A Few Thoughts on Innovation… | KHWS

A Few Thoughts on Innovation…


I learned early of Watt’s wondrous spark.

While waiting one day for his kettle to boil, James Watt realised that the process of transforming water into high-energy vapour brought about by his log fire merited a higher purpose than fodder for his daily cuppa.  His creative juices were fired and, almost overnight, his invention of the steam engine sparked the tectonic shift that was the Industrial Revolution, resulting in the transformation of our world.

At the time, it must have looked like ‘job done’.

But, quite clearly, it wasn’t. Man’s ingenuity conjured up the internal combustion engine and enabled heavier than air machines to fly over the Kitty Hawk’s sands. Within the century aircrafts were exceeding the speed of sound on daily trans-Atlantic flights and enabling a great leap for mankind when Neil Armstrong stepped onto the moon.

And it didn’t stop there.

Technological innovation exploded on nearly every scientific and engineering front. Advances in medicine transformed lives. Homes and the workplace were re-energised by the emergence of Hoovers, washing machines, refrigeration, computing, nuclear power, television (and a slew of technologies too numerous to mention – but you get my meaning). The nature of work changed and leisure hours increased. The world shrunk suddenly as distant events like ‘that crazy old Asian war’ in Vietnam, were broadcast live in American homes in primetime while Jacques Cousteau dived deep and the world looked on to the soundtrack of MTV.

These innovations all represented huge new milestones. Each one was a very distinct and discrete event. Most spawned entire global industries providing employment for millions. It must have seemed that the wheel of innovation would never stop turning and that the next big thing was just around the corner.

I’m afraid it isn’t, at least I don’t think so. And if it is, it’s not really big.

The wheel has slowed, if not to a snail’s pace then at least to the ponderous grinding ‘whirl’ of the London Eye. There are no more giant new frontiers to amaze and astound. They’ve all been uncovered, unearthed and are now being made smaller, more efficient or less costly.

Don’t despair though, because innovation, like rust, never sleeps and the news isn’t all bad, particularly from a KHWS perspective.

Innovations in digital space continue, almost at the speed of Moore’s Law, enabled by the inclusion of nearly two billion transistors on Intel’s current generation of processors. The impact is visible all around us. Today, three billion people carry smartphones in their pockets; each one is more powerful than a room-sized supercomputer from the 1980s. Our clients’ customer base is equipped and programmed to receive. They can check out any time they like but they can never leave!

Couple this hardware with software innovations of the type that recently enabled AlphaGo to beat Lee Sedol at the ancient game of Go; hook into the ever-increasing capacity and efficiency of the cloud; use creativity and ingenuity to marshal advances in voice recognition, robotics and animatronics technologies into our clients’ offers and we/they will be on real winners.

KHWS lives, breathes and prospers in the digital world. Aren’t we very fortunate that the digital world is the new frontier of innovation? Collectively we must harness our pioneering spirit and ride together to the very prosperous future that lies just beyond that digital horizon.

Are you up for the challenge?