Forecasts from Five of Our Top Disruption Speakers
New innovations in technology have been causing huge disruptive shifts in business, culture and organizational development worldwide. Here are five top speakers on disruption that will help you navigate a tumultuous, fast-paced world being redrawn by advances in new technologies and cultural shifts. Here are their thoughts on the biggest disrupting influences we’ll be facing during the next five years. One common theme is that artificial intelligence (A.I.) and robotics are going to become an increasingly disruptive force in all industries and society, causing tectonic shifts in jobs and the type of work people will do. Now is the time to prepare for the big disruptive shifts ahead!
Without question the biggest disrupting influence to business and society is the falling cost and rising capabilities of robotic and software automation and the rise of A.I. Every industry needs to understand and embrace these new technologies, or be usurped by their competitors.
Every business is going to need to embrace automation, whether its hamburgers or insurance agents, anything and everything done by humans will be better done by software or machines in the next few decades: far cheaper, more productive and with higher quality. We are already seeing real-world examples in hotels, in fast food, in insurance and retail and of course manufacturing. Robots delivering towels and now coffee to rooms 24/7. Order takers being replaced en-mass in low, then mid, and even now some high-end restaurants, manufacturing robots now broadly cheaper than Chinese wages, light A.I. driven business process automation eliminating insurance jobs (claims adjusters) … and that’s only the start!
The speed at which the technology is evolving is incredible, and the effects on not just low-level jobs but mid-level and soon high-level is frightening and exciting all at once. What seems undoable today might be doable at 1/10th the cost of a human in a year. We have never witnessed this level of “replacement ability” in the history of civilization. Even doctors and lawyers and coders are at risk of replacement in the near future.
There are important questions our society is going to need to grapple with:
• How will we feed ourselves if all the jobs are gone?
• How does my company prepare to do business in this new world?
• Who should we turn to to help us lead our industry?
• What about our employees who will be automated out of good paying jobs?
• Who will be around to buy our product or services if everyone is out of work? What about basic income?
This is the time to be discussing these changes because the future is now. Everyone needs to learn, prepare, and act today.
The biggest disruption to business over the next five years will be the disappearance of middle management jobs. Between office automation and machine learning, half of all white collar jobs in the US will vanish. Exacerbating this disruption will be the millions of factory workers being replaced by robots (2.1 million jobs were replaced by robots in 2016). Within the decade, autonomous cars and trucks will displace tens of millions from the workforce. Whether by choice or circumstance, your career is about to be disrupted.
But disruption isn’t about what happens to you, it is about how you respond to what happens to you. The same technology that is eliminating the need for people to spend their lives doing mundane, repetitive tasks also connects each one of us to over 6 billion consumers. With most of the world just a few clicks away on your phone, you only have to be right for a nanosecond to become a billionaire or change the world.
In today’s ever-changing and often-volatile business landscape, adaptability and creativity are more crucial than ever. It is no longer possible—or even desirable—to learn one set of job skills and work your way up the ladder. Rather, today’s entrepreneurs and business leaders must anticipate change to create opportunities for professional success and personal satisfaction.
The self-made billionaire in his twenties, an unheard-of possibility a decade ago, now happens with regular frequency (on in a SNAP). The start-up company with little funding and a small staff, now displaces 100-year-old companies with billions in revenue virtually overnight. The tightly interconnected world of the twenty-first century is exploding with new opportunities for personal empowerment and financial independence.
What do those benefiting from disruption have in common: Disruptors learned how to disrupt themselves before they were disrupted by the competition. They learned how to analyze their internal value chains to pinpoint their unique talents and capabilities to master personal transformation and thrive in this era of endless innovation.
Isn’t it time to Disrupt You?
The single most disruptive influence on business, as well as society, will be A.I. – which includes technology such as machine learning and cognitive computing to name a few. In other words, there is more than one type of A.I. and each represents a new way of doing both big things as well as everyday things in amazing ways. When I say big things, I mean solving highly complex problems such as enabling the development of highly personalized drugs and genetic therapies designed for your genetic makeup.
A.I. will keep you from having an accident whether you are driving your car or not by knowing the surroundings in real time, predicting a problem, and helping you avoid the accident. Eighty-five percent of traffic accidents are caused by blind spots and soon your car won’t let you have that accident. The good news is that we don’t need full autonomy to do this and it will happen faster than you think.
A.I. will impact everyday things such as asking your car or your phone or your (fill in the blank) a question and getting an intelligent answer that is customized for you. Thanks to cloud-based A.I. and devices like Amazon’s Echo and Google Home, A.I. is quickly being integrated into both business and consumers lives at a rapid rate and the impact will be both disruptive and transformational on both a product and service level.
A.I. and other exponential technologies that are enabling a social, mobile, virtual, and visual evolutionary revolution in a short time will shift us from a period of rapid change to a period of true transformation. I say evolutionary because the underlying technologies have been in play for a long time. For example, in 1983, I first published my list of 20 technologies that would drive exponential change for decades to come and on that list were the Internet, digital technologies, A.I., genetic engineering, photovoltaics, fiber optics and more, the very technologies that are driving the revolution today.
So here is a prediction for you: During the next five years we have the technologies to transform every business process including how we sell, market, communicate, collaborate, train, educate, design, pay for things and much more. That is what I call a Hard Trend that will happen because it is based on future facts – the tools are real and they will be used to both disrupt and transform.
Soft Trends on the other hand might happen because they are based on assumptions. The Soft Trend related to business process transformation can best be expressed in a question: Will your organization transform your business processes or only change them? In other words, disruption becomes a choice when you know it’s going to happen ahead of time. That’s why my award winning learning system, as well as my new book that will be out in the Fall 2017, are called The Anticipatory Organization.
Being agile does allow you to react faster than your slower competitors and does help you with unpredictable change. But the new competency that is now an imperative is to be anticipatory, to learn how to use Hard and Soft Trend analysis to anticipate disruptions before they disrupt, problems before you have them so that you can pre-solve them, and game-changing opportunities that you can use to accelerate growth and transform results.
One of the biggest challenges society faces today is that most technology innovations require software that must be laboriously written and tested by human coders: resulting in bugs, delays and the inefficiency that creeps up when time constraints make it impossible to test very permutation of an individual approach.
An upcoming disruptive breakthrough will combine machine learning technology with realtime coding to train an AI-based system to create a development system that reduces time to market and bugs. Such machine intelligence would also be able to jumpstart current efforts to “containerize” applications by identifying oft-used pieces of code that are easily recycled without reinventing the wheel.
My sense is that this type of machine learning approach to application development will dramatically improve reliability while cutting the cost of program development. If this system also included interface design machine learning it would also serve to optimize the efficiency of application usage since the lion share of product inefficiency is directly due to human operation error caused by difficult-to-grasp user experience design.
The result would be a revolution that would cut across all industries and sectors because it would be able to massively accelerate the development of much-needed products, from easy to understand smart home interfaces to improved digital marketing analysis to superior cloud software and helper robots.
The pace of change and innovation is increasing at an exponential rate around the world. This is leading to a world of “templosion,” which we define as very large things happening in increasingly compressed amounts of time. The impacts of this acceleration – and transformation – will be felt everywhere.
Technological templosion can be felt all around us: A.I., the Internet of Things, 3D (and eventually 4D) printing, big data and analytics, state-of-the-art robotics, the neural net…these things are not coming, they’re already here! Technological change is speeding up, as each technology builds on others to create new ways of collecting information, accumulating data, changing the nature of work, establishing global interconnectedness and making instantaneous decisions. Security, privacy, integrity, reliability, storage capacity and responsiveness will be increasingly tested as all professions grapple with the many ways fast, decentralized and smart systems will change the work they do, where they do it, how they do it, and for whom they do it.
Robots, for instance, are increasingly being trained to match human dexterity and speed. However, this new wave of evolutionary technology can automate not just manual, but cognitive tasks. Globally, traditional jobs, as we currently know them today, are beginning to disappear. What may be looming is an era of technological unemployment, in which computer scientists and software engineers essentially invent us out of work, and the total number of jobs declines steadily and permanently. Skills like relationship-building, collaboration, empathy, creativity and cultural sensitivity will become top currency in the future. It is becoming more apparent that traditional paths to economic viability are vanishing, as are traditional paths of employment.
In the end, the amount of innovation and transformation taking place is staggering. The considerable impacts of this acceleration will be felt across all industries and disciplines. Those who are able to constantly refresh their thinking and remain relevant in a time of rapid change, will emerge on top. But as the 21st century progresses, we will be faced with alterations in this dimension that challenge our business practices as well as our personal behavior and expectations.
Time, like energy, is becoming a precious resource. Just as no entity or profession has the luxury anymore of frivolously wasting energy, no entity will have the luxury in the future of failing to value time.
To bring any of these thought leaders to your organization, email: Speakers@SPEAKING.com.