Robots Shouldn’t Make Us Fear For Our Jobs

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Research from the Boston Consultancy Group, Oxford University and Deloitte have predicted that huge swathes of jobs from accounting to manufacturing will be lost to robots in the near future. However, I do not think that we all need to worry about losing our jobs. It will be us that will differentiate business in the coming decades and here is how.

  1. People Become a Premium

It is easy to forget that no matter the industry, those at the end of the sales funnel are human. Technology constantly re-values skills and you should expect colleagues, customers, clients and partners to place an increased premium on the quality, relevance and insightfulness of human engagement in the future. Your competitors can replicate technology, but they can’t replicate humans. Robots aren’t a threat, they would just free up more time and increase our capacity and productivity – ultimately, allowing businesses to focus on the human side of what they do.

  1. You Can’t Build Rapport with a Robot

What robot can motivate a workforce, bank goodwill, return a favor or build a relationship with qualities that enable a business to run smoothly? It is these meaningful relationships and personal interactions that make employees or clients go the extra mile for one another. We have to realize how important soft skills are to success. They are vital in a world where people do business with people.

  1. Innovation Can’t be Programmed

The battle for innovation has never been more fierce in today’s corporate world. In order to be truly innovative, collaboration, idea sharing and creativity are required. These moments usually happen unplanned or when you join a meeting that you weren’t scheduled to attend. It is these moments that lead to one business standing out from their competitors.

  1. Human Instinct Should be Trusted

Something else that cannot be coded is natural intuition. While technology can execute strategy, planning is left to us. Think about when a client asks your consultants to recommend candidates for roles. Experience, qualifications and expertise as well as how the candidate’s skills and personalities would compliment the existing team are all assessed. Ultimately, you can’t program a culture that has that element of “gut” to it.

There is no doubt that at least some of the jobs that exist today will be carried out by robots in the near future. I think that we should embrace that because that means that people and their unique skills are going to become more valuable. We will need a lot of human skill and intuition to be able to leverage this technology to drive productivity into our businesses.

The Future of Tesla

In the past few years, we have spent a lot of time thinking about cars, software, autonomous vehicles as well as the future of asset ownership. Who is at the center of this? Tesla. They are the birth of the first HaaS company at scale. Let me explain what that means. It stands for hardware as a service – through efficient assembly, modern technology and massive amounts of software, the economics will make it much more obvious for a consumer to subscribe to a car, rather than own a car as well as any other asset.

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Autopilot was the culmination of the Haas line of thinking. They have hundreds of thousands of cars collecting millions of data points every hour so their software will become substantially better over time. Right now, it is up to TSLA to decide that instead of selling a consumer a car, they can allow that consumer to subscribe to a car – or a fleet of cars.

Imagine those fleets of Teslas roaming the streets autonomously, just waiting for you to use your app to hail the closest car. While Tesla still makes the cars, the real value is in managing the subscription, having the best software and the predictability of their service such as having the same car models, same smell, same music, etc.

Tesla won’t be the only one driving the future of autonomy. BMW, Toyota, Mercedes-Benz and any other car company who wants to survive will have to become a software company. It is just like Apple building the new case for iOS. The physical cases will change, but the value is in the iOS. No matter how much money is spent on marketing, you are convinced that you are buying the next great improvement to their screen or camera.

In a few years, GOOG, AAPL and TSLA will each have massive autonomous fleets on the road and you will be able to pay with your Apple Pay account, authenticate with Gmail, etc. It will only take one ambitious city manage who wants to run for mayor to realize that these are the solution to a non-trivial percentage of transportation of their citizens. Cities around the world will soon catch on and follow suite.

I know that I would sign up for Tesla’s subscription service in a heartbeat. Would you? Can you see your city adapting to something like this?

5 Tech Skills that You Need for Your Career

Take a moment to think about how different your job or industry was in the 1980s or 90s. You job may not have even existed then. In the past 3- years, things have changed very rapidly. In the early 90s, being able to use Microsoft Word and Excel meant that you had advanced computer skills. Now, people don’t even list those skills on their resume because they are too basic.

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Every single career field is changing – if it isn’t, it is going to become obsolete. You can expect your career to be affected so take a look around now at what technologies are creeping up on you.

I believe that these 5 key skills are what you need to succeed in the near future and not become outdated.

 

  1. Understand Data

You don’t have to be a data scientist, but every field benefits from big data and analytics so get familiar with the concept and how it works. Research what kinds of data your field is collecting as well as what is being used and applied. Learn enough to understand better and how to ask the right questions.

  1. Cyber Security

This can make or break a company. No matter what your position is within a company, being aware of cyber security protects you, your company and your customers. This includes everything from keeping track of your ID badge to follow IT’s recommendations when choosing a password, but it could also keep you from being a weak link in the security chain.

  1. Social Media

Every company has social media and more and more, they want employees on all levels to be brand ambassadors online. Even if you aren’t asked to, companies are not afraid to fire individuals who post embarrassing or illegal things to social media. Know what your company’s privacy policies are; the more you know, the more of an asset you are to the company.

  1. Understanddownload the Cloud

If you haven’t yet, you will soon enter the cloud. More and more often, businesses are storing their data as well as internal and external apps in the cloud. Learn about how cloud computing works and where your company data is stored to help keep it secure.

  1. Video Communications

Video conferencing is here to stay. Job interviews, webinars, training etc are all placed over video such as Skype more and more frequently. While in these high pressure situations, you don’t want to be the one who can’t get their microphone to work. Make sure that you know how to use your video communications program so that you feel comfortable using them when it really counts.

The Future of Your Brain

Ray Kurzweil is the director of engineering at Google, focus on AI and language processing. However, he is also a brilliant futurist. He has made more correct predictions about the future than anyonedownload. With 147 documented predications that he has made since the 1990’s, 115 of those predictions have been correct – giving Kurzweil an accuracy of 86%.

So what is his latest prediction? Kurzweil said that, “In the 2030s, we are going to send nano-robots into the brain (via capillaries) that will provide full immersion virtual reality from within the nervous system and will connect our neo-cortex to the cloud. Just like how we can wirelessly expand the power of our smart phones 10,000-fold in the cloud today, we’ll be able to expand our neo-cortex in the cloud.”

That is only 15 years away. Plugging your brain into the internet? Upgrading your intelligence and capacity for memory by orders of magnitude? Let’s take a look at the implications of this possible future.

Human Intimacy

You will truly be able to know what your friend, spouse or child is feeling. There will be no more email, texting or phone calls, you will be sending your thoughts by simply thinking of them.

Know Anything & Everything

You will have access to the world’s information at the moment you want to know something new. You’ll be able to navigate intuitively, speak any language effortlessly, calculate a sales price including tax in seconds, anything.

Scale Up

You will be able to solve a problem as quickly as you can when you are in a bind. The computational power of your brain can be scaled up to 10 or 1,000 times when you demand it.

Virtual World

Your brain will be able to bypass sensory organs like the eyes and ears to the point that our perception of reality will be totally driven by a gaming engine. When you move your limbs, imagine an avatar of yourself moving in the virtual world. This is The Matrix.

Improved Immune System

Nano-robots will communicate and download software when a new pathogen arrives and attack it – cancer, bacteria, viruses, everything. They can also maintain healthy levels of everything you need and repair – even replace damaged organs.

Searchable Memories

You will be able to remember everything that ever happened to you and be able to search it. You will cross-reference with calendars, GPS coordinates, health data, stock market, weather and anything else that is relevant.

While this future seems wonderful, just remember that exponential technologies are deceptive first before they are disruptive.

What the Heck is a Futurist?

Futurist is a term that has been thrown around a lot lately. However, do you actually know what a futurist is? No, they aren’t fortunetellers and they aren’t alchemists either. Futurists are actually a lot like journalists. Rather than reporting on what has already happens, they report on what is only beginning to happen. Then, they analyze that information among various environments. Basically, futurists find what is just on the edge of society – they can identify the trends and technologies that are just on the periphery, but will become the center very soon.

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What about the history of futurism? It all started in the 1940s actually. Ossip Flechtheim, a German professor started to speak and write about the need for “futurology” courses at universities. However, then the two world wars happened and this idea was put off. In the 1960s, a second wave of futurist stepped up to the plate and developed statistical models. They used computers to determine how society would look like in the future. Different from today, futurists at this time were primarily concerned with the far-future ramifications of things such as space travel, the Pill, artificial intelligence, overpopulation and other things of this sort. While people like Arthur Clarke, Theo Gordon and Eric Jantsch imagined what would be possible with science; Daniel Bell, Bertrand de Jouvenel and Yujiro Hayashi wondered what these things would mean for government policy, democracy, journalism, economic welfare and academic independence.

So, as you may have guessed – we are now in the third wave of futurists. The work done in the 1960s has provided a substantial backdrop for what is done today. Taking that and developing it, futurists connect the dots that seem to be unrelated at first. They accurately identify trends and understanding of how they will shape tomorrow. It kind of sounds more like a science experiment – gathering research, then looking for explicit and implicit patterns. Next, futurists will apply those patterns to the consumer to determine whether the consumer and the marketplace is ready for the change. The last step is pressure-testing the trends to see what could possibly occur. That’s right, we’re talking probabilities, not prophecies. In the very end, futurists develop strategies and explain what to do about it. There are specialties as well. Some futurists stick to computing and biotech or future of the cosmos or future of aging.

It definitely sounds a lot more complicated than both you and I probably previously thought, but it does sound like an intriguing career, doesn’t it?

The Trend That Will Affect Us All

The future may be hard to predict and sometimes we guess wrong. However, there is one trend that will have a big impact on everyone’s business for not only the next few years, but possibly the coming decades. One thing that we cannot deny is that tomorrow, we will be older than we are today. Changes of demography can have very important political, economic and military consequences.

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Let’s take a look at Europe and Japan first. Recent statistics are showing that populations in these two countries are having fewer children – they are also facing a distressing level of youth unemployment. Some worrisome implications of this is a less experienced workforce that will need to financially support a larger elderly population. Meanwhile, Europe is having a huge migration crisis. Who will make it to Europe, where will they settle?

Competitiveness will be at a high in mature economies like Japan and the United States. The workforce will be older, healthcare costs will be higher and there will probably be less pension benefits.

I know what you’re thinking – “What about China?” Many analysts have been betting that China will take up the demographic slack and be the growth engine of the future, but that is not the case. Sure, right now Chinese citizens are relatively prosperous, but China’s one child policy is beginning to take its toll. The smaller number of the next generation is going to have to support a much larger pool of aging citizens, just how it is in developed countries. The Middle Kingdom still accounts for a large proportion of the world’s population and mainland China will still fuel world growth economically. However, the pace of this growth will vary province by province.

As you can already see, companies will need to be creative and find new innovative business models that can take advantage of the shifting demographics of their operating countries’ populations.

The growth in the world will come from countries like India and Africa – this is where the big opportunities lay. Over the next decade, African economies such as Ethiopia, Tanzania and Mozambique are predicted to grow as fast or even faster than some recent Asian countries. However, we must keep in mind that problems like corruption, political instability, poor education and lack of infrastructure could slow or limit growth.

Overall, these shifts in demography will not cause a decline by any means. There will be room for new business opportunities across industries, especially healthcare.

The Banking Revolution Is Coming

Today, almost all retail banks have their own applications for smart phones. However, I believe that digital banking will continue beyond that. We can already see similar trends in other industries. These opportunities can help support branch productivity, customer analytics and much more.

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Your Phone = Your Wallet

Soon enough, you will not have debit and credit cards in your wallet. We already tap to pay with NFC chips in Android phones – for the past two years. By the end of this year, Android b ank apps should let us tap and pay too. The early adopters are already putting it to use in Australia and New Zealand. Of course, Apple is on it too. Apple Pay consists of tapping your phone and then swiping your fingerprint to authenticate. However, this
aspect also makes Apple a competitor of banks.

This is just the beginning too. Businesses will release their own apps that let you ‘store’ your information in your phone and then tap to pay just like the Google wallet. The pre-paid card industry will switch to virtual cards. Italy and South America, the leaders of pre-paid will lead the way for us.

Now, let’s think beyond tapping. What about adopting collecting points or spotting matching visuals? There are experiments going on that will have apps reward users with points when they explore new services and even unlock in-app levels. This will encourage regular engagement, driving down the need for branch based banking with is a huge cost.

Banks will have to go beyond just retail banking. Something that I am personally looking forward to are international money trG-WALLETansfers. Western Union and Money gram currently dominate this global industry. However, there are online players such as Xendpay, Xoom and Transfer Wise. By adding this to their banking app, they can acquire new customers with a targeted money transfer app. P2P transfers, bill payments, share trading, pension management and more are some other options as well.

Something else that will easily come are location or activity based services and offers. Think about being at home, logged into your bank account and you’ve paid a few pills. Next thing you know, you’re offered to face time with a relationship management or have an online financial health check.

Most of what I presented is not new. Banks are smart and they are looking at other industries like retail, gambling, gaming, news and entertainment and realizing that they should be doing the same things. This is only the beginning – our banks are revolutionizing themselves.

BlackBerry Will Rise Again

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BlackBerry has announced that it agreed to acquire Good Technology, a mobile security company for $425 million

Good Technology will be the perfect addition to BlackBerry’s Enterprise Server product. It is a tool for managing corporate devices like BlackBerry handsets, Android and iOS gadget and encrypting email and messages. BlackBerry started supporting Android and iOS back in 2011 after acquiring ubitexx, a device management company. However, even today it still provides more security features of its own devices than for third party platforms. Now, with Good Technology, BlackBerry will be able to change that.

This acquisition shows a shift back towards BlackBerry’s core value – to secure mobile communications for large organizations. BlackBerry Enterprise Server or BES has been the main reason to stick with the company’s devices over iPhones or Android devices. This acquisition proves that even if BlackBerry never gets back into the smart phone market, they will still be able to help customers by keeping their data secure.

Now, a little history on BlackBerry. Before the launch of the iPhone, BlackBerry was kind of corporate smartphones and starting to reach out into the consumer market. As Android and iOD find their way into large organizations with corporate purchases or “bring your own device” programs that let employees use their personal phones for work, BlackBerry has struggled. Third-party software vendors started building applications for iOS and Android, abandoning BlackBerry’s app store.

By the time that BlackBerry began to offer BlackBerry Messenger in 2013, it was basically ignored. The only thing that BlackBerry could do to rally up their loyal customers again was to launch their BlackBerry Classic to relive the glory days. Statistics show that it did not actually bring any salvation to its declining market share. They have already cut costs through layoffs and outsources the manufacturing of headsets. So, the acquisition of Good Technology might be BlackBerry’s last hope.

Good Technology has a bit of a complicated history. It was originally founded in 2000 as SpringThings. It was acquired six years later by Motorola – then three years later, in 2009, sold to Visto, an email provider and was renamed Good Technology. Good Technology’s relationship with BlackBerry hasn’t been all sunshine and flowers either. In 2004, Good Technology settled a patent lawsuit with BlackBerry Limited by agreeing to license technology from it.

If BlackBerry handles the transition well, they can probably bring corporate customers in, even if they are user other company devices. Congratulations to BlackBerry and good luck!

The Future Is Here – Ultra Pods

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In a small-scale experiment, 21 passenger pods have carried more than 1,000 passengers every day between the terminal and Business Car Park at Heathrow Airport. The five-minute ride entails crossing over seven roads and two rivers. Commissioned by the Heathrow Airport Holding Limited and built by the UK-based Ultra Global PRT, the pods have logged over one million miles and demonstrated cost savings, environmental impact and user-friendliness.

There is no type of railway needed. The ultra pods are actual cars with rubber tires, batteries and all. They are 12ft long, 5ft wide and 6ft tall with enough space for six people and their luggage. At 1,870lbs with a 141lb battery pack, the ultra pod can reach 25mphr while only drawing 2kW of electricity. The pods have a self-monitored battery level and when it needs to, it will excuse itself at station stops for charging.

Environmentally, the ultra pods are very impressive. The system already meets the new Kyoto Protocol 2050 projections. The pods have a 50% reduction in per-passenger carbon emissions compared with diesel-powered buses and 70% when compared with cars. Heathrow claims that the ultra pods have replaced 70,000 bus journeys each year. Another major plus is that 80% of passengers do not need to wait for a pod – the maximum wait time is 10 seconds.

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Inside the pod, touch screens let riders select their destination – of which at Heathrow, only offers two options right now. As the doors open, a recorded voice welcomes the rider. Once the passenger presses “Close doors” and “Start” then the pod backs out of its parking spot and glides away from the station.

Obviously, this closed-course vehicle was much easier to build rather than one for the open road such as the Google self-driving car. Sure, it can’t navigate roadway interchanges, pedestrians and non-autonomous vehicles, but there are a lot of advantages. The pods are made of mostly easy to find hardware parts, are reliable and the lightweight of the infrastructure makes it almost 10 times more resource efficient than usual road or railway systems.

Ultra has ambitious plans for the future of the pods. Right now, they are working with Indian investors to build a 4.8-mile circuit in the city of Amritsar, north of New Delhi. The network will have seven stations and more than 200 pods to transport up to 50,000 passengers per day.

It’s not hard to think of all of the different ways that these pods can be used – here comes the future of private autonomous transportation.