Exponential Technology and Innovation

Deloitte Insights

From exponential technologies to exponential innovation

Report 2 in the 2013 Shift Index series

Exponential improvement in the cost-performance of core digital technologies is fueling unprecedented, exponential innovation. Exponential innovations built on the core digital building blocks—computing power, storage, and bandwidth—are rapidly moving across boundaries, causing traditional definitions to blur and blend. The changes wrought by exponential innovation offer new opportunities even as they increase the pressure on companies.

Read the 2013 Shift Index Series Foreword by Steve Denning.

Executive summary: From exponential technologies to exponential innovation

The cost-performance of three core digital technology building blocks—computing power, storage, and bandwidth—has been improving at an exponential rate for many years. As the rate of improvement accelerates, we are experiencing rapid advances in the innovations built on top of these “exponential” technologies. The current pace of technological advance is unprecedented and shows no signs of stabilizing.
These rapid advances have the power to disrupt industries. The disruptive potential is amplified when these technologies interact and combine in innovative ways. It is further amplified when technologies coalesce into open platforms and ecosystems. These reduce the investment and lead time required to drive the next wave of innovation into markets by enabling people and technologies to rapidly build on previous waves of innovation.
Exponential innovations are rapidly moving across boundaries, causing traditional definitions to blur and blend. They are combining with entirely new categories of technology such as molecular biology and materials science, enabling advances and causing disruptions across an ever-expanding range of industries, functions, and disciplines.
These changes are increasing the performance pressure on companies. Yet the same platforms and ecosystems that amplify exponential innovations can also help institutions and individuals connect with each other, empowering them to combine technologies, practices, and business models in interesting ways to create a seemingly endless array of new products, services, businesses, and new technologies.

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