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October 10, 2003
Mental health is the ultimate competitive weapon. Mental health underpins the development of intellectual capital and competitive advantage. It anchors the capacity of employees, managers and executives to think, use ideas, be creative and be productive. Like never before, businesses depend upon the consistent, sustainable mental performance of their employees.
By enabling a higher level of productivity, neurotechnology represents the next form of competitive advantage beyond information technology. I call this neurocompetitive advantage. As I mentioned recently, innovation is one ubiquitous organizational process that will be impacted. Just as workers today leverage information technologies for competitive purposes, workers in the neurotechnology wave (2010-2060) will turn to neuroceuticals to enhance their competitive performance.
As Randall Parker surmises, financial organizations will be the first to leverage neuroceuticals to boost productivity. He is right on target. In her seminal work, Technological Revolutions and Financial Capital, Carlota Perez details how financial institutions have been at the forefront of adopting, testing and disseminating the latest cluster of technologies that have driven each of the previous five techno-economic waves. This goes all the way back to the water mechanization wave (1770-1820) where banks were among the first organizations to extensively use the penny post.
As more people live longer and global competition intensifies, many people will turn to regulated neuroceuticals as the next set of tools they will adopt to help them survive and succeed. Using cogniceuticals to increase memory retention, emoticeuticals to decrease stress and sensoceuticals to add a meaningful pleasure gradient, neuroceuticals will allow people to compete without being constrained by their neurochemistry.
An important point: the type of effective neuroceuticals to which I am referring are still at least 10 years away as we still need to break the brain imaging bottleneck and develop inexpensive biochips for DNA, RNA and protein analysis. Only then will neurotechnology have matured enough to begin influencing all parts of society.
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