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NEW STUDY FROM CSC IDENTIFIES SIX 'DISRUPTIVE' TECHNOLOGY AREAS THAT WILL MAKE OR BREAK COMPANIES.

Think tanks call it "digital disruption" -- the arrival of a technology so radically superior that it has the potential to render entire industries obsolete. It's happened more in our lifetime than in any other period, as the vacuum tube, LP record and countless other technologies have been swept from homes and offices into museums. And the pace is accelerating, according to a new report from Computer Sciences Corporation (NYSE:CSC) entitled On the Edge: Exploring Next-Generation Digital Disruptions.

Plummeting prices and scientific advances will soon put increasingly powerful microchips into just about everything -- our phones, our clothes, our bodies and more. They will transform the way we are entertained, informed -- even healed -- says the report's author, Jim Skinner, Ph.D., of CSC.

"The companies who profit from and adapt successfully to such change will be the ones who saw it coming," says Skinner.

The report identifies six areas of technology fostering the most significant change.

The first is evolutionary computing advances. Computers continue to get smaller, faster and cheaper. Today's computers are 10 billion times more powerful than the first machines, and some are barely visible to the naked eye. "Smart Dust" refers to tiny devices, each about the size of a grain of sand, which contain sensors, processors, radios and power supplies. Once developed and cheap enough to deploy in large numbers, they can be scattered in the air to help monitor weather, determine the presence of chemical agents and even help protect personal property.

Evolutionary advances are accompanied by several revolutionary computing advances in miniaturization, speed and storage. Researchers in molecular-scale electronics are seeking to create computer components -- transistors, memory and wires -- from individual molecules. The core advantage is the potential to pack vastly more circuitry onto a microchip and do it cheaply. A molecular electronic device is 60,000 times smaller than the tiniest transistor.

"Miniaturization is a key driver in these disruptions," says Bill Koff, vice president and director of CSC's Leading Edge Forum (LEF), which sponsored the study. "Scientists have created video cameras small enough to swallow as a pill. The patient experiences no discomfort and the doctor obtains more accurate information from which to form a diagnosis."

Biotechnology is the third disruptive area. The use of high-performance computers has enabled researchers on the Human Genome Project to identify the 30,000 genes that determine our physical traits and many of our behaviors. This information will dramatically change drug development by eliminating much of the guesswork. Today, even with our increased knowledge of medicine, it takes an average of 10 years and $200 million to bring a new drug to market.

Intelligent systems and robotics are another area of tremendous growth. Scientists can now embed intelligence in everyday objects, while robotics enable intelligent systems to reach out and touch the world. After the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, robots were used for search and rescue efforts at the World Trade Center and to investigate anthrax letters. Last December, a robot opened a suspicious letter carrying enough anthrax to kill more than 100,000 people.

Progress is also taking place in the area of human-computer interfaces. Computers are becoming more intuitive -- they're able to tap into our senses and become part of our environment. Haptics, the science of touch, allows individuals to handle digital objects exactly as they would in the real world. "Haptics is invaluable in the development of prototypes as well as in the medical field," says Skinner. "For example, a doctor can practice medical procedures on virtual patients and actually feel resistance with each incision."

The sixth area is connections between people, objects and information. MIT's Project Oxygen is exploring how computers can help anticipate our needs and reduce tasks. For example, an individual attending a business meeting assumes the facility will have adequate lighting and, therefore, does not bring a flashlight. Project Oxygen seeks to do the same for computing. A computer network tracks your movement and allows you to connect to numerous appliances via verbal and non-verbal commands. Instead of manually reconfiguring your computer to print to a new device, you will merely say, "print to the nearest printer." Oxygen uses cameras, microphones, displays, sound output systems and radar systems to tap the human senses.

The report identifies six "drivers" behind these disruptions. In addition to miniaturization described above, the others include the interconnectedness of people and things; advances in biology; the acceleration of technology and business processes; the digitization of many products and services; and consumerization.

"Within the next five years, these disruptive technologies will cause fundamental changes in how corporations operate and people live their lives," says Koff. "To ride the wave rather than be crushed by it, companies must re-examine their vision, competitive landscape and strategies. The true leaders will weigh the trends individually and collectively and move quickly to adapt on all fronts. Those who 'wait and see' will be left behind."

On the Edge, available on the company's Web site ( www.csc.com ), sums up a year of research and interviews by CSC's Leading Edge Forum. The LEF, comprised of leading technologists, provides a CSC point of view on the technology marketplace and serves as a focal point for stimulating technology thought leadership, innovation and collaboration.

Computer Sciences Corporation, one of the world's leading consulting and information technology (IT) services firms, helps clients in industry and government achieve strategic and operational results through the use of technology. The company's success is based on its culture of working collaboratively with clients to develop innovative technology strategies and solutions that address specific business challenges.

Having guided clients through every major wave of change in information technology since 1959, CSC combines the newest technologies with its capabilities in consulting, systems design and integration, IT and business process outsourcing, applications software, and Web and application hosting to meet the individual needs of global corporations and organizations. With some 68,000 employees in locations worldwide, CSC had revenues of $11.3 billion for the 12 months ended Dec. 28, 2001.
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Copyright 2002, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Comment:NEW STUDY FROM CSC IDENTIFIES SIX 'DISRUPTIVE' TECHNOLOGY AREAS THAT WILL MAKE OR BREAK COMPANIES.
Publication:EDP Weekly's IT Monitor
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 13, 2002
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