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The New Rules for a Tech Driven World Post-Pandemic by Mike Walsh

By Mike Walsh | Oct 28, 2021 | Comments Off

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"There is no remote work. There is only work,' futurist Mike Walsh said during a session on the future of the industry at the Schwab Impact conference."

The pandemic has forced the working world to evolve technologically much faster than at any time in recent history, effectively rocketing it forward 10 years in 20 months.

That is here to stay, futurist Mike Walsh said Tuesday in his presentation at the Charles Schwab Impact conference. “There is going to be no return to normal,” he said. “We’re not going to get 2019 back.”

Walsh proposed three new rules for the world going forward. The first of which, is “There is no digital disruption, just digital delivery.” The second, which many now have experience with, is, “There is no remote work. There is only work.” His third rule is, “Artificial intelligence will not destroy jobs, but it will change them.”

The business models of Tesla Inc., Netflix Inc., Uber Technologies Inc., Spotify and other companies have shown a shift from products to platforms and transactions to experiences, he said.

“We are all disrupters now. If you haven’t figured out a way to embrace new technologies … are probably no longer in business today,” Walsh said.

For adults of the future who are children today, “their expectation of how the world needs to work is going to be dramatically different from that of any generation that came before,” he said.

For financial advisers, “your ability to partner with those [technology] platforms is going to be key to your success,” he said.

A big part of that is how data will be used to gain more understanding about clients’ needs in different life stages and how advice is provided, he said. By being forced to operate remotely, the world used tools that it basically had for decades, he noted. Skype, he said, has been around for 20 years, even if it is not now the go-to communication service.

“Remote work is just the beginning of a much larger revolution that is changing the nature of business itself,” he said.

Workers value the important things in life more than their jobs, and companies need to recognize that, adjusting their businesses not just for profit, but for purpose, he said.

“It’s not just about paying people well. It’s about understanding what motivates them more than anything else,” he said.

Employers should “support a culture of data, not opinions,” he noted.

With the rise of artificial intelligence, humans are becoming more important than ever in the world of financial advice, he said.

“We’ve actually seen the counterintuitive rise of the importance of human advisers and human interaction as we’ve gained greater complexity and more technology,” he said. “We’ve actually been here before.”

He referred to the industrial revolution, when many workers’ jobs changed from one manual task to another — such as from weaving textiles to maintaining the machines that took over the weaving. Cloth sales increased, and the number of people employed in that industry quadrupled, he said.

Similarly, the debut of ATMs didn’t put bank tellers out of jobs, but it did change the required skillsets for the job, he noted.

“What we’re seeing now is something much more interesting than a just a return to normal after a global pandemic,” he said. “This truly is the dawn of a new world … Now is the time for us to rethink how we engage our clients and our communities.”

This article originally appeared in Investment News.

 

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The Digital Chrysalis by Mike Walsh

By Mike Walsh | Sep 01, 2021 | Comments Off

Mike Walsh's video highlights rule #9, the future of AI is personal, from his 10 New Rules for a New World.

"A crisis is something you recover from, whereas a chrysalis is a bridge from one state to another."

One of the biggest dangers in any disaster is a premature plan for normalcy. As vaccine programs roll out worldwide, organizations and governments are preparing for economic recovery, a return to offices, corporate travel, and a resumption of business as usual. We all need a little optimism, but nostalgia can be as dangerous as disruption. Some doors are one-way only. What if the pandemic was not a crisis but rather a chrysalis?

The difference is a subtle but important one. A crisis is something you recover from, whereas a chrysalis is a bridge from one state to another. The difficulty is knowing whether the changes you are experiencing are merely temporary or part of a more permanent redefinition.

COVID-19 may have started as a crisis, but it quickly became a forcing function that unleashed digital transformation on every aspect of our lives - whether it be how we work or how we buy things, run our factories or deliver healthcare. What is likely to make these changes permanent is not just gains in efficiency but also the unexpected ways these forces are now interacting with each other.

More becomes different. More data, more computation, more automation, and more transactions - don’t just add up to more speed or resilience - they can reverberate throughout your organization until you become something else entirely. In any complex adaptive system - whether it be a supply chain, a workplace, or a biological ecosystem - small changes amplified by reinforcing feedback loops can hit critical mass and trigger radical reinvention. Water becomes ice; tremors become an earthquake; a viral video can make you a global star.

From this perspective, what if the end of the pandemic is not a pendulum swinging back to normality; but rather a portal from the world we knew to a radical new future that we are yet to fully understand? If you change enough of the infrastructure that runs what you do, at some point, you also change who you are. Likewise, if you change enough of the forces that run the world, you will inevitably change that as well.

I’ve spent the last year thinking about what all the small changes in our lives add up to. The list of pandemic era adaptations is long and constantly growing: working from home, social distancing, automated service delivery, augmented reality training, mRNA technologies, drones and robotics, process automation, telehealth services, retail live-streaming, AI-powered drug discovery, and the growing influence of data in the way we run our organizations.

I firmly believe that the sum of all of these innovations not only exceeds what we have seen before but also that their combination and interaction are the foundations of something new: a new world that runs on new rules.

I am in the process of researching the terrain of that new world and compiling what those new rules might be. They are the basis of my latest keynote presentation. Potentially, they may also be the basis of a new book. More on that later. 

 

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The Future Workplace by Mike Walsh

By Mike Walsh | Jul 12, 2021 | Comments Off

"The pandemic has accelerated the forces of digital transformation, making it more critical than ever to embrace new ways of working and a data-driven approach to decision making."

Should we stay, or should we go? The post-pandemic return to work is fast becoming a controversial and complex issue for leaders to navigate. Everyone has an opinion on the issue. Some are desperate to escape months of Zoom fatigue, while others see little point in commuting for an hour to simply sit in front of another screen. If that seems like a tough choice, it is because it is a false one. The real issue is not remote vs. office work - it is how do we reinvent the workplace for a new era of AI-powered competition?

The real lesson of the pandemic was not that we could run meetings remotely, but rather that the key to our survival was embracing the hard science of digital transformation. When everything turned upside down in early 2020, demand spiked, supply chains splintered, and business processes shattered. The organizations that made it through the crisis did so because they rapidly deployed AI, algorithms, and automation to handle the harsh new operating environment. That worked then, but now, something more is required.

We face a new set of challenges. Implementing automation alone will not be enough to deliver the kind of creative solutions required to reshape industries. Nor will letting people continue working from home be enough to reboot conservative and traditional corporate cultures.

We are about to discover that remote work was just the beginning of a much bigger revolution that is set to reshape the future of all organizations. Rapid shifts in technology, customer needs, and competitor dynamics are a prescription for a more agile, adaptive, and resilient type of firm capable of integrating not only cutting-edge technologies but also embracing a new generation of talent as well.

The pandemic has accelerated the forces of digital transformation, making it more critical than ever to embrace new ways of working and a data-driven approach to decision making. Every workplace in the future will be powered by data. Whether it be how we engage and evaluate our talent, how we automate our processes, or even how we make decisions as leaders - the ability to effectively leverage AI, automation, and algorithms will be at the heart of any 21st-century business.

While many fear imminent change, a bigger opportunity awaits. The question is not whether AI will eliminate jobs, but rather: how will it change them? The leaders of the future need to embrace an entirely new set of skills, capabilities, and mindsets in order to be successful.
 

 

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Three Things Leaders Must Know about Automation by Mike Walsh

By Mike Walsh | Jun 14, 2021 | Comments Off

The real question is: how do we make sure the future of work fits the world we want to live in?

Futurist and best-selling author of The Algorithmic Leader, Mike Walsh explains that there are three things leaders need to know about automation:

1. Automation redefines the capabilities of your workforce
Rather than replacing people, automation offers the chance to reimagine work roles. When a lawyer uses AI to read trust documents and contracts, or a financial advisor leverages an algorithm to create a personalized financial plan - they haven't made themselves obsolete. Quite the contrary. They have merely shifted the boundary of what human-shaped work should be. Enhancing capabilities through better tools rather than squeezing more effort out of your workforce - is the most sustainable way of achieving productivity gains.

2. There is a difference between complexity and ambiguity
Organizations are decision-making machines, but not all decisions are born equal. Some decisions are complex but inherently suitable for automation because they follow well-defined rules. Other decisions may appear simple but involve a high degree of ambiguity that requires human judgment. In this video, I discuss the difference between 1st, 2nd, and 3rd order decisions - and the role that AI and automation can play in each.

3. Automation is the start, not the endpoint of your journey
Deterministic automation is a powerful tool in getting your digital transformation started. The exercise of mapping your processes, linking your enterprise systems, and unlocking more insights about your operations will not only increase your internal clock speed, it will provide contextual data for more sophisticated machine learning tools to optimize and enhance your business. By all means, go for the quick wins offered by automation, but don't stop short of the real prize that comes with reinventing yourself as an AI-powered organization.

READ FULL ARTICLE 

 

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10 New Rules For A New World by Mike Walsh

By Mike Walsh | May 04, 2021 | Comments Off

The Real Question is This: What is Possible in an Age of AI that was Not Possible Before?

The biggest danger in any crisis is anticipating a return to normal. As vaccine programs roll out worldwide, organizations and governments are preparing for economic recovery, a return to offices and corporate travel, and a resumption of business as usual.

The COVID-19 crisis, however, was not a pendulum now on the return swing to normal; it was a portal from the world we knew, to a radical new future that we are yet to fully understand.

While for many of us working from home has been a new and unexpected challenge - that is just the start of a much bigger transformation set to reshape the nature of business itself. In order to survive, every organization will have to virtualize.

Whether it be serving customers through digital channels or leveraging AI, algorithms and automation to ensure business continuity - we are likely to experience in the next twelve months, a decade's worth of change. Not every business will make it, but those that do will never be the same again. And for leaders, now more than ever, is a time to upgrade their capabilities, embrace new technologies, and reimagine what they do.

Becoming future-proof is more than just about getting through the current crisis - it is about being ready for the new world that awaits us on the other side.

Rule #1: Digital Disruption is Now Just Digital Delivery

We are all disruptors now. Being digital is nothing special, it is just the price of staying in business. The real question is this: what is possible in an age of AI that was not possible before?

Rule #2: There is No Remote Work, Only Work

Remote work is just the beginning of a much bigger transformation that is set to transform the nature of work itself. The true future of work will be shaped by five forces: mobility, autonomy, memory, objectivity and velocity.

Rule #3: Robots are Not Coming for Our Jobs, They are Here to Change Them

AI will not destroy jobs, but it will change them. A new world needs new kinds of capabilities - and that means that we need to evolve and upgrade, just as our machines do.

Rule #4: Experiences Matter more than Transactions

What did we learn about the future of retail, when the world’s stores had to close? Whether it be an app or a showroom, engaging experiential design is what really counts.

Rule #5: The Best Way to Lead is to be Data-led

Being a leader in the Algorithmic Age requires a very different approach. We all like to claim to be ‘data-driven’, but in truth, what we really need to be is ‘data-led’.

Rule #6: There is no New Normal

What if the new normal, is not normal at all? Thanks to COVID-19, we are now living in a radically different reality - robotics, VR, automation, protests, surveillance, fake news. The first step to survival is acknowledging that there is no going back from this.

Rule #7: XR is the New Reality

XR or virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality are all on the brink of becoming mainstream technologies that will transform how we live and work. Now is the time to reimagine the way we interact with our customers and create radically new experiences not possible before.

Rule #8: Social distancing is Here to Stay

Social distancing is more than a pandemic response, it is a preview of an AI-powered world in which we deliver products and services using automation and machines with minimal or no human contact.

Rule #9: The Future of AI is Personal

We are fast accelerating to a future in which we will interact with applications with our voices rather than screens, but before we get there, we need a new, more personal approach to AI - virtual assistants that are a digital extension of ourselves.

Rule #10: The Future Favors the Bold

This is no time to settle for survival as a second prize to success. After the chaos of 2020, we need bigger dreams than just recovery. What matters now is reinvention, nothing less.

 

 

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Mike Walsh - Technology and Culture

By Mike Walsh | Sep 30, 2020 | Comments Off

 

COVID-19 forced students and educators into the unknown world of virtual education. Futurist and keynote speaker Mike Walsh explains that there is no "remote learning." It's simply "learning."


Watch Mike ponder some of the fascinating things the current crisis has forced educators to recognize and see the cracks in how society thinks about remote learning.

One of the fascinating things about the current crisis is how much it forced us to realize the cracks in the way we thought about remote work and remote learning. And, you know, for some people working from home was actually… Well, it was working from hell. And the same thing applied to many parents who now had to deal with the realities of trying to deal with a blended learning model, technology and their kids being home permanently.

As we move into the future, though, it's increasingly clear that the video technology behind this, is not the hard part. I mean, zoom is nothing new. I mean, what you see here is that NSA video phone from 1960. I actually found prototypes of video phones going all the way back to AT&T in 1930. So if it took 90 years for us to get our act together with using live video technology, it probably wasn't the technology that was holding us back.

What was holding us back was essentially, culture. You see, technology can change the hardware of your school, or your educational facility. But true transformation, requires you to rethink culture, because culture is your operating system. When I say culture, I mean, the way your teachers interact with students. The way they interact with each other and faculty. The way that principals interact with you as leaders. In the end, it's the system of interactions that really drive success or failure of your transformation.

 

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Cyberpunk 2020: There is no new normal

By Mike Walsh | Jul 14, 2020 | Comments Off

There's no denying it - we are in a brand new world. COVID-19 has brought about massive change at a pace never seen before.

How are you going to survive Cyperpunk 2020?

Mike Walsh offers 3 solutions in this video below.

Mike offers a weekly prescription for your organization’s reinvention in his TO.MOR.ROW newsletter - subscribe here.

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Leadership in a time of crisis

By Mike Walsh | Apr 15, 2020 | Comments Off

What impact will the COVID-19 have on business and our economy, and what will this mean for leaders? Futurist Mike Walsh predicts that the pandemic will hasten the arrival of a radical new future of work, and a decade's worth of change in just 12 months. While for many of us working from home has already been a new and unexpected challenge, Mike believes that this is just the start of a much bigger transformation set to reshape the nature of business itself. Watch his video below to learn more - and subscribe to his new weekly video series, New Rules For A New World.

BRAND NEW Virtual Keynote from Mike Walsh: The Future-Proof Organization

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Retrain, re-equip, and re-energize

By Mike Walsh | Feb 26, 2020 | Comments Off

An excerpt from The Algorithmic Leader

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Automation might not entirely eliminate traditional jobs from your company, but it will absolutely change the nature of those jobs and the skills required to do them.

Imagine that you have a job as a retail merchandiser at Coca- Cola, and that you are responsible for visiting stores and kiosks, advising merchants on how to arrange their products, and checking compliance with the brand guidelines. Now, using a platform like Einstein by Salesforce, a customer can just take a picture of their store’s fridge and the algorithm will tell them what to do and where to place their product. What will the purpose of the retail merchandiser be now that their job has been changed by AI? Which of their skills are still relevant, and what might a career migration path look like?

The rise of mass automation brings with it unavoidable, but not unaddressable, political and social consequences. We have been here before. Economist David Autor argues that near the end of the nineteenth century, agricultural states in America faced the prospect of mass unemployment as more automation was introduced into the farming industry. Rather than waiting to see what might happen, those states drove the high school movement, which required everyone to stay in school until the age of sixteen and became the basis for the K–12 education system that is still in place today.

That education system, however, may not be up to the task that we now face. Andrew Ng, also a pioneer in online education and co-founder of Coursera, believes that our challenge is to find a way to teach people to do non-routine, non-repetitive work. To date, our education system has not been good at doing that either at scale or fast enough to keep pace with rapid industry change.

That leaves a lot of the responsibility for education in the hands of employers. Some have already stepped up to the challenge. United Technologies, for example, pays employees’ tuition bills up to $12,000 a year. Facebook offers free AI classes for all their employees, whether or not they work in IT, while Microsoft’s performance review system includes an appraisal of how employees have learned from others and how they have applied that knowledge. However, training is not enough, unless it helps employees migrate to a new way of working and thinking. A good example of a scaled-up migration initiative is AT&T’s Workforce Reskilling and Pivot Program. AT&T is one of the world’s largest employers. The average tenure at AT&T is twelve years, twenty-two if you don’t count the people working in call centers. Internal research com- pleted in 2013 found that 100,000 of AT&T’s 240,000 workers were in roles that the company probably wouldn’t need in a decade. Worse, when the company’s leadership began to analyze the kinds of roles that they would need, they realized there were serious skill gaps. The company would need a lot more coding skills, for example, and more leaders who could make smart decisions based on data and analytics.

To address this, the company kicked off a major reorganization. They streamlined the thousands of job titles that existed at AT&T into fewer and broader categories that clustered similar skills. This simpler classification allowed employees to start planning a more diverse career path through the company and to focus on the new skills they would need.

As part of this overhaul, AT&T created an online system called Career Intelligence that allowed their employees to identify alternative positions, see what skills were required, find out how many positions are available, investigate whether the segment was projected to grow or shrink, and explore what they might earn. However, there was a catch: while the training was free and some of the learning modules could be done at work, employees would have to do much of the work on their own time.

The challenge for companies building retraining programs is that AI is evolving so rapidly, it will be hard to pin down the skills and capabilities that people will need. Even worse than not training an employee for a future job is training them for a job that no longer exists by the time they are ready. Workers will need to constantly upgrade themselves as machines evolve. Algorithmic leaders will have a responsibility, and an incentive, to ensure that both they and the people around them are able to stay just a little further ahead on the curve of the AI revolution in order to remain relevant and valuable.

While lifelong learning is a standard cliché of large organizations, it takes on an entirely new meaning in an age of machine intelligence.

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Don't fear the rise of AI

By Mike Walsh | Feb 26, 2020 | Comments Off
We should not fear the rise of AI

Leverage your data and technology

In the industrial revolution, when they first brought automation to the cotton industry, the weavers got upset. They thought, this is our livelihoods here. But as it turns out, they didn't lose their jobs, their jobs changed. Rather than physical labor, their work now became keeping the machines running. As long as they did that, their productivity went up. In fact, 50 fold which meant the cost of cloth began to fall and people started buying more cloth. The total number of people employed in the cotton industry in America, between 1830 and 1900 didn't go down. It quadrupled.

Something similar as you may know, happened with ATMs. Everyone thought the ATM is going to destroy the job of the bank teller. Right? Yes, you didn't need as many tellers to open up a branch anymore, but this also meant it became cheaper to open up branches in many different formats. The job of the teller has changed. You need people who've got social skills, who can empathize, who can market and sell other products who can build relationships. 

That's really the question we now need to face. It's not will technology destroy jobs. The question is, how do jobs need to change and in particular, how does our jobs as leaders of the community need to change? I believe we need to become algorithmic leaders. What I mean by that is that we need to become leaders for an algorithmic age. We need to develop a deep understanding of human complexity. This is how to empathize.

What is a good experience for our members or customers, how do we motivate people on our team? These are very human qualities that machines will never replace. There's not enough. We also need to take on some of the qualities of machines too. So we need to develop a flair for what I call computational thinking. Don't worry, we don't have to learn how to program. What this means is in the future, we need to approach making decisions and solving problems in a structured way that allows us to leverage data and technology to augment our capabilities. So something to be frightened of. This is how we're going to give ourselves cognitive superpowers.

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