My books, while overwhelmingly about innovation case studies, have a few chapters on elements of the economy which are not keeping up with rapid changes in technology. In my recent book, I highlighted how regulators and analysts are lagging.
I have attached excerpts from the analyst chapter below, but some of the examples I included are
a) The 2010 Amazon shareholder letter started with “Random forests, naıve Bayesian estimators, RESTful services, gossip protocols, eventual consistency, data sharding, antientropy, Byzantine quorum, erasure coding, vector clocks . .” and I ask “How many Wall Street analysts can relate to the language that (CEO Jeff) Bezos used?”
b) Ditto for when “Mark Little, Senior Vice President of GE Global Research, uses terms like Biomimetics in presentations to financial analysts. That refers to the discipline of science mimicking nature, as in GE drawing innovative inspiration for moisture repellants from the lotus leaf.”
c) Search the Gartner database for 3M and you get very few hits. “In Chapter 18 we saw3M has products in 46 different technology platforms. Gartner is the largest technology research firm. What gives?”
d) Ditto for “As we saw in the UPS case study in Chapter 1, its CEO tells investors “we’re about half a transportation company, half a technology company.”” UPS drivers have had tablet like devices since the 90s.
Analysts tend to focus on vendor clusters, either established like ERP or trendy ones, like “Big Data”. Innovative users don’t wait for the categories to be given a catchy name or for vendor volumes to reach critical mass. Union Pacific has mined for a decade data from billions of sensor messages for predictive maintenance.
Technology which requires chemists, biologists and many engineering branches don’t tend to get much more analyst coverage. Silicon Valley companies get more attention than those in Munich or Minneapolis. Entities like Amazon or Ford are considered retailers or auto companies not technology companies. Multi-product companies like GE and 3M baffle internal analyst silos. The smaller, focused analyst firms (that my chapter is nicer to) tend to focus their limited bandwidth on gimmicky categories like Enterprise 2.0.
The problem is innovative users of technology are not outliers. They are reshaping many industry sectors and validating many technologies ahead of being categorized into analyst quadrants and waves.