In Business Model, Mobile

I learned early in my career making forecasts that it is better to conservative in the early going. Consider that an application of the maxim that humans tend to overestimate near-term impact of any technology and underestimate the long-term impact.

“We tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the short run and underestimate the effect in the long run” is one way of stating the principle. So is “We always overestimate the change that will occur in the short term and underestimate the change that will occur in the long term.”

Or, “People overestimate what can be done in one year, and underestimate what can be done in ten.” All three statements capture the wisdom of how significant new technologies create change.

There is a bit of business wisdom that argues we overestimate what can be done near term, but underestimate the long term impact of important technologies or trends. The reason is that so many trends are an S curve or Sigmoid function.

Complex system learning curves are especially likely to be characterized by the sigmoid function, since complex systems require that many different processes, actions, habits,  infrastructure and incentives be aligned before an innovation can provide clear benefit. 

source: Rocrastination

Also, keep in mind that perhaps 70 percent of change efforts fail, the Journal of Change Management has estimated. We might then modify our rules of thumb further, along the lines of “even as 70 percent of innovations fail, we will see less change than we expect in one year and more change than we expect in 10 years.”

At least in part, technological impact increases over time for reasons of diffusion (what percentage of people use the technology regularly) as well as enculturation (it takes time for people and organizations to figure out how to best use a new technology).

Impact arguably also increases as the ecosystem grows more powerful, allowing many more things to be done with the core technology.

So, applied to 5G, the metaverse, Web3, augmented or virtual reality, blockchain or just about anything else, we will see less early impact than expected, but far more long-term change than we presently imagine.

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