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Today no one can deny that the power of digital technology has shaken the 21 st century world and become an intrinsic part of our way of life. The industrial and business sectors must adapt fast or are forced to make transition to the digital age in order to survive the technological disruption and the new wave of business with leap-frogging growth. This transition encompasses all industries: from retail, banking, media, transport service and travel and medical to manufacturing where automation has become the norm.
No matter where we look, we cannot stay at the same spot.
As the world enters the 4 th industrial revolution with the emergence of new technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things, Blockchain and autonomous vehicle, future changes will become more complex, drastic and difficult to predict due to the new variables that influence the economic, political and social systems. One of the stark examples is “fake news” on social network that were allegedly used to interfere the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Donald Trump’s win defied predictions and polls and it spurred the EU and other countries to take measures to tackle the issue of fake news on the election season. Google, Facebook and Twitter are pressured to change their advertising policies to prevent and solve this problem.
Amid the bad news (and fake news), there are still good news. The World Bank’s East Asia and Pacific Economic Update, October 2017 showed a better-than- predicted recovery of the 2017 global economy thanks to China’s 6.7% economic growth which is equal to the 2016 growth and higher than expected. Meanwhile, the economic growth of East Asian countries and the advanced economies in Southeast Asia expanded to 5.1% which is a good sign.
However, the world is still facing long-term risk. IMF revealed that even though the global economy expanded higher than predicted which gives consumers and business sectors confidence, it is only in the short run due to the uncertainty in the global politic situation and other factors related to global economic instability such as Brexit, China's embrace of globalization, the U.S. trade barrier policy and the North Korea conflict.
If 2017 is the year of instability, complexity, uncertainty and ambiguity, what will be the challenges in 2018 that everyone should prepare to handle?
Google Home, a smart speaker that comes with personal assistant
Into the age of automation and AI will be the catalyst that transforms every industry
According to Gartner, a technology and innovation advisory firm, AI will be the most disruptive technology that will have the greatest impact on every industry over the next 10 years. At the same time, it will also become a decisive tool that determines the success of business which competes with data, e.g. making informed decision, adjusting business format and ecosystem, and improving customer experience. It is therefore no surprise that Google has announced a momentous shift of its mission to fully focus on AI since early 2017 and designed its products to bring AI technology into users’ daily life. For instance, Google Home which connects with home appliances or Voice Shopping where Google partners with Walmart to offer customers the ability to order the retailer’s products by voice command in a challenge to Amazon’s smart speaker. Google’s transition reinforces the future trend where the age of mobile-first is gradually fading away. Gartner also predicts that in 2018 we will definitely see leading brands compete in implementing Visual and Voice Search in retail, e-commerce and other industries.
Testing Reuters Tracer system from Reuters website
Not only a focus among tech giants, even a global new agency like Reuters has also developed AI specifically for reporting news. Reuters Tracer runs algorithms that sift through the information on Twitter before classifying them into topics, ranking their priority, and writing a headline and summary. The news is then distributed around the company’s global news wire.
Nonetheless, the advance of AI and robotics makes many people worry about its effect on future employment. McKinsey Global estimated that 400-800 million of global workforce will be replaced by automation by 2030, and as many as 375 million people around the world will need to switch occupational categories such as working with machine or developing new skills that have yet to be replaced by machine.
The decline of startup? Next, the giants will disrupt themselves
In the widely popular article “After the end of the startup era” by Jon Evans from TechCrunch website, the software engineer and journalist raised the question whether the golden age of startups has come to an end. For Evans, the era where “fast fishes” devour “big fishes” is now over. Big companies that are quick to adjust and equipped with capital and technology will become the ones who decide the future in the next 10 years. This is the normal cycle: from
the dot com boom where companies like Amazon, Google and Facebook grew into powerhouses to the age of smart phone where application service providers such as Uber, Instagram and Twitter dominate the main market. The future battle will belong to the giant companies.
Gartner’s 2018 strategic trend analysis also stated that digital powerhouses such as Facebook, Amazon, Apple and Google will compete in finding new markets and disrupting among themselves. They may even disrupt themselves to create new business opportunities and compete with their Chinese counterparts such as Alibaba and Tencent which have home advantage in Southeast Asia market. Smaller businesses therefore turn their bets on advanced technologies that are highly complex and specialised such as space technology, alternative energy, nanotechnology, human-like computing and quantum computing under collaborations with research institutes and investors.
Let’s keep watch on how small and medium entrepreneurs and enterprises will find a way to survive and which direction our future way of life should be designed. And come explore the answers together with the thinkers, creators, entrepreneurs and policy makers involved with the global movements in the annual symposium CU 2018 under the theme “Pulse: Stepping ahead of the Curve”.
Article: “After the end of the startup era” from TechCrunch
Report: “Gartner Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2018” from Gartner
Report: "Jobs Lost, Jobs Gained: Workforce Transitions In A Time Of Automation" from McKinsey Global Institute
News article: “Improved global economic performance contributed to positive outlook for the developing economies of East Asia and the Pacific” from worldbank
Photo by Pujohn Das/ Space10
The shortage of resources…
The increased number of senior citizens…
The relocation of world’s economic centre…
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