the global conversation.
Today, websites like freelancer.com allow individuals and companies to crowdsource all kinds of jobs. Moreover, entrepreneurs without the dollars have easy access to money. Want to design a new 3D printer? Just put a video up on sites like kickstarter.com and ask the crowd for the money (crowdfounding).
With these new possibilities, someone who has an idea can get a designer in India, get a prototype produced in China and get it mass-produced in Vietnam. This brings together a new wave of hungry entrepreneurs to the field that with unlimited instant access to information and new ideas will help boost innovations in the years to come.