Google and other wonders, from 100 years ago

Google executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, has some cogent things to say in this McKinsey Quarterly interview about business culture, technology, and social issues.  His voice is just one in seven billion of course, but the fact he has so successfully grown the world’s premier Internet company in only the last decade means we might want to listen a little closer to what he has to say.  Some of that is:

  • Most businesses don’t disappear; they transform, morph, or age.  The question is how they will change to adopt real-time telemetry (automatic transmission and measurement of data).  Technologies, however, do disappear.  Think of pagers and (arguably) watches.
  • Businesses should make sure their management never hires their friends.  Interestingly and counter-intuitively, at least to me, he learned this from the two young Google founders.
  • Consensus without discord is likely not a true consensus.  If you have discord only, then you have a university.  For business, you need discord plus a deadline in order to arrive at what is likely a true consensus.
  • The acceleration of cloud computing is seeing the top technical people building the most powerful applications on mobile platforms first.  It’s a big shift that is rapidly destroying some business models.  Media is an example of one that has already been disrupted by this.
  • There is so much data available now (due to telemetry) that we have the basis for such things as instant language translation (speak into a phone in one language and it comes out in another language on the other side), and uniquely built designer drugs (drugs manufactured just for me based on my physiology and specific condition as opposed to drugs for me based on a profile that I happen to fit along with millions of other people).

My regular readers understand by now that I like to describe what I’ve seen, read, or heard and add my own thoughts or interpretations.  I won’t dispute anything I heard in that short Schmidt interview.  In fact, it all sounds completely plausible.  What I will say is that when I hear people like Eric Schmidt talk, my mind goes to my late father and how he would have marveled at the world today.  He was a guy born in the time of horse and buggy, Teddy Roosevelt, and Wilfrid Laurier.  Henry Ford had yet to develop the concept of the assembly line.  A depression, two world wars, many regional conflicts, and personal hardship  failed to dampen his interest and enthusiasm for life.  Next year would have been his one hundredth birthday.  If he was alive, he would have declined the drugs as he always did but he certainly would’ve been eager to call someone overseas to have a conversation, thrilled to know that each party could speak comfortably and fully in their own language.

About Peter Armaly
I get jazzed by automation, big data, and blockchain tech. Business, technology, and fitness are things I understand. Scotch, wine, food, and fiction are things I appreciate.

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