Over at the highly addictive Quora, the question was asked "What will be the greatest invention of the next 10 years?"
Here is my answer from the site:
Personally, I think the greatest invention of the next 10 years will not be a technology at all. I think it will be the discovery and implementation of repeatable and predictable methods to do innovation as a business process.
Consider this. Microsoft has spent between 3 and 4 times as much as Apple on research and development (as a percentage of revenue) every year over the last decade. Much of that has been on core research, developing breakthroughs which have they have not successfully commercialised.
Apple, on the other hand, doesn't do breakthroughs, at least not the pure research ones that MS does. They are very good at commercialisation though.
It was impossible to miss the eventual effect of this when Apple passed MS in capitalisation this year.
What is it Apple does that Microsoft does not?
Creating a business system that can do what Apple can do will let all companies create profitable inventions more reliability. Personally, I also think that when we finally work out how to do it predictably, we'll also see a catalytic change from an information economy to an innovation economy.
In an innovation economy, value is created by how good you are at turning knowledge into profitable stuff. On the other hand, where we are now - the information economy - is where value is created by how much knowledge you control.
Information economies reminds me of the industrial age economies of the past - where instead of knowledge, value was created in proportion to how much physical resource you put your arms around.
It will be an amazing and exciting change, I think.