In a previous article titled “Hey 4.0, do I need milk”, I pondered a future where Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) replace the human at work, while instantly satisfying consumer needs. The article posed two questions to my readers: Firstly, do they believe that organisations are doing enough to embrace the rapid changes that Industry 4.0 will bring? And secondly, are they in a position to leverage their skills in a future where 4.0 innovation may replace the human at work? Little did I know, that just a few weeks later, COVID-19 would change the world of work forever. In this article, I will address the first of these questions while providing some insights that we should all consider. I will also offer my view on 4 steps towards future-proofing your organisation with artificial intelligence.


Are organisations doing enough to embrace the rapid changes that 4.0 will bring?

In answering this question, we need to look at the broader socio-political environment and the role that it plays with technology and artificial intelligence developments. We also need to consider how organisations gain access to and implement the latest news and trends in technological advancements and artificial intelligence.

Global developments in artificial intelligence and the impact on organisations

Following significant technological advancements in China and other countries, President Trump signed an executive order promoting artificial intelligence in February 2019. The order provides a platform for the American government to develop a strategy for artificial intelligence, including making funding available for the research, design and implementation of associated policies. Just two years prior, China announced that it planned to develop the artificial intelligence industry to an estimated $150 billion by 2030.

China and other countries are well-positioned to provide low-cost products and services to consumers around the world by using artificial intelligence to improve customer experience. This poses numerous risks and opportunities for organisations. In order to leverage these opportunities and mitigate risks, leaders of organisations need to keep their fingers on what I would term the synthetic pulse of artificial intelligence. Therefore, strategies that exclude artificial intelligence may soon become outdated.

Organisations can gain access to the latest news and trends in artificial intelligence

It has never been easier to keep abreast of new developments in artificial intelligence pulsating through cyberspace. The internet-of-things has allowed us to gain access to the latest news and trends in technological advancements, labour dynamics, global wealth inequality and the future of work, to name but a few. In order to keep up with the global trends, organisations need to access the synthetic pulse of artificial intelligence, review their strategy and understand if it supports growth within a world where their competitors have started investing in artificial intelligence to better serve their customers needs.

The impact of artificial intelligence on strategy

Rapid changes in artificial intelligence mean that organisational strategies need to be reviewed more frequently. For example, look at the retail sector where with the introduction of online shopping and free delivery, consumers around the world can make purchases online at lower prices. Alibaba is the largest online Chinese retailer and is currently a global leader specialising in e-commerce, retail and technology, and has been largely successful at leading developments in artificial intelligence. Some retailers are falling behind and losing market share, thus placing their shareholders at risk of lower returns and their employees at risk of potential job loss. This could be the result of not keeping their fingers on the synthetic pulse of artificial intelligence. Therefore there is a financial argument for organisations to review strategy within the context of artificial intelligence, as well as a social argument, given the impact global artificial intelligence development may have on local job security in a post-COVID-19 world.

COVID-19 has propelled us into a situation where the use of technology in the workplace is becoming increasingly relevant and necessary. Many organisations need to manage costs, retain corporate knowledge and expand into new markets. This agility allows them to actively participate in the global economy both now and into the future. Organisations that are able to create value for the consumer of tomorrow will thrive in the future. Below I have shared 4 steps towards future-proofing your organisation with artificial intelligence so that you are able to participate meaningfully in the global economy of tomorrow.


4 steps towards future-proofing your organisation with artificial intelligence


  1. Keep your figure on the synthetic pulse of artificial intelligence by identifying channels that gather and summarise the latest trends and developments in technology and artificial intelligence. If you don’t have time to set up these channels, I recommend subscribing to global platforms for news updates and gain access to their resource centres. For example, Business Insider and McKinsey have developed tools that integrate current trends in artificial intelligence, providing you with a single data point for the latest news in your industry. Alibaba Cloud has an amazing resource centre which is free to access and use. Another option is to set up Google Alerts for keywords related to technology and artificial intelligence developments within your industry.
  2. Ensure that you review your organisational strategy within the context of technology and artificial intelligence developments (both locally and internationally). By explicitly identifying your core and non-core value chain activities, you can highlight areas where progress in artificial intelligence is either a threat to, or an opportunity for, your organisation.
  3. Once you identify these threats and opportunities, you should review and understand the impact of technology and artificial intelligence considering, but not limited to, organisational leadership, culture, structure, management practices and systems. You should also understand how this may impact individual task requirements, skills, capabilities, needs, values and motivation.
  4. Having reviewed your current organisational context and infrastructure, decide if you can support technology and artificial intelligence investment within your organisation. Investigate outsourcing technology and artificial intelligence if it is not a core capability for your organisation. You could also consider purchasing established systems until you can develop this capability internally. An example of this would be Alibaba Group’s cloud e-commerce solutions that offer a suite of cloud computing and big data services to help organisations quickly build and smoothly run their online e-commerce platforms.

Need help future-proofing your organisation?

In answering the question of whether organisations are doing enough to embrace the rapid changes that Industry 4.0 will bring, I believe the “enough” of today may very well fall short of the “enough” of tomorrow if there are no deliberate steps taken towards future-proofing organisations in a post-COVID-19 world. In this article, I have highlighted how international developments in artificial intelligence have the potential to impact your business. I have also discussed how you can keep your finger on the synthetic pulse of artificial inteligence to keep abreast of local and international developments and make informed adjustments to your strategy. I hope that you consider implementing these 4 steps towards future-proofing your organisation with artificial intelligence so that you are able to participate meaningfully in the global economy of tomorrow.

If you need help with this, we at the Synergiser Group are here for you every step of the way. Click on the chat icon to right, and we will contact you as soon as possible.

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