Why would Google pay $3.2 billion for Nest, a thermostat and smoke alarm company? How did Rocket Fuel, Inc. rise 93% during its IPO? Could the cure for cancer – or specific cancers – be closer than we think with the development of companies such as Agios Pharmaceuticals? What are the business-world implications of ultra-multi-purpose liquid repellent, keyless smart locks, and the single most successful Kickstarter project in history (Rust-Oleum NeverWet, UniKey, and the Pebble watch, respectively)?
What we could do to answer these types of questions includes analyzing models to make predictions, inputting a bunch of numbers into complicated algorithms to come out with projected values and growth charts, or just going off of a hunch that perhaps this one specific project is different from the others, and perhaps that means something significant.
What we should do is make it some of our business. Learn about the technology itself. Then we can begin to contemplate trends and new developments with more clarity.
This is especially critical now that the internet has developed to make information on product technology accessible to the public. But to those who believe that the science behind leading-edge companies is none of your business, consider for a moment the implications of being engaged in the newest incoming ideas – knowledge is power. Just as we must learn to read, write, and interact with our world, we must also stay updated on the new technology constantly entering our lives to avoid becoming irrelevant. As Seth Godin says in Unleashing the Ideavirus, “if you know what’s news, if you know what’s the latest, hottest, most impactful new idea, it’s much easier to succeed. You can profit in the stock market, do better in politics, find breakthroughs in science, or programming or marketing… knowing is just as important as having.”
One idea at a time, we can familiarize ourselves with the newest developments of the technological world. And then as each day goes on, we’ll adjust our Nest thermostats, check our Pebble watches, grab our Unikeys, and spray Rust-Oleum Liquid Repellent on our clean suede shoes before stepping out into the mud. The difference is, now we’ll have the knowledge to look forwards.