The way we make decisions and go about their daily lives is going through a massive change. Whether we’re creating new solutions for old problems, inventing disruptive products and services, or redefining the living conditions of millions of refugees, we are steadily evolving every aspect of our world.
However, sometimes our human brains can become a roadblock to this level of change. The problem? There are no straightforward answers on what the future will look like. Certainly people can predict what will happen down the road, but ultimately, personal bias limits our ability to imagine new, bigger, better ways of getting things done.
Never in human history has the present been so temporary. Every day, our lives are steadily evolving to the point where no two days are exactly the same for anyone. But we’re not alone. Digital technology is giving us the superhuman powers we need to shape a future that is fast, fair, and beneficial to everyone.
The power of imagining brings the power of shaping
One of the most common questions we ask ourselves at home and work is how emerging technology – such as machine learning, blockchain, the Internet of Things, and conversational artificial intelligence – will change our world for the better. But from my perspective, the real question they should be asking is, “Where do I want to go, and how can emerging technology enable it?”
For example, intelligent machines are empowering people to automate tedious tasks, focus on higher-value work, and evolve uniquely human skills such as empathy, interdisciplinary thinking, ethical sensitivity, or the ability to set context. Mobile devices and collaboration platforms are also reframing how we balance our daily lives, which are full of personal obligations and workplace responsibilities.
A mindset of constant imagining gives us the opportunity to build a future that reflects new ideas, behaviors, skills, and values. Once imagined and visualized, this vision needs to be tied to a support system of technology, processes, data, and people to adapt and change quickly and flexibly.
Here are two examples of what can happen when data is used to help further our superhuman capabilities in unexpected ways:
1. Artificial intelligence and machine learning
Machine learning – which is a subset of artificial intelligence – is having a dramatic impact on how people sense opportunities and risks and make decisions on the fly. Within the spectrum of this technology, there is a capability called computer vision that allows computers to identify and understand unstructured data such as pictures and logos.
This form of artificial intelligence enables marketers to quantifiably measure their sponsorship and advertising choices to prove their impact on the business strategy and sales growth. It automatically detects promotional assets in moving and still images and analyzes brand impact based on exposure time, on-screen size, location, and any other defined parameters that can influence consumer awareness.
The distributed digital ledger is famously powering digital currencies such as Bitcoin – but that’s not all it can do. A few enterprising companies are looking at this technology to simplify processes such as banking transactions, supply chain management, and contract handling.
These business process innovations are guided by a fundamental concept: trust. This one principle is applied to everything a person does and experiences to ensure everything from the accuracy of transactions and data to contractual compliance. It may not be long until we see blockchain powering everything in our world from how businesses manage their logistics to how governments coordinate international disaster relief and improve the lives of people at need.
Technology-enabled innovation is about designing a future we all want to live in
We are facing a disruptive wave of new innovation, shifting behaviors, different perspectives, and evolving political and societal values. With the latest technology, we can work through these changes by using data to nudge, challenge, guide, and inspire us along the way. This superhuman ability to access unbiased insights in real time allows us to understand the purpose and value of every person, thing, and action because their impact will be more immediately visible than ever before.
Let’s face it: there is so much opportunity ahead. However, to fully seize it, we must actively participate in shaping the future with technology as an enabling force. Otherwise, no matter how digitally driven we become, we will miss out on the world’s most powerful assets: the collective genius and creativity of people.
Find out how you can capitalize on emerging technology to share your own version of the future. Watch the replay of the Webinar, “Evolve 2.0: How Emerging Technologies Are Transforming Businesses,” featuring Martin Wezowski, chief designer and futurist at SAP.