Connecting to 2020
januari 2016

It's the time to present trends and outlines to 2020 and beyond. In any case it is obvious that technical innovation will continue to be critical to the networking industry. And in any case, it is complex. There are many forces that impact its evolution over time.


We have seen disruptions drive most of this change. Not the type that follows the traditional path of the "disruptive innovation" as we have witnessed the 1970-2010 era, but – as shown by Larry Downes and Paul Nunes in Harvard Business Review – in the shape of a Big Bang.

Unplanned and unintentional: "The innovators who create products at "hackathons" aren't even trying to disrupt your business. You're just collateral damage". Some students of the Delft University of Technology are a perfect example. They build an app to engage smartphones in a network. Autonomous and expanding virus-like. No network operator anymore.



In the age of Facebook Internet fads can infect the whole world in a matter of days. Proof provides the lightning fast introductions of Pandora, Spotify, Netflix, Skype, FaceTime, TripAdvisor, Amazon and many more. But it emanates far beyond information-based goods and services and stretches out to cars, food and networking.

My 'five cents' are that business-as-usual is riskier then investing in ways to transform the business with technology. Yesterday's business best practices were rooted in the organization. Today technology starts to drive business best practices. By 2020 technology capabilities will be ahead of these business best practices.

Frail predictions

In the eve of 2016 De Volkskrant journalist Maarten Keulemans dived in He looked for predictions in earlier days about 2015. Some predictions date back to 1915, others were more recent. Some were stunningly accurate. The result supports the conclusions of Philip Tetlock. He and his team researched 27.450 assessments of the future made by professionals. Most of these were – far – out of line. And predictions of experts were just as accurate as wild guesses. But there is hope. In 'Superforecasting' he shows that certain people can forecast certain events with accuracy much better than chance. His tell to the legions of researchers and professionals trying to predict is "act with humility".

Distrust the crystal ball! I feel comfortable with metaphor of Freija van Duijne, president of the Dutch Future Society.

Thinking about possible futures she refers to the noble game of chess. There are many variables defining the context of a move and its possible result. Designing different options strengthens your strategic skills. And that is helpful in facing every day's challenges.


Proper preparations

Key in your connection to 2020 is:

  • A careful examination of the business context of the rapid pace of technological development,
  • The design of different futures to be aware and prepared, and
  • The engineering of business processes and corporate governance to be able to response to threats and opportunities.


On the road to 2020 we will meet a lot of disruption in our industry. Keep on track by:

  • Investment in digital presence,
  • Consistent delivery of customer experience,
  • Digital transformation of the business,
  • Rapid response to non-traditional competitors,
  • Creation of insights-driven business models.

Prediction is difficult, but getting things right for the future is the thing to do. And learn to recognize the warning signs of the emergence of disruptors to find the space and time to act.

Author: Pieter van Hoogstraten

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