WOW2030

We all know the world of work is changing; but how exactly and what can we really do about it?

I attended the third annual World of Work conference yesterday. Here are my notes:

  • People (esp GenZ) increasingly want their work to have a positive impact (not just £££)
  • At least initially, AI is being used to supplement (rather than replace) humans: ‘co-creation’:
    • a good day to carve marbleAI-generated fortune cookie sayings are entertaining “Today is a good day to carve marble”
    • Banana & bacon do go surprisingly well together in cupcakes (an AI-generated flavour combo) – but, for now, we still need a human baker to tweak quantities and produce
    • Therefore, the ability to work alongside the machines is key – perhaps leveraging their computational/combination power for idea generation and then filtering the results

“Remember, there’s always a human inside the machine” Be it human thinking/empathy factored into an algorithm or a real person within a company/system.

  • The social impact of this tech disruption is real but often not very visible e.g. subtle/slow shifts in gender/regional balance
  • Lily the selfie-taking robot doesn’t care if you are in the middle of your keynote – she will interrupt anyone – she has an important job to do – now smile for the camera :)
  • “Alexa, ask Dominos to feed me” works! Consumer tech is super excited about voice-first (think smart speakers/siri/Alexa etc.)
  • Neural networks are already producing eye-opening results. Try entering partial song lyrics into this gem and see what you get 

RECURRING THEME: why hasn’t productivity increased with this amazing tech (in our pockets)? My thought – we just haven’t got the hang of it yet – e.g. simply being more deliberate with how we use our time

  • Some countries are way ahead in their agile working practices e.g. Finland: https://www.bbc.com/worklife/article/20190807-why-finland-leads-the-world-in-flexible-work 
  • Work is generally shit. A CIPD survey of what retired folks missed most from work found “Nothing”
  • Smart organisations are spending regular time preparing for the future, acknowledging:
    • No-one really has a clue. Uncertainty is a new normal. We live in a VUCA world
    • Business survival depends on being prepared for the future, by being able to learn and respond to change.

The best way to predict the future is to to create it ~ Drucker

  • Create and share your visions. Like this video from JLL
  • Workplace diversity is now starting to be driven by commercial imperative (diverse people and thoughts > better ideas > better products and services; duh)
  • What if you left your workplace at the end of the day feeling better than when you arrived??
  • 5G rollout looks like a critical enabler for the IoT revolution – RF engineers will certainly be in high demand

So what does it all mean? 

One thing’s for sure: the people and organisations who force themselves to regularly gaze forward into the future are less likely to be asking “Who moved my cheese?” when the time comes.

Connected

Commuting home on the tube… Listening to an old Zane Lowe podcast about the Beastie Boys (downloaded automagically overnight). Reminds me of my very first cassette – Licensed to Ill. I check Spotify and download the whole album using the train station wifi.

Now on the train I play the album. The opening riff from the first track reminds me of Led Zep’s “When the levee breaks”. Never noticed that before. (Too young back then?) Search for the original on Spotify to compare. Ah yes, LZ not on Spotify… What’s this?

The London Philharmonic Orchestra version! Result.

Google search confirms the BB track has a direct sample. We all know that everything is a remix anyway, don’t we?

I write a note to get my ideas straight and retrace my tech/app/connection & curiosity steps. How did I stumble upon London Philharmonic? Blog worthy? Maybe not. But a good test of the WordPress mobile app.

What’s the point? Tech as an enabler for serendipity? Or how commuting ‘dead time’ is now up for grabs? Does it matter? Something eloquent about hyper-connectivity. Wait, about to head through Shiplake – goodbye data…

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Digital redistribution

(Photo Credit BreS via Flickr)
(Photo credit: BreS via Flickr)

They are dropping like flies.

First Blockbuster and Kodak. Now Comet, Jessops, and HMV in quick succession. Who next?

Businesses are having a hard time adjusting to the new rules of the digital era and today’s economy is unforgiving.

Part of me is nostalgic for these businesses; the job loss stats are frightening and I’m old enough to remember the failed “Use it or lose it” campaign of our village post office in the 80s.  The other part of me knows that these businesses were designed for an era that no longer exists. They’ve served their time. Under better economic conditions they might struggle on but deep down we know they are better off in business heaven.

So the privilege to turn a profit on the distribution of music, film, cameras, and consumer electricals is redistributed to a first wave of businesses designed for the emerging digital age. Spotify, Amazon, iTunes, Lovefilm, Netflix etc haven’t had to convert themselves from analogue; they weren’t anchored to legacy business models, infrastructure and thinking. They had a blank piece of paper, the courage to try something new, and a healthy dose of luck.

(Photo credit: Todd Robinson via Tumblr)
(Drawing credit: Todd Robinson via Tumblr)

To blame the likes of Amazon and Apple for the demise of HMV and Co is to deceive ourselves. We consumers killed these companies through our purchasing choices. By showrooming to handle a camera at Jessops and pick the brain of the sales agent before going home to think about it buy it on Amazon. We’ve all done it. By giving 30% of our money for iTunes songs and apps directly to Apple instead of shopping in HMV. By buying Amazon gift vouchers. There’s no judgement here; that’s just how it is.

The New Year brought some financial housekeeping to the Tatman household. Our bank statements reveal the extent and spread of our digital reliance through subscriptions and online shopping receipts. Specialist sports retailer Wiggle won last month’s battle but Amazon will no doubt reign supreme again this month.

Such specialists have some hope for survival in the digital era. Wiggle can sell me a commodity item like a mass-market bike pedal far cheaper than my local cycle shop. But if I want expert tailored advice on fitting and usage then local specialist wins every time (AthleteService in Henley). Wiggle can’t watch me pedal and give me adjustment guidance via Skype. This service hasn’t been digitised. Yet.

So the music and video incumbents have been displaced as the medium becomes purely digital. What products and services will be next? For other industries the patterns and warnings are there to learn from.

One predictable thing about change is its unpredictability. It’s early days for the digital era so I expect plenty more digital redistribution along the way as business models are tested and today’s winners are disrupted. This cycle of creative disruption, of births and deaths in business is nothing new; it’s survival of the fittest out there and always has been.

Exciting times.

 

Customer service win

Bad news may drive sales and traffic but, to build exceptional businesses, we need to understand good news and good service.

Nothing travels faster than the speed of light with the possible exception of bad news, which obeys its own special laws.

~ Douglas Adams

My laptop screen hinge made a horrible sound and dislocated itself a few days ago. It’s only 4 years old, I’ve looked after it well, and it wasn’t cheap so I had a scratch around online.

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Continue reading Customer service win

Confirmation Bias

Welcome to Part 2 in the series about cognitive biases. Critical thinking hats on…

  • Confirmation bias: the tendency to gather or interpret information that confirms our existing lines of thinking.

For example, I enjoy travelling and collect quotes and arguments for travelling (previous post) that ignore the anti-travelling view. (Is there one?!)  This is a blind spot for my critical thinking, albeit one that I recognise.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of cherry picking relevant information when time / resources are tight or when we have already settled on an answer.  However, we may regret discarding information in the future, particularly if our decisions are held up to scrutiny.

What can we do to minimise this bias?

One way is to deliberately seek out opposing views. Abraham Lincoln famously countered confirmation bias by forming his cabinet with those that publicly disagreed with him. Bold!

Creativity expert Roger Von Oech goes further and suggests we ask a fool to provide a different perspective and challenge our assumptions to stimulate our thinking.

BTW – If you are tempted into thinking this is all a bit fluffy then you may have succumbed to a confirmation bias about creativity experts; Von Oech has a Ph.D. from Stanford University and has provided creativity consulting to Apple, Disney, Sony and Intel. Continue reading Confirmation Bias