Leaders Will Need New Rules To Succeed After The Digital Revolution

Look around at how the companies you know function today. The modern business environment is in a state of constant change. In the past decade we have seen innovations such as the smart phone and social networks changing how people communicate, learn, work, and even find a partner. People have changed, but companies are playing catch up.

This wave of change is forcing major companies to constantly to be more innovative and relevant in an unforgiving market. Start-up companies can launch new products globally via the app store creating an environment where executives don’t even know who their competition will be next year because they may not even exist - yet.

For proof of just how much is changing, consider some of these facts about well-known digital brands:

  • Airbnb is the world’s largest accommodation provider yet they own no property
  • Facebook is the world’s largest media company (they still deny this), yet they generate no content
  • Skype is the largest global telecom provider, yet they have no telco infrastructure
  • Netflix is the largest movie house yet they have no cinemas
  • Uber operates the largest taxi fleet in the world yet they own no taxis

We are witnessing the Fourth Industrial Revolution. This wave of disruptive technology – led by robotics, Artificial Intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT), and 5G – will change production, management, and governance in every company in every industry. In many cases, the change has already arrived.

In a business environment characterised by continuous innovation many organisations will struggle. Financial service companies are known for trust and reliability. Change doesn’t come easily to a bank or insurance company with a large network of branches, legacy infrastructure going back several decades, and a regulated trading environment. But then a new insurance company launches using an app and offers to pay home insurance claims in an average of 3 seconds. How does a heritage brand compete with that?

It was Heraclitus who first said ‘change is the only constant’ in around 500 BC. Little did he know that his words would feature on just about every business plan in the 21st century.

It would be arrogant to suggest that I, or any other commentator, can see into the future, but it is clear that in this type of hyper-accelerated environment leaders need the ability to test ideas, adopting those that work and quickly move on from failures. Human ingenuity will be the difference between success and a place in the history books.

Companies facing digital disruption will also face internal disruption to the traditional structure of departments and fixed responsibilities. As a psychologist this fascinates me. We can see that companies need to approach their industry in a more innovative way if they want to remain relevant – or even survive – but what does this mean for the employees and how leaders lead? What is the human impact of transformational change when it is applied to businesses and entire industries?

The most obvious change that is needed is cultural. It is the role of the leader to create the culture and a climate for success that drives organisational performance.  Companies need to cast aside their traditional structure and prepare for the digital age by developing their leaders, people and a pipeline of current and future talent.  As well, a mindset and culture of lifelong learning will also play a role as an integral part of a job, rather than being in addition to a job – skills date quickly in a constantly changing environment so this is about more than just career development, the workforce needs to be ‘future ready.’ It’s also about taking time out for reflection and time out to learn and to embrace the learning cycle.,  Leaders need to encourage a culture that embraces innovation and experimentation within clear parameters. They need to understand how to change course quickly and optimise new opportunities.

Emotional intelligence is fundamental for great leaders enabling them, amongst many things, to be inclusive; to create teams that collaborate and work together, pulling in the same direction. They also need to be compassionate to support the organisation and its people in the face of rapid change and overwhelm because it can impact mental health which is critical when you consider 1:4 people have mental health issues and 1:3 GP prescriptions are mental health related.   Leaders need to take time to have meaningful leadership conversations with their people and teams if they are to lead change and transformation successfully.  They need to manage their own energy and be custodians of the energy of the organisation.

Leaders also need to create a high trust culture because trust lies at the heart of creating a culture of safety, courage, creativity, risk-taking, making mistakes, accountability and ownership.   Digital cultures need to create a culture of its ‘ok to make mistakes’ and to fail fast otherwise risk taking and creativity won’t happen. There needs to be this psychological safety and trust.

As we go further into this digital revolution it is clear, and this is backed up by research, that leaders need business skills, problem solving abilities, the ability to communicate powerfully, coaching and engagement skills, critical thinking, creativity, and emotional intelligence to thrive and survive – in addition to a big dose of humility where they are happy to learn from their team and colleagues, harnessing the collective energy and wisdom of those around them for the greater good.  The world of work is becoming boundary less and a collective leadership mindset is critical for business success.

One interesting effect of digital disruption is that it has the opportunity to encourage more inclusion and diversity. The workforce of the future will be one made of people who are employed, work virtually and contractors.  The workplace will look and feel very different to what it does now. This flexible workforce will enable more people from all walks of life, backgrounds and physical abilities to be part of the new digital age thereby creating a rich and diverse workforce which will help the talent pipeline that CEOs have sighted as one of their major challenges in competing in a digital world.

The heart of the digital revolution is digital dexterity which I believe is driven based on the development and growth of individuals — their ability to take these advances and changes and to apply them within the context of an organisation and then to drive the business forward.  It requires Conscious Leadership, leaders who have emotional intelligence, who consciously create high trust environments, have conversations that matter, are focused, manage their energy and are custodians of the energy of the organisation as well as lead with compassion.  They have a collective leadership and life learning mindset, are comfortable with being vulnerable, are able to resource themselves and others and they are humble.





About the Author

Nicky Pharoah, Managing Director at The Learning Curve

Nicky is an Organisational Development (OD) expert with extensive experience of psychotherapeutic application in the workplace. Drawing on over 30 years' operational experience within market-leading companies both in the UK and internationally, Nicky blends intuition and in-depth behavioural insights to make a lasting difference for clients.

About TLC

TLC’s focus and raison d’être is to work with organisations to develop leaders and transform cultures, based on principles of “Conscious Leadership” –  both a mindset and an advanced leadership capability centred on an understanding that our actions and behaviours impact ourselves, our colleagues and ultimately how well an organisation performs. Our services include bespoke Leadership Development, Cultural Transformation, 1:1 and team coaching, and 360-degree feedback implementations.

Founded in 1997 and headquartered in the UK, TLC works in both private and public sector organisations, in the UK and internationally.

Disruption in customer experience delivery: a reality in 2019

Over the past two decades no industry has been impervious to changes in how business is done.  Across so many different parts of the economy, conventional wisdom has been thrown out the window, so much so that executives are having trouble keeping up with changes in consumer patterns.

The domain of customer experience delivery is no stranger to this phenomenon; frankly it is near the forefront.  How end-users interact with companies that they buy goods and services from continues to evolve, and enterprise contact center managers must avoid being behind the curve.  To do so will mean lost loyalty, shrinking share of wallet, and less long-term profitability. This is a scenario that no enterprise, regardless of vertical, can afford to find themselves in.

Changes in how consumers buy from enterprises are an omnipresent shift in today’s economy.  Consider a few trends evident in the UK over the past twelve months, including:

  • The near collapse of high streets from Dover to Aberdeen and all points in-between.  Previously the focal point of a community’s commercial activity, the once-powerful high street is now an empty shell of what it once was;
  • Retailers are falling like dominos!  A great example of this was the announcement at the end of 2018 that HMV was going into administration in the UK. For those of us old enough to remember anxiously awaiting our allowances to spend at this epic music retailer on the weekend, seeing its current state is nearly depressing.  When one considers that HMV is one of many retail chains facing this challenge, it is even more profound to contemplate;
  • Ecommerce is where it’s at… roughly one-in-five pounds spent in the UK is via online buying.  By all accounts, this ratio will become even more pronounced in the coming years.

The above constitutes just some of the changes illustrating how the broader economy is shifting to take into account how consumers want to buy products and services.  In 2019, there is every reason to assume that how consumers choose to interact with enterprises will be more complex and challenging than ever.

Consider the impact of digital channels, which any contact center observer can confirm have become more important than ever. In fact, the most recent Ryan Strategic Advisory Front Office Omnibus Survey of 350 enterprise customer experience professionals showed that roughly half of their workstations are enabled to deliver some type of digital component.  Whether it be webchat, email, social media or instant messaging, end-users will almost certainly continue to orient themselves to non-verbal communication in the coming 12 months.

But managing these different channels remains a challenge for many enterprises.  While captive CRM budgets have seen a thaw over the past two years, a majority of firms still report that their in-house spending flexibility is tight.  This is a major challenge when automated front-line delivery and artificial intelligence are keys to maintaining end-user loyalty.  The reality is that no contact center can be without these capabilities. Knowing today’s consumer better is the lynchpin to securing their long-term loyalty.

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Author: Peter Ryan, Principal at Ryan Strategic Advisory

About Peter Ryan

Peter Ryan has been at the forefront of contact center services market advisory for over a decade.  Having began his career in London at Datamonitor in 2003, he quickly established himself as one of the foremost experts in the burgeoning CRM sector.

Over the course of his career, he has advised contact center outsourcers, their clients, industry associations and governments on matters ranging from vertical market penetration and service delivery to best practices in offshore positioning.

Peter Ryan’s expertise in outsourcing has been recognized multiple times.  He was awarded callcentrehelper.com’s prestigious Best Respected Contact Center Professional in 2015 and was included in Fonolo’s Top 16 Analysts Covering Customer Experience.  He was also included in each iteration of the Nearshore Americas Power 50 influencers listings, which identified the most important outsourcing executives in the Western Hemisphere.

Through his career Peter Ryan has been a much sought-after speaker, headlining multiple events including The Turkey Call Center Conference and Expo (Istanbul), Nearshore Nexus (New York), The Business Process Enablement South Africa Summit (Cape Town), The Central American Nearshore Summit (Managua), Congreso Andino de Contact Centers y BPO (Bogota) and The Congreso Regional de Call Centers & CRM (Buenos Aires).  He has also been frequently quoted in the media on a variety of matters pertaining to BPO and contact centers.

Peter has degrees in Political Studies from the University of Saskatchewan and an MBA from Dalhousie University.  He lives in Montreal Quebec.

What consumers really think of AI in customer Service

Do you think that Artificial Intelligence (AI) will have a positive or negative effect on ‘your life in the near future? Dave Pattman, Managing Director CX Services at Gobeyond Partners, part of the Webhelp Group examines the results of our recently commissioned YouGov poll to find out what people really think about the future.

We worked with the polling experts YouGov to ask over 2,000 British adults what they think and it would appear that people still believe in the importance of the human touch in their interactions with brands. In our survey, 44% said that they do not think AI will impact them positively in any way and 52% said that it would make dealing with brands more impersonal.

Webhelp recently published a report on the future of automation and we commissioned the YouGov survey to find out what people really think – just normal consumers who don’t spend each day thinking about customer experience or AI strategy. It was clear from several different responses that a large majority of UK consumers prefer dealing with humans over automated services for everything from querying a bill (85%) and changing account details (62%) to making a complaint (84%), buying a product or service for the first time (77%), chasing an order (73%) or dealing with a fault (78%).

Almost half of the respondents (45%) said they have never used any type of AI, although it is becoming so pervasive that people may not even be aware that AI is often creating their product recommendations or special offers. Amongst those who know they have used AI almost half (44%) believe that it will not positively impact their life in the next five years.

Most people know from their own anecdotal evidence that human-to human contact is important when asking a brand for help, but this study from Webhelp goes even further, highlighting the degree to which people favour it over AI-powered customer service tools and are negative about AI’s potential future impact.

Many people are not aware of how AI is changing their relationship with brands, but they are gradually becoming more exposed to AI systems. Even so, this research confirms the importance of striking the right balance between the advanced technology services we offer and the incredible human talent of our local teams of agents, advisors and planners. We, at Webhelp, strike the right balance between the advanced technology available and real people – humans helping humans.

Our approach will always be customer experience driven, so this window into consumer perception is extremely valuable for helping our clients implement AI solutions that offer clear end-user value. Research like this can help us to plan how we work with our clients in future.

It is interesting to note that there is a clear divide between AI systems that customers choose to use and those that are forced on them. For example, people with a smart speaker system at home such as the Amazon Echo (Alexa) or Google Home are mostly satisfied with the way it functions – 77% said they are satisfied with their smart system. However, only 45% of people who had used a chatbot for a customer service question said that they were satisfied. Users of automated Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems were even less satisfied at 38%.

Discover more from our recent blog post on ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE ON THE CX FRONTLINE

People are likely to be more receptive to AI in future as they experience it more often – smart speakers are selling so fast today that during peak periods like Black Friday it has been impossible for even major brands like Amazon to keep up with the demand. As people become comfortable with AI systems in their own home, there is the potential for them to feel more comfortable with brands using AI.

However, our study found that most customers are pessimistic about the future as they foresee companies automating many more customer service interactions even though they would prefer to maintain service by humans. 26% of respondents felt that automating customer service functions would make interacting with companies much worse in future – just 19% said that they think this will create an improved customer experience. It was also interesting to note that 46% of customers mentioned their concerns around data privacy and security as a negative aspect of further digitisation of services.

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As you might expect, age is an important factor in the acceptance of AI. Younger generations have grown up as digital natives, constantly using technology and so it is to be expected that they would be happy to use AI and would expect it to be helpful. In fact over 90% of respondents aged 55 or over reported a preference for a human interaction when contacting a company. However, AI is not universally accepted as better by the younger demographic groups – 45% of 18-24 year olds said they would be happy with a chatbot so even the younger consumers have a majority that still prefers human interaction.

A big difference can be seen when comparing the belief that AI will have no positive impact on their life in the next five years. The older respondents supported this view with 60% agreeing, but only 26% of the young adults only supported it. But it also seems that younger consumers are more aware of the value of their data. More than half of the customers aged 25-34 are worried about threats to privacy and security compared to 45% of those 55 or above. And about a third of those 18-24 worry about AI’s impact on their job prospects compared to only 15% of those 55 or above. Perhaps that is just because they can see their entire career ahead of them and therefore automation of work is far more worrying to those who are far from retirement.

It is clear that good customer experience cannot be delivered by technology alone. It’s important to think about the overall process and journey, and how to create value for both companies and customers. Any attempt to leverage automated services should start with this thinking and ensure that automated and human-led services are working effectively, in tandem with one another. From a customer experience point of view, AI creates an opportunity for brands to deliver greater convenience, speed of response and accessibility. But it’s important to note that this doesn’t replace people. It decreases the volume but increases the value of human interaction.

I do believe that this research confirms that managers with a responsibility to plan how they can deliver the best possible customer experience need to strike the right balance between the advanced technology available and real people – humans helping humans. Consumer attitudes may change as AI becomes normalised in homes, but at present there is a strong feeling that too much of a focus on AI and automation will reduce the overall quality of customer service.

How do we really want to interact with brands? What do we really think about AI and Automation? How important is it to strike the right balance between human talent and AI and Automation for CX? Read our AI and Automation paper to find out more, or check out our latest Whitepaper on Emotion here. 

South Africa and India both chosen as CX Leaders by Ryan Strategic Advisory

Earlier this week I attended the CX Outsourcers event in Windsor. It was billed as a mindshare event where many people from different parts of the customer experience (CX) industry would get together and discuss common challenges and strategies.

The event was organised by Peter Ryan, the Principal analyst at Ryan Strategic Advisory. Peter’s company has recently put together research on the most favoured location for companies engaged in Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) and other forms of CX services. For the 2019 Front-Office BPO Omnibus Survey he polled over 500 decision-makers, so the poll is a great indication of which countries are improving and which are in decline.

Naturally to get the complete research you need to buy it from Peter’s company, however he presented information about the top five results during the conference and he simultaneously released a podcast too.

The poll results were exciting news for the team at Webhelp because South Africa and India – which were joint second place - are two very important locations for our delivery teams. To see them both ranked so highly is an important sign that executives making decisions about their CX globally see these locations as highly trusted.

In a blog post on his website Peter Ryan explained why South Africa and India did so well in his research: “South Africa maintains its second-place ranking in the 2019 offshore favourability rankings, albeit in a tie with India.  In the case of South Africa, the country’s outsourcing stakeholders have made efforts at courting new investment that are clearly paying off. Buyers in the US, Canada and Australia are affirming their confidence in South Africa. As for India, its history as a quality customer experience management delivery points cannot be understated, nor can its emergence as a go-to point for many buyers from the perspective of non-voice, digital channel management.”

The entire CX industry is facing a wave of digital disruption at present as companies explore how some brand-to-customer interactions can be automated. This was also a key feature of the CXO conference that I will follow up on in a separate comment, however it’s worth noting that I believe the real answer is to only use automated tools and AI where it improves the customer experience. Getting this blend of digital and human service is now an important part of the planning process when considering how to deliver great CX. In fact, we are releasing a paper on AI and Automation, so be sure to sign up for it now.

Back to South Africa and human contact… In South Africa we use a strategy known as Impact Sourcing, working with an organisation called Harambee. This partnership helps our team to find unemployed young people who would not usually have an opportunity to enter formal employment without the training Harambee provides. Not only is this great for the local community, but because of the investment Webhelp and Harambee makes  in helping these people get a job you simply cannot find greater loyalty and dedication. These young people love coming to work because they can remember when they didn’t have a job and it was almost impossible to find one - good for the community and also good for business too. You can get a flavour of the calibre of our Impact Sourcing colleagues, as well as the impact rewarding employment is having on their lives, by reading their stories: Celine Walters and Morgan Wagner

It’s these innovative ideas and an agile approach to customer service in both South Africa and India that sets our team apart in these locations. In conclusion, it was a pleasure to be at the CXO conference this week and we all felt great pride hearing just how valued South Africa and India are in the wider CX community.

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If you’d like to find out more about Webhelp or ask Craig a question, email: craig.gibson@uk.webhelp.com


Craig Gibson



Boost your sales efforts through lead scoring

When companies start implementing strategies that focus on attracting leads or customers, the first question that comes to mind is, will we get enough new leads in our funnels? The next step is to evaluate the quality of your lead and this is where lead scoring comes in.

So what exactly is lead scoring? It is a process used by numerous marketing and sales departments to evaluate and rank prospects on a point scale which assigns a score to each lead. The emerging score is then used to determine the priority of the leads the sales team then will engage with.

According to a recent research by DemandGen, 41% of participants reported an increase in the conversation rates when it comes to leads that were generated through the lead scoring process. (Source: demandgen.com)

Each company has a different process of verifying and qualifying it’s leads – nonetheless, to benefit the most out of this significant approach companies should:

Define explicit and implicit criteria
The base of each lead scoring is the definition of the explicit (demographic) and implicit (behavioral) characteristics of your ideal lead.

The explicit approach describes the readily available information that enables marketers to determine whether the leads are a good fit for the companies this includes: the industry, products or service, company size, etc. On the other hand, the implicit approach describes the behavior of the prospects, for example: Do they register for webinars? Do they open the emails? Do they download white papers from your website? Do they hold decision making positions in their companies? This helps you to filtering through the clutter and select the ideal customer profile.

Crosscheck with sales
Your sales team is closer to the leads because they get in touch with them more often. Most likely, they understand the pain points and needs of prospects better than any other department in your company. Their feedback about interests and tendencies should be considered when developing a lead scoring model.

Customise your scoring
Assigning the same value points for actions of the same nature could hinder an effective lead scoring process. For example, when awarding points for opened e-mails, one should consider what the email is about. Is the e-mail announcing a new innovative product or service or is the e-mail informing people that your company will be closed for holiday? The first action certainly requires a score while the second doesn’t. Applying the same principle to other actions will help in fine tuning your scoring process

Disqualify dead-end leads
Occasionally, some leads which contact you never convert into customers simply because they are not decision makers. For example, an intern who fills out your contact form would probably be doing an academic research rather than looking to purchase your product or service. Using lead scoring tools to automatically disqualify such leads saves time. Example of tools?

Last but not least: Automate
Despite the human factor when defining the ranking amongst leads, implementing a lead scoring model can be difficult to manually accomplish because a lead’s preference or activity can change every day. You need technology for optimal results so that the hard work of qualifying the data is done through the algorithms that are created. Companies should thus ensure their marketing automation and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems are integrated for scoring. FinancesOnline, a reliable SaaS software review platform assessed top 20 online CRM tools and found out that many of these tools deliver excellent lead management such as:

  • HubSpot CRM is listed as one of the best free of charge CRMs that includes modern features, tracking and nurturing faucets all in one package.
  • Salesforce Essentials dominates a big fraction of the market because it provides a variety of services like marketing automation, partner management, lead management and sales data control. Many companies mostly prefer it because of its top-notch reports and real-time views of the sales team’s interaction that can help you in creating weekly analysis and forecasts.
  • Freshsales is also among the most chosen CRM. Users find its intuitive interface, activity & behavior captures, AI-powered lead scoring and other unique features very effective. Freshsales works best for small or medium sales teams which possess minimum to no previous experience with digitized customer relationship management.
  • Pipedrive is a CRM that should be considered to improve sales and service delivery. Due to the numerous features, Pipedrive is used with over 50,000 companies worldwide. All the functions are built within active selling that provides users with adept control over deal completion as well as lead nurturing.

If companies invest on the latest lead scoring tools and implement the key factors as mentioned above, their overall sales process is bound to improve. And for an effective lead processing strategy, it is essential for the marketers and sales teams to closely align their lead management efforts which will in turn maximize sales opportunities.

Which other lead scoring tools do you know of?

Artificial Intelligence On The CX Frontline

Much has been written about how Artificial Intelligence (AI) is changing the way that customers interact with brands. Tools such as chatbots are offering a way to provide an immediate and automated service and successfully handling many simple questions from customers. People are getting very used to asking ‘Alexa’ for help when they have a question about almost anything.

AI is becoming very pervasive, even for people who might generally avoid new technologies, but how does this change the customer service frontline – the contact centre? It is clear from the recent Webhelp study undertaken with YouGov that customers are actually quite wary of too much automation – they still prefer human interactions – but what do the people in the contact centre think?

I thought it would be a great idea to talk to some of our team, so I arranged a focus group with our customer service advisors who handle customer interactions on behalf of our clients every day to find out what they thought about AI and how it might change their role at work and their life in general. They had some really interesting insights that I’d like to share with you here.

Our first topic was the customer experience itself. How do customers experience a brand when they are usually interacting with a contact centre and how might this change if an AI chatbot was managing the interaction? Comments included:

“Customers don’t always get what you’re saying when you’re on the phone; or they don’t want to hear it, so they just ignore it. How is a computer going to be able to navigate that?”

“Chatbots are really fast and quite responsive.”

“There is nothing more infuriating than phoning someone up and having to keep pressing buttons.”

These are quite measured responses. It’s true that when automated systems are implemented poorly they can be very annoying, but as mentioned, when they do work they work well. However, that’s a great comment about conversing with people. If customers ignore or miss information when they talk to other people, how will an AI system learn to manage that?

What about the question of whether a brand should automate, or use human advisors, or should the customer be able to choose? Should there even be a customer choice here or should a company just make the decision?

“I think the option always has to be to speak to someone.”

“As long as you give them the option, you may find that people actually choose the automated version over time. But the majority will probably start with humans because they’re comfortable with that. It’s important not to take the human element away from them.”

“It’s about choice – and being able to choose when you speak to a chatbot and when you speak to a human in order to get to something, rather than going through a complicated process.”

“There are some people who get a little anxious about calling up as it creates anxiety for them to actually speak to another human. They might find it comfortable to speak to a chatbot or a speech recognition assistant.”

This is very interesting because the team acknowledged that sometimes the customer doesn’t really want to talk to a person anyway. Think about a company that is calling people to collect outstanding loan payments. The collections process might even work better if the customer can just talk to a computer rather than a real person – nobody feels any shame talking to a robot. It’s also interesting to see that the team believes that the customer should have some choice, but they should always have the right to change their mind. For example, they might think that a chatbot can handle their simple question, but it starts struggling. At this point it should be easy to switch to a human, otherwise the entire process will start feeling complex and challenging.

I talked to the team about some of the day-to-day examples they can think of where they regularly interact with AI. This focused on normal daily activities rather than any complex use of technology. They had some great comments.

“I can just say ‘Alexa, play Spotify!’ without even looking for my phone, without even grabbing a remote. The technology is there to make it more convenient for me to do whatever with Alexa  - it can follow commands without any effort. It’s there to make your life easier.”

“AI is great when it works but there are still faults. My Echo dot seems to just start playing YouTube whenever it wants.”

“You forget the microphone button is there and it’s constantly listening and will hear you talking all time of the day to your family and friends.”

So in many cases there is great convenience. Many of us are now used to asking Alexa for help and find it a chore to search for a remote control or keyboard when it’s now normal to just speak naturally to a device. However, it’s clear that the devices still have some flaws and there is also a sneaking suspicion that we are allowing many of these devices to listen to our entire lives. People are getting concerned about privacy.

This led into a more specific discussion about security, personal data, and privacy. The team tried to explore some of the questions about how well we really want brands to know and understand us.

“Technology as a whole has progressed. It’s the security side that has not progressed as much.”

“In this day and age, you’re being watched 24/7 even when you just step outside – you’re being watched by cameras everywhere you go.”

“AI is an amazing thing, but you’ve got to be wary of the security side of things … Can you allow a computer to make decisions on your behalf? A computer doesn’t have any morals. It doesn’t know what’s right.”

It was really interesting to see this discussion about morals because this is one of the classic problems that many companies now face as they use AI more and more. Self-driving cars are a great example. Should the car always protect the passenger or always try to minimise loss of life? It’s an interesting question because sometimes a car may need to take a decision to save several pedestrians at the cost of the life of the passenger. Would you allow your car to make that kind of decision?

We explored the generational divide and how technology is generally evolving and one of the team summarised it by saying this: “The big mistake humans make is that they rush into things. They see a gap in the market, and they rush into it without thinking about what it actually means. Look at all the people who have iPhones and don’t know how to actually use them.”

This is a very powerful point. We know that the use of smart phones and social networks has been affecting attention spans and how people interact, but nobody knows how this will affect education or relationships or health in future. Some researchers are raising the alarm, but the genie is out of the bottle now – to reject technology and say you want to live a slower, less connected, life would be far from the mainstream. We will soon see AI play a much more significant role in our life, even more so than smart phones, but are we ready to welcome this change with an awareness of what is changing? At the moment our team really don’t think that people are aware of how fast their world is changing and that’s concerning.

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Author: Ewan Mckay