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The new world order

The world is transforming dramatically. Both the quality and the speed of change are frightening. Some call it the arrival of the 4th Industrial Revolution. I call it the arrival of the fifth wave: the wave of Artificial Intelligence and Innovation.

Automation will create more jobs

The fear many today have is the marauding influence of technology and the possibility that machines may replace men in many of the works. But this is an opportunity, not a challenge. Remember, robots can only replace jobs that do not require critical thinking.
When ATMs first came, bankers went on strike, arguing that their jobs were at stake. ATMs have now increased and so have the number of bankers. Thanks to ATM, banks have reached unreached places. Today, once the transaction is over, a banker will try to sell you a deposit or a mutual fund. His job has shifted to the more demanding sales task and he gets paid more.
With artificial intelligence, voluminous data and massive computing power, we can build algorithm where this data keeps running and the learning process can go 24×7. The machine will get smarter from the information it has learned. In 1981, Ray Kurzweil in his book ‘Age of spiritual thinking machines’ said that by 2050, you would be a sitting next to a person without realising that it is a robot!’

The arrival of micro-innovation

Amazon is an example of micro-innovation. Years ago, in the US, mail order business was a favourite. People saw the catalogue, selected an item, ordered it on the phone and paid by cheque. When the product arrived, if they didn’t like it they went to the post office to return. Many returns happened as people found that how the product appeared in the catalogue was different from how it finally looked. Then E-commerce arrived, and Jeff Bezos realised that the Internet could replace mail order. He founded Amazon and it changed the way we shop.
We need people with analytical and solution-finding skills. They must know to ask the right questions and identify the correct answers. Example: Nepal faced high infant mortality in its villages because there was no transportation to move newborns to city hospitals on time. Someone suggested having incubators as a solution. It didn’t solve the situation because the villages did not have electricity! Finally, a crack team identified that the problem lay in removing the baby from the womb. It reduced IMR by 70 per cent. They knew not only to ask the right questions but figure out the correct answers as well.

Enter Artificial Intelligence

The historical shift has been from manufacturing (remember Tata Steel once ruled the roost) to distribution (HUL) to Technology (MS) to now any organisation that is customer-centric. When you have a customer who knows what he wants and who wants it now, you have to digitise. Search engine democratised knowledge. AI is now democratising the expertise that is available in the market.
The ‘everywhere office,’ the changing nature of the workforce, the composition of the workforce and the importance of data are four essential patterns.
The everywhere office: today, every location is an office. An employee worked from a hospital for six months because his wife was unwell. The Philippines has put a new rule in place that 5 per cent of your workforce should be working from home. The changing workforce: 75 per cent of the workforce in the US would be millennial by 2025. In India, by the way, by 2020 or 2022 we will have these numbers achieved. Today, people pride in saying, “I work with Google.” People are cagey about saying, “I am a freelancer.” Tomorrow is going to be different. Millennial do not want permanent jobs. Contract work is okay with them. Third-party clouds enable organizations to focus on their core businesses instead of expending resources on computer maintenance. You can get your applications up and run faster with improved manageability and less support.
The industry is pumping a lot of money into AI. We aren’t far away from machine intelligence overtaking human knowledge. Today, computers are diagnosing better than doctors. Sometimes knowledge needs to be broad, and sometimes it needs to be profound to solve complex problems. While how much we can automate depends on the industry, a thumb rule says that 60 per cent of all occupations have 30 per cent of tasks that can be automated.
In the future, big companies will focus on profits and market; responsible companies will be socially conscious in what they do and there will be smaller companies with high tech models that ensure maximum flexibility and minimum cost.

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