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Ways to Future-Proof your Organisation | Steve Sammartino | Futurist Speaker - 09 April 2019

Ways to Future-Proof your Organisation | Steve Sammartino | Futurist Speaker

Steve Sammartino is Australia’s leading futurist and international keynote speaker. He is the author of two best-selling tech strategy books: The Great Fragmentation (a technology strategy playbook) and The Lessons School Forgot (the industrialisation of teaching) and how to liberate our inner entrepreneur. As a tech entrepreneur and growth hacker, Steve has an intimate knowledge of the tools reshaping our world and how they affect business. He advises C-Suite executives for large corporations on their technology strategy and works with selected start-ups. 

What do organisations need to know about the future of automation?

Automation isn’t something new - it’s a continual path humanity walks along. We have always outsourced repetitive tasks. Firstly to animals, then to machines and now to software. Automation will continue to eat into jobs and tasks which have low variety and high repetition. The art of doing it well is helping people transition through it. Smart organisations don’t just look for a way to replace people with automation, instead, they look for a way to upgrade people's skill base. Organisations ought to leverage staff's uniquely human insight into other areas of the business where human interactions are needed and valued. Often automation makes everyone's life better - and we need to work to use automation to remove things like repetition, danger, boredom and costly mistakes in the world of work. 

On the flip side, we need to allow humans to use social intelligence, creativity and empathy to create interactions with stakeholders and customers which build trust in an organisation. The future is about getting this balance right: using automation to reduce costs, but taking those savings to upgrade humanity during the process and to build a better product for customers who will then pay more for how it’s designed and delivered to them.

Explain the importance of entrepreneurship in the digital age?

The barriers to entry as an early stage entrepreneur used to be so high, few people planned out a future building a startup. Digital technology has changed that forever. It’s never been faster or cheaper to disrupt any industry with a simple internet connection and an idea. And it’s an alluring prospect for bright young minds. The one thing our world needs right now is more entrepreneurs - and it’s for this simple reason: 

We are building an entirely new world and infrastructure around digital technology. New systems for energy production, education, finance... you name it, and it’s not going to build itself! 

While we’ve seen innovation in areas of entertainment and transport, this is really just the start. Every industry will fundamentally change in the digital era. This means we need entrepreneurs in our community, in our governments and absolutely in our company - even if we are already big and established. We need the entrepreneurial attitude to push the boundaries of human creativity and possibility so we can avoid disruption, by disrupting ourselves. If we are to invent the jobs and industries of tomorrow and solve our most pressing problems like environmental degradation we need entrepreneurs. 

Entrepreneurship used to be costly and risky - but the riskiest thing we can do today is not embracing the changes entrepreneurs can bring to build a world we all want to live in.

What should regional Australia be doing to take advantage of technological advances?

The tyranny of distance and our ‘city centrist’ economy lead to a sustained decline in regional areas around the world. But we are about to witness a Regional Renaissance no one saw coming. Why? Simply because technology now makes it possible. Technology removes the tyranny of distance and will allow virtual autonomous organisations to thrive. All the advantages a city once had are now being overcome by technical advances.

The opportunity is that most people, companies and governments are yet to realise it. Just think, we can telecommute anywhere around the world for free. We can send money instantly across the wires. We can share designs, production schematics and get anything produced via our laptops. We can produce in regional areas for customers around the world. E-commerce means that local regional businesses are no longer constrained by how many people live in their local area - the world is a potential customer base. 

Regional areas now have all the access to people and production that cities only once had, but their cost of doing business and cost of living is much, much lower than that of cities. It’s a classic example of a great value equation being right in front of everyone's eyes and no one is seeing it yet. Ironically, regional areas can now have all the economic benefits of a city and maintain an edge of uniqueness and beauty. 

What we need to do now is create a conversation about it and educate regional businesses and governments to leverage digital technology. We need to create incentives which trigger a business mindset which purposely ignores geographic boundaries. If we do this the economic gap between cities and regions will evaporate quickly and we’ll be able to invent a regional growth story that will surprise many.

How can organisations future proof strategy in our technology-driven world?

Change is happening quicker than we think. Information technology moves at an exponential pace - it moves faster than the old economy of bricks, concrete and steel did. This means we need to move fast to match it. And the way to do this is to think small. Do lots of small and fast projects to find new ways to satisfy your customers - then scale up once it's proven. The way to have a big impact nowadays is by doing many small fast low-cost technology experiments. We like to call it the MVP (Minimum Viable Product). It works better than a big launch does because the bigger our efforts for change are, the longer they take which creates more chance of it being outdated by the time we get to market. It’s about having innovations which are iterative and adapt to the changes in the world. 

Another important trend is the regulation around technology. Currently, there is a push back against big technology companies and their use of data. I think it is similar to what happened to workplace health and safety in the world of manufacturing. The smartest play in the data economy is to treat ‘data' like a bank would hold customer deposits. Remember that it is an asset that your customers 'have lent to you' and that it needs to be cared for, respected and protected. Customer-centric data and privacy strategy will be a smart strategy which builds brands we can trust in the coming years. And trust is becoming what matters more than anything in the digital world. 

 

Discover all about Steve here.

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