by Alan Rencher
I remember as a young man thinking about all of the amazing possibilities that would be around when I was an adult. I remember the prognostications about flying cars, self-driving cars and of course the "Mr. Fusion" portable nuclear reactor from Back to the Future. At that time in my life I really believed that anything was possible. Looking back on the 1980s and some of the predictions and futuristic thinking taking place at that time, some of our expectations for the future were a little strange. Some were right where they should have been. Remember the kids cartoon Inspector Gadget? For the younger readers, let me give you a brief synopsis. He was a hapless crimefighter who had robotic arms, gadgets and other things that he could do. He would say things like "Go, Go Gadget hair dryer" and a robotic arm wit ha hair dryer would come out of his hat and dry off his hands. His car would "transform" from a police van to a submarine and things like that. His niece "Penny" and her dog "Brain" were typically the figures behind the scenes making things happen and solving the actual crime or mystery. Inspector Gadget 's nemesis was a shadowy figured called "Dr. Claw" the leader of a sinister criminal syndicate called "MAD". In this cartoon, "Penny" and her dog had all kinds of really cool gadgets they would use to fight crime. Penny and her dog had "video watches" and headsets that allowed them to talk without any wires and of course, who could forget Penny's "computer book". This book could solve difficult problems, compute complex physics questions and could control all manner of other electronic devices and other things. These devices seemed almost whimsical and unrealistic to many at the time of the cartoon in the early 1980s.
All of these devices exist today and really are not that surprising to anyone, in fact, many wonder why they took us so long to bring to market. The level of innovation is accelerating. Companies are bringing technology to market faster and connectivity and processing power is starting to appear in everyday items that are becoming more and more mundane. The recent IoT or "internet of things" buzzwords are becoming more and more part of our everyday life. Sensors and data creation points are creeping into more and more aspects of our personal and professional lives. At this point, nearly anything is possible with technology, the science fiction ideas of yesteryear are science and technology reality today. Are you and your business ready? Do you understand and comprehend how you and your company need to take advantage of these digital assets and technologies to further market to and engage your customers and users? Do you have a plan to do this?