Glimpses of the future

“We tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the short run and underestimate the effect in the long run.”  This ‘law of technology’ keeps getting validated not because we do not understand how technology works in the near term but because we simply cannot imagine the future. 

Great innovations have impacts that are measured not in years but in decades, not in numbers but in how they the change the world. Whether it is our parents’ generation, ourselves or the next generation, it helps to recall that just in the course of the last century, cars, airplanes, computers and the internet have changed our way of working and of living in ways that we could not have anticipated. 

Every once in while we get a glimpse of what the future may hold. As long-term investors we want to be as open, attentive and humble as we can because it is through these glimpses that we have sight of great opportunities, even if we can only begin to fathom their impact and potential.  Recognizing those opportunities and finding ways to invest in them is our greatest challenge and potential. 

Blockchain, whether through digital currencies or other applications, is a new technology that has the prospect of achieving such an impact.  We think that blockchain for supply chain could provide the companies we invest in with unprecedented opportunities for efficiency and profitability.  Like with SAP we ask them constantly how they are integrating blockchain into their businesses and like with SAP we expect that we expect that we will not see the benefits for many years.  It took Nestlé 15 years to implement Project Globe, the rollout of SAP and we have only begun to see the benefits in capital allocation, investment, growth and profitability. We have written about it and had a highly insightful symposium about it with our friend Bettina Warburg last year.  We still do not yet know how or when blockchain for supply chain will have an impact, but we are asking the questions now.

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