Digital is more than an overarching phenomenon that transforms the economic and social fabric of society. It also forms the underlying foundation for new technologies to emerge and flourish – technologies that assume a digital societal infrastructure for the technology to be useful and fulfill its potential. This infrastructure combines digital data, ubiquitous connectivity, inexpensive computing, and ample storage to provide a rich framework for technologies to emerge. Further, since technologies are built on prior ones, a larger bin of available technologies will only accelerate the emergence of more technologies. In this case, since digital technologies work on a common foundation and a set of common principles, we can expect technologies that are born with the capability to work easily with its other new digital technology siblings. We already see emerging technologies that all thrive on digital emerge and grow at the same time – blockchain and AI are cases in point.
In such a world of numerous emerging technologies that feed off each other, isolated investments in specific technologies will not maximize their potential. Organizations that can combine different emerging technologies and trends to unlock new value will benefit the most. Gartner sees startups that do not have the baggage of the legacy systems and processes combine multiple technologies and trends already.
To address this phenomenon for enterprises and vendors, we recently published a note “Seize the Technology Advantage With Combinatorial Digital Innovation” (behind paywall), where we speak to what this implies for organizations. Gartner defines combinatorial digital innovation as “the practice of using components of different digital technologies and trends together to uncover new or better value”. Our research shows that there are few techniques for assimilating combinatorial digital innovation. The three key ones are about combining technologies for business benefits, clustering them for new value and finding complementing opportunities.
This research is part of a Gartner Fellows initiative on “Future of Organizations”. We would love to hear from you on how your organizations are addressing the emergence of digital technologies in parallel. Have you started to invest in them together? What does that imply for how you choose investments and the skills to do this effectively?