In the spirit of gathering year-end predictions, last week the venerable Financial Times did a whip around of a few technology and innovation analysts (including Rob Gear of the UK's PA Consulting, whom I've had the pleasure of eating curry and bowling with in Brick Lane—another story for another time). The goal was to gauge the group's opinion on the Next Big Thing, that ephemeral creature which futurists, forecasters and trendspotters of all stripes are often ask to point out to journalists who wait with baited breath as they prepare the killer trend article.
Unsurprisingly, the group had diverse and nuanced opinions of what comes next, what we should all be on the outlook for. And being good pattern collectors, most painted a picture not of one NBT, but of its, or their, probable behaviors. The NBT may be changing behaviors, or expectations, maybe a group of disruptions instead of a monolithic gamechanger, or, as Kishore Swaminathan of Accenture puts it, the NBT is scale, by which he means exponential, probably rapid growth.
I blog this because I agree about scale, but not the same "end" of the scale. One of the core premises of our focus on the emergence of the BoPNet is that it is about utility and often about incremental change—about making small but useful things happen. And if the BoPNet is where the next important wave of change is happening, then the NBT is Small. Small functions, enabled. Small transactions, facilitated. Many, many small points of data collected and used in a meaningful way. Small actions that add up to big ones. Because of its scale and development within constraints, small is what HAS to happen, though by happening many, many times over in many parts of the developing world, small, a billion times, is in fact big. But big isn't the essence, it's small.