Tuesday, November 8, 2016

We live in exponential times

This is the first section of my presentation “Making money from the cloud”. You can find the full slides at:



The pace of technological change today is unprecedented. However, most fail to fully appreciate how fast indeed the world is changing around them. This means most don’t really understand the world in which they live.

We all get set in our ways and become comfortable with the familiar because we don’t like change, however the more we fail to embrace change the more obsolete we become. Success today is achieved by those willing to challenge themselves with the ‘uncomfortable’ for which the payoff is knowledge.

A thought provoking video on this topic is The Fourth Industrial Revolution created by the World Economic Forum. 

One of the key points made by the video is the following:

“Almost anyone will be able to invent new products and services cheaply and quickly”

The impact of that is going to be immense, in every industry. However, it is going to have the greatest impact on those who are locked into the status quo and the belief that they are immune from competition.


Most people and businesses today believe they reside in a linear world, in that if you do X, Y happens. Alternatively, if you wait X then the result will only have progressed Y ahead.

Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth. We live in exponential times where a change X results in YN difference, with N constantly increasing. Thus, the further you get along the horizontal axis X, the great the change in Y becomes, trending to vertical.

Thus, the longer you wait in an exponential world, the steeper the curve. The more energy you need to expend to simply keep up. However, the biggest challenge is simply the fact that many still have linear expectations and face an ever growing expectations gaps between where they believe they are and where the reality is.

A great quote which I think sums this up well comes from the former CEO of GE, Jack Welch:

“If the rate of change on the outside exceed the rate of change on the inside, the end is near”

The first challenge is therefore to accept that we live in exponentially changing times. The second challenge is then to actually adapt to that and do something to deal with this. One of the most common excuses hear today is that ‘things are moving so fast, we just can’t keep up’. Yup, welcome to the exponential world. Now show me what you are doing about it? Simply whining about the challenges doesn’t make them go away and every minute you waste doing this, the further things progress. Thus, execution is what matters here.

The greater you allow the gap between belief and reality to become, the greater the risk becomes when change is forced upon you. The longer you wait, the large you allow that gap to become, the more violent the change will be to the point that the chances of survival are minimal. In short, the bigger the gap, the greater the chance of an extinction event, a al Mr Welch.

Like most things however, there is an alternate way of looking at this. If you have an open mind set you’ll see nothing but opportunity. You’ll see that thanks to today’s exponential times you’ll need to invest a very small amount of resources to yield significant resources. The scale and speed you achieve with technology now is unprecedented. Tools such as Azure and Office 365 give ANYONE access to the same resources. They provide the ability to automate and scale beyond anything that was previously possible. The trick is that you can only see these opportunities if you have an open mindset!


Evidence of our exponential world is most evident through the technology we use. The above diagram show the rapid exponential decline in storage pricing with the rapid exponential increase in storage capacity (taken from http://www.go-rbcs.com/articles/the-increasing-pace-of-technology-advancement).

I’ll dig into some other major trends that we see happening in our business world today thanks to technology in upcoming articles, but it is important I feel to set the scene here about how we are living in an exponential world whether you like or not. The question is, as you can’t change your environment, how are you managing your response to it?

The rate of change will only continue to increase. The actions that you take right here and right now are what will determine your personal and business viability in the future. Grasp the opportunity or fade away. The choice is yours.