The combined value delivered by multiple emerging technologies is multiplicative.
The impact to business innovation and the transformative effect of a combination of emerging technologies is far more profound than that which a single technology can provide alone — we call this the combinatorial effect of emerging technologies.
We recently published a report (pdf) in which we assert that combining multiple emerging technologies can lead to unparalleled innovation and result in creating a significant digital advantage.
For example, in order to harness multiple emerging technologies, it is important that organizations start with the right question. It is not uncommon to hear business leaders ask, "How do I apply blockchain technology to our business?" This technology-led approach does not always elicit the most elegant solution. A better question would be, "How do we make our supply chain more nimble?"
Starting with the business problem will result in a holistic solution. Organizations need to look at a combination of options — blockchain, artificial intelligence (AI), robotic process automation (RPA), advanced analytics and several other emerging technologies will likely emerge as solutions.
Understanding the combinatorial effect of emerging technologies
In our experience, we discovered that certain emerging technology elements, such as data mining and machine learning, were clearly interrelated. Other technology elements seemed disjointed but, much like chemical elements, they could be combined to form new solutions with their own unique characteristics and applications. Our reference frame to understand the combined effect is the Periodic Table of Emerging Technologies, which contains mainstream, maturing and future emerging technology elements.
Based on your business imperatives, the application of emerging technologies within your organization may be concentrated outward, inward or perhaps even a combination of the two, resulting in new business models for your company.