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Rainmakers: Literal and Figurative

November 2, 2012

On a recommendation from Shawn here at SNQ (thanks, Shawn!), I was checking out TIME’s Best Inventions of the Year 2012 (you can find it here: (http://techland.time.com/2012/11/01/best-inventions-of-the-year-2012/). I was expecting some obscure robotics that mimic human behavior, tiny telescopes capable of identifying extrasolar planets, take-out cartons that self-destruct after use (practical AND entertaining!). But what I actually came across in this article made my jaw drop.

While they certainly had robots (see Baxter, who can pack your suitcase for a measly $22,000), and things that blow up (the Switchblade Drone – a backpack-sized, remote controlled airplane with a tiny warhead), they also showcased gloves that can translate sign language into text and ensuing spoken word through a smart phone. They found an artist who has figured out how to make fluffy white clouds in the middle of a room (you have to see the photo on this one)! The Makerbot Replicator 2 can even take a computer design and morph it into a 3D model, by laying down super-thin layers of plastic that melt onto each other. It’s truly awe-inspiring that people can imagine beauty, functionality and structure, and transform those things into an existence outside themselves.

Human beings are set apart by our innate drive to create, the ambition to develop our reality in a way that promotes the betterment of ourselves and those around us. In September I participated in the Dreamforce Conference in San Francisco (a multi-day event for people that work in Salesforce, or for companies that use it), and I was inspired by the almost anthropomorphic way in which these huge companies were wrapping themselves around new technology, absorbing it, and then assimilating it into their structure. Huge entities like Coca-Cola, GE, Burberry, Rossignol, Deloite, and many others are devouring the constantly advancing technologies that Salesforce generates, and they are adding their own DNA to it to make it function like another natural limb.

It’s this sort of customizable, personal, tailored approach that will dominate in successful companies going forward. We live in a world of growth and unique advancement, and our technology needs to mimic those human qualities in order to resonate with people. Solutions need to be fluid and dynamic, and so do the people that create them.

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