Change at the speed of technology

Moore’s law is used to explain the exponential growth in computing power that has occurred over the last four decades. The Cray supercomputer in 1985 was the most advanced in the world, cost $35m, took up a whole room and required elaborate power supply and cooling systems. Today we have roughly the same power in an iPad.

Similar advances are seen elsewhere. In communications, the speed of change is accelerating. As the world becomes smaller in a virtual way, new ways to communicate spread and affect huge change over ever shorter periods of time. Historic, ground-breaking changes to how we communicate such as writing took centuries to take hold. More recently, the telephone brought enormous change within decades. Now we see major changes happening within a year or two. New services and technology can be adopted by millions of people across all continents in multiple languages within a short number of years or even months.

Technology is driving this trend. It is now available to millions of people in almost every country; the means to invent new things are more widespread and cheaper than ever, as are the spread them internationally.

Twitter went from a standing start in July 2006 to 50 million tweets per day in February 2010.

eDetailing has grown from nothing to almost universal use within a decade.

There are implications to this. Reacting to these changes becomes more and more difficult if you are forced to follow processes, policies and behaviours from the old business model. A model that assumes changes happen over decades, when in fact they are taking place over months.

We also need to be careful in assessing previous activities. We can’t take lessons from a campaign two years ago and assume they will be valid today. Mobile is more prevalent than before, for example, customers are increasingly going triple-screen and their use of social media is changing.

We can’t assume that cardiologists still use smartphones in the same way today as they did in 2010. We can’t assume that today’s eDetail will have the same impact next year. What raised their eyebrows yesterday will make them yawn tomorrow. While we have greater ways to attract their attention and gain their interest, the expectations are also greater.