What makes artificial intelligence different than earlier technologies is that the system learns as data is fed into it. What’s most important for business leaders to know is that AI is no longer some kind of “gee whiz” technology, but increasingly key to competing effectively in today’s marketplace. As the technology continues to evolve from complex integrated systems to a modular ecosystem, even small and medium enterprises will find that they need to adopt these capabilities or fall behind.
Today, a new debate is likely to begin over artificial intelligence. Much like in the early 1970s, we have increasing investment in a new technology, diminished productivity growth and “experts” predicting massive worker displacement. Yet now we have history and experience to guide us and can avoid making the same mistakes. Investment in digital technology in the 70s and 80s was focused on supporting existing business models. It wasn’t until the late 90s that we began to see significant new business models being created.
The future, in fact, will be driven by humans collaborating with other humans to design work for machines to create value for other humans. Any viable cognitive strategy is not to cut costs but to extend capabilities. So perhaps most importantly, what business leaders need to understand about artificial intelligence is that it is not inherently utopian or apocalyptic, but a business tool. Much like any other business tool its performance is largely dependent on context and it is a leader’s job to help create that context.
While it is true that technology can do some wonderful things, the measurable impact has been relatively meagre. At the same time the power of digital technology is diminishing. Without advancement in the underlying technology, it is hard to see how digital technology will ever power another productivity boom. Perhaps the biggest reason that the digital revolution has been such a big disappointment is because we expected the technology to largely do the work for us.
The truth is that every disruptive era is not only fraught with danger, but also opportunity. Every generation faces unique challenges and must find the will to solve them. Today, at the beginning of a new century, we are seeing similar shifts that are far more powerful and are moving far more quickly. Disruption is no longer seen as merely an event, but a way of life and the fissures are there for all to see. Our future will depend on our determination to solve problems faster than our proclivity to continually create them.
Quantum computing is not only almost unimaginably powerful, it is also completely different than anything we’ve ever seen before. You won’t use a quantum computer to write emails or to play videos, but the technology will significantly impact our lives over the next decade or two. What’s most important to understand, however, is that the quantum era will open up new worlds of possibility, enabling us to manage almost unthinkable complexity and reshape the physical world. Here’s a basic guide to what you really need to know.
Today, it’s hard to find anyone who doesn’t believe in the power of digital technology. Whole industries have been disrupted. New applications driven by cloud computing, artificial intelligence and blockchain promise even greater advancement to come. Every business needs to race to adopt them in order to compete for the future. Ironically, amid all this transformation the digital revolution itself is ending. Over the next decade, new computing architectures will move to the fore. Simply waiting to adapt won’t be enough. The time to prepare is now.
If robots are truly taking over, then why are having trouble finding enough humans to do work that needs being done? The truth is that automation doesn’t replace jobs, it replaces tasks and when tasks become automated, they largely become commoditized. So while there are significant causes for concern about automation, such as increasing returns to capital amid decreasing returns to labor, the real danger isn’t with automation itself, but what we choose to do with it.
Digital transformation is human transformation and that’s where you need to start. The first step towards a successful digital transformation is not the technology itself, but thinking about how you can empower your people through it. Where do you expect value to shift to? What new skills will your people need to learn in order to succeed? How can technology help them get where they need to be to serve your customers well?
Over the past few decades innovation has become almost synonymous with digital technology. Despite significant advances in technology, productivity growth has been depressed for most of the last 50 years. Over the next ten years, however, we’re likely to see that change as nascent technologies hit their stride and create completely new industries. Yet the technologies that will drive the 21st century are still mostly in the discovery and engineering phases, so they’re easy to miss. Here’s what you’ll need to know to compete in the new era.