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Tue 18 Jun 2019 11:39 AM

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Time to adapt to the digital age

Companies, governments and individuals must adapt to modern day realities

Time to adapt to the digital age

Clearly, the fourth industrial revolution is here and is increasingly transforming our lives through both its benefits and challenges:

What will drive societies and organisations forward, is the awareness of the benefits of harnessing the power and intelligence of the data-driven technologies, while putting people first and empowering human creativity.

The future is a competition of creativity, imagination, learning and independent thinking. Talent, wisdom in solving complex problems, social intelligence, cross- cultural competences, socio-economic inclusion and sustainability, and cognitive loads management amongst others, are the critical factors of production.S

Organisations should, therefore focus on the human level transformation and ensure a new mindset shift in management is set, prior to proceeding with the digital transformation. As per the Deloitte Consulting study, they should pay closer attention on transforming current hierarchical business structures based on functions, into the gig economy, rapidly assembling or disbanding teams according to the projects and services required.

Teams could thus be assigned across countries based on their skills and work on multiple projects, per tasks and roles. People are to be rewarded by the outcomes and reputations accomplished rather than by level, tenure or experience. Managers will need to shift from “owning” teams and people careers to managing projects and “sponsoring” people. Jobs will be opened in a transparent marketplace, instilling a culture of citizenship, collective thinking and shared values.

As Mitra Azizirad, the corporate vice president of AI marketing at Microsoft said: “Developing a strategy for AI extends beyond the business issues, it goes all the way to the leadership, behaviors and capabilities required to instill an AI-ready culture in your organization.”

In addition, it is imperative to replace the encumbering traditional bureaucracies and logistics with automation.

We at Align Management Solutions have witnessed substantial improvements in business performances with local and international companies where we’ve helped up-skill and re-skill their executive leaders and employees to get them ready to collaborate with the new digital native workforce, whilst preserving their indispensible wisdom in strategic customer thinking. 

Governments fostering entrepreneurship and investing in technology and innovation programs have seen a boost in their economy and an increase in their nation’s GDP. Therefore, a public-private partnership, such as UAE’s Smart City initiative launched by the Dubai Chamber and IBM, is vital for any substantial improvements to occur. The Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives focuses on developing communities through the education of leaders specialised in good governance, providing integrated incubators to support innovators such as Dubai Internet City (DIC), and relying on research and innovation are setting the right frameworks in reshaping the future of societies.

His Excellency Omar bin Sultan Al Olama has been appointed as Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence to enhance the government performance by investing the latest technologies and tools of artificial intelligence and applying social and economic development in key areas such as telecoms, tourism, education, transportation and health care amongst others.

Moreover; the German technology firm SAP has opened a cloud the first data center in the UAE. With access to more than 2bn consumers in the region and beyond, Dubai is well placed to serve as a focal point for tech-based growth and development, according to Dubai Chamber’s senior vice-president of the institutional support sector, Essa Al Zaabi.

Academic institutions  need to be more exposed to the market in order to customize their curriculum and better train the business leaders of today and tomorrow. They play a crucial role in closing the existing gaps.

Likewise, C-level executives are highly encouraged to actively embrace universities or they may be missing opportunities of significant proportion.  Companies increasingly recognize that to successfully innovate they cannot exclusively rely on their internal R&D. Working with external partners such as universities allows them to access different pools of knowledge, talent and skills.

To conclude, technology is reshaping our economic, social, and cultural environments. Challenges and threats are indeed posed by new information technologies:  Compromising our privacy, the tracking and sharing of our information as crucial part of the new connectivity. Biotechnology is redefining what it means to be human, as Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum states in “The Fourth Industrial Revolution: what it means, how to respond” article.

Moreover; AI technologies have been performing at least as well as (if not better than) humans in existing domains such as customer service and office assistants, healthcare workers assisting doctors in basic surgeries, warehouse workers, and self-driving technologies among others. This means businesses can become significantly more profitable by employing AI technologies instead of humans.  Thus, unemployment rates might reach staggering proportions, and job markets will be increasingly segregated into “low-skill/low-pay” and “high-skill/high-pay” segments, which in turn will lead to an increase in social tensions.

Having said that, it is worth remembering what the futurist Hans Moravec wrote: "it is comparatively easy to make computers exhibit adult level performance on intelligence tests or playing checkers, and difficult or impossible to give them the skills of a one-year-old when it comes to perception and mobility".

Therefore, neither technology nor the disruption that comes with it, will be out of humans’ control.  As Boris Katz, principal American research scientist at the MIT states, that the understanding of common sense, intuitive physics, beliefs and intentions of others, and the ability to visualize and reason, are currently beyond the reach of our machines yet this is how humans learn.

Researchers will have to collaborate more with people in other fields, and built on ideas from developmental psychology, cognitive science, and neuroscience to gain a greater understanding of human intelligence and then use that understanding based on context-awareness in order to create intelligent machines.

It is also imperative for us all, as citizens and decision-makers, to ensure our quintessential human values, morals and ethical boundaries are not jeopardized, and focus on enhancing the best parts of our human nature which are creativity, empathy, and stewardship.

By managing to keep the technology beneficial, we have the potential of helping civilization flourish like never before.

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