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Waves of Technology and Innovation

Published November 22, 2016

Julieta Ross, senior vice president and chief technology officer of M&T Bank, recently spoke with my Technology and Innovation course with UB’s School of Management. She is a seasoned corporate veteran, having worked in over 130 countries and is currently responsible for 1,500 employees.

If there was one major lesson to take from her speech, it was that creativity is the root of all innovation.

This ability to innovate and create has been the root of technological advances throughout history, leading us to three “waves” of technology: Semiconductors and Computing Architecture, the App Economy and Mobile Revolution and, finally, the Internet of Everything.

Ross explained how the use of silicone came into play, and also described its inherent limitations – it is a poor power dissipater. It was a product of the semiconductor and computing architecture wave, which lasted from 1975 to 1999.

My class learned that the cost of hardware is increasing bi-annually due to components becoming smaller. This applied particularly to the second wave of technology, the App Economy and Mobile Revolution – which began in the early 2000s and ended roughly in 2015.

When it comes to mobile technology and apps, Ross emphasized that you don’t have to be first, you just have to be the most customer-friendly. She cited examples of Facebook replacing My Space, Napster ending the reign of Tower Records and Netflix elminating the need for Blockbuster.

This has all led up to the Internet of Everything wave of technology, for which Ross explained is comprised of hyper-connectivity, where everyone and everything is connected.

But the Internet has done more than just take out the middleman; it’s also created new industries that make life more convenient. We’re on the advent of self-driving cars and can already see legislation being created for this new technology.

Ross ended her lecture with a question she hears consistently, how much money is needed for innovation? The answer is zero. She shared that you can’t put together a budget for someone to go to work and innovate; there has to be a need for creativity.

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