Science Fiction Is Becoming Science Fact

If you look at the future through the lens of pop culture, things can be very frightening. Technology and humanity are almost always at odds. Whether it’s movies like Ex Machina, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Passengers or even Wall-E, there often is an imbalance between man and machine. At our Brussels CX17 event, keynote speaker and futurist Gerd Leonhard discussed how he envisions the future of customer experience and technology’s place in it. Lucky for us, he anticipates less of Hollywood’s doom and gloom and much more of technology and humanity thriving and working together.

We’re at a technology take-off point

Technology is advancing rapidly. The technology that seemed big or out there 10 years ago is commonplace today. Can you believe the original iPhone was released only 10 years ago?! “Innovative” ideas like the paperless office, cloud computing and basic artificial intelligence (AI) are no longer differentiators. We are at a point of exponential change. From this point on, technological advances will happen faster than ever—so fast, in fact, that it’s nearly impossible to imagine the world 10 years from now.

Science Fiction is Becoming Science Fact

Change as a constant

“Humanity will change more in the next 20 years than in the previous 300,” noted Leonhard, during his presentation. And this will happen because technology is changing us. It’s changing how we learn, how we organize and how we live our day-to-day lives. Just look at how much our phones have changed our lives. We don’t memorize phone numbers anymore, we don’t take appointment cards from doctors’ offices, we are never cut off from the world. Everything we want or need is stored in this “external brain.”

While all this technology is undeniably helpful, it also brings new challenges. Most notably, we must discover our place in this ever-changing world. We must identify and capitalize on the things only humans can do.

The role of humanity in a tech-driven world

According to Leonard, “anything that’s routine will be automated” in the coming years. And this will lead to dramatic workforce changes. But don’t get nervous; technology won’t replace humanity—it will allow mankind to evolve and grow to address new, more complex challenges. In a world of automation, it will become our job to do things that computers can’t. Employee skills will need to shift and grow in relation to the changes in business routines. Critical thinking, creativity, and emotional intelligence will become valuable commodities.

Science Fiction is Becoming Science Fact

The key components of the future are algorithms, or technology, and “androrithms,” or the human touch, noted Leonhard. Qualities and capabilities such as intuition, ethics, storytelling, imagination, compassion, empathy, mistakes, lying, cheating, etc., will be what humans bring to the table. While technology can cover our routine tasks, humans will be responsible for things that machines don’t understand. To truly thrive, we will need to work with technology to optimize our skills.

Preparation is key for the future of customer experience

We must be future-ready if we want technology to work for us. Leonhard anticipates these five game changers for business:

  1. AI or intelligent assistance. Software that handles the basics so humans can focus on more complex issues.
  2. The internet of things. With more connected devices, we are building a new meta-intelligence.
  3. Machine learning. Big data isn’t going away; with machine learning, technology can analyze and learn from data.
  4. Quantum computing. Machine power is growing exponentially. Today’s computers are a million times more powerful than those of the past.
  5. Brain and computer interfaces. Digital assistance is growing. In a few short years, we will have computers that can read human expressions and understand language.

It comes back to people

It’s an inescapable fact that technology is changing us. The stuff of science fiction is becoming commonplace, but that doesn’t mean we’re headed toward a dystopian universe. The human element becomes increasingly valuable as technology helps us automate routine tasks. Today’s business isn’t about the brick and mortar or the product legacy; it’s about the experience you provide to your customers.

Science Fiction is Becoming Science Fact

At the end of the day, technology will help us add value and create new possibilities for our customers and the future of customer experience. As Leonhard stated, the balance we should seek is one in which we “embrace technology but not enough that we need to be augmented to exist.”

To get a better look at what the future holds, check out the slides from Gerd Leonhard’s presentation at our Brussels CX17 event! Download Now!