Some of the changes we see today in technology and work have been enabled by the disruption caused by the pandemic, others are simply an acceleration of the existing pre pandemic trends.
Virtually every industry has been experiencing rapid, massive, and sometimes devastating change over the last few years. Think of how much things have changed in just the last five years. Think of all the new services that you use, the new technologies in place, and all the innovation that’s right around the corner. Moreover, it’s amazing that we are able to view all these rapid changes before our eyes.
At the same time, technology has a way of making radical change feel matter-of-factly incremental. The arrival of the digital world has enhanced our capabilities in ways that are profound. A large part of the world’s population is now connected on the mobile phone. We easily have conversations across the globe and create, consume and share photos, music, videos and ideas and innovations. We are also steadily moving away from a one way cycle of buying and hoarding to different types of user models. For instance, with Uber we rent a car for a short while, we listen to apple Itunes rather than hoarding a stash of CDs or records and in many homes we increasingly order food rather than cook. However, these dramatic changes have been adopted wholeheartedly and almost naturally. The pandemic has also accelerated some of these changes.
With operations teams working overtime on hybrid working, IT is struggling to cope with emerging technology needs and marketing departments are wondering how to advertise since viewership is deeply fragmented. Sustainability and social responsibility departments on the other hand need to quickly turn and re-evaluate new strategies given the scale and magnitude of climate change targets and impacts.
The big question we need to be asking is, “What will the new world look like and can we together create a better tomorrow?” We create what we think. And this is perhaps as good a time as any to learn from the past and create a better tomorrow by designing it in a better way. Corporate structures have been driven by the need to hire specialists for each department, but now we need to think differently. The only way that we can seek to address all the accelerating digital and sustainability trends is to start thinking in systems. The same needs to be applied to how companies function too.
For instance, people talk of creating ethical AI to solve problems through automation. How you think and act gets reflected in what you create. Ethical AI is more about ethics than technology.
The inherent model behind corporations is one of liability limitation and externalization of cost. The winners of tomorrow will be companies that create value while being socially responsible.