Be careful what you wish for. Digital 2.0 increasingly allows automation of human based tasks through Robotic Process Automation, Machine Learning and AI. We are all impacted and some municipalities are even trialling “money for nothing” distribution to their citizens. Is Digital 2.0 the brave new world we seek and how do we respond to the business opportunity while managing the threats to our own professions?
Warning, exponential curve ahead
Through rapid advances in technology we are now witnessing Digital 2.0 through an explosion of big data, the availability of cheap compute power and algorithmic developments using machine learning. The key ‘watch out’ feature is that these advances continue exponentially (Moore’s Law, Quantum or Optical Computing). A sit and wait response is not an option at this pace either at a corporate or professional level.
We are rapidly moving from the first order digital benefits gained by automation of marketing, sales, operations and finance using social, mobile, analytics and cloud. Digital 2.0 now anticipates and addresses customer needs much more effectively. Digital 2.0 can be related to the information maturity model where data transforms successively to information, then to insight and finally into wisdom. Digital 2.0 lies at the nexus of Level 3 and Level 4.
- Level 1 – Data: a collection of data e.g. a big data set or data lake
- Level 2 – Information: an understanding of the context and relationships within a data set e.g. using analytics against a data set
- Level 3 – Insight: an understanding of the drivers and causality of historic events, behaviours or decisions to apply in foresight e.g. regression and predictive algorithms
- Level 4 – Wisdom: the ability to accurately and consistently predict wide ranging future events, behaviour or decisions e.g. a universally applicable strong AI engine
I think, therefore I am (replaceable)
There are aspects of human thinking which are pattern or rule driven that can be readily automated. Other areas are more of a challenge, such as higher level cognitive thinking, emotional processing and creativity. Nonetheless, the automatable use cases for Digital 2.0 are growing daily and are competing with our human abilities to think and make decisions. Natural language processing, route optimisation, chat bots, cross and up-sell suggestions are obvious examples. More advanced cases include diagnosing via medical scans, paralegal work, financial trading, loans approval, self healing IT and autonomous vehicles.
Many AI supported automations are at least as reliable as their human counterparts, whilst having higher productivity and zero fatigue issues. But, how far will such automation progress, before large aspects of our human thinking and job tasks become redundant for blue and white collar professionals? The key is to move from observing the change, to shaping the change and defining the opportunity from any human task redundancy.
Own your destiny
Digital 2.0 is here to stay and the pace of change is accelerating. Changes for business and professionals will be thick and fast, so there is a need to ready ourselves today, before the ‘knee’ of the exponential curve kicks in. Our corporate and individual responses will determine winners and losers.
Although the business opportunities are clear, the professional ones are less so. We should, however, take heart that there will be new opportunities for individuals. Just as the last 10 years created new jobs such as Digital Marketeers, Digital Product Managers and Data Scientists, then Digital 2.0 will give rise to new AI roles too.
To own your destiny, build your plan:
- For businesses: Understand your vision for the Digital 2.0 operating model. Get your data assets ready to support machine learning and AI. Build AI into your Digital and Innovation Strategies and partner with leading suppliers, to foster co-creation through innovation labs. Identify beneficial use cases that drive value and adopt an agile test-learn approach. Develop a people strategy for the Digital 2.0 change.
- For professionals: Audit your skills and identify those relevant to new world to nurture them over legacy skills. What worked in the past may not work for you in the future, so embrace Digital 2.0 through a learning plan. You don’t need to become an expert in neural networks, but you do need to identify and get engaged in Digital 2.0 opportunities at work, or with supply partners. Digital 2.0 drives us all to be more agile in our careers.
If you have a plan, great. If not then start today and shape your destiny to be a winner, not a loser from Digital 2.0