Planes, Drones, Automobiles and The New Normal

Top of Mind

Planes, Drones, Automobiles and The New Normal

By Paula Bernier, Executive Editor, TMC  |  December 26, 2013

When I think about the year in review a few things really stick out for me. On a personal level, I think about all the good times I’ve had with my wonderful husband and child, all the successes and great experiences said child has had, and how I myself made it to the finish line in my first organized bike event. From a professional standpoint, I think about all the mergers and acquisitions we’ve seen recently (see related story), some of the hot trends like SDN and WebRTC (see other related story), and as well as the Jetsons-type concepts that are actually becoming reality during my lifetime.

The Amazon drone is the latest idea to knock me off my chair. It was a top story on the network news last night, and the video is captivating. Imagine ordering a softball mouth guard or the new bestseller and having it delivered to you by an unmanned flying machine.

That’s weird and wonderful – but also a little unsettling. I mean, if people have relatively easy access to flying machines that can deliver packages, can’t they also use those machines to invade our privacy in yet another way, or to arm them to launch attacks. It works for the military. (And don’t even get me started on 3D printers!)

I don’t mean to be a fear monger, but this kind of thing certainly gets you thinking. But, then, if we never invented and adopted anything just because it could potentially be put to use for negative purposes, it would be difficult to move forward on much of anything.

The package-delivery drone is just the latest in connected, unmanned transport. The other one that comes to mind is Google’s (News - Alert) driverless car. That – and other connected efforts by leading car brands and their partners – will be in the works for a while, both because of technical and regulatory reasons. But there is plenty of action in terms of connected car entertainment, safety and insurance-related efforts. Indeed, by 2022 there will be 1.8 billion automotive M2M connections.

Speaking of communications and transport, one of my favorite new developments this year include the ability to use my smartphone throughout the entire duration of my flight. I’m not too keen on the idea of airlines allowing passengers to gab on their phones during flights, however. That’s something we may see soon as well, since the Federal Communications Commission has given airlines the green light on that possibility.

Some of the other exciting new applications of connected technology include digital signs that can updated and controlled remotely, garbage cans that can monitored from afar to know when they need service, and even radios that can attach to trees in the Amazon Rainforest to track them if they’re removed from protected areas.

On a separate note, this was yet another year in which I was thankful to have a job – and a job that I love, no less. Not everyone has been so lucky.

I mention this in part as a segue to an interesting article I read recently by Gary Burnison, CEO at Korn/Ferry International. The piece was titled "2014: A New War for Talent,” and it talked about how there was rapid growth from the mid 1990s to 2007, followed by six years of global economic turmoil, and now, an age of slow growth but fast change.

This new environment, according to Burnison, calls for a new kind of leadership that is both mature and agile. By maturity, Burnison means someone who can manage things with grace in a highly complex situation. And by agility, he’s referring to a person who can figure things out even when the situation is entirely new or there’s no clear path to follow.

“Taken together, leadership maturity and agility is the best combination of factors to predict readiness to outperform in the new normal,” wrote Burnison. “Both can be measured fairly accurately, and benchmarked against leaders in the relevant industry and markets – critical considerations to ensure the pragmatic use of these factors in business. Most importantly, both can be developed over time, giving a clear line of sight to leaders focused on enhancing the ability of their teams to win in the new normal.”

Edited by Cassandra Tucker