We as a human race really do love our acronyms and jargon. Take “future-proofing” as an example: what is it?
Wikipedia defines it as ‘…to the ability of something to continue to be of value into the distant future; that the item does not become obsolete. The concept of future-proofing is the process of anticipating the future and developing methods of minimizing the effects of shocks and stresses of future events.’
The definition is further expanded to refer to the fields where it is applied, but how does this apply to our roles outside that of simply being employees? I have two daughters, age 9 and 11, and the conversations around what they want to be when they grow up have been going on for a while, with the usual suspects popping up: accountant (hopefully my eldest did not get my maths genes), doctor, vet, scientist and fashion designer. Add in fireman, policeman, rugby player, and that is not a dissimilar conversation to those held in my parents’ house when I was that age.
In looking to the future we tend to look to our present to see what path to take. What is a fascinating and/or terrifying thought (depending on your view of the glass) is that if you believe the stats being thrown about, 65% – and I would have to say that number is only going to grow – of jobs that today’s child in primary school will do, don’t yet exist! That, in turn, poses the question of how to future-proof our children for a future where the map for their journey is being developed not by Waze or Amazon or even Google, but by a company they will likely start.
If that last sentence sounded a bit like something from the Terminator – something from the future coming back to the present to change the future – then read on as Miles Crisp and Jonathan Kropf start to unpack the external threats to business as well as the emergence of machine learning and artificial intelligence into the mainstream.
That last part – machine learning and AI – is a fascinating field for me, as it holds the promise of taking our collective experiences and history (some may term our collective unconscious) and distilling it into predictable and repeatable patterns of behaviour. Or simply put, it’s able to replace what we have called gut feel and intuition with insights based on hard data.
So back to tomorrow and what do we do to future proof our children and ourselves? Perhaps GE CEO Geoff Immelt is on the right track by saying all new hires should be able to code. Sad truth of my school days is that the kids who were ‘into’ computers, were considered to be the geeks or the nerds (being a doctor, lawyer etc. was way cooler), so maybe Bill Gates may have the last laugh after all.
As he once so famously said, ‘Be nice to a nerd, chances are you’ll end up working for one’!
Ross Moody is the Chief Customer Office of Tarsus Technology Group