In his book titled Homo Deus, Yuval Harari provides a look into possible futures; he echoed those themes as he addressed the attendees of this years annual meeting of the World Economic Forum. I encourage everyone to read his Address, as it touches on the three existential threats that he believes humanity faces: nuclear war, ecological collapse, and technological disruption. Given the attention paid to the first two, Mr. Harari focused his address on technological disruption.
Every morning, I scan the horizon. Horizon Scanning is a systematic process that serves as an early warning system to inform decision makers about possible futures. It identifies actions, innovations, and events that have the potential to alter our future, both positive and negative. I am struck by the sheer volume of news, areas to consider, and emerging building blocks that are likely to impact society. The Possibilities – both good and bad – seem endless.
Thinking about the Future should be a normal part of every leaders day. With so many building blocks to consider, the need to understand them intensifies, as well as the various ways they are connecting. A Canvas that helps us to visualize can be very helpful. My scanning this morning underscores just how much to consider. In a short period of time, I explored the World Economic Forum’s continued focus on Purpose. Having just written about How Different Jobs will be in the next ten years, I read another Article on the need for a Global Reskilling revolution. As the world explores a profound shift in our energy paradigm, I learned that the windows in our buildings will provide all the Energy Required. The foundational elements of society are shifting. Even money is likely to transform, as Central Banks study the possibilities of Digital Currencies.
So, scan away my friends, the horizon is approaching rapidly.
As a foundational piece of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, 5G is likely to drive the human development that many anticipate. Viewing 5G through the lens of convergence provides an organizing principle that allows us to leverage insight across domains and derive foresight as a result. 5G, the next generation of cellular mobile communications technology, is the best example of convergence – as geopolitics is getting involved in emerging technology decisions and technology discussions are influencing geopolitics.
As many focus on the future of work, various different perspectives are presented. A common theme is emerging: Jobs will be there, but they will be very different within the next decade. This recent Article draws three conclusions:
- In 10 years time, 50% of jobs will be changed by automation – but only 5% eliminated.
- 9 out of 10 jobs will require digital skills.
- Young, low-skilled and vulnerable people – all need help with up-skilling.
Several critical points are made by the World Economic Forum article:
Many Future Scenarios are spawned by convergence across multiple domains. The most obvious Convergence is occurring between science and technology. I have been posting links to numerous articles that explore possible futures. These futures are important for us to understand, as they usher in a very Pivotal Decade. Here is another set of articles that help us envision the future.
As platform business models increasingly gain board-level attention, the ecosystem conversation intensifies. David Kish – a TCS colleague – recently worked with the broader team (Kevin Mulcahy, Rose Rodriguez, Bill Quinn, Bill Bosak) to author an article focused on shifting platform and ecosystem dynamics. I am sharing Dave’s article via this guest post.
Since the advent of the internet, the combinatorial effect of innovation in science and digital technologies has rapidly driven the world toward a platform economy where software, apps and APIs enable every human activity and radically change how people interact and create value. Companies like Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Alibaba and Tencent, which represent seven of the top ten valued companies by market capitalization, are leading this transformation and have created an imperative for all companies: develop platform capabilities and adapt your strategy to survive and succeed in the platform economy.
A view into history helps us better understand the future. A recent Article describes this phenomenon in detail, exploring how to apply historical reasoning to the future. I have invested considerable time in understanding the Cycles of History and how they help us better understand the future. As Future Thinking becomes an increasingly bigger part of a leaders agenda, a historical perspective provides valuable input. As described in the article, the goal is to reason well, using an understanding of history to think more clearly about a range of possible futures and how probable a given outcome might be.