by Mike Susi, Radius Innovation and Development

First published on Radius Insights

CES’s opening keynote from Ford President and CEO, Jim Hackett, shows how the world has changed, how industries have been hugely disrupted, and how even the largest corporations must change the way they think about their offering, their responsibilities, and their customers.

We talk a lot about innovation and ideation of products, services, ecosystems, and even business models, but sometimes the disruption by technology can be so great that it changes the foundation of an industry or a company. Add to this the challenges of the megatrends that affect society and suddenly everything a business was built upon decades ago has changed beyond recognition.

Jim Hackett spoke eloquently and sincerely about how Ford was changing from a vehicle manufacturer to a mobility company. About how, while their original goal to democratize transportation was still relevant and at their core, they had re-evaluated how they will go about it. About how they have explored and developed solutions for smart cities that would revolutionize the way people live, play, travel, and work.

Ford was not alone in this, and the automotive industry is just one industry going through a complete digital transformation. Much of Gary Shapiro’s, CTA President and CEO, opening remarks today were about the opportunities that innovation provides and how it is disrupting industries as well as creating new ones. And with all of this innovation and change comes the responsibility to create a better world where people are safer, happier, included, valued and healthier.

Smart Cities provide a wonderful example of reinvention. IoT and AI offer us the ability to connect an entire city, while also considering how urban life might look and how people really want to live. It’s a new industry that brings automotive makers, tech giants, software providers, systems builder, principalities, and governments together to collaborate in the creation of a new vision of a city. They are reinventing the vision of what a city should be, along with the ecosystem that supports it, the vehicles that move around it, and the services provided in it. They are reinventing how people live!

Around half of us live in cities right now, up from one third in 1960, and that number is predicted to be two thirds by 2050. As global population increases, the likely number of city dwellers by 2050 will be north of 6 billion. Our current city model won’t work with that number of people as congestion, pollution, and safety problems will only get worse. Reinvention is the only way forward and that means the reinvention of many of the companies and business models currently active in the ecosystem.

CES, like the technology industry, is littered with examples of disruption and reinvention, and like Ford, many companies have the foresight and agility to become something new, something more relevant, something better to deliver life changing solutions that make the world a better place.

Embrace the revolution. Be the disruptor!