The relentless introduction of new technologies makes it challenging for any organization to determine which ones will drive growth, and in some cases, results in disruptive change in its business model and operations. Exponentially growing technologies such as robotics, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and advanced materials show great promise, but could also bring a degree of peril to a business if not adopted and managed in a strategic fashion.
During the recent Zurich Classic business sessions, the annual gathering of thought leaders and business executives, we focused on the issue of “Exponential Change and Technology.”
Our keynote speaker was Vivek Wadhwa, academic, researcher, writer and entrepreneur. His recent Washington Post article on the six technologies that will define 2016 alone include the Internet of Things (IoT), which is already changing product development and manufacturing processes for many companies.
Wadhwa began the session by predicting that this decade will be the most innovative in history, where "today’s technology is rapidly catching up to Star Trek.” A subsequent panel discussion, moderated by Rob Wolcott from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, included Slava Rubin, founder of the crowdfunding platform Indiegogo, and myself. Key insights from the discussion included:
- A deep understanding of these exponential changes will create a winning organization.
Because of these advanced technologies, radical changes are underway in how an organization is producing and providing products and services, allowing for even more customization and on-demand production. Understanding the potential as well as the pitfalls of these new operating structures is critical.
- New technologies manifest surprising new risks.
It’s inevitable that technological advancement will alter the way businesses operate and manage risk. For instance, as companies confront these changes and rush to capitalize on the next big thing they open themselves up to risk. People in Amsterdam are building tiny houses with 3D printing that they can put on the canal ― these aren’t construction companies, or tiny house builders or boat builders ― these are consumers. Who is at fault if the home falls over into the canal and people and property are harmed ― the consumer, the company who put the blueprint on line, the material they purchased from the supplier, the company who made the 3D printer ― the realization is it could be everyone.
- Accessing new risk management tools is a must-have.
The new risks of advanced technologies can feel like unchartered territory to most organizations. By using advanced tools such as data analytics, Zurich can now provide a detailed level of risk analysis to inform better decision-making around managing the enterprise risks.
In the end, these technologies can bring a range of hidden challenges, including regulatory and workforce changes, cyber security concerns and supply chain disruptions. Business leaders must understand the risks posed by emerging technologies and learn how to protect their enterprise for the best outcome.
Companies that understand the risk disruptive technology brings will succeed.