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Journey to the New Dimension
The resolute procession of new and advanced technologies and materials marches forward, unfolding an array of modernized manufacturing concepts on a variety of fronts. Many of these new, emerging concepts have and will continue to alter the business landscape of dental technology; others will fade as their usefulness wanes or is tested and fails. Regardless, each advance significantly transforms and disrupts how this industry approaches the fabrication of the core products it manufactures, and challenges businesses to build value into the products produced. If the past 10 years have demonstrated how quickly an industry can reinvent, the next decade will test its resilience as further developments continue to gather momentum and the option not to follow the path of innovation quickly disappears—if it is not already gone.
For the early adopters, staying abreast of new developments and making an investment was a fairly uncomplicated matter. There were few choices on the market and the business models were more straightforward. Ten years later, the landscape is lush with options, making business decisions far more critical and business models significantly more complex. And with each new advance comes the suspicion that the next innovation on the horizon will render the current technology obsolete.
Dentistry has just begun its journey on the tangled path of transition. Expect even more profound and fundamental changes to the structure of the industry as it adjusts and readjusts to the forces pushing it to its next destination. For those carefully watching and following what is unfolding, it is important not to get caught up and overestimate the short-term impact of change and think the destination has been reached. Rather understand that even though the effects of changes seen today are far reaching, they are merely a foreshadowing of even longer-term evolution dawning on the horizon.
Remaining relevant and competitive in the new dimension will require a further shift in thinking as product lifecycles continue to shorten, advances in communication and digital connectivity constrict the timeline between diagnosis and expected end product, and on-demand manufacturing threatens the status quo.
We are not there yet. But we are moving in that direction. Keeping a sharp eye on shifts within the global industry and having the flexibility to successfully adapt and reconfigure to those changes will be paramount for the industry to successfully transition and meet the manufacturing demands of the next generation.