Disruptive technologies are driving a new wave of innovation

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Disruptive technologies are driving a new wave of innovation

Published: 14 April 2016

Disruptive technologies are exponentially accelerating the pace of innovation. In response to this prevailing trend, the Harvard Business Review (HBR) organized a one-day forum on 10 April, focusing on discussions related to disruptive technologies. The forum invited speakers from Deloitte China and Singularity University—a unique Silicon Valley-based educational institution and business incubator—to introduce to Chinese entrepreneurs to some of these exponentially developing technologies, their applications, and how they can potentially impact businesses. A great variety of technologies were covered during the forum, with applications across diverse fields such as artificial intelligence, robotics, bioinformatics, healthcare, new energy, and blockchain.

What are disruptive technologies? They are technologies that do not develop in a linear way, but evolve much faster and have a greater impact than traditional technologies. With Moore's Law, the internet, big data, and cloud computing, competitive edge is no longer about scale.

Since its foundation, Singularity University has been closely following cutting-edge technologies. The experts lecturing at the custom event included: Brad Templeton, Faculty Chair of Network and Computing & advisor to Google’s driverless car team; Neil Jacobstein, Chair for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics; Dezso Molnar, an independent American inventor; Raymond McCauley, Faculty Chair for Biotechnology & Bioinformatics; Daniel Kraft, Faculty Chair of Medicine and Healthcare; and Ramez Naam, Faculty and Author & Specialist in Energy.

Brad Templeton spoke about how the growth of computing performance is fueling the technology revolution, and its effect on the Internet of Things. “The exponential growth predicted by Gordon Moore, founder of Intel, has enabled every technology to explode over the past decades, impacting all parts of business from improved analytics to powerful new design tools and communication platforms, autonomous vehicles and changing models of risk and responsibility around affected industries.”

Neil Jacobstein said, “Artificial intelligence (AI) is not just a future possibility; we see AI applications embedded in the fabric of our everyday lives. And, a tsunami of invention is occurring in robotics, enabled by rapidly advancing capabilities in inexpensive sensors and control systems.”

Dezso Molnar spoke about the Future of Aerial Innovations. “The Golden Age of Aviation that was experienced 80 years ago in the west has passed, due to self-imposed restrictions, regulations, fear of liabilities, and rising fuel costs. The challenge now is for China and the world to grow in its command of the air and avoid these same barriers to innovation.”

Raymond McCauley told the audience, “Since the completion of the human genome project in 2001, genetics has been transformed into a digital information technology—faster, easier and cheaper to do year after year. These advances are expected to accelerate for decades and deliver a sustained wave of bio-based innovations in medicine, agriculture, energy and more, with world-changing ramifications in biotechnology, genomics, synthetic biology, systems biology and personalized medicine.”

Daniel Kraft said that the future of healthcare is being driven by rapidly advancing technologies causing breakthrough developments in medicine, neurology, biotechnology, stem cell research, and the explosion of digital information for rapid analysis. From 3D printed organs to organ regeneration—from point of care to “lab on a chip” diagnostics, synthetic biology, and new gene-based therapies—our life and quality of life has changed by technology.

Ramez Naam explained why China and the world face huge environmental and natural resource issues, including: air and water pollution, food production, and especially energy and climate change. “The world has overcome many such challenges in the past. New energy technologies including solar, wind, and energy storage are plunging in price and promise to transform energy production while reducing air and water pollution and climate change. New food and water technologies are poised to do the same.

Jennifer Qin, Deloitte Asia Pacific Investment Management Lead Partner and a distinguished blockchain expert, introduced the disruptive technology—blockchain—to the audience. "Blockchain is not only recognized by banking authorities, but is also attracting attention from the securities and fund industry due to the fact that its security and efficiency can save a lot of running cost for the asset management and custody industry," she said. Deloitte Rubix team has developed many blockchain-based applications based on this most innovative technology, covering a wide range of industries—including financial service, media, hospitality, manufacturing, entertainment, health care and life science. "To embrace this technology or to passively accept it will re-shape business dynamics in related industries in China."

Steven Feng, National Leader of the Deloitte China Innovation Program, said, "Blockchain is one of the innovation projects we brought into China. We will strengthen our cooperation with Singularity University and Harvard in the future. Deloitte and Singularity University will work closely to create an innovation ecosystem in China, build the core competitive advantage for developing businesses, and deliver corporate social responsibility. To that end, we will combine Singularity University's edge in exponential technologies and Deloitte's 100 years of professional expertise in the business arena. The Deloitte China Innovation Program, as part of Deloitte's global innovation network, will become a hub connecting technology, business, and policy."

About Deloitte China Innovation Program

Established in 2011, the Deloitte China Innovation Program comprises iBoard, iChampion, the project implementation team, and other related subject matter experts, and aims to help drive Deloitte China's innovation. We are part of Deloitte global innovation network.

About Singularity University

Singularity University was founded in 2009 by Dr. Peter H. Diamandis and Ray Kurzweil.  Singularity University is a non-profit organization that provides educational programs, innovative partnerships, and a startup accelerator to help individuals, businesses, institutions, investors, NGOs, and governments understand cutting-edge technologies, and utilize these technologies to positively impact billions of people.  Its mission is to "educate, inspire and empower leaders to apply exponential technologies to address humanity’s grand challenges.”  Chinamagination provides a unique way to drive investment opportunities for entrepreneurs and offers training to executives. Since 2010, we have helped grow Singularity University's presence in China. 

About HBR

HBR was founded in 1922, and is the signature publication of Harvard Business School. In its mission to improve business management practices, HBR has published 11 editions in 10 different languages worldwide. HBR entered China's market in 2002, and since July 2012, SEEC has served as the publications' partner, bringing cutting-edge and classic ideas in business management across all media, including magazines, books, APPs, social media, conferences, videos, and think tanks.

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