If you only paid attention to technology through mainstream media sources, you might think autonomous cars are killing people, robots are taking our jobs, and technology is leading us to doom. As marketers, I think it’s critical that we don’t just pay attention to the next killer app out there, we need to be observing how technology is impacting lives and the behavior of consumers and businesses.
The facts about digital transformation are quite the opposite.
Let’s start with autonomous vehicles. Humans continue to have fatal car crashes, killing an average of 3,287 Americans every day. Intelligent automobiles aren’t killing… they’re going to save lives. In fact, I’d estimate that they already are. On my way to Dell Tech World in Las Vegas, I wrote a note on the road describing some of the features of the new Chrysler Pacifica I’d rented. I have no doubt the autonomous functions of that car reduced my risk for getting into accidents throughout my 5,000-mile trip.
Taking jobs? While every advancement in technology removes the need for some jobs, new jobs are here. Thirty years ago, no one imagined (including myself) that I’d be running a digital agency and producing podcasts for a company that started by selling home-made computers out of a garage. I have thousands of colleagues getting well-compensated for jobs that never existed a few decades ago.
I may be in the minority when it comes to automation. I’m a pessimist that believes automation isn’t taking jobs; it’s removing barriers to even more. As part of this season of the Luminaries podcast, we interviewed the founder of DAQRI, an augmented reality company that has combined software and hardware to in a system called Worksense.
Combine a skilled worker with an AR platform like DAQRI that can reveal notes, instructions, and even connect you to an expert in real-time… and that worker may be able to do preventive and corrective maintenance on equipment they may not even have training on. So, that may expand our work opportunities, not replace them.
Technology is becoming ever efficient as well. Increased storage, computing power, and data transfer rates with significantly reduced power profiles are helping to reduce the energy per work unit, not increase it. And it’s assisting us to transform traditional industries that we hadn’t imagined could be reinvented. Aerofarms, for instance, is increasing the yields of farms by 390% by moving them indoors, tuning inexpensive, affordable lighting tuned to each crop and reducing the need for water by 95%. Indoor farming can make nutritious food affordable and accessible to every person on the planet.
I continue to warn my clients that we are in a new wave of technology transformation. Scalable computing power, high-speed wireless connections, and unlimited storage are opening the gateway to artificial intelligence, deep learning, machine learning, natural language processing, and the Internet of Things.
Not sold yet? Google recently released its demo of Google Assistant that should change your mind. Google Assistant is on the leading edge – instructing your IoT device to make an appointment for you. The sophistication of these advancements could literally bury Google’s competitors like Apple and Amazon if they’re unable to keep up. While that may not sound plausible, remember that folks never thought Nokia and Blackberry would lose their domination, either.
The lessons aren’t there for just technology companies, it’s a lesson for every company. Every product and service on the planet can be improved or replaced with theses technologies. Every company can create a connection to the consumer that didn’t exist before. My home’s HVAC system is being replaced next week with a newer, more efficient system.
While I’m looking forward to a cooler home and a lower energy bill, the biggest advancement is that the company is installing a programmable thermostat and monitoring system. The system comes with a 10-year warranty… and the monitoring system will actually alert my HVAC company if there are any issues. This service company now has a 10-year direct connection to its customer through this platform – with no need for a third-party platform to spam me. This is the best customer retention system, ever. And, as a consumer, I welcome the connection!
It’s imperative that your company start to think about how you might adopt and dominate your industry before your company fades into oblivian.