The Rising Value of Information in Products and Services
An important shift has slowly gathered momentum over the past 100 years in the way technology proliferates through different aspects of our society. Historically, technology was developed by and for governments (often the military). In the industrial age, technology sometimes moved from government use to corporate use but sometimes technology was developed directly for businesses. Consumer use of technologies would typically happen only after government or business use. But today, technology is often being developed for personal use first and will then move back to industry or government.
An example of this scenario is a company that developed a product for backpackers that performs a simple function—utilizing the global positioning system (GPS) network to track the hiker's location while in the woods in case (in an emergency) the hiker requires rescue. The technology on which this innovation depends, the GPS network, is an example of the old model—commercialization of a military infrastructure for civilian use. But now the innovation of the pocket device is going the other direction—companies that operate in dangerous remote locations have discovered that they can use this continuous location-reporting device in order to keep track of (and rescue if necessary) their employees. A consumer innovation is being embraced by industry.
This is happening because of a simple economic principle ...