Sechs Fragen an... Global Shaper Robin Weninger
1. Which technologies will profoundly change corporations within the coming years? What will happen within the next three years?
From my perspective, five major technologies will drive change:
First one, Voice & Robo Assistents. Voice is the next step in making technology more human and to us it’s the most natural way of interaction. Such technology that is superior in voice will integrate better into our everyday life and will also make itself more accessible as it reduces technical barriers (skills). Voice will also be the driver for a higher grade of acceptance of robo advisory (e.g. in healthcare) as it feels more natural from the point of interaction.
Second, AI and automation will drive change because they are the basis for all technological advancements that we see happening right now. The better AI works, the better technology becomes. And it is only a question of time until AI and automation will be capable of facilitating highly complex task that for now we still think only humans can do.
Third, VR/AR. Bringing the virtual world into our analog life is mainly done through devices like phones or computers. VR/AR has the power to integrate technology in our life seamlessly. We might get rid of phones and the like in just a couple of years and blend technology more and more in with faculties closer to our natural dispositions.
Fourth, Blockchain is just the beginning of the trust and transparency economy and desperately needed in our current systems. It might lead to a state of the world where we can get rid of crime and fraud by creating the perfect taste of trust through technology. Furthermore, Blockchain and the underlying technologies can reduce a lot of the bureaucracy and enable us to make faster decisions
And finally, Quantum Computing. Still in the early stages, but nearly all big players are investing billions into this technology. Quantum Computers, often better known as super computers, will be capable of solving highly complex challenges and make technology even more superior.
2. The recruiting of employees has become one of the greatest challenges.
How can corporations face these challenges fostered by the so-called VUCA World, a world of accelerated and constant change? How does this apply to the new „Generation E“?
It all starts with redefining what an “employee” actually is. We are still seeing work as we did in the industrial age, meaning people trade in time for money and the only thing that matters was optimising the output in relation to the time spend. The new world of work is different. It’s true that we are still aiming at optimising output, but the way we produce the outcomes dramatically changed.
We see a raising movement of freelancers, micropreneurs and entrepreneurs, people that run their own business for themself, doing the work that they acquire. We see people that switch jobs on an annual basis. And, we see that the old triggers and incentives no longer manage to keep people aboard. Even in Silicon Valley companies struggle to retain their talent. It’s extremely difficult.
Work becomes more than just “work.” It’s part of our lives and blends more and more into something that we really want to be a vital part of our whole life. The hardest part about this is that every individual is unique. There isn’t the one system that we can use to attract and retain talent, there are millions of ways to do it. Personally, I believe that leadership is very important. HR is nothing you can leave to an HR department, every leader has to be involved in it and brand themselves in a way that attracts and retains people. We tried to unify the leadership style in organisations, but I think it’s now time to individualise leadership to keep up with the game.
But, at the same time we also have to understand that we as a society are very lazy when it comes to work and often think we are “too good” to do certain jobs. If we look into the craft industry, nearly all companies struggle to find people willing to work for them. And craft might be one of the last things we human beings will do, when everything else is done by technology. It’s way harder to have a machine replace a window than replacing someone who writes contracts.
3. Which new methods and tools will be indispensable to acquire and retain new clients? Which new products and service offers will this require.
It’s quite similar to the employee part. We need to give customers something that they can believe in and something that matches their personalities.
I believe that storytelling is one of the strongest drivers for customer retention. People want to tell something about the stuff they buy and we have to give them these stories. People value honesty, authenticity and a consistent story.
I also deeply believe in reducing products and services to the vital functions. It makes sense to get rid of everything that is not absolutely necessary and stop trying to confuse a customer with communication trickery. It’s not good for a relationship if you tell people with a bright batch on the packaging that you use “organic tea tree oil” and the rest of the ingredients is just conventional production (and might even be produced under bad conditions).
Gaining this level of trust, that people are attached to your brand, might be the strongest force.
But, you also have to be good in the “traditional” domains of service. Meaning, you still need an excellent customer support in all domains and levels as well as a clear communication strategy and the desire to serve.
4. How will new technologies shape communication within teams. How does it affect client communication?
Technology will help us communicate more effectively within teams, organisations, and with our external stakeholders. Especially voice assistants will dramatically improve service support. We will be capable of automating a lot of the standard communication. Though technology we will most likely deliver communication on a superior level. Just look at the first examples of Google’s new technology being capable of making appointments at restaurants.
Still, communication is one of the most important things for us human beings. We need it and we have to retain it in our social environments. Over the last years, a lot of new forms of communication have arrived in our life and they are all good, but we need to learn them, embrace them, and facilitate them for the good. Just think about the talent question: if everybody is working remotely and all around the world, we need new effective ways of communication that don’t require a physical meeting… However, we are still very bad and ineffective when it comes to communication through technology.
5. Huge investments will be called for by new technologies. Will enterprises proactively handle it? And how?
Short-term, we have to rethink how we measure the success of a company from more perspectives than just cash and returns. We see a lot of companies out there with fantastic financial performance that a desperately in need of technology investments to keep up with what is coming. I think we will see quite some companies over the next years disappear from the scene due to the lack of investments. It’s not sustainable to squeeze every penny, just to look look good at the shareholder meeting.
Long-term, we definitely need a radical new approach on how to manage organisations to ensure stability (and that requires investments) over the long run. We also will face a time where we have to raise the question on what money actually is and if it’s still the right tool to measure our economy (or if we need it at all). But this is the part where it gets philosophical.
6. How important will be ethical questions and answers for our future business and living (life)?
The essential points I’ve made so far are all tied together in ethics. First of all, business and especially services are all about humans. Ethics is all about humans and their well-being in the broadest sense, in the question “what is a good life and what does it take to make it possible for all of us?”. Ethics is about the now as well as the long-run. Decisions we make today, especially thinking of technology, will not only impact our immediate lives and surroundings but also the future of others and in far-away places.
Values are the cornerstones of ethics. And I have already stressed the importance of trustworthiness and honesty, in communication as well as in any human interaction. Anyone who tries to hide dirty business behind some shiny veneer is at risk of being found out - increasingly so with technology that generates expanding levels of transparency.
Core fundamental values are shared by all people and are the necessary condition for the possibility to come together in a society where people might find a good life and happiness. Not only as private persons but also as people within larger contexts such as a company, we need to know these values so we can consider them in our actions and decisions. Of course, we will also have to consider personal values, a.k.a. morals - those of employees and potential employees as well as those of customers. Once again, communication is crucial here, honestly and truthfully, in order get these perspectives, these insights.
And when we look at technology and how it will change our ways of life, I need to stress the role of responsibility that we have today and that we have to consider when developing and utilizing technology. It is our responsibility today to think about how our decisions now might affect others in 10, 50, more years from now. For that we will have to ask ourselves ethical kinds of questions and have to think beyond, as I already said, cash and looking good in front of today’s shareholders. - Tomorrow’s stakeholders will thank you for it and today’s customers will as well: such actions will increase your trustworthiness.
Ethics is stable to a certain degree but not fixed. When our circumstances change in such encompassing ways as they do and will continue to do with this exponentially advancing technology, ethics is confronted with new questions and needs to come up with new answers. Right now, we are still early enough in the process to still formulate these questions and take some time to think about how we want to answer them. That needs to be everyone’s task right now, on a personal, on a company, on a social level. Once again, it’s a communicative process, conducted by humans and with humanity in mind… and definitely, there is now easy, nor single answer.
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