How today’s business leaders are leveraging new tools and disruptive technologies
Digital tools and disruptive technologies from artificial intelligence and machine learning to 3D printing, 5G, IoT, Robotic Process Automation, virtual and augmented reality are transforming communication, banking, HR, manufacturing, finance, medicine, agriculture and more. What are some of the latest tools and technologies? How will organizations harness cutting-edge developments for competitive advantage? And what are the qualities of the leader who cannot only guide organizations through this disruption, but also the disruptions no one has imagined, yet?
If it feels like we’ve had this conversation before, we have. But even in the midst of digital transformation we are moving beyond it, embarking on a reinvention that is not likely to settle into a next stage status quo. The new normal will likely be constant change.
Susan Steele is executive partner, global talent and engagement at IBM. “HR used to have to think about technology every 5-10 years. They’d have a look around, see what had changed since the last time, and work with their CIO to get a new system and that was all they had to do with technology for 5-10 years,” she says. “Now, they have to do that pretty much every day."
According to Raffaele Jacovelli, managing director of Hightech Partners, ITP in Brussels, the only thing we know for certain is that “things are going to change at a faster pace than ever seen before. And that’s why industries have to be able to anticipate change—to figure out beforehand the next move.” He says, “Between one industrial revolution and another, there was time for businesses to adapt and adjust. Today, there is no time to adapt, to make a plan, and get the team thinking about the business model or technology they’re using. Decisionmaking has to be better, faster, and more practical.”
As organizations and leaders grapple with the constant change at an accelerating pace, Jan-Bart Smits, global technology practice leader with Stanton Chase, Amsterdam, glances back at the decades-long evolution of the foundation of today’s tech: the microchip. “When I look at emerging technologies, the underlying basis, what makes it all happen, is the few companies who make the chips, without which this all would not be possible.”
Smits reflects on Moore’s Law, the observation by Intel co-founder Gordon Moore that “the number of transistors incorporated in a chip will approximately double every 24 months.” Smits says, “That exponential growth in our processing capability, which determined that we can do artificial intelligence—that we can have autonomous cars that can process images more quickly and accurately than the human brain, that determined that a computer can actually play chess—all of our big innovation is based on something which happened slowly.”
Today, everybody should include robotic automation in their business plans.
He adds, “And now that this capability is available; the processing power of your cell phone is better than the rocket they sent to the moon.”
From punched-card data processing to the microchip, machines have evolved to an astounding degree even to the point of mimicking human behavior. Deepali Vyas is senior client partner for Korn Ferry’s financial services practice in New York. She says, “The best example for machine learning is IBM’s Watson. Watson is emulating human behavior and coming up with automatic ways to perform tasks that humans would normally perform, in the way humans would perform them.” She adds, “There’s a machine that is recognizing your behavior, what you do on a day to day basis, learning to do the tasks that you were doing, automatically.”
For example, Steele explains, “A lot of the labor-intensive administrative work that is required in offices, for example HR or finance, very frequently can be done with RPA (Robotic Process Automation) to dramatically improve accuracy, output and productivity.”
“Today, everybody includes robots in their business plans,” she says.
A Glimpse of What's New
Every year, MIT Technology Review publishes a list of ten breakthrough technologies for the year.
Some of those new tools for 2018 include:
Cloud-based AI, making machine learning broadly accessible
3D printing using metal, which has the potential to transform manufacturing
A Toronto smart city in development that will have robotic trash removal and automated cars
The capability of analyzing the DNA of a newborn to measure her risk for developing cancer or Alzheimer’s, or her IQ; and
Ways to use technology to translate natural language, generate artificial images and sounds that humans can’t discern as fake, and expand the uses of quantum computing.
There are practical implications for some of these technologies, for example, MIT Technology Review author Will Knight suggests “ultimately, researchers might use quantum computers to design more efficient solar cells, more effective drugs, or catalysts that turn sunlight into clean fuels.” And quantum computing is in the cloud.
There are a lot of disruptive technologies on the horizon, and they’re impacting every single industry,” says Ryan Bulkoski, a partner in the artificial intelligence and digital practice at Heidrick & Struggles’ San Francisco office.
For Jacovelli, “There is not a single technology, per se, that is going to make a difference. The ongoing accelerated disruption is due to the combinatorial effect of many technologies coming to a maturity stage at the same time.”
Consider the technology that came together to allow for a new level of communication between humans and machines. Bulkoski describes recently released research on a new wearable headset device called “Alter Ego.” He says that the device “essentially allows a human to communicate with a machine without speaking.”
Bulkoski explains that the technology “picks up these neuromuscular signals when words are said in your mind, so you are communicating, but not speaking out loud.” He adds, “The technology already has a 92% rate of accuracy.”
For Bulkoski, “Alter Ego” is more than a cool device. He says, “Apply this to anyone who has a speaking disability, or who has never been able to speak before.” Also, “This is a natural language algorithm, so think about the conversation that you could have with someone who doesn’t speak your natural language. Allowing machines to translate in real-time would allow for even more rapid globalization than we are already experiencing.”
AI is taking on an increasing role in content creation. Kate Bullis, managing partner with SEBA International in San Francisco says, “This is an interesting area for AI.” She says “Currently, about 20% of content developed by marketers today is being created by machines, not by humans.”
Bullis says that the content creation assumed by AI allows for humans to focus on the less routine kinds of content creation. “I’m not referring to a novel, I’m referring to more simple pieces such as everyday reports, financial reporting, business results, and automated email. Even content a company might want to send to their customers, machines can do that.”
Speaking of the job of content creation, Bulkoski invites us to think about “jobs requiring dictation or writing or synthesizing.” He says “if you could just be speaking in your mind directly to your computer, you are simply adding a natural language translation algorithm, which enables the creation of massive amounts of content. It could drastically shift the global nature of business and commerce.”
Vyas understands that not everyone is ready for this level of interaction between human and machine. “I would say most conservative organizations, whether it’s financial services, healthcare and especially industrial manufacturing, have embraced that this change is happening.” She says, “However, the idea behind having a hybrid model for humans and machines to optimize their business operation is a very novel concept to them, and they’re still wrapping their arms around it.”
The advance of technology is inescapable, and according to Bulkoski “we have clients in technology, industrial manufacturing, mining, healthcare, financial services, nonprofit—I mean every single industry wants to have a conversation about disruptive advancement in technology.”
Tech transforming roles and industries
It’s hard to think of an industry or a role that isn’t somehow impacted by technology. From agriculture to administration, petrochemicals to parenting, digital disruption and advances in technology touch virtually everything. Some of these advances are steps on a long path, and others are startlingly new.
Banking and Finance
“…for banks dogged by low margins, automation and technology represent a long-desired chance to boost profitability, even if in the longer term they pose a near-existential threat to the banks’ old way of business.”
"How Finance is being taken over by tech," by Martin Arnold, Financial Times, January 17, 2017.
The banking and financial sector is leveraging technology for mobility, enhanced security, better investment and credit decisions, and improved user experiences.
In China, cashless payment giants WeChat and Alipay dominate China’s cashless payment market, and they collect massive amounts of data that enable them to make instant credit decisions. Both Alipay and WeChat are preferred over bank cards among China’s wealthy consumers, according to the Hurun Chinese Luxury Consumer Survey, 2018. Technology is also changing the investment environment.
“Hedge funds have not really evolved or changed from thirty years ago, since the introduction of expert networks,” Vyas says. “It is only today with data science, quantitative techniques, and data analysis that the evolution of the hedge fund industry is happening.”
Vyas invites us to imagine a scenario: “Let’s say from Tuesday through Thursday, a trader is on their game; they make certain trades a certain way, and on Mondays and Fridays they’re not on their game and they don’t make the most optimal trades. If AI was following this trading behavior, the AI would know how this person traded on Tuesday through Thursday, and emulate that behavior on Mondays and Fridays, when the person didn’t make such great trades. AI can learn from human behavior, and optimize it.” She adds, “That’s actually in place right now at hedge funds.”
Vinay Bagri, CEO and co-founder of fintech start-up NiYO recently wrote in the India Times “Imagine a situation where every customer has a dedicated wealth manager cum banker at his disposal 24x7. Digital banks are making this a reality by turning the technology. Supported by Natural Language Processing skills and Artificial Intelligence (AI), chatbots and virtual agents are able to give Level 1 support at costs impossible for traditional banks to meet.”
Vyas says, “I think everybody is recognizing that they should be utilizing data science or even machine learning techniques to make the best investment decisions.”
Smart contracts. Predictive advertising. Cross-device identification. Multitouch attribution. Advances in the collection and analysis of consumer data and machine learning have transformed how organizations find and relate to customers.
“Marketing technology as a domain, the world of what’s called mar-tech, is overwhelming. The amount of technology that is available to a CMO today is completely mind-blowing.” Bullis says, “CMOs have had to personally mold different kinds of marketing technology to help them address all the various things that they need to do in a day—purchase media, predict customer behavior, create personalized content, make sure that sales and marketing are talking to each other, and retain customers. What AI will do going forward is help to stitch those technologies together.”
Research published in January 2018 by global marketing company Epsilon explored how consumers respond to personalized marketing experiences. “According to the 2017 online survey of 1,000 consumers ages 18-64, the appeal for personalization is high, with 80% of respondents indicating they are more likely to do business with a company if it offers personalized experiences and 90% indicating that they find personalization appealing.”
How far does personalization go? “The personalization of a customer’s experience on a website is something that is relatively new, Bullis says. “It used to be your website was your website, but now these sites are personalized. They know who you are, what your browsing history has been and what you’ve purchased before.”
With this level of personal information, Bullis explains, “they know that you never buy shoes online, so they don’t put shoes on the homepage.” She says that as the user engages on the website, “they’re making the next piece of content much more relevant to you. That personalized experience is based on your location, your demographics, the device you’re on, and prior interactions you’ve had on the site. All of these things make for a highly personalized experience and an intense experience with that brand.”
Technology in the health sector has come a long way from remote monitoring and online patient portals. Now, researchers are working on engineering immune cells to fight cancer and autoimmune diseases. Surgical robots are dramatically improving a physician’s precision, and AI, 3D printing and other technology will transform medical care.
A study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research in March of 2017 found that “physicians are more likely to be wrong in cases where they have encountered too few instances of a pattern to recognize it.”
Jacovelli considers the potential of using big data in medicine. “Imagine you have a doctor who is not able to recognize a symptom simply because they have never seen it before. Having access to the broad encyclopedia of knowledge would make it much easier to identify a condition and choose the right to therapy.” The democratization of medical knowledge could also improve health care in limited-resource settings.
“In addition,” Jacovelli says, with the broad sharing of deep medical knowledge “you don't need to go to Boston or MIT or wherever to have the best surgeon in the world, because through a machine you can leverage the expertise of that surgeon.”
Even 3D printing is revolutionizing medicine. According to the article “Medical 3D Printing Breakthroughs in 2017” published on 3Dprint.com, “In developing countries, access to vaccines is unreliable, and trying to put a child on the same kind of vaccine schedule that a child in the United States is on can be unrealistic. It would be ideal, thought engineers at MIT, if children could be given all of their vaccines in one shot that would release the vaccines at spaced-out, pre-determined times. Using 3D printing, those engineers created a microparticle that resembled a cup and could be filled with specific doses of medicine or vaccine. The cups would then biodegrade at predetermined rates, releasing their contents into the bloodstream at different times according to a schedule.”
3D printing is being used to create low-cost implants, prosthetics, and medical equipment. And it is also being used to potentially develop bio-printed organs and printed pharmaceuticals.
“Technology alone cannot consistently provide good customer service, but technology designed to enhance human experiences can exceed expectations every time. Even the focus of AI innovation in the business world is as much about collaborating with humans as it is technology.”
Warwick Heathwood, Adweek, April 18, 2018
Retailers are often viewed as dinosaurs, but many are working to automate the supply chain, develop self-service models, and deploy personalization strategies, innovative pricing and promotion models.
“Nordstrom was never an online company, but they went online” explains Bullis.
“They serve online. And it doesn’t matter if you buy online or you buy in the store, it’s all the same. They make it absolutely seamless to the customer. It’s not necessarily what you push, it’s how you present and how you make your customer number one.”
Adam Lashinsky recently wrote in Fortune “Nordstrom allows self-service return bins with near-instant credit, including for merchandise bought online. Customers can see how not-yet-made clothes look on a life-sized avatar. They even can reserve products online and have a fitting room ready when they arrive. The room will even have their name on the door.”
Retail personalization hits a new high with ZOZOSUIT, a body suit that uses sensor technology to capture 15,000 measurements on customers, who then can purchase the company’s clothing knowing it will fit perfectly.
“The technology syncs with a dedicated app through a Bluetooth connection so that the measurements can be automatically uploaded to the service, allowing it to prepare effectively bespoke clothing. Customers can then shop from the online collection of men and women’s clothing. It is, the makers say, “the world’s first size-free e-commerce experience.”
Japan Trends, November 27, 2017
Grocery stores are also embracing technology, with self-check out lines, a checkout-free scan & go service, and Amazon Go that uses sensors and cameras to track customers and the items they carry out with them. According to Kantar Worldpanel, the e-commerce grocery market has grown 30% from 2016 to 2017.
What’s next for customers? “I think that in society we will probably become more and more comfortable with injectable technology for the purposes of payment and identification,” Bulkoski says. “The time will come soon enough when we won’t have to carry our payment and identification documents around with us. I think the integration is coming a lot faster than most people assume. It’s inevitable.”
“86% of the top 100 companies in R&D spending worldwide are from the manufacturing industry.”
Louis Columbus, The Future of Manufacturing Technologies Forbes, April 15, 2018
“Ten years ago the automotive industry was creating cars in a 3-5 year cycle,” Jacovelli says. “Then it was a year and a half, and soon the time to market will be further reduced.” He explains this increased speed-to-market is the result of digital design, robotics, and even virtual reality used to create digital twins. “Not only can you have faster prototypes, you have the ability to increase production, reduce costs, and even use virtual and augmented reality for simulation purposes.”
Industrial robotics, 3D printing, automation and sensing technology are transforming manufacturing.
“Sensing tech has been around many years, its only getting better because of the ability to make better chips – measuring really small currents of electricity, take the data and translate it,” Smits says. This comes to play in sensors that track automated production lines, ensuring accuracy and efficiency, and constantly providing data to improve processes.
86% of the top 100 companies in R&D spending worldwide are from the manufacturing industry.
Sensors also have an emerging role in urban planning. Google’s sister company Sidewalk Labs is working with a developer in Toronto to build a “sensor city” with robotic trash removal and autonomous cars on a stretch of abandoned industrial waterfront. According to CBC News, “The premise of Google's smart city is appealing. A city built from the ground up promises not just the convenience that comes with new technologies, but also the potential of environmental sustainability, health benefits, and even affordability of housing. The vision entails high-speed internet access and free wifi across the hub, self-driving cars, ride-sharing, and sensors throughout that automate the way people engage with their surroundings, making everything from street lights to air conditioning smarter and more efficient.”
Cutting edge communities are also benefitting from 3D printing technology. In The Netherlands, the city of Eindhoven will be the first in the world to have a neighborhood of 3D printed homes.
“Of the first five new houses to be put on the rental market next year, the smallest, with two bedrooms, has already attracted applications from 20 interested families just a week after images were made available. “We like the look of the houses at the moment as this is an innovation and it is a very futuristic design,” said Van Gurp. “But we are already looking to a take a step further and people will be able to design their own homes and then print them out. People will be able to make their homes suit them, personalise them, and make them more aesthetically pleasing.”
"Netherlands to build world’s first habitable 3D printed houses by Daniel Boffey, The Guardian, June 6, 2018.
For the technology in all of these sectors and more, Steele reminds us, “these advances only succeed in a human context.”
“The pace of change and the new and enhanced capabilities that are available through these technologies is changing very rapidly, and all of this is with the backdrop of the employees and customers having far greater expectations about a really fantastic consumer-grade experience at every touchpoint across the organization,” she says.
Tech in the human capital universe
"The entire CHRO function is now trending toward having individuals with a very strong data and analytic bent,” Vyas says. “Data science and predictive Executive Talent - 19 analytics will help HR choose talent better, assess talent better, and deploy organizational design better. Emerging technologies are essentially helping all of the different functions around an organization, especially in HR".
Technology including data analytics and artificial intelligence are changing HR. Mobile connectivity and cloud technologies are increasingly part of the HR toolkit, and more and more HR professionals and advisors are creating integrated strategies to make the most of the employee experience. According to Deloitte (Digital HR: Revolution, not evolution, February 29, 2016) “Telstra, one of Australia’s largest telecommunications companies, is using an app to transform its first-year employee experience. By using design thinking, studying the behavior and frustrations of first-year employees, and creating personas, Telstra developed an integrated onboarding program that dramatically improved employee engagement and retention.”
Steele describes how a company might use AI to assist prospective employees. “Before you even join an organization you may be looking at a company’s website. A company that uses AI to engage with a prospective candidate can answer questions, explain roles. You can upload your resume or point to your LinkedIn profile and use AI to scan your resume and then compare it to all of the roles currently available in the organization; this would be to advise you what roles would be the best fit given your skills and experience.”
Steele adds, “This isn’t just word search—this is just as a human would do it, at a much broader scale and faster.” She adds, “That’s just the very first step on this AI-enhanced employee life-cycle, which every step of the way is impacted by these new technologies.”
Another important consideration in a competitive market for talent is retention. Bulkoski considers the motivation of employees. “Is the company that you are going to or coming from mission oriented? Is there a bigger cause or something more meaningful than how we target the next user through efficient machine learning algorithms in our advertising platform? Ideally, there is a more purpose-driven reason for making a career change.”
He adds, “If you want to retain individuals, ensure that they are continuously mentally stimulated. That means surrounding them with other great talent and providing a diversity of thought and experience.”
New technologies are also impacting search. “Technology has changed our business,” Smits says. “We went from ‘we know people you don’t know,’ to ‘we can be a filter for your organization and can create a neutrality in speaking to people who you can find yourselves,’ because anyone can find anyone these days. Now, our work is much more about how people behave and whether they’re the right individuals given the circumstances.”
Technology can also help mitigate unconscious bias. “It is extremely difficult not to be biased, because everybody comes from a background,” Smits says. “It’s really hard to step away from bias and that is where computers are better at selecting a resume: they will see a name—full stop. They will not see a name from a certain ethnic background that people may have certain ideas about. The computer won’t react to a male name or female name. That is very much part of the diversity and inclusion discussion, where computers can be much more objective.”
When Jacovelli was starting his journey in the search business, he says, “I wanted to change the old way of doing business—the old boys’ network. So we started disrupting that model.” Jacovelli uses technology as part of the assessment process. “Contrary to what is common conception, being digital is not a set of hard skills: most of all, it is a mindset. So we have developed a digital mapping tool with a partner, that enables an organization to check how digitally oriented a candidate or employee is, what their strengths and limitations are, and which are the areas where they need to develop.” He adds, “We are working in this framework because the ability to understand your people skills, your soft skills, and what can be done to fill the gaps is going to be essential. There is and will likely continue to be a shortage of people with the right level of soft skills in the market, hence reskilling becomes the first option to look at and then fill the emerging gaps with selected hires.”
In addition to soft skills, tech skills are increasingly necessary at the board level. “You see more and more CMOs in the boardroom,” Bullis says. Boards of directors are traditionally made up of current and former CEOS and CFOs, she says, “but we’re seeing a skill set shift in the boardroom and that’s because the digitization of marketing is reflective of the digitization of industry itself.”
“I’m not saying that boards will no longer be interested in CEOs and CFOs,” she says. “I just mean to say that we’re seeing many more boards take on people who have only ever done marketing. The digital transformations and customer insights that CMOs really understand, they are all necessary, they’re increasingly needed in every single company. Boards need that knowledge.”
The purpose of a tool is to make work better. For Steele, “Ultimately, and this is very much an IBM view, all of this technology is not about completely taking away roles and jobs, it is much more about helping recruiters simply be more efficient, and helping a job searcher have a more productive experience.”
Leading through transformation:
“The first crucial fact about AI is that you don’t know ahead of time what the data will reveal. By its very nature, AI is a leap of faith, just as embracing your ignorance and radical reframing are. And like learning to let go, listening to AI can help you find genuinely novel, disruptive insights in surprising and unexpected places.”
- McKinsey Quarterly, April 2018, Will artificial intelligence make you a better leader?
“We believe that every CEO is a startup CEO.” Vyas explains, “what we mean by that is every CEO has to first, be a visionary; second, embrace technology; and third, have followership, where their employees believe that they can learn something from this person, or this person is going to help them grow and innovate.”
Jacovelli reflects on the new generation of talent. “They are very fast in adapting to new technologies, but it is a different story when it comes to building something new and different, and going beyond what they have, being imaginative. There are people like this, but they’re not the majority.” He adds, “There are few people with the DNA of a leader: determination, passion, and the ability to think out of the box, to innovate. In healthy companies that embrace transformation, what is key is to find people who have this kind of mindset.”
Jacovelli is not alone. Smits describes working with someone “who did not read email. He had his assistant print it out, he wrote his response on a piece of paper, and had his assistant type it into the computer.”
Smits adds, “Those kinds of people are never going to be able to be effective leaders in this day and age.” What does it take to lead past digital transformation through constant reinvention?
“Leaders today have to be able to work in a VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) environment. Every leader needs to understand that at times they have to be a “roll up your sleeves” hands-on team player, highly innovative, a strong visionary, and certainly be willing to embrace of all the change that is going on around them.”
Jacovelli considers that change. “Before, leaders relied on best practices to ensure you are predictable in what you deliver. Now you must have a completely different mindset: leapfrogging, boundary-pushing, bending the rules and writing new ones. Normally you didn’t want people breaking rules, you wanted them to be compliant.” Now, he says, “If you are compliant in all the existing ways of doing business, you’re going to miss the boat. Being open-minded, disruptive, adaptive, and flexible—those are qualities you need.”
For Bulkoski, a key leadership quality is “a willingness to learn on the part of the executive, regardless of their function.” For example, “how does an individual manifest a natural curiosity for consistently challenging their existing belief system and embracing new ways of thinking? Also, do the executives have the wisdom to surround themselves with people who may know more than they do, or who just bring a completely different point of view? That diversity of thought, which can originate from life experiences, background, age, and other exogenous factors, is incredibly important.”
Another quality may be a willingness to take a risk. Steele says, “An aspect of leadership in this new era is embracing agile methods. You may know ‘agile’ from software development, but when it applies to broader organizational design, it means being willing to launch things that are not fully formed, or what we call a minimum viable product, that continues to iterate and improve.”
Leaders today have to be able to work in a VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) environment.
She explains, “If you’re having to develop and innovate rapidly, you don’t have time to create everything perfectly. But you can get things out, get feedback, and continue to improve as you go.”
Bullis adds, “The CEO really needs to think about customers first—be a customer-driven CEO versus a productdriven CEO, or even a sales-driven CEO. If you lead with what the customer need is, you will remain ahead. It’s hard to get behind if you let the customer lead you. That doesn’t mean that you do whatever the data predicts the customer wants. The Apples of the world demonstrated that: sometimes you build things that customers don’t even know they want. But if you follow your customer and the way your customer is thinking and acting and behaving, if you follow the way your customer is buying, you’re much more likely to stay relevant to that customer.”
Steele agrees. “Leaders increasingly need to have that empathy, that curiosity about what is it like being in my customers shoes, and what unarticulated needs do they have and how can we address them? Increasingly a very core approach is the ability to deploy design thinking principles in leadership. Design thinking is all about having empathy for the customer, for the end user of your services or products, and being very curious about how we can improve that experience. That is essential for leaders looking to embrace or leverage these new technologies.”
Smits reflects on the forward-thinking leader. "It’s important that a leader is always open to the possibility of what can happen, and always be open to what could be a game-changer, whether that is how you run an organization, how you run logistics, how you do sales, how you deal with people, how you select candidates." What else? "A leader should always be open to what technology can bring and not see it as an enemy, but more as an opportunity. That is an entirely important trait in leadership."
“It’s annoyingly hard to compare quantum and classical computers, but roughly speaking, a quantum computer with just a few hundred qubits would be able to perform more calculations simultaneously than there are atoms in the known universe.” - Will Knight.
“Serious quantum computers are finally here. What are we going to do with them?” - MIT Technology Review, February 21, 2018
Jacovelli says, “The people who went to the moon—they were heroes, because what they did with the technology available at the time was unbelievable.”
Today, advanced technology is everywhere, even embedded in the employee experience: starting in recruiting, woven into how people do their jobs, and even through chatbots that field a new employee’s myriad questions. “This is already happening in many organizations,” Steele says. “We work with it constantly. Increasingly, this will just be the way things are.”
New technology and the talent who can harness its potential do not provide instant rewards. “You need to understand you are investing in talent, you are investing in tenacity and most of all, you are investing in time,” Bulkoski says. “You need enough patience to allow that process of innovation and change through technology to actually play itself out.”
To those who feel threatened by how technology might play itself out, Vyas says “what we’re trying to do is effectively use machines in order to do our jobs better. People are afraid of these new technologies replacing humans, but that’s a big misperception. We are going to see a very strong, hybrid model of humans and machines working together.”
Bullis admits that the state of technology today, especially big data, “is a little bit big brother.” She adds, “At some point you just have to shrug and say, if you’re on Facebook, if you’re on LinkedIn, if you’ve ever purchased anything online, and you get an email and you’re being marketed to, it’s because you’re being tracked—your browsing history, all of that. And either you’re comfortable with it, or you’re not.”
“The technology is there. How it’s being used is the important thing,” Smits says, “especially when AI and machines start making semiautonomous decisions. Then, we need to have a moral guideline about what we do and what we do not do.” He adds, “The way things are going, the big discussion is not can we make it, but should we make it.”
“What’s going to happen ten years from now,” Jacovelli asks? “This, I cannot imagine—it will be difficult to find a new equilibrium. The transition is not going to be easy, but the times ahead of us will be the most interesting ever,” he says.
“The possibilities are enormous.”