Thursday, June 04, 2020

Digital Anthropology, Covid-19 and the Future of Work

In this interview we discuss Covid-19's impact on businesses, digital transformation, the impact of automation on humans and the second digital revolution with entrepreneur and future of work expert, Richard Skellett.  Richard is opinionated and calls the displacement of humans with robots and automation immoral.  Join us for a thought provoking exploration of the future of work.

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Kevin Benedict
Partner | Futurist | Leadership Strategies at TCS
View my profile on LinkedIn
Follow me on Twitter @krbenedict
Join the Linkedin Group Digital Intelligence

***Full Disclosure: These are my personal opinions. No company is silly enough to claim them. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.

Wednesday, June 03, 2020

Operational Tempo and Speed as a Competitive Advantage

The concept of speed as an advantage is not new. Over the course of 700 years, the Romans built and maintained a system of roads extending over 55,000 miles to enable speedy communications and the quick movement of troops and supplies across the vast expanse of the empire. 

Today digital technologies have altered our perception of time and space while expanding our expectations of what can be accomplished in a given time. We expect to accomplish one hour's worth of shopping in a brick and mortar supermarket, in seconds shopping online. These expectations significantly impact the way businesses must operate in a digital era to compete and remain relevant. 

Achieving Transformational Business Speed

It took Magellan’s crew three years sailing ships to circumnavigate the earth.  Today, at hypersonic speeds of 7,680 MPH, it takes just over three hours to circumnavigate the earth.  Data on the Internet, however, travels at 670 million MPH, which means it only takes milliseconds to circumnavigate the earth.  In this age of digital businesses and digital interactions, companies must digitally transform to work effectively in a world where mass information moves at these unimaginable speeds.

It's not just IT systems that are impacted by the volume and speed of information.  The creators of business processes that were designed and developed in an analog area, simply never envisioned a business environment that would require these operational tempos.  Analog business processes were designed to have humans involved.  These dependencies were designed to slow down the process to ensure accuracy, compliance and accountability.  Today, however, operating at the slow speeds of an analog, human dependent business process, will doom your company.  Analog business processes must be quickly automated via robotic process automation (RPA) using artificial intelligence and machine learning to effectively interact with impatient digital customers and B2B partners.

When analog business processes are replaced by hyper-speed digital processes, it is also the time to rethink business models.  Transforming into a digital business will impact how you operate and make money.  You both make money and spend money differently.  Your sales, marketing, branding, delivery and customer service will all look differently.  The model must change.

Most companies are dependent on an integrated ecosystem of suppliers, vendors and partners to function.  If your company digitally transforms and speeds up its operational tempo - your partners must follow or the system and business model breaks down.

Increasing the operational tempo of your business as a result of digital transformation impacts the humans in your company as well.  Roles and responsibilities change as many tasks are automated, the pace of operations dramatically increases, and the skills required change.  In many cases this is the biggest challenge companies face when digitally transforming.

Leadership must also change the way they operate.  Instructions sent via Magellan's ships would have taken three years to arrive and longer to be implemented.  If information is received and decisions are required in real-time, then the pace of decision-making and meetings must change.  Five or three year business plans, must now be re-thought continuously based on non-stop streams of incoming data.

Your organization - your team, must have a culture that supports these speeds.  Your organization must understand and embrace the changes that will help it compete in a digital marketplace.  The following is a partial list of areas where speed must be increased as a result of digital competition:
  1. IT systems, platforms, networks and APIs
  2. Business processes
  3. Business model transformation
  4. Ecosystems
  5. Integrating humans and automation 
  6. Decision-making 
  7. Organizational and cultural response to change
  8. Scaling up or down
  9. Customer alignment
  10. Digital interactions
  11. Implementing personalization and context
  12. Exploiting predictive analytics
Without increasing the operational tempo, the speed in which an organization can adapt, companies cannot survive in the digital age.  This list is not everything a company must do, but it provides a good place to start.  All companies involved in digital transformation today should as part of their overall digital transformation plan, understand what speeds they are at today in each of these 12 areas, and have a plan for increasing it.

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Kevin Benedict
Partner | Futurist | Leadership Strategies at TCS
View my profile on LinkedIn
Follow me on Twitter @krbenedict
Join the Linkedin Group Digital Intelligence

***Full Disclosure: These are my personal opinions. No company is silly enough to claim them. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.

Tuesday, June 02, 2020

The Help or Hinder Solution to Complexity

Help or Hinder (HoH)
I have led many executive workshops over the years where a long list of digital transformation challenges and requirements were identified.  At the end of the session the overwhelmed participates often asked the question, “Where do we start?”  My answer to that question was usually to suggest developing a high-level master or doctrinal statement on what the company wants to achieve by digitally transforming, followed by implementing a simple “help or hinder” analysis.

A “help or hinder” (HoH) analysis involves working with the experts in the business and in IT to label systems, applications and business processes with a HoH label.  For example, does the 40-year old mainframe application help or hinder your ability to accept mobile payments in real-time?  If it hinders your ability to accomplish your goals, fix or replace it.

It’s important that an executive team have a clear understanding of the size of their challenge.  If 47 of their 186 applications, systems and processes hinder digital transformation and progress, then these should be acknowledged, and plans developed to fix or replace.  

Executives might argue that it is not as easy as HoH, but my response is you must start somewhere.  To overcomplicate the analysis means it is highly unlikely to ever get completed.  

The HoH solution to complexity can also be utilized for evaluating vendors or internal talent.  With a clear understanding of what a business needs to do to accomplish their goal, leaders can ask the HoH question in many different contexts.  Do my current vendors, partners or ecosystem HoH my ability to accomplish my objectives?

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Kevin Benedict
Partner | Futurist | Leadership Strategies at TCS
View my profile on LinkedIn
Follow me on Twitter @krbenedict
Join the Linkedin Group Digital Intelligence

***Full Disclosure: These are my personal opinions. No company is silly enough to claim them. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.

Superstitions, Spaceships and Covid-19

This week I listened to prominent voices praising the success of the SpaceX rocket ship and the work of the scientist involved there, while at the same time publicly rejecting the guidance of other scientist on how to best prevent the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus.  This got me thinking about what people understand or don’t understand about science and the scientific method.

Scientists working in the areas of space flight and disease prevention both utilize the same scientific methods in their work.  The scientific method is a way to systematically discover what is true in nature.  It’s a way of logically making progress in our understanding about nature. It’s not a political or religious statement.  In fact, Albert Einstein famously described the differences between science and religion with these words, “Science can only ascertain what is, but not what it should be...”   Knowing what is…is pretty important for astronauts, medical scientists and all of humanity.

Friday, May 29, 2020

Covid-19 and the Value of Ideas

I was recently on a call with a client who asked, “In addition to your standard services, what new ideas are you bringing to the table?”  The client obviously placed a high value on ideas.  

Competitive advantages first start as ideas.  A single competitive advantage can open doors to a tsunami of additional advantages and economic benefits (Advantages=A²).  For example, innovators and leaders always see data that laggards can’t.  That data can be used to guide new product roadmaps, marketing opportunities, sales, improvements and innovations.

The value of new ideas, however, can only be realized if acted upon.  I have personal journals full of good ideas with little to no value.  I never acted.  I can’t tell you how many times I have exclaimed to my wife, “That was MY idea!”, after having read about another company acting upon my latent good ideas.

Why hadn’t I acted?  Most often it had to do with time and focus.  My work at the time was not focused on “acting upon” that particular new idea, and my KPIs did not include acting on it.

What if companies were to recognize how valuable new ideas are to their future success?  I recently interviewed a successful entrepreneur, Richard Skellett, about his views on workforce productivity and management.  He said the business value of an employee should not be associated with a pre-defined position or pay scale, because even a junior employee could contribute highly valuable ideas to the company.  Skellett believes every employee should have a balance sheet where their personal asset and liability curves could be recognized by all in a transparent manner.  The more ideas and value a person brings to the company, no matter their position, the higher their reward.  

In this age of the global pandemic, many changes and restrictions are being imposed upon us by the Covid-19 coronavirus.  These changes, unwelcome as they are, are forcing many companies to experiment and test new processes and strategies.  These are prime opportunities to consider new paradigms and to come up with new ideas.  Use these unwelcome times to act upon your good ideas.

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Kevin Benedict
Partner | Futurist | Leadership Strategies at TCS
View my profile on LinkedIn
Follow me on Twitter @krbenedict
Join the Linkedin Group Digital Intelligence

***Full Disclosure: These are my personal opinions. No company is silly enough to claim them. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Covid-19 and the Role of a Futurist

Early Futurist
Futurist Frank Diana leads Tata Consultancy Services' Future of Business team.  When people ask his predictions about the future he often responds, “We don’t predict, we identify and consider possible scenarios.”  He is also fond of saying that most predictions made after a crisis are wrong.  It’s not picking one future scenario to place a bet on that is the role of a futurist, rather identifying many possible scenarios and then monitoring and tracking which are becoming more likely or not - given new and continuous inputs.

What then is the role of a futurist during a pandemic like Covid-19?  As a Futurist myself working on Frank’s team I can say we focus on how Covid-19 is altering the trajectory of various trends and acting as an accelerate or inhibitor to change.  The value of course is for leaders to use these insights to best position their businesses to succeed.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

The Innovators' Equation for Success

Thomas Edison's innovative, gifted and future thinking finance and operations expert was Samuel Insull.  While Edison was inventing, manufacturing and selling electric power plants to factory owners, Insull was studying the economics of the emerging electric generation industry.  The data he reviewed eventually helped motivate him to leave Edison's organizations to lead his own.

The insights Insull gleaned from the data revealed there were alternative business models available for providing electricity to factories.  Rather than requiring every factory to buy and operate their own power plant, they could simply connect to an electric grid.  The data showed a large power plant connected to many factories could achieve far greater economies of scale that would generate higher profits and lower costs.  Insull understood that his insight was an advantage.  He also recognized that one advantage could in turn lead to many additional advantages down the road (An advantage multiplied by an advantage=A² benefits).

Leaders and innovators today can also be recipients of A² benefits.  Early adopters and innovators gain insight into what works and what doesn't before followers and laggards.  That information is incredibly useful and valuable.  Once a successful design or model is determined and implemented, new user experience data and feedback guide the way forward on paths which competitors have no data, logic or understanding to follow.  

Data by itself, however, does not deliver success.  Insull had foresight.  He was able, like a chess master, to understand how one advantage could lead to many other additional future advantages that when combined could deliver the ultimate package of A² benefits that would deliver the desired scenario.  

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Kevin Benedict
Partner | Futurist | Leadership Strategies at TCS
View my profile on LinkedIn
Follow me on Twitter @krbenedict
Join the Linkedin Group Digital Intelligence

***Full Disclosure: These are my personal opinions. No company is silly enough to claim them. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Innovating for Innovators with Expert Gabby Czertok, Founder of The Builders

In this episode, global entrepreneurship expert Gabby Czertok, Founder of The Builders, shares how match making between large companies and start-ups are done, and how national entrepreneurship at scale is possible and the ecosystems necessary to support it.


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Kevin Benedict
Partner | Futurist | Leadership Strategies at TCS
View my profile on LinkedIn
Follow me on Twitter @krbenedict
Join the Linkedin Group Digital Intelligence

***Full Disclosure: These are my personal opinions. No company is silly enough to claim them. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Using AI to Analyze CX Across the Business

In this episode of Future of Business TV, we speak with expert Boaz Grinvald, CEO of Revuze about using the power of analytics and AI to understand customer experiences across the entire business.  Most businesses share some CX information with a limited segment of their leadership, but by using AI and automation, analytics can be shared across the entire business.


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Kevin Benedict
Partner | Futurist | Leadership Strategies at TCS
View my profile on LinkedIn
Follow me on Twitter @krbenedict
Join the Linkedin Group Digital Intelligence

***Full Disclosure: These are my personal opinions. No company is silly enough to claim them. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.