People with different world views will unite when they have a common enemy. I believe we have major “enemies” that have the potential to unite people across the globe: Climate Change – Part I, Technological Disruption — Part II, Cybersecurity — Part III, and Economic Bifurcation — Part IV (significant and growing economic inequality).
Few people in my professional network disagree with the statement that technology is accelerating change in our business and in our personal lives. There is, however, a wide range of opinions on exactly what that means for the future.
Here’s a summary of the concepts on which we seem to have a consensus:
- Cannot stop the progress of science/technology
- No industries or individuals can escape the effects
- Repetitive jobs will be automated–including white-collar jobs
- The advance of technology will exacerbate Economic Bifurcation
Here are some of the topics that seem to generate discussion and disagreement:
- Technological advances destroys more jobs than they create
- How to change education to prepare future workers
- Will intelligent machines gain “General Artificial Intelligence”
- How will displaced workers survive (few jobs low skill jobs)
- Who owns the data individuals create? The individual? The collecting entity?
- What responsibilities do platform operators have to protect privacy and secure data?
This is not a scientific survey nor is it a comprehensive list of all the discussions around technological advances. Rather, it is my own experience working with people from many different industries.
Hopefully, the enemy here is seen as being the rapid change rather than technology itself. Resistance is futile, as they say. We are in this rapid change river together. Everything from products, services, business models and social norms will need adjustment to one extent or another.
This accelerating change situation is requiring much from leaders in general and business leaders in particular. We have to be much more aware of the external environment as well as to our internal culture — does it embrace and encourage change? Some of the questions being asked today were not particularly relevant prior to this point.
- Are we really protecting employee and customer privacy?
- Are we using best-practices to secure our local and cloud-based data?
- Are we effectively mining our data to add value to our customer base?
- Is our business model keeping up with the market?
- As always, we wonder if our products/services are keeping up with customer needs
Technological disruption is now a way of life. The world, literally, is being interconnected at an accelerating pace. People are becoming more aware of being “robbed” of their personal data. They can clearly see that the information they generate is worth a great deal and they will want to be remunerated and protected. I believe it is entirely possible that people in industrialized countries will band together and demand control — think General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
As leaders, we will be required to be more flexible and global in our thinking and vision. Business models will have to change regularly. Diversity in experience as well as demographics and ethnicity will be a distinct advantage to innovation.