My Process of Selecting Hot New Tech, and Why I Think 3D Printers Are Going to Be Big Later This Year
My Process for Picking Hot New Technology Trends
One of my primary focus areas as a technologist is tomorrow. Not the tomorrow that comes when the sun rises after the next sunset. Rather what is coming from a technology trends perspective. In that look ahead role, I try to identify macro trends and apply those trends to the market and technologies that are already in the wild.
I consider several things in my role. The potential speed of adoption and the potential impact of the new technology. Finally, what seems to be the most critical piece of what problem does it solve. Many times I tell people to wait on technology because it fails one of the three areas of impact.
The speed of adoption is critical; most of us have a technology price point. The faster the technology is adopted, the faster we get to the overall lower price point. That drives even faster adoption. Faster adoption drives the lower cost of technology further. The other thing that also drives the speed of overall price reduction is what I call unicorn technologies. I have to be fair and say Unicorns in the financial world are companies that get to a billion dollars in revenue quickly. In the future view of the technology world, a unicorn is a unique technology.
Unique technology can be bad. Apple is the only company that has the Lightning connector, but it isn’t bad because apple has a huge deployed base to make that technology cheaper, and while it remains unique, it isn’t an orphan. When we think about unique technologies or unicorns, what we worry about is technologies that become orphans.
Unicorns also apply to the second concept as well that of impact as new technology comes into the market. We have to consider the impact of that new technology. The Apple mentioned above Lightning connector changed every accessory that used the old 30 pin apple connector. That one change had a huge impact on the market. It created many orphan devices that didn’t have the revenue to retool and reenter the new market.
The 30 pin connector was wider, and without question could easily support the weight of the device when placed on external speakers and another function Add ons. The new lightning connector forced peripheral manufactorur3es to create a new device and a new way to support the weight of the device. The change was huge, and ultimately created a lot of orphaned peripherals in the Apple Market.
The last thing is what problem this technology is solving. This one is the easiest for me to see usually, but here is where we have to be very careful. For me, the importance of the transition by apple wasn’t the new connector; it was the new phone. I was willing first to give up the 30 pin connector, and then later give up the audio jack because I wanted a cellular phone with a faster processor. The problem I was seeking was a faster, more capable phone, so the connector issue didn’t impact my decision.
As you review the three components of my process, you see that if for me, the problem solved is significant or impacts me, it makes the last of the three things more important. I can tell you that over the years, I have ended up with many orphaned technologies that I use. Some of them I continue to use because they solve a specific problem for me.
why I think 3d printers are going to be hot later this year!
I introduced my process today to go through a new rather than an example. The Apple Lightning connector was an example of the problem solved being greater than the inconvenience of a new connector.
In the case today, I wanted to talk about the reality of 3d printers. Today, 3d printers don’t solve a significant problem most people have. Two years ago, at Thanksgiving, I printed 20 napkin holders for our guests to use during our Thanksgiving dinner. The significant problem and value proposition for 3d printers is the growing printed artificial limbs. 3d printers do well at printing the materials and the shape of a replacement human limb. But, you can’t go to an online store and buy a 1000 dollar 3d printer to print artificial limb parts. It requires a much more expensive printer.
If we use the original three parts, we see that the need isn’t huge (not a huge number of people need an artificial arm or leg). The cost remains high. But, that is a driver for one part of the industry. I believe 3d printers are going to become more and more prevalent over the next 36 months. The way that is going to happy fits my system perfectly
- There are already several 3d printers deployed. For the consumer market, the price point of 3d printers has come down.
- The new 3d printers, in particular, the printer from the company Snapmaker, does more than just print objects in plastic.
- The problem solved changed with the introduction of the Snapmaker 1.0 printer. You suddenly had a printer that could print plastic, carve wood, and did laser engraving.
I think the new 3d printers are going to be appearing in more and more homes. It is my hot technology for the end of 2020 and the beginning of 2021!
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2020 Doc Andersen