Why The Future Is In The Hands Of Individuals, Not Corporations

The power to innovate is falling into the hands of hyper-talented individuals.

Traditionally, the largest and most successful corporations were also the largest employers. Manufacturing and retail businesses required factories, warehouses, logistics and plenty of manpower, all working in harmony to deliver their product or service. Building this capability took years, requiring significant capital investments. Thus, competitors were few and far between, and disruption was painfully slow to make a dent on existing hierarchies.


But with the rise of technology, the model of success has gradually evolved, with businesses requiring fewer and fewer resources and employees to make an impact. Whatsapp is the perfect example; already worth $19bn with only 55 employees. And as we enter the next wave of tech innovation, we’ll increasingly see power transfer away from traditional ‘corporations’ and fall into the hands of smaller groups of highly skilled and hyper-talented individuals.

More, but increasingly complex opportunities

There has never been a more exciting time to be an entrepreneur, with emerging technologies bringing an unprecedented number of opportunities for innovation across platforms and software, with minimal physical resources and infrastructure required. We’re only now beginning to understand the potential of tools such as AI, machine learning, AR, VR, and the Internet of Things, and how they can be combined to create breakthroughs across a whole range of industries and problems.

Yet, identifying and then maximizing these complex and increasingly technical opportunities requires equally specialist knowledge and skills, along with the ability to respond rapidly to new innovations and competition. Understanding and manipulating the most cutting-edge tools requires the best brains, not to mention the drive, resilience and vision to identify the ideas with the most potential. The barriers to entry are rising, placing the power in the hands of those highly capable individuals, who are no longer reliant on building large organizations or physical assets to realize their ambitions.

Size doesn’t equal power

Corporations have always struggled to innovate, lacking the natural agility and flexibility of smaller organizations. However, as we enter this new age of innovation, it is becoming even tougher for the incumbents to keep up with the pace of change and increasing complexity, even with all their manpower and their abundance of cash lying dormant on the balance sheet.

What these big businesses are lacking is the ability to harness the power of the most talented individuals, by providing an environment where they can thrive. Radical change needs mavericks and risk takers who in turn need the freedom and ability to innovate; not be put in a straight-jacket and told to behave and operate according to corporate rules. The most extreme innovators don’t fit into old-fashioned, archaic organizational structures, which means it’s very difficult for big businesses to attract, integrate and retain these individuals.

Investing in these most cutting-edge technologies is also extremely risky, and corporations are too afraid of making mistakes and too busy covering their backs to take a serious punt on ideas that might not build any value. Innovation requires agility and radical thinking, which is impossible in an environment that is paralyzed by politics, an aversion to change and worries of cannibalising its existing revenue streams and product lines. Their only real hopes are spin-offs, joint ventures and acquisitions of the most talented individuals – not in-house innovation.  

Supporting the individual

Those who succeed in the next wave of innovation will be those individuals and small teams with the technical skills and a ‘knack’ for understanding the end vision, along with the freedom and agility to explore the unknown. But to have this freedom, these individuals must be adequately supported with resources, networks and capital to take the necessary risks and follow their instincts.

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Kjartan Rist


I write about the rapidly evolving VC and start-up sector in Europe
IBM claims that Summit is currently the world’s “most powerful and smartest scientific supercomputer” with a peak performance of a whopping 200,000 trillion calculations per second.
IBM claims that Summit is currently the world’s “most powerful and smartest scientific supercomputer” with a peak performance of a whopping 200,000 trillion calculations per second.

IBM and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) today unveiled Summit, the department’s newest supercomputer. IBM claims that Summit is currently the world’s “most powerful and smartest scientific supercomputer” with a peak performance of a whopping 200,000 trillion calculations per second. That performance should put it comfortably at the top of the Top 500 supercomputer ranking when the new list is published later this month. That would also mark the first time since 2012 that a U.S.-based supercomputer holds the top spot on that list.

Summit, which has been in the works for a few years now, features 4,608 compute servers with two 22-core IBM Power9 chips and six Nvidia Tesla V100 GPUs each. In total, the system also features over 10 petabytes of memory. Given the presence of the Nvidia GPUs, it’s no surprise that the system is meant to be used for machine learning and deep learning applications, as well as the usual high performance computing workloads for research in energy and advanced materials that you would expect to happen at Oak Ridge.

IBM was the general contractor for Summit and the company collaborated with Nvidia, RedHat and InfiniBand networking specialists Mellanox on delivering the new machine.

“Summit’s AI-optimized hardware also gives researchers an incredible platform for analyzing massive datasets and creating intelligent software to accelerate the pace of discovery,” said Jeff Nichols, ORNL associate laboratory director for computing and computational sciences, in today’s announcement.

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AI,Chatbot,CMS,CRM,Customer Experience Management,Customer Journey,CX, Digital Experience,IoT,Machine Learning,Marketing Automation,Predictive Advertising

Customer experience is what sets you apart from your competition. A lot of dollars are being invested to analyze customers’ expectations and building technology that can enhance how customers perceive your brand.

There is a lot of action, but there are five technological innovations that are expected to take CX to the next level.

1. Cybernetic CX

AI is at the core of Cybernetic CX – a cyclic process – analyzing, identifying problems, determining solutions, applying them, monitoring, and repeat.

Cybernetic CX will use advanced analytics and AI to detect patterns and identify anomalies. This information will be fed to machine learning algorithms, which will continue to evolve and be able to correlate with a set of outliers to the root cause. As the problems are diagnosed and the remedies applied, machine learning algorithms powered by heuristics will be able to correctly predict remedies, which will be automatically applied to fix the problem.

Better still, it may even anticipate an upcoming issue and take actions to mitigate it.

According to a J.D.Power study, American Express has excelled at customer satisfaction for their credit cards. They seem to be getting their cybernetics right. For instance, a customer doesn’t have to go through multiple hand-offs while connecting to AMEX departments, as their routing system uses advanced analytics, predictive modeling and operational consolidation to route to the correct department.

Though in an embryonic stage, cybernetics can augment your future CX efforts.

2. Digital experience platform

For weaving a seamless customer journey, a customer-centric view and integration of all activities like marketing, sales, operations, customer service etc. have become a mandate. DXPs (digital experience platform) help you centralize and share context and content across your organization, which enables ease of coordination and knowledge sharing across locations, teams and technology platforms.

These platforms generally are armed with analytics, CRM, CMS, and marketing automation tools that help them to:

  • Capture customer information and generate a 360-degree view of a customer
  • Keep track of customer lifecycle for service reps to provide a seamless and consistent experience
  • Glean insights to optimize marketing programs
  • Use analytics to understand customer pain points and attribute CX to marketing efforts and in effect optimize marketing programs
  • Help create personalized content across channels

Also Read: What to do and not-to-do with chatbots

3. Voice of Customer Program

Technological solutions like social media monitoring, cross-channel surveys, speech and text analytics are used to capture and analyze customer preferences, feedback, and expectations. VoC tools can give insights that can aid frontline agents to understand their customers better and help various departments (marketing, sales etc.) to have an in-depth view of the customer journey. VoC helps in:

  • Formulating better campaign messages
  • Creating a unified customer view
  • Uncovering areas of opportunity
  • Identifying areas of customer dissatisfaction
  • Measuring business efficiency and performance

A Voc tool may contain:

  • Ability to collect a large amount of customer feedback and generate reports
  • A holistic view of customer journey like the type of interaction, touchpoints etc.
  • NLP, text analytics, speech recognition, semantic analysis, emotion detection etc. 

4. AR/VR

Augmented and Virtual Reality(AR/VR) are the game changers when it comes to creating awesome customer experiences. Both AR and VR can create engaging customer-brand interactions.

AR is being adopted by retail, financial, healthcare and hospitality industries alike to create immersive and meaningful experiences. For instance, AR in the food and beverage industry enhance guest experiences. AR menus create virtual food with multiple digital renderings and 3D photographs to display accurate representation and portions. Customers can also scan menus or food packages to determine nutritional information.

VR too is increasingly complementing CX because of its life-like experiences and emotional footprint.

5. IoT

Internet of Things is how various devices form a wireless network and communicate with each other using sensors. IoT holds tremendous engaging power and is the key to bring coherence to omnichannel CX strategies. Leveraging IoT, businesses can:

  • Reach customers in real-time: As a loyal customer is nearing your store, using hisgeo-location you can offer to serve him his favorite meal or offer a discount on his favorite order.
  • Make lives convenient: How about reading a grocery list on your customer’s smartphone and automatically creating a cart with the discounted items, and sending an alert to her to hit the buy button, before she runs out of stock?
  • Product health: IoT product can report its health to the customer care, which can proactively act by scheduling a service and fix issues before they become a reality. Read More