Sunday, April 24, 2016

Technology readiness vs Market acceptance

Technology changes the way we live and the way we do things. It is the need or curiosity which results in innovation, new products and technologies but they may not always be readily accepted by the end market. There are few winners for which market was waiting so in no time they get into mainstream and many others have to wait for their time while the rest will be left out and forgotten. Economics of adopting new technology should make sense for the new innovation to live on.

Few success stories:

For example, agriculture was dominated by cattle farming few decades ago but now the use of Tractors and the related farm equipment has reached the most interior rural regions. There was a need for higher farm output with finite labor force available so the tractors have become a necessity.

Similarly, in the construction sector, labors carrying loads on their head is being reduced and replaced with the use of equipment. Thanks to these earth movers, they do what is impossible for human hands. Advances in the construction technology are being adopted seamlessly as the market was waiting for it

Few struggling technologies:
PV Solar seemed to be a godsend technology to meet the energy deficits. Though technology is maturing and there are many product offerings available, it is not replacing the existing sources of energy generation. Reason is the costs are high. Take out the Govt. subsidies, PV solar does not look attractive and for few projects it is not economically feasible. So despite attracting lots of attention, it is not getting into mainstream. In other words market is not ready for it. It has to wait for its time to come.

New technologies testing water soon:

After the computerization and internet revolutions, the IT industry is getting ready for the new wave of technologies such as Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence helping to produce robots which are capable of doing most of mechanical things that humans do. There are driver-less cars, drones to transport goods or deliver pizza and lots of efforts are done in improving the battery technology to store significant energy for longer periods. Take a look at this video in which a Robot regains its position after being kicked and continues do its job. It is a cool thing to watch.

So will be driver less cars, technology will soon make it happen. But the question is whether market is ready for it? The success of these products depends on at what price they would become available, how many could afford it and what problems they solve to score over existing arrangements? There is a huge income-wealth gap across the world and within the countries too. In many Asian countries, hiring a driver would be cheaper to owning a driver less car. Similarly the smart robots may not be economically feasible to replace human labors for many years to come.

Though technology makes it possible, costs can become a barrier and these innovations may have to wait for longer periods to become viable and get adopted by the larger market. Until then, they might remain as fashion toys for the ultra-rich.