We are just a little over two weeks out from Christmas and, for many leaders, amid the pressure to achieve a suitable finishing point, we begin to reflect on the year that was and what 2017 and beyond will hold for us.
Over recent days, a range of articles and discussions have raised questions around whether the pace of change is going to slow anytime soon; some believe it will, others don’t. Professor Joel Mokyr writing in the Australian Financial Review believes that science and technology will continue to support each other as they have done for centuries. Science can facilitate technological innovation, just as technological advances can enable scientific discovery.
A recognised expert in big data, Bernard Marr, whom I follow because of his expertise, recently shared 20 Tech Facts he believes everyone should know. I am going to share the 10 that stood out for me which I believe all leaders need to be keenly aware of as we move into 2017 and the future. (If you want to review all twenty the link is in the footnotes.)
His contention is that some key leadership challenges are the advent of big data, data becoming a major business asset, AI taking over, platform businesses challenging traditional suppliers, the sharing economy, 3D printing, and robots becoming more intelligent.
Following are the ten that struck a chord with me:
- more data has been created in the past two years than in the entire previous history of the human race.
- within five years there will be over 50 billion connected smart devices in the world, all developed to collect, analyse and share data.
- for a typical Fortune 1000 company, just a 10 % increase in data accessibility will result in more than $65 million additional net income.
- retailers who leverage the full power of data could increase their operating margins by as much as 60%.
- by 2020, we will have over 6.1 billion smart phone users – that’s more than traditional landline phone accounts.
- 72% of Americans have participated in the sharing economy according to a Pew research study.
- still sceptical about the sharing economy? Airbnb is valued at around $25.5 billion which is more than hotel giants Marriott ($20.90 billion), Starwood ($14 billion), and Wyndham ($10.01 billion). Hilton Worldwide is valued at $27.7 billion. What’s more, Airbnb don’t own a single hotel room.
- Pinterest has about 500 employees, while Kodak still employs more than 6,500. Pinterest is valued at $11 billion while the most recent valuation of Kodak we could find put it at around $900 million.
- the first 3D printed drug was approved by the FDA in 2015. 3D-printed human tissues have also been successfully implanted into animals, and the tissues continued to function after several months.
- less than 0.5% of all data is ever analysed and used – just imagine the potential here.
Apart from the most ardent luddites, business leaders would agree the world and therefore business is changing at a fundamental level. There is much to contemplate and reflect on as we consider how we intend to shape future strategies that will allow our respective businesses to thrive in the future.
Viventé Australia enables leaders and managers develop the bond between people and performance, creating a powerful advantage: the synergy between people, leadership, management, and culture, produces performance that allows your business to achieve its best.
 Joel Mokyr is Professor of Economics and History at Northwestern University
 AFR Tuesday December 6th 2016; Page 35; Don’t underestimate productivity of the future.
 Bernard Marr is CEO of Advanced Performance Institute