Rishad Premji is the Chief Strategy Officer & Member of the Board, Wipro Limited.
The potential for new technologies to disrupt industries & business models are real today. Several examples across industries such as Financial services, Retail, Transportation and even traditional industries such as Manufacturing are testimony to this fact. The disruptive and bleeding edge list of technologies include Robotics, AI, AR/ VR/ Mixed Reality, Deep Learning, Natural Language Processing, IoT, Blockchain, Computer vision amongst others. While each is injecting unprecedented productivity gains & new revenue streams in businesses, it is the confluence of these technologies that is creating possibilities for firms to become nimble, unlock synergies, and tackle increasingly complex problems. Their convergence is thus changing old operating models and creating new dynamics in industries and economies.
Businesses like Caterpillar are combining wearable technology with IoT, AR and VR so that complex industrial machinery can be operated and serviced on site with dramatic agility and efficiency[i]. Google and Levi’s have developed touch-sensitive clothing – using gesture recognition and AI — that delivers interactivity[ii]. DHL has developed smart glasses that provide order picking instructions along with information on package location using AR, analytics, etc., that halve onboarding time and deliver a 15% productivity gain[iii]. Everyday, exciting new research and applications at the intersection of technologies are being explored and developed by start-ups, platform players and enterprises leading to solution possibilities to seemingly intractable problems.
The winning recipe – Mindsets, Skills & Open innovation
Translating the potential of the convergence will need a new model of engagement between enterprises, innovation networks, start-ups, academia and technology partners. All sides will need a fresh approach to business and technology risk to realize the value from investments in technology. A deeper level of engagement, a spirit of experimentation and a fresh approach to talent are critical ingredients to success.
Amongst these, the most critical and long-term shift will be the talent strategy. Future talent will solve problems for discontinuous transformation using non-linear tools and techniques. The new full stack talent will have mastered multiple disciplines like user experience design, DevOps, data sciences and AI. It will also be familiar with processes and characteristics specific to businesses and industries.
This combination of capabilities will need a deliberate disruption to the current model of talent development, transformation and assimilation. Industry bodies will need to play an active role in skill building, and work actively upstream with universities, colleges and research organizations to define new curricula based on emerging needs.
Technology providers must simultaneously explore new models through open innovation approaches that cross-fertilize ideas, data and talent. Equally urgent is the need for technology providers to become an integral part of the startup ecosystem by funding and nurturing innovation. Lastly, established providers must leverage the emerging gig economy to crowdsource niche talent for AI, IoT, blockchain, cybersecurity, computer vision, etc. and channel the talent into solving previously intractable problems.