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The Green Sheet Online Edition

November 11, 2019 • Issue 19:11:01

Your future is on the line

By Dale S. Laszig

I recently attended FinovateFall 2019 in New York City. Since 2007, Finovate has hosted over 40 conferences and more than 2,300 live product demos. Each year, events in London, San Francisco, New York, Hong Kong, Dubai, Singapore and Berlin provide financial service providers a cornucopia of future-ware. Organizers described FinovateFall2019 as a sales demo, press conference, analyst briefing, tradeshow and business development meeting, and said their "360 degree approach means attendees vie for demoing companies' attention, not the other way around."

At the conference, I noticed cards placed strategically invited attendees to visit the IBM lounge. "The next chapter of transformation is here," the cards read. "Visit the Digital Reinvention Bookshelf at the IBM lounge to uncover the answers you need to transform your enterprise." When I took my seat in the meeting hall, I found a note on one of the cards that said, "What will happen to me?" Through all the expertly staged and perfectly timed seven-minute demos that followed, the note kept coming to mind. I felt I had to answer it and made a point to visit the IBM lounge.

Reinventing your company

The IBM lounge had comfortable seating surrounded by tall white bookcases. Hardcover books with built-in iPads illuminated seven keys to success. Attendees browsed the digitally enhanced library at their own pace, discussing concepts with on-site facilitators. Combining print and digital media was a clever way for IBM to demonstrate how converging technologies are reshaping the business landscape.

IBM detailed its vision for next-generation business models, citing data from its report titled The Cognitive Enterprise: Reinventing your company with AI. "A new era of business reinvention is dawning," report authors wrote. "Organizations are facing an unprecedented convergence of technological, social and regulatory forces. As artificial intelligence (AI), automation, Internet of Things (IoT), blockchain and 5G become pervasive, their combined impact will reshape standard business architectures."

Following are IBM's seven recommended keys to success:

  1. Create platforms to unleash digital Darwinism: As technology platforms reshape the global economy, dominant players open their platforms, allowing others to join. These top performers apply design thinking, open workflows and agile approaches to building flexible, scalable platforms.
  2. Leverage the incumbent advantage in data: Big data provides deep insights that drive successful business models. While supply chains are leveraging more data analytics than ever, IBM analysts have observed that less than a quarter of data is being analyzed in real or near-real time.
  3. Architect your business for change: Creating a conceptual blueprint that defines organizational structure and operations can be difficult, particularly for legacy companies, "because enterprise blueprints often reflect accumulated history" and accidentally aggregated legacy choices made by enterprises over decades, researchers noted.
  4. Redesign company workflows around AI: Instead of creating processes that direct worker actions, organizations can harness AI and exponential technologies to define how work gets done. Working together, smart machines and smarter humans can create operational processes that continuously learn and open workflows that span ecosystems and networks.
  5. Get agile, change fast and build things: Agile, cross-functional teams can create fluid workflows that react quickly to change, align activities to core platform intents and remove bottlenecks in workflows. Providing a strong sense of purpose while freeing employees to become problem solvers can create a "tightly aligned and loosely coupled" organization, accelerating the flow of ideas and data and driving innovation.
  6. Reinvent your workforce to ignite talent: Competition for skilled labor is fierce; organizations must effectively manage skills, talent and culture to attract and retain key employees. This need will only increase as new business platforms and workflows require new and ongoing skills training and rapid skills transfer and development.
  7. Win with trust and security: Security can sometimes feel like a tug of war between the need to create frictionless consumer experiences and the need to protect identities and data. Security will continue to dominate business platform building, as organizations strive to secure human and machine elements, workflows and data sources. IBM recommends taking an open network approach that protects all platform participants.

What about me?

IBM researchers suggested AI can deepen our insights into what makes us human. This is important, they said, because today's customers expect not just personalization but a unique experience that speaks to their specific preferences in a particular moment. Data analytics can provide this type of insight and help service providers create a more human experience.

"Tone analyzers, for example, can read emails and tweets to determine if the writer is angry, frustrated or thrilled," researchers wrote. "Sentiment analysis, alongside traditional demographics, can improve the prediction accuracy for consumer preferences."

I wish I could have leveraged AI to get a better idea of what prompted an attendee to write, "What will happen to me?" It's a question we all grapple with at times. I recall working on some pretty crazy machines that required knowledge and training. My six-foot long Argyle 18 stat camera, for example. If only I'd thought to photograph it. It was massive, with a crank handle to adjust the accordion-style lens and vacuum pump to stabilize images as I photographed them.

The camera is gone, but I'm still here. And the skills I acquired remain with me today, an immutable part of my writing and reporting. I bet the note writer's skills are transferable too. And if that person has been working for years at a traditional payments company or financial institution, they likely have also accumulated knowledge, a professional network and robust client base.

Deborah Reuben, president of Reuben Creative, is a futurist who helps individuals and companies disrupt themselves by finding new ways to work with technology. When people ask her if machines will replace them, she recommends they think about the friction points and least favorite aspects of their work, and then rephrase the question to ask, "What mundane tasks of my job would I want technology to replace?"

So, dear note writer, you've asked a question on the minds of many, but remember, today's technology innovations are designed to connect and empower people. Your future is on the line; don't let worry put it on hold. Pick up the phone and have a conversation. end of article

Dale S. Laszig, senior staff writer at The Green Sheet and managing director at DSL Direct LLC, is a payments industry journalist and content development specialist. She can be reached at dale@dsldirectllc.com and on Twitter at @DSLdirect.

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