10 Transitions which will change Work and Customer Relations

Cet article est également disponible en : French

“This post was initially published in French on this blog (January 16). I am very grateful to Jon Husband, the father of “Wirearchy“,  for this  translation.” Christian Renard.

The year 2016 had barely begun. CES 2016 had just closed its doors and FrenchTech was out in force. With Emmanuel Macron in mind, there was a lot of « crowing » but little evidence of success.

On this side of the Atlantic, the atmosphere is not the same: The mood of weariness and distrust between French, as reported by the JDD this January 17:

“Tiredness”, “Gloom “” Suspicion “: three words that come out on top in the online survey between 17 and 28 December 2015, completed by 2064 people and carried out by Opinion Way. For Martial Foucault, Director of the Political Science Research Centre of Siences-Po, which commissioned the survey (backed by the JDD): “You have to understand this weariness as the expression of a real fatigue, the inability of those who mention the weariness to plan for a better future ”
Projecting into a better future? This was the ambition of the World Economic Forum in Davos, where the elite of the world gather annually to reflect on the future.Here is Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman, on the eve of the 2016 edition of the famous Davos Forum, which took place from January 20 to 23 :
“We are on the verge of a technological revolution – the Fourth Industrial Revolution – which will profoundly change the way we live, work, and interact with others. By its scale, scope, and complexity, the transformation that we will live not look anything like what humanity could live to this day ”

“The First Industrial Revolution, that of steam, allowed to mechanize production. Second, electricity generated mass production. Third, electronics and information technologies were used to automate production. The fourth industrial revolution – the digital revolution – is being grafted onto the previous ones. It is  blurring of boundaries between the physical, digital, and biology. It evolves exponentially, not in a linear fashion. It will gradually disrupt all industry sectors around the globe, and it will fundamentally change production, management, and governance. ”

Here are 10 key issues that will take us into the 21st century and  give us prospects.

planète connectée pixabay human-977414_640 2016 01 071- The planet is mobile and connected.

Mobile and social is already interwoven into the lives of more than 2 billion people.
In France, 31 million people now own a smartphone, which becomes the “hub” linking our private spaces – us, our cars, our homes – to the outside world. All decision makers have now realized that this technological tsunami that nobody saw coming will rapidly disrupt the ways we work and do business.

2- Technology becomes transparent, and its uses are multiplying.

Chat and Voice gradually replace Keyboard and Mouse … and this is now the machine that will fit us.
The Digital Factory summarizes this new trend using a pithy title: “At CES 2016, Tech has disappeared.

Machines are evolving quickly to provide some degree of understanding natural language. The applications of “chat” such as WeChat or Facebook Messenger allow a multitude of daily-life transactions (order a taxi, book a restaurant or a show and pay with one click) with the words  we use every day. With Siri, Cortana and Google Now, things go one step further. Those who choose to share the necessary information are offered the use of a personal assistant that answers questions, makes suggestions, and anticipates ever better as the software gets to know us.

An article in the Orange blog reports on emerging technology “Dialogue with machines: between myths and realities“. The conclusion: gaming question / answer treated separately, yes. Real dialogue later.


3- Mobile becomes the “hub” that connects the different compartments of our existence in the connected world.

Various sensors, connected objects and “portable” devices are invading the various aspects and activities of our lives: both for ourselves and for our loved ones, our homes, our cars, our work. According to Gartner, there were 4.9 billion connected objects in 2015. There will be 20 billion in 2020. And 65% connected objects will be firmly in the Consumer arena.
The advertising model adopted by GAFA forsocial networks was to capture personal data counterparty free. With the Mobile and Internet of Things, users want to regain control of their data.  It is likely that  governments will help them. But as we often have interest in sharing such data, the filters that will be put into place will help the sharing happen wisely.

4- Cognitive Computing takes off. 

It may become a wave of change more powerful than the one that brought us Mobile and Social.

Cognitive Computing includes the use of voice, but the capabilities extend beyond. Cognitive computing asks questions, is capable of scanning billions of tweets in milliseconds, millions of videos, and find expertise. It enables talking or sending messages in real time.
Specifically – with your permission – cognitive computing will be able to accompany you, to coach you – with Waze, Google Now can enhance your travel experience – IBM Watson for Oncology allows oncologists to compare the data of patients with the histories of thousands of cases and then offer up those most adapted to the specific case in question.  There are many more examples of “coaching” available: Health, Fitness, Finance, Transport.
Cognitive Computing has three key components: 1- natural language processing (NPL) which eliminates the traditional barrier between Human and Machine. 2- A great hunger for ingesting data. 3- The ability to learn (Machine Learning) by assigning meaning to the vast amounts of unstructured data carried in and by our smartphones and connected devices.

An article by Bernard Marr devoted to IBM Watson made the point: The rise of thinking machine: how IBM Watson takes on the world.

Why “Cognitive”?

Explanations of Harrier Green, General Manager, IBM Watson IoT and Education
“The Internet of Things is a challenge in terms of data. The traditional approach of the programmed computing – in which the data is guided through a series of processes of “if / then” pre-determined to reach a result – cannot handle the level and type of data needed to fulfill the promise of the IoT. Programmable systems are effective on scenarios imposed on the basis of predictable data. This rigidity limits their usefulness for many aspects of a complex and fast world, where the value of the data decreases exponentially with every second of use.
Cognitive Computing overcomes these limitations. Rather than being explicitly programmed, cognitive systems learn from their interactions with us and their experiences with their environment. This allows them to adjust the volume, complexity, and unpredictability of information generated by the Internet of Things. In addition, cognitive systems are able to make sense of the 80%of the planet’s data described as “unstructured” – such as video, audio, and even blogs and Twitter. This means that we are now able to bring into full lview large swathes of the Internet of Things that until now were invisible – trends and “insights” from multiple, disparate sources – and make better informed decisions. ”
For English speakers, here is the video (HD) of the keynote recently delivered by Ginni Rometty, the CEO of IBM, at CES 2016. It helps us to understand the magnitude and inevitability of the movement with the interview of CEO UnderArmour, a specialist sports clothing. It has decided to become the partner of our firm and bought 4 startups federated around the concept of “connected fitness.” Result: 160 million people connected … and a promising partnership with IBM Watson.

5- Skills are scarce, so global cooperation is beginning to appear, and open source is becoming the rule.

Not enough expertise available? To go faster, Google and Facebook make their research public. For its part, IBM has built, brick by brick, a very powerful infrastructure around Watson.
Google and Facebook have just put their “deep learning” programs into open source (see the article by JDN “GAFA the race in full artificial intelligence“)
IBM Watson now operates in 26 industry sectors (including Health, Financial Services, Retail, and Travel) and is involved in 36 partnerships aimed at processing more data and learning faster.

Facebook is testing Facebook “at work” with 100 000 employees of the Royal Bank of Scotland “and Microsoft is reinventing itself at full speed around open source software.

6- « Open »platforms will emerge as the only interface that can connect us to a world in full acceleration while connecting to existing systems.

Such ‘open’ platforms connect Technology, Talent, and Business, with DATA as fuel.

Uber and AirBb have managed to invent services based on platforms and are moving into a services model by matching needs and resources. Some are champions of the Collaborative Economy Collaborative, other exploiters of “Platform Capitalism”. What is undeniable, as pointed out Nicolas Colin, is that these platforms are creating massive skilled jobs to high level of service (although they will have to deal with regulations that they had bypassed).
Read the excellent article by Esko Kilpi: From firms to platforms to commons. Extract:
“The platforms are a shared resource whose value comes from what it allows creation of interactive and shared value while organizing and simplifying participation. Sociologists have called these shared resources of “public goods”. A good is called “private” when their owners can prohibit others from using it. In a closed economy where access to resources (information, knowledge in particular) was limited, which was deprived of value, and what was public was little. It is this transformation that creates intellectual confusion right now. Public resources of the physical world were over-exploited, and this continues, but (in the digital world), new public resources follow a different logic. The more one uses the more value they have for each participant.
In the US, Wall Street is betting on MAGS (Microsoft, Amazon, Google, and Salesforce), anticipating the spark that will soon connect Technology and Business, on the margins of companies, disintermediating and thus bypassing centralized organizations. Salesforce prepared the ground and now new middleware layers and APIs will allow for quick re-building of architectures centered on the traditional values ​​of Commerce:

7- Internet refocuses on the ancestral values ​​of trade: Human Trust and Conversation, which will greatly upgrade traditional businesses in terms of capital and client.

“The power is not in the know-how” business “- they acquire know-how easily – it switches among those with customers and technology” (Mark Fiorantino via the TTSO 01/08/2016)
Invest in a customer to encourage renewal of purchases is reportedly on average 8 times more effetive than if the same amount is invested to find new customers. Yet there is still some time, 90% of marketing budgets are still devoted to customer acquisition.

But everything changes quickly. We are witnessing a triple convergence: with mobile, Digital blends into the physical world, the Central joins the Local; and Marketing, Sales and Customer Service now form a continuum.
“When companies will hire with the heart”,Les Echos headlined in a signed editorial by Jean-Marc Vittori, who summarized the emerging trends: “In the workplace, the physical power of winning first, then the intellectual power. In tomorrow’s economy, the ability to cooperate will be central. A more developed ability among women … “. This is a must-read article.

8- The Internet champions are not mistaken. They are repositioning their forces on what many call the “Internet of Me” and the likelihood of social networks being privatized.

Mobile is a powerful filter, and it takes time, B2C, to win the trust of hundreds of millions, and access  with their permission the ‘Big Data’ which are the fuel of all technology companies.
In Silicon Valley, the transformation of the company will be the next Eldorado. MAGS (Microsoft, Amazon, Google, and Salesforce) want to change the world of work, and Wall Street has applauded

9- Size is no longer an advantage. Only the speedy and agile will reconnect. the fast beating the slow.

Fast beating slow Harnessing the power of Innovation-Ross Dawson - 2015 08 14.jpg

Image:  Harnessing the Power of Innovation-Ross Dawson

Barriers to entrepreneurship continue to be lowered, and a “solo”, a TPE, or … 5 Remote working people now have the same resources as HGV … with the same or more agility. This requires adapting traditional models of management based on a centralized budget management and decision system, and developing an intrapreneurial culture Intrapreneurial on the periphery, via simple, practical and concrete projects, thus increasing partnerships. Thus are revealed, among the Goliaths, many who are unaware of the Davids.

10- The announced end of the “short-termism” that marked political and economic life for the past twenty-plus years will help give perspective and re-mobilize energies towards inventing a better future.

John Hagel, co-chairman of Deloitte  Center for the Edge, noted that we must re-discover the “passion” in organizations:
“Not any passion, but that of the explorer, which has three specific attributes:

1. a long-term commitment to produce a growing impact on a specific area.
2- a curious mind always looking for new challenges.
3- pre-disposition to want to find and connect to other people who can help to quickly find better solutions to challenges.

We find this “passion” in all who, like top athletes, are placed in environments where the search for extreme performance is present. John Hagel « this is not surprising because the three attributes described above are powerful levers for accelerated learning and for faster performance improvement ».
So how to foster and nurture this passion in the professional world? By applying a strategy that revolves around two parallel time horizons.
The first focuses on a horizon from 10 to 20 years: What appear to be the markets or industries relevant to our business in 10 to 20 years, and what are the implications for the type of business we have to become in this period ?

But there is also a second time horizon – and it really is “short term” – and the question becomes, “What are the 2 or 3 projects that will have the greatest impact to accelerate the move towards this more distant future ? Do we have a sufficient critical mass to effectively develop these three initiatives? And how will we measure success in 6 to 12 months?

This approach to strategy is very powerful, but generally neglected. It is the opposite of the famous 5-year plan that requires so much attention from the management of today.
Of course, all these opportunities are not without many risks. The problems of security and identity are at the heart of transformations.
Among the organizations that take a step back, independently, on these key themes, is Forum Atena (disclosure: I’m one of their directors), which organizes from 21 January onward, in partnership with the IREP, a series of debates on “the great upheaval of the Digital”
The best way to adapt? Innovating on the margins of companies, by chaining simple and concrete projects, combining business skills and support functions with the reinforcement of external experts.
There is nothing new or revolutionary in that. it is a widespread practice in many companies. I  spent almost forty years in the margins of traditional structures adapting American business initiatives, positioning them for success in the French market. It started in 1973 when, Jacques Michel, the Director General of the French insurance company that employed me instructed me to create a “Personal Management Center” in partnership with National Liberty Corp., which invented mass-marketed insurance in the USA. He put me in independent premises in which I found myself on a Monday morning alone with a stack of binders – procedure manuals from our American partners. When I asked how to build my team, he sent me to see the HRD, and I left with a dozen « available » employees “available” … those who were not the most sought-after. Yet in less than 2 years they were one of the most successful teams in our group.

Here are 7 keys to success from multiple experiences that followed from what is described above

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