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Research Laboratory: Obsolete?

Technologies crisscross industries and travel incredibly fast.

What accounts for the decline in the number of major corporate research labs? The company-owned research laboratory was one of the nineteenth century’s most successful inventions. Now many research directors, as well as high-tech industrialists, tend to believe that such labs are becoming obsolete. Why? Technologies crisscross industries and travel incredibly fast, making few of them unique anymore. And increasingly, the knowledge needed in a given industry comes out of some totally different technology with which, very often, the people in the industry are quite unfamiliar. As a result, the big research labs of the past are becoming obsolete.

The research laboratory of the big telephone companies, the famous Bell Laboratories of the U.S., was for many decades the source of all major innovations in the telephone industry. But no one in that industry worked on fiberglass cables or had ever heard of them. They were developed by a glass company, Corning. Yet they have revolutionized communications worldwide.

ACTION POINT: Scan the environment for a technology developed in another industry that can help you now.

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* Source: The Daily Drucker by Peter F. Drucker

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