Embracing Autonomous Innovation in Your Business
The present state of innovation
In the past decade, on a global scale, much of the innovation in the private sector was driven by the emergence of new technologies. The most notable of these include 3G/4G, connected devices, smart sensors and IoT (Internet of Things), AI (artificial intelligence), AR (augmented reality), VR (virtual reality), big data, and cloud technology. We have seen many innovative products and services pop up as a result of these new tech capabilities. We have also seen some promising business models fall into oblivion due to execution challenges or, simply, bad timing.
The phase we are currently in has also been characterized by the emergence of the collaborative economy and crowdsourcing concepts. Innovation there is largely based on newly emerged P2P (peer-to-peer) business models (e.g. Uber, Airbnb, Upwork, WeWork), and on-demand products and services, defined by a global shift in customer perceptions and expectations.
The move to an autonomous world
The current phase of new products and services emerging from the adoption of the shared economy is reaching its maturity. Previously thought unthinkable, ridesharing, car-sharing, accommodation-sharing and even clothes-sharing apps and services have now been embraced by consumers, being used daily by millions worldwide.
Whereas in the collaborative economy consumers get their needs met by exchanging products and services, in the next phase machines will accomplish this feat just as effectively. While sharing will not completely disappear as a concept, we will grow ever more reliant on automated services that are able to get things done quickly and inexpensively, anywhere and anytime.
While we can expect a gradual shift to automation, the transition has been given a push by the global coronavirus pandemic, during which manufacturers and service providers could no longer rely entirely on their human workforce. Currently, automation is set to displace nearly 53 million jobs in Europe by 2030, according to a recent McKinsey report.
Industries most affected by automation
While automation will ultimately touch all sectors, the ones most impacted by it will be wholesale and retail (70%), food services (94%) and logistics. A fear shared by many is that the automation of entire sectors will ultimately lead to job loss for humans. While it is possible that many jobs will no longer exist in their current shape or form, just as many new ones will be created to replace them – an integral part of innovation. This shift could ultimately result in a net job gain vs. a loss. Europe is even expected to experience job shortage in skilled labor due to a declining working-age population across most countries.
How innovation can and should evolve
While current innovation processes at many organizations are slow, cumbersome and reactive, the new, autonomous world order will enable a disruption in the way we innovate. Reactive organizations with heavy and bureaucratic org charts and innovation models are not able to lead and reap first-mover advantages. They can simply hope they won’t be too late to the party by the time they roll out the products and services customers need. Laggards often get the leftovers of the market share, however, predisposing their business models towards survival vs. growth or expansion.
Rather than waiting for trends to happen and then grappling with ways to address demand, with automation, organizations will be able to proactively innovate – surveying, evaluating and creating trends themselves. Big data and AI are certainly a big part of autonomous innovation. With their help, large, traditional industry players can successfully shift their business models, ensuring longevity and profitability for their organizations for decades to come. In a fast-moving world, those who are slower to adapt or eager to resist, will, unfortunately, be left behind their more progressive counterparts. Keeping up with the competition is no longer a winning business strategy – surpassing it, is.
The road towards a more innovative business landscape
Every shift in organizational culture or WoW (way of working), such as a change in how companies innovate, requires a mindful, thoughtful strategy that isn’t top-to-bottom but, rather, a dialogue that involves and informs all levels of the business. Despite popular belief, technology should always come last in the transition process. Strategic business decisions should never start with a technological choice – rather, the latter is informed by the short- and long-term goals the organization has set out to accomplish.
The same applies to the choice of a technology provider – rather than simply a vendor who executes, a strong technology partner can help an organization strategize and make the decisions that would set them up for innovation and success in the long run. These decisions could be aided by the right choice of technology, but this doesn’t need to happen at all costs. When working with Verhaert Digital, we will ensure that the selected technological mix not only reflects your business goals today but is also capable of helping you innovate in the future.
Contact our team for an obligation-free consultation about which technology can help you innovate today.