On March 6, 2008, Apple released its iOS SDK to developers.

And that changed everything.

Since that day ? just a mere 4 years ago ? over 600,000 apps have been created for the iOS store. 200 million iPhones sold, with about 75,000 sold every day. 60 million iPads sold in 1 year. 25 billion apps downloaded.

Stop for a second and think about that number. 25 billion apps downloaded since the launch of the iOS SDK 4 years ago. There are just under 7 billion humans on earth. That means that about 3.5 apps per person on the PLANET have been sold through the iOS store. No wonder Apple is now the most valuable technology company in the world. And they did this with an innovative product that is merely a 5-year-old toddler! In 1997, Apple was written off by nearly everyone. And now look at them. Pretty incredible.

Since the iPhone, Google followed suit, with its own Android OS, SDK, and similar app store. Can you imagine life today without these devices? I can?t. And the best is yet to come. Someday soon, sooner than you can even imagine, nearly everyone will have one of these incredible machines in their pocket. They will become as ubiquitous as your wallet. In fact, they will BE your wallet. It?s not a stretch. Its just around the corner. Maybe a year out.

Think about it: these machines are already your camera, your email and text messaging system, your phone, your video conferencing system, your entertainment device, your maps and navigation system, your restaurant reservation booking system, your yellow pages, your personal music streaming service, your bookstore, your travel agent…You name it, it does it (or will do it soon). Your smartphone will very soon also be your ATM and your credit cards too.

Don?t believe this? Take a look at the graphs below.

connected-devices-growth
Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/the-future-of-mobile-deck-2012-3

Now contrast this to the industry that I work in: the environmental consulting industry. It?s a relatively small, niche industry, which at one time in the early 90?s was an amazing place to be. Innovation was everywhere. New assessment and remediation technologies were popping up all the time. Nasty sites were being cleaned up quickly all over the country. News media outlets talked about the latest environmental trends and issues. It was a vibrant, exciting place to be, where you felt that you were truly making a lasting impact to society and the environment.

Not so much anymore. The environmental consulting industry has matured to become a staid place where innovation is extremely slow at best and almost frowned upon at worst. For most people in this industry today, it?s merely a job that pays the bills. It?s not a passion anymore. It?s just more of the same. And I believe that this is partly due to the increasing age of the environmental consultant.

Fewer young people with fresh ideas are entering this industry, and as such, the typical consultant today is older than the typical consultant from the 90?s. In fact, some of the same minds that started working in this industry in the 90?s (including yours truly) are still here. With a more mature workforce, mindsets are less open to innovation and change. Instead of thinking that bold actions are needed to shake things up, consultants today fear that those very same bold actions might indeed shake things up and put them out of a job. Thus, potentially disruptive innovations are ridiculed in an effort to maintain the status quo.

And that?s why, out of those 600,000 apps in the iOS store, only a mere handful are environmental consulting industry apps.

It shouldn?t be that way. At Terraine, we are doing our part to disrupt the status quo, despite the naysayers. We are building apps that question practices that have been the same for decades. For example, we built a product called ezCoC, which is a bold attempt to connect Laboratory Information Management Systems (LIMS) directly to field techs filling out those really silly paper chain-of-custody forms.In today?s world, with smartphones in 43% of the population?s pocket, why are we still filling out paper chain-of-custody forms, which then require labs to manually re-enter that same information again into the LIMS ? typos and all ? AFTER the samples arrive at the lab? Why not insert that data, in digital format, automatically into the LIMS via an API, the day BEFORE the shipment arrives? Wouldn?t this simple concept save the labs a ton of money, which could then be passed on to consultants in analytical method rate reductions? ezCoC iPhone App Home
ezCoC iPhone App

Another product we are building is a SaaS product called SF330Pro, which will be used for preparation of complex proposals in the Standard Form 330 format for Federal solicitations. Our industry STILL uses Word and Excel for this task. If you?ve ever had to stitch together individual resumes or project descriptions from multiple companies into a single Word document, you know that this task is mind-numbing and frustrating. Trying to align boxes, lines, columns, and proper page breaks using multiple Word files is enough to pull all your hair out. So why hasn?t anyone built something better for this time-intensive task? I?m not really sure, but we are going to try to change this by building a really cool and useful app for it. More to come on SF330Pro this summer.

SF330Pro_UI

Example of SF330Pro User Interface

If we as an industry are going to move forward with the times and with new technologies that are capable of improving our work lives in so many ways, we need to be more willing to disrupt the status quo and also be willing to be disrupted in the process. The unknown is a scary place, but what is even more scary to me is knowing that I know less than my replacements entering the workforce.

I don?t want to be on the wrong side of history, like that person who thought that the horse and buggy business was ?doing just fine, thank you very much? because those horseless carriages were too unreliable, loud, and smelly.

What about you? What side of history will you be on?

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