We are facing an unheralded digital future. Emerging technology has had a profound effect on business and promises even more staggering transformation. It will hugely impact all areas of life and society and businesses will be required to keep up the pace and adapt to new ways of thinking and performing.
But with so much out there and so much more piloted for the future, what do we need to prepare for to survive and thrive in the disrupted world?
In order to demystify the terminology, I have listed the major areas of advancement and what they mean at the bottom of this blog (please feel free to check out the terms before reading!).
From flying cars to robotic humanoids – the future can seem like an episode of a sci-fi TV drama, but the big question remains how will technology affect business in the future?
Technological advances such as AI and robotics are not without controversy. The clarion call for regulation will inevitably get louder. Dystopian predictions aside, the future is far from an episode of Black Mirror. And there are some big areas where we can expect to see huge changes.
How we interact with customers will vastly improve
AI will improve service by providing a much deeper understanding of customers and markets. This – in turn – will have a big impact on how we interact with customers.
Many companies take a one-to-many approach. In the future AI will allow us to deliver unique experiences for every single person and create true one-to-one customer relationships.
AI technology can reduce admin tasks and automate aspects of existing infrastructures, take the City of London for example. Humans are therefore able to focus on engaging with customers. Contrary to the fears espoused by some, technology is not about replacing humans. Customers will continue to crave and require human interaction, but technology can certainly optimise and improve that process.
Data will be a greater commodity than ever
New technologies provide an unprecedented amount of access to data. How that is used and commercialised will become a critical part of the narrative. We can expect to see a rise in personal data value platforms. There may be a shift towards looking at ways people can be incentivised – through a product or service – for agreeing to share their data. Certainly, there will be a further tightening up of this area. This is where blockchain could come in, empowering everyone online to control who accesses their data. This democratisation could significantly shift the power away from the large tech companies. The creation of blockchain-based personal data stores mean that users can own and maintain their own data, granting access and enabling it to be used, shared or deleted as they see fit based on market prices and conditions for use.
People and workforces will play a critical role in the transformation
A significant element of technology disruption relates to the workforce and how companies build culture. Technology can be used to enhance our engagements and interactions with other humans internally. It can support communication by making information easily accessible for everyone, which is hugely empowering for the workforce. It moves us away from traditional corporate structures built to command and control and facilitates transparent cultures where people can thrive and develop. Technology will be an enabler of increasingly decentralised workforces, creating global talent pools and opportunities.
So what next?
Reject conventional ways of thinking, including some of the traditional notions of what the future represents.
Learn – large corporations and even smaller businesses need to be in a constant stage of learning. And how that learning is brought back into the business is critical. Re-frame failure as learning!
Experiment – we need to stop only doing things that guarantee success. More than ever, it’s important to test and experiment. This includes working with ‘strange bedfellows’ and partners that can help us do it.
Give it time – it’s not a quick fix! Commit to change over the long run and don’t see it as a ‘nice to have’. Innovation often gets dropped if there’s a downturn, but during these times it’s even more important.
There’s no panacea, it’s a path, but an incredibly exciting one!
Areas of advancement and their definitions
Artificial Intelligence (AI) Intelligent machines that work and react like superhumans will perform tasks in ways previously impossible. AI can do many things including: speech recognition, image recognition, search clustering, natural language understanding, optimisation and prediction. From driverless cars to chat bots on banking sites, from fraud detection to cancer detection, its capabilities are endless, and it will transform life as we know it.
Quantum Computing Quantum computers harness the power of atoms and molecules to perform memory and processing tasks. What this means is the ability to process significant levels of calculations at an incredible speed, providing an entirely new level of ability to analyse data. It will drive our thinking and understanding across many different areas from financial market analysis to medical research. It offers acute degrees of accuracy previously impossible.
Blockchain Blockchain is an incorruptible real-time ledger. All data in the blockchain exists as a shared and continuously reconciled database. No single person or group oversees the chain; the middle men get stripped out and it is completely transparent. Most commonly associated with crypto currencies, there are many other areas that the technology can be applied including: environmental impact, renewable energy exchange, food supply and origination, aid delivery, property transactions and even space missions!
Robotics Robots that can act like humans (or superhumans!) offer the ability to automate a huge number of tasks. Robotics combined with AI are currently applied in driverless cars with way more sophisticated robots in development, including those that emulate dogs and can run like humans.
Virtual and Augmented Reality (VR and AR) Virtual reality is a computer-generated recreation of a real-life setting, while augmented reality layers virtual aspects on the real world. Both immerse the user by making them feel they are experiencing the situation first hand. Both provide new entertainment platforms and present marketing opportunities, where consumers can experience services and products in the virtual world.
In fact, VR has been cited as a game changer for mental health. Here patients can virtually experience situations that cause distress and learn to cope differently, without having to physically endure that situation. Professors Daniel and Jason Freeman espoused the benefits in a recent article in The Guardian, describing them as ‘extraordinary’.
Jonathan Carrier is part of SpeakersHub and one of our most sought after speakers on transformation, innovation and leadership. To view his full biography to book him to speak at your own event please click here.