Singularity University landed again with their Summit in Prague for the second year bringing inspiration, new topics and different, new and fresh perspectives on the upside of exponential growth. Deloitte has been supporting SU since its foundation in 2013 as partner to bring the vision and aspiration to solve the world’s grand challenges to life. What are our key takeaways from the summit, our view on how to convert this into actionable insights for your business, and an invitation to connect and create a dialogue to unlock the innovation potential in Romania.
This week’s SingularityU Czech Summit followed the expected storyline at first with an introduction into how innovation is fundamentally different from disruption as the latter is all about the creation of something new out of nothing instead of incremental improvement (e.g. 0 to 1 compared to 1 to n). All first day speakers somewhere referred to Moore’s law and the exponential vs. the linear thinking and how that divide creates disappointment at first, followed by disruption resulting in chaos and amazement through demonetization (removing of money from the equation), dematerialization and democratization (free access to all).
Democracy and bitcoin
Alex Gladstein, Chief Strategy Officer at the Human Rights Foundation, explored this theme in more detail. He argued that the threat to democracy is all around us. Through integration of data collection in apps like WeChat or Facebook, the Chinese Belt and Road initiative for example creating access to critical digital infrastructures like 5G and also law and regulations. Smart cities might thus become surveillance cities where episodes of Black Mirror become reality, not only in China, but in Latin America, Africa and Europe as well. The solution in his opinion is Bitcoin as the only cryptocurrency that is really democratized of power and free of control and peer-to-peer bitcoin transactions cannot be controlled, limited, or prohibited by any government.
Future of work and education
Another prominent theme was the future of work, education and the next generation of talent with speakers like Taddy Blecher, Yami A.D., Valter Adao, Mic Mann and young entrepreneurs and schoolchildren sharing their view on the future. Main takeaways? We need to rethink our education, our skillset and the work environments in order to nurture the nature of the workforce of tomorrow. Also instead of seeing the future through the lens of machine anxiety, take a look at the facts and the upside potential on how digitization is creating more new jobs than it is taking away if we change our perspective on the future of work. It might create more abundance and time to be creative and innovative instead of reacting to the mounting performance and productivity pressure.
Deloitte’s research on unlocking human potential emphasizes the need to connect our roots (foundation) with our shoots (personal growth) and offers tools to align our basic needs with the ever changing in increasingly dynamic environment. This so-called paradox of the 21st century is real and employers, organizations, managers and leaders should facilitate for maximizing the potential by rethinking our work environment. This is not a dark scenario but rather a bright one; we will elevate the human expertise and abilities and put them to work for interpretation, assessment and decision-making while computers and bots will do the boring ones.
This brings us to the final theme that dominates the stages of digital and tech conferences: artificial intelligence. Jody Medich, Anita Schjøll Brede, and Martin Rehák discussed AI’s in their talks in more detail. Jody covered the whole domain of Industry 4.0, which encompasses both the physical, the digital and biological world, using digital twins. She briefly touched topics like the role of data and analytics, generative design, additive manufacturing and robotics ending up at augmented humans in the context of the future of manufacturing. Anita showed that for over 5 years we are in the year of AI. We can reasonable argue that only artificial narrow intelligence is what we see now surfacing the most and the more advanced artificial general Intelligence and super-intelligence still require substantial development. However, the amount of progress is incredible and “we can build a pretty neat future of AI” according to Anita. With Artificial Narrow Intelligence, we will see particularly that chatbots will go personal and Gartner already predicted 2019 to be the year of voice and chatbots.
Future of Mobility
Carlo van de Weijer brought powerful insights through fun and laughter. He showed the audience examples of the drivers of disruption through the lens of the future of mobility. Carlo stated that we need carless drivers instead of driverless cars, we also need rules and adoption of rules to make automation work otherwise we will see autonomous vehicles being “stuck in chaos [Bucharest], parking itself to the roadside and starting to cry”. To a more fundamental level he explained the 6Ds of exponential impact and that our future talent can proof you wrong when it comes to solar powered vehicles (i.e. the Lightyear car).
Two days later, I discussed with Jay Rogers, CEO and co-founder of LM Industries. He took it to the next level stating we have to rethink the purpose of mobility through automation. LM industries is known for its 3D printed vehicles and autonomous pods and is coming to Europe this year, aiming to open several micro factories to build, sell and operate Olli. Where can we use low-speed autonomous pods in Romania and start building our future of mobility!
Biotechnology and reengineering life
The final day opened with the topic of biotechnology, DNA and the ethical dilemmas of engineering life. Fascinating improvements have been made since I last saw Raymond McCauley 4 years ago in Amsterdam at our Executive Edge CEO Session. The costs for sequencing a genome has dropped dramatically and the amount of new ventures working in this field has exploded. We see DIY labs and educational platforms popping up, teaching the next generation about DNA testing, biohackers are the new hip and at the same time, the ethical discussion about the limits of reengineering life are surfacing as well.
Patterns of disruption
Over the past 4 years we have seen that exponential technologies (e.g. AI, IOT, nanotech, robotics, etc.) and the subsequent emerging new business models and practices (crowdsourcing, gamification, platforms, competitions, etc.) have converged and created an highly interesting but also mystifying playfield for established organizations. There is so much out there and it is developing at exponential speed. More than ever senior executives we work with, articulate a clear need to make sense of what is relevant, and what is not, from a business perspective. That is what we do, not to you but with you! One learning from the past years is that in most cases we focus too much on the technology itself and too little on the patterns of disruption that are reshaping the business landscape. These patterns are grounded in the way we organize our institutions and organizations, and not so much on what technology we apply and it all start by zooming out to identify what kind of company you should be in 10-15years from now.
Zoom-out and Zoom-in
In contrast to jumping on the bandwagon or follow the shiny bits and pieces organizations need help in identifying the big challenges and opportunity spaces that relate to your long term zoom-out vision, your purpose and your core DNA (create alignment and build awareness). Secondly, we need to choose where to focus and identify the two or three business initiatives that will have the greatest potential to accelerate movement toward long-term destination. The final stage is to mobilize resources and partners and to define and redesign the work environment to thrive in an environment that requires speed and learning over efficiency.
This Zoom-out / Zoom-in strategy approach we apply in various industries to shape the future of the business. It takes you on a strategic journey using an outside-in perspective to growth, enables you to explore new emerging technologies at low costs, putting the user needs at the centre, and helps you to choose 1-2 new value pockets to your current core business. We use a different perspective, take you out of your office, and create string alignment amongst the leadership to drive transformation without restructuring the core.
Bottom-line So we have again been treated with a lot of “oh my god” inspiration and insights that change our perspective and open the door to new territories to explore. At the same time, daily business issues and challenges require your attention and the question remains “So now what?” We invite you to continue the conversation and put the inspiration into your business context. Connect with the Deloitte Center for the Edge and its strategic ecosystem of global ventures to dive deeper and start making sense of and profit from this opportunity.
Deloitte Consulting LLP and Singularity University’s partnership is designed to educate and catalyze organizations regarding the disruptive impact of exponential technologies, and accelerate their transformation journeys to envision and realize exponential opportunities.
© Deloitte Center for the Edge
Maarten Oonk, Director New Business for Romania and EMEA at Deloitte Center for the Edge, is an expert on transformation, disruption and exponential technologies. At Deloitte’s Center for the Edge, he helps senior executives to make sense of and profit from emerging opportunities on the edge of business and technology. His passion is fuelled especially in areas like Additive Manufacturing, Artificial Intelligence and Autonomous driving. Prior to Deloitte, Maarten worked for over 7 years for TNO, a renowned R&D and technology institute. At TNO, he led the industry team on Transport & Logistics. He was also chairman of various international working groups on vehicle automation, delegate for the European Commission on international harmonisation and R&D for transport. In addition, Maarten has 10 years of international business development experience in electronics, mobility and supply chain management. He has a master’s degree in Industrial Engineering & Management from Twente University.MOonk@deloitte.nl