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Review: Ninja Future by Gary Shapiro

How can innovators thrive in a disruptive future? The President of the Consumer Technology Association shares tips for success in a new book out this month.

As the much-missed playwright William Goldman once said, where it comes to predicting success, ‘Nobody Knows Anything’. And that certainly holds for technology as well as screenwriting. In fact, it holds for most things in life, but let’s stick with Tech for now.

Highlighting case studies from global brands, breakout innovators and startup companies, shapiro offers an inside look at the emerging technologies that are shaping our world Click To Tweet

One of the stories that Shapiro tells in his new book Ninja Future: Secrets to Success in the New World of Innovation (which Tech Trends got an advance peek at prior to its release at the end of the December) refers to the time he met Donald Rumsfeld – at the time when he was secretary of defence for George W. Bush – during a flight and got to talking about the difference between “known unknowns” and “unknown unknowns” and how they impacted a successful strategy.

In any kind of volatile environment successful people are not the ones who know the most about known factors, but those who can most quickly and dynamically adapt to new ones as they emerge Click To Tweet

I won’t spoil it for you, but the moral of the story here is essentially that in any kind of volatile environment – such as the constant sea of disruption that drives tech innovation – successful people are not the ones who know the most about known factors, but those who can most quickly and dynamically adapt to new ones as they emerge.

It covers a vast array of technologies and attempts to draw connections between them in a broader context, mainly centered on how they will impact the lives of ordinary consumers Click To Tweet

This is something that I have experienced over many years of working and reporting on tech, and fully agree with Shapiro on. In other matters, such as his approach to policy and data regulation, we differ quite considerably. For example, I believe GDPR is broadly a positive move and that Ninja companies will actually benefit from adapting their systems to comply with it rather than lazily and greedily scarifying privacy at the altar or “move fast and break things”. In fact, this is sentiment that has been recently echoed by the likes of Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, yet whatever your personal take on it, the book still provides a useful summary of current policy, and leaves room for the reader to make up their own mind on what the future will hold.

As the much-missed playwright William Goldman once said, where it comes to predicting success, ‘Nobody Knows Anything’ Click To Tweet

Ninja Future is the sequel to his previous bestselling book Ninja Innovation: The Ten Killer Strategies of the World’s Most Successful Businesses.

“This future will be marked by disruption. But the people and organizations who possess these qualities also view the challenges ahead as opportunities to generate a better future—a ninja future. In the midst of social, political, and physical upheaval, they will create progress. Growth. Integration. Diversity. Resilience.”

Inevitably, those who have more in-depth knowledge of certain technologies will find little new material about them here. A few pages are dedicated to the rise of Immersive Technologies and the role they will play in this Ninja Future for example, which is not nearly enough go into any sort of deep dive.

Shapiro’s combination of deep-dive analysis, access to the world’s leading innovators and years of industry expertise gives readers the confidence, creativity and clarity to thrive in the fast-approaching, high-tech future Click To Tweet

But that is, of course, not to the purpose of the book. It covers a vast array of technologies and attempts to draw connections between them in a broader context, mainly centered on how they will impact the lives of ordinary consumers.

It is an accessible and interesting read for those unfamiliar with how these often-intimidating technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Quantum Computing, Mixed Reality, Robotics, Internet of Things and Biometrics actually work, and offers concrete case studies and amusing anecdotes for those who are.

In over 30 years at the helm of CES Shapiro has seen the tech industry transform itself again and again, so he knows what it takes to succeed Click To Tweet

And those case studies come from the “belly of the beast” so to speak. For the past 30 years Shapiro has been in charge of the world’s largest and most famous consumer electronics show – CES which takes place every January in Las Vegas. Hi insights carry weight because they come from simple experience – seeing what works and what doesn’t, recognizing patterns, and embracing the fact that sometimes random luck also plays a part in that success.

“For business or government leaders to stay on the cutting-edge of their fields, they must adapt at lightning speed to evolving trends,” said Shapiro. “Ninja Future takes the key traits of ninja innovators from my first book and applies them to our global future. Ninja innovators will embrace the obstacles and opportunities thrown their way to usher in the ninja future and create value for their world.”

Tech Trends Gary Shapiro Ninja Future Innovation Disruption Technology
Ninja Future: Secrets to Success in the New World of Innovation will go on sale on December 31st, 2018 and is available now to pre-order on Amazon.

 

This future will be marked by disruption Click To Tweet

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Alice Bonasio is a VR Consultant and Tech Trends’ Editor in Chief. She also regularly writes for Fast Company, Ars Technica, Quartz, Wired and others. Connect with her on LinkedIn and follow @alicebonasio on Twitter.