Ahead of our inaugural national summit, The Future Works, we spoke with keynote speaker Clare Dillon, to get a sense of what she will present at the event. With over 20 years experience of leadership development, business strategy and technology evangelism, Clare helps organisations maximise the opportunities presented by the latest trends in technology, from AI to Virtual Reality.
What does being a technology evangelist mean to you?
For me, technology evangelism is all about spreading the good news about how the latest trends in technology can help people and organisations.
What aspect of technological advancements should Irish businesses be most aware of right now?
In the last number of years, there has been so many examples of digital innovation, it’s hard to pick one to highlight. The most interesting examples involve novel combinations of many new and existing technologies delivering exciting new customer experiences.
Thinking about aspects that Irish businesses should be aware of, it’s worth noting that many studies are showing that the success or failure of digital transformation initiatives are even more dependent on an organisation’s capacity to enable change as they are on the technical excellence of solutions. No matter what technology Irish businesses are exploring, they should ensure they are focusing as much on “softer” skills like collaboration, creativity and resilience as building technical capabilities.
How will the rise of AI shape roles and ways of working in the future world of work?
There are numerous analyst reports showing that AI is being adopted across all functions and industry verticals (though at different rates). Many early adopters are using AI to drive operational efficiencies, for example through Robotic Process Automation (RPA). However, the organisations getting most return for their investment in AI are also focused on exploring how AI can help their employees be more productive and how they can leverage AI to deliver brand new products, services and innovations.
A great example is the high growth of new HR solutions, where AI is being used to pre-screen CVs and candidates in the recruitment process. Another example is how AI is being used to predict what customers might need before they even know they need it, improving overall customer experience. One thing is for sure, almost every role in complex businesses will be changing to regularly interact with some form of AI in the next few years.
What actions can businesses take to shorten the lag between technology advancement and technology adoption in the workplace?
Work on improving collaboration inside and outside your organisation and learning to deal with ambiguity and change. It requires an explicit effort to constantly develop these skills, even if you think you’re pretty good at it, to begin with. Also, it is important to create space (time and budget) for innovation.
How can businesses best develop an ‘innovation mindset’ within the workforce in respect of maximising the use of technology?
It starts with being open to change. You’d be surprised how many people say they want to innovate but are really uncomfortable with any resulting change and block its success. Secondly, give time and space to discover what might be possible. This involves learning about how technology has delivered value elsewhere. Thirdly, put these possibilities in context. Thinking about your own business priorities, explore what is appropriate for you and best for your customers, not just what technology is “hot” right now. Once you decide what technology is right for you – make sure to devote sufficient energy to helping people adopt the new technology.
What are the ramifications for businesses that ignore technological and digital advancements?
The risks of business disruption are great. There are huge competitive forces currently impacting traditional businesses, most of whom have operated in a very similar way for over a century. It’s hard to know where competition is coming from these days. Just look at a company like Amazon who, having disrupted traditional retail, is now branching out to other verticals such as healthcare. Or examine the number of fintech startups taking on traditional banks and winning market share.
It’s almost impossible to predict where new competitive threats will come from. Most of these disrupters are leveraging technology to deliver differentiated customer experiences. Without exploring similar opportunities and evolving products and services, businesses will find it extremely difficult to thrive and compete. As the great Lauren Bacall once said: “Standing still is the fastest way of moving backwards in a rapidly changing world.”
About The Future Works – Skillnet Ireland National Summit
Advances in technology, changing demographics, and a multitude of competitive and geopolitical forces are constantly changing the landscape of work on a national and global level. The Future Works, Skillnet Ireland’s inaugural National Summit, brings you renowned international keynote speakers and insightful industry panel discussions, focusing on the key factors shaping Ireland’s workforce and the future world of work.
Discover more about our summit at thefutureworks.skillnetireland.ie