The Oxford Dictionary named “Post-Truth” the word of the year for 2016.
It was a year when political rhetoric based on emotions rather than facts tapped into the social psyche across much of the Western world, a trend that drove significant decisions that surprised many.
Whilst pundits will continue to examine and explain this phenomenon, as will historians for years to come, clearly there is an undercurrent that cannot be ignored.
Whilst I am an optimist, the way you see the possibilities emerging from the accelerating pace of technological change really depends on your perspective:
Algorithms track my behaviour and “likes” to personalise (or potentially manipulate) my content and news
My personal devices/wearables monitor me and provide just-in-time services (or are hacked to steal my personal data)
My social profile and “likes” are a proxy for trustworthiness making it easy to operate anywhere in the world (or are used to discriminate against me)
“Bots” simplify my life and work by automating and connecting devices and services (or they take over my entire job leaving me unemployed!)
Surely the lesson from 2016 is that we must listen, be honest, broadly collaborate and educate.
The technology side of the story
We’re becoming pretty familiar with this story: New business models will continue to be invented, disrupting and destroying well established organisations. They will not have the burden of Industrial Era-designed organisations and operating systems.
In response, 2017 will see new innovators (both startups as well as existing corporations) that have:
- Connected ecosystems of producers and consumers that expand well beyond the definitions and boundaries of today’s current industry-vertical ecosystem. As ecosystem interaction becomes a new KPI, new roles will emerge.
- Bots and predictive analytics at the core of operations with new roles to manage “bot control centres,” and investments for significant expansion of artificial intelligence at the business core.
- Connected “things” that span across partner ecosystems, together with seamless customer journey transitions between mobile and physical, becoming a key enabler of superior customer “experiences.”
- The incorporation of aspects of blockchain technology into supply chain operations.
- The creation of “digital twins” for key operations, using AR/VR to enable simulations and testing, and to accelerate the expansion of automated business processes and operations.
- The return of off-shored jobs. Jobs that were off-shored over the last couple of decades, from manufacturing to white-collar process roles, may now be moved back as it’s possible to achieve even more cost savings through additive manufacturing (3D printing) or robotic process automation (RPA) respectively, in your local home base. New roles will emerge to be able to capitalise on this.
Responding to a post-truth world
The response to “post truth” will be a surge in “community,” in trusted news sources, support for local businesses — and, of course, we all hope that it will also lead to more truthful and honest governments.
We will also see greater demand and scrutiny for data privacy and technology/IoT security from governments and multinational/global corporations.
Beyond the tech, I hope that as a global community, we embrace the need to be more honest, more respectful, more open, more collaborative and to keep our promises. These are the basic human traits that underpin trust.
We need new attitudes and new talent to ensure that thinking better reflects views held across the community. Diversity has never been more crucial.
Bringing the human side out
The real digital transformation will not just be in the implementation of new business models, of bots and AI or IoT. It will be in the realisation that we also need to bring many people on the journey with us — to help them see how they can fit into this future world, and also access the training required.
As a person working in the tech industry, project failures due to an underestimation of the organisational change required is an all too familiar story. But what’s happening now is much bigger. We are talking about “org change” at the scale of our society. This will take governments, regulators, corporations and IT companies to really work together.
The effort is worth it.
And of course, imagine the possibilities of bringing smart and connected devices to the millions of people still living in poverty. Access to education, access to global markets…. I for one, am looking forward to a year where we do really listen, with respect and honest, engage and collaborate.