Global CIO: How 'Call Of Duty' Is Driving Global Innovation

The military-industrial complex is now the entertainment-industrial complex, writes Andy Kessler, and video games are turning global business upside-down.

Bob Evans, Contributor

January 3, 2011

4 Min Read

"Fifty years ago, President Eisenhower was worried enough to declare that 'We must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex.' No need to worry anymore. That game (pardon the pun) is over: Welcome to the entertainment-industrial complex.

"Consider the Apple iPhone, often touted as the tech symbol of our era. It's actually more evolutionary than revolutionary. Much of its technology—color LCD displays, low power usage, precision manufacturing—was perfected for hand-held video games like the Nintendo DS and Sony PSP, which sold in the tens of millions. Think about how much more productively workers are now able to communicate because of some silly games."

Now, I'm not suggesting that CIOs convert big swaths of their IT teams to full-time gamers; quite the opposite. Rather, the point is that in a world that is changing profoundly and rapidly, none of us can rely on the same-old same-old sources of new ideas, new perspectives, and new models.

Good grief: if video games are now driving global innovation and changing the ways that tens of millions of workers engage with the world, is your company in step with that megashift, trailing closely behind it, or totally unaware of it?

Is this just a detail question--"Are video games changing the world, or aren't they?"—or is there a much more fundamental dynamic at play here: how do you and your team think about and pursue innovation? What do you look for, and where do you look for it?

How are those ideas regarded within your organization—are there metrics for gauging the impact of new ideas, flexibility for giving them a fair shot, or laughter and derision for the goofballs who think that anyone will ever give up their trusted (translation: old) tools and give this new-fangled stuff a try?

As Kessler writes, "It's all about productivity. Last week, kids of all ages dropped everything to plug a $150 device called Kinect into their Microsoft Xbox 360 game consoles. Five million sold in the last two months. Kinect, which uses algorithms to recognize faces and gestures and respond to voice commands, allows Xbox players to use only their own movements, no controllers or button pushes needed.

"Sure, there are still some algorithms developed for, say, F-16 pilots' fire control. But without gaming, this technology would be expensive, one-off stuff that never sees much use. Much as keyboards and mice and fast graphics have driven corporate productivity for 40 years—killing carbon paper and Correcto Type—the next decades will be driven by tools that can harness voices and gestures."

Kessler's column is terrific, and even if you don't agree with all of his conclusions, it will get you thinking about what is changing, why it's changing, and what impact that's likely to have on your company and the way you work and interact with customers and prospects.

And it'll surely make you think in different ways about the questions that opened up this column, particularly this one: What sources of innovation will you bring to bear in 2011 to ensure that you can continue to deliver not only what your customers and prospects demand, but also what they want?

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To find out more about Bob Evans, please visit his page.

For more Global CIO perspectives, check out Global CIO,
or write to Bob at [email protected].

About the Author(s)

Bob Evans


Bob Evans is senior VP, communications, for Oracle Corp. He is a former InformationWeek editor.

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