What will tomorrow’s world look like?
What is human and what is work in a ‘superhuman’ future?
The future is unpredictable, and change is coming quickly, so what might be the best ways to prepare for future business success?
It's Martin Wezowski's job to predict that. He's not a clairvoyant, he's the chief designer and futurist at German multinational software company, SAP.
When introduced to give a keynote speech at E.ON's Innovation Day 2020, Wezowski is described as "a man on a mission to map, build and inspire a future that we actually want to live in".
And according to Wezowski the best way to predict the future is to go back to the past and look at how we imagined the future.
We're on super-fast-forward
One thing we know from looking at the past is that the future is unpredictable. While you can't predict what will happen, you can prepare for it.
And there is a lot to quickly prepare for. As Wezowski highlights: "The future is happening exponentially fast. Never in human history has the present been so temporary."
Re-skill for the future now
"The future is fast and we are in a hurry to get there," so Wezowski advises that as part of our preparations for tomorrow's world, we need to look at re-skilling now.
Skills that will be out in the future include manual dexterity, reading, writing, maths, active listening, financial and personnel management, and technology installation, maintenance, and control.
Instead, we should be focusing on analytical thinking and innovation, emotional intelligence, creativity, critical thinking, technology design and programming, systems analysis and evaluation.
The energy transition is bringing rapid change to the infrastructure that's essential to businesses regardless of their size or the sector in which they operate. And the energy transition and movement to ever smarter and more responsive systems will take on even greater significance as global demand for electricity continues to grow. Our energy systems of the future will need to be more flexible and intelligent; artificial intelligence has an important role to play in delivering a smooth energy transition.
Now, next and new
When businesses prepare for the future they must look at the now, what comes next and then the new, advocates Wezowski. The horizon of now refers to continuous innovation that creates solutions for what is happening now. Focus on the now and "you may survive one, two, three years, depending how fast your business is," Wezowski warns.
The horizon of next is where you forecast how you can get from where you are to what you trust you can do. The horizon of new is where imagination comes in. It's visionary; concerning what doesn't exist. To create the future, all three horizons must overlap.
Wezowski explains that to reach the excitement of new you must develop the next.
"You must convince the budget holders, the decision makers, customers, academia, whoever can help you that what exists in your imagination is worth pursuing," he says.
He uses Apple as an example of the process of turning a future imagined into reality.
Apple dreamed of a computer in a book in 1981. It developed a big clunky 'book' with current technology in the now. In the next version this slims down to a laptop and eventually the iPad launched, 27 years after it was dreamt about in the new.
The future won't lose the human touch
While our skillsets will change and develop, the human touch will always be needed in some form, to nurture the relationships that bring everything together. Future solutions will be based on “an empathic symbiosis between machine intelligence and human ingenuity, with the operations on one side and the human experience on the other," Wezowski says.
E.ON’s Optimum Manufacturing service, which is powered by Sight Machine1, is helping manufacturers to optimise their business operations by connecting energy, building and process data to solve manufacturing use cases, be it energy and carbon reduction, increased throughput and quality or reduced waste, to drive profitability and sustainability across their plants.
Imagine a part in a solar plant breaks. In the future that part will order its own replacement in line with company sustainable development goals and a robot will install it, Wezowski predicts. What this leaves the humans to do is "go about their business making solar energy great".
To reach this 'superhumanity’, businesses need to ask now: Why are you relevant 10 years from now and to whom are you relevant 10 years from now?
"Have hopes and remember the future is important," Wezowski says. "We talk about it all the time. That's because we love to shape it, to imagine it and we will spend the rest of our lives in the future!"
E.ON's Energy Innovation Days were a three-day virtual conference where more than 50 entrepreneurs, academics and experts from different industries around the world uncover what’s shaping a new energy era where technologies and carbon-neutrality collide.
Listen and watch Martin Wezowski's keynote speech and view inspiring presentations, discussions and forecasts by other ground-breaking speakers here.
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