December 20, 2017
The technology changes in the upcoming 5 years will be bigger than all decades before. All types of predictions exist but clearly a lot of impactful technology changes still need to happen. How do you prepare yourself for these changes?
Moore’s law has been the anchor approach for Technology changes for many years. This law has proved to be correct, computer power doubling every 18 months. Today we not only see an increase of the changes, but also the speed increases. For companies it becomes more and more a matter of how and when to adopt. Talking with online retailers the name of the game is the client journey and experience. This is mainly technology based although some products still require a physical touch point. These online retailers prepare themselves well. Insights based on data analytics predict market demands. Based on this marketing and logistic processes are directed. It is a highly technology driven approach requiring data scientists and creative design employees working together.
In today’s academic world we see an explosion of data scientists programs. Special programs are kicked off and more PhD programs start. This is not any longer in isolation at technical universities but works across many traditional faculties. E.g. at the Law School at Tilburg University there is a technology focused team looking at the impact of technology for society and companies. Not only is this group focused on the legal aspects of technology, but this group also discusses disruptive elements of technology and the impact for teaching models.
We see changes happening impacting skills and capabilities. You can ask yourself if you have the right skills yourself for the 4th industrial revolution. Professor Klaus Schwab, founder and Executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, describes the impact of the 4th Industrial revolution well. Previous industrial revolutions made mass production possible and brought digital capabilities to billions of people. However the 4th revolution is fundamentally different Schwab describes. New technologies are fusing physical, digital and biological worlds impacting everything and even challenging ideas what it means to be human.
Are you able to deal with the big technology changes yourself? In my view you need to invest to understand the potential of technology, ideally you do not outsource this to some experts only. The digital agenda is part of our core processes nowadays requiring a foundational level of understanding for us all.
Becoming a digital nomad could be an ambition. A digital nomad travels and works from anywhere at any time. They do not have an office and work remotely from where they choose, often they use co-working spaces. Perhaps this too ambitious, than at least develop a technology learning path. In your company you could lead this if not already happening. Invest in understanding the technology foundations and organize expert knowledge.
The speed of technology adoption is influenced by the concept of the anywheres and somewheres. David Goodhart’s book named “The road to somewhere” focuses on the broader concept of the cognitive elites (the anywheres) versus the more local and traditional focused somewheres. Primarily this book was written based on the Brexit and focused around politics, but it links also to broader changes happening across the globe. Although you do not have to agree with all these stereotypes it could help in shaping an agenda in your own company and across the ecosystem in which you work. Hopefully you have a great digital journey.
Prof.dr. R.G.A. Fijneman is partner at KPMG N.V. and member of the Board responsible for Advisory. He is professor in IT auditing at Tilburg University and the Tias School for Business and Society.