The world is changing. Disruption and unpredictability are the new norms. This is true for almost every aspect of the business world. New and unconventional competitors are entering established markets or creating completely new ones. And new ways of conducting business and new technologies are altering the way we work and consume.
To understand the world in 2017 and beyond, there are six great books you should consult to decode what is coming on right now.
Brynjolfsson/McAfee: The Second Machine Age
“The Second Machine Age – Work, Progress and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies” by Erik Brynjolfsson (MIT Sloan School of Management) and Andrew McAfee (MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy) provides an optimistic and intriguing hypothesis of our future and is a must-read book.
The authors argue, that the global economy is on the cusp of a dramatic growth spurt driven by smart machines that finally take full advantage of advances in computer processing, artificial intelligence, networked communication and the digitization of just about everything. Their book offers a timely antidote to the economic pessimism that has taken root in the aftermath of the financial crisis.
In short, their perspective is not based on the old reality of scarcity but on a new reality of abundance that we are only just beginning to comprehend. On what reality is your perspective based on?
Ford: Rise of the Robots
“Rise of the Robots – Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future” by Martin Ford sets out a future in which machines are not only working on assembly lines, but are coming for the high-wage, high-skill jobs as well.
In the 20th century, computers could only do what they were programmed to do. Now, they can work things out for themselves, proceeding by trial and error to develop their own programs according to their needs. So to say, the current process of automation is blind to the color of your collar.
The question is what law firms will pay their junior associates oversized salaries to sift through hundreds of documents when a computer can absorb millions in a few seconds? Or who will trust their doctor’s diagnosis when a neat bit of software can instantly analyze every medical article ever published in every language?
Ismail: Exponential Organizations
“Exponential Organizations – Why New Organizations Are Ten Times Better, Faster, cheaper than yours (and what to do about it)” by Salim Ismail (Singularity University) offers an expert look into this present-day form of company organization.
In short, the term exponential organization describes an organization that because of its ability to leverage new technologies can claim production, output or overall impact that is at least ten times larger than a regular organization in the same field. Huge, slow-moving organizations are no longer the dominant force in business. Today, new companies are agile and are achieving growth rates believed impossible in previous generations.
Each exponential organization is different, yet each shares some common characteristics. In the words of the author, there are five external characteristics: staff on demand, community and crowd, algorithms, leveraged assets and engagement (combined they make the acronym SCALE). How many of these characteristics do you recognize from your company?
Mayer-Schönberger/Cukier: Big Data
“Big Data – A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live Work and Think!” by Viktor Mayer-Schönberger (University of Oxford) and Kenneth Cukier (The Economist) describes the ability to harness information in novel ways to produce useful insights and services of value. Lately, big data analysis has been made possible by three technological advances: increased datafication, increased memory storage capacity and increased processing power.
Big data will inevitable become a critical source of economic value and a source of innovation for almost every market in the world. One of the key benefits of big data analysis in this regard is a prediction in the form of probability. Therefore, they argue, big data will significantly improve the way we make decisions.
In addition, data is increasingly becoming a major asset for organizations and people are constantly finding new uses of this data. One of the biggest opportunities to this effect is the using of available data for secondary uses. Have you ever thought about reusing your company data?
Susskind/Susskind: The Future of the Professions
“The Future of the Professions – How Technology Will Transform the Work of Human Experts” by Richard Susskind and this son Daniel sets out two futures for the professions. Both rest on technology. One is reassuringly familiar. It is a more efficient version of what we have today. The other is transformational. It is a gradual replacement of professionals by increasingly capable systems.
The authors predict the decline of today’s professions and introduce the people and systems that will replace them. They argue, we will neither need nor want accountants, architects, consultants, doctors, lawyers and many others, to work as they did last century.
This is the first book to assess the relevance of the professions in the 21st century in depth and to raise important questions. In an era where machines can out-perform human beings at most tasks, what are the prospects for employment and what tasks should be reserved exclusively for men?
Tapscott/Tapscott: Blockchain Revolution
“Blockchain Revolution – How the Technology Behind Bitcoin is Changing Money, Business, and the World” by Don Tapscott (bestselling author of Wikinomics) and his son Alex describes the technology likely to have the greatest impact on the future of the world economy; and it is not artificial intelligence or self-driving cars. It is called blockchain.
The first generation of the digital revolution brought us the Internet of information. The second generation – powered by blockchain technology – is bringing us the Internet of trust. Blockchain is the ingeniously simple, revolutionary protocol that allows transactions to be simultaneously anonymous and secure by maintaining a distributed public ledger of value.
Why should you care? Maybe you are an entrepreneur looking for a new megatrend to build your business on? Here it is!