Should Hospitality stop thinking linear

The Law of Accelerating Return

Innovation and especially technology follows a predictable path. Importantly, this isn’t linear (1,2,3,4) but exponential (1,2,4,97). It’s not so different at the beginning but as it increases it grows in power.

Innovation will continue to grow, in ten years time it will all be incredibly different to today. Whether in medicine, businesses or indeed hospitality, it will all transform.

If we take medicine and life as an example; 10,000 years ago life expectancy was 23, 200 years ago it was 37 and today in the UK:

  • Men can expect to live for a further 19 years at age 65, 12 years at 75, 6 years at 85 and 3 years at 95
  • Women can expect to live for a further 21 years at age 65, 13 years at 75, 7 years at 85, and 3 years at 95

It is all accelerating at quite a pace and there are some out there who predict what will happen next and how the world will look. One of the best examples if Ray Kurzweil: Ray Kurzweil, the American author, computer scientist, inventor and futurist’s Law of Accelerating Return:

“An analysis of the history of technology shows that technological change is exponential, contrary to the common-sense “intuitive linear” view. So we won’t experience 100 years of progress in the 21st century — it will be more like 20,000 years of progress (at today’s rate). The “returns,” such as chip speed and cost-effectiveness, also increase exponentially. There’s even exponential growth in the rate of exponential growth. Within a few decades, machine intelligence will surpass human intelligence, leading to The Singularity — technological change so rapid and profound it represents a rupture in the fabric of human history. The implications include the merger of biological and nonbiological intelligence, immortal software-based humans, and ultra-high levels of intelligence that expand outward in the universe at the speed of light.”

Despite this speeds of change we are, as an industry, not prepared for the future. The sector does think linear and we believe this pace will suffice for a successful future. However if an entrepreneur and new idea is moving exponentially, it will not work correctly with a business which is slow and anti-agile.

Innovation and especially technology will impact products and services we do not think of as being digital. It will affect parts of the hospitality sector we are so confident we never change. It may even help us work out solutions to our growing problems – whether employee retention or the rise of stress on mental health.

Maybe it’s time to stop thinking linear and try going starting at 1 and moving to 37, 121, 2457?