I had the privilege of spending the last week of January 2018 soaking in inspiration, knowledge and vision in Silicon Valley as part of a program organized by ESADE and Singularity University involving “The Journey to Business Transformation”. I met and interacted with very interesting people, both folks on the faculty and my eighteen classmates.
Classmates and ESADE – Singularity University Faculty
The experience from the program made a big impression on me, one that I want to share with you through the next few posts in this personal blog, a hybrid narrative with elements of learning but that also contains reflections and opinions.
If we do a retrospective analysis of the last ten years, we see how the emergence of the digital economy (coinciding, by the way, with an unprecedented financial crisis) entailed a silent revolution that has transformed many industries, shifting the seats of power and shaking the establishment to its core. Kodak and Blockbuster disappeared (the former from the photography industry), the Nokia empire crumbled, streaming music has radically transformed the traditional music industry, the trend toward a new real-time information consumption model for audiences (which are more passive than ever) has backed conventional media outlets into a corner, primarily the press, which isn’t exactly finding a solution in monetizing its digital headlines.
The collaborative economy burst onto the scene as an uninvited party guest, with business models that are undermining once rock-solid sectors like lodging (Airbnb), mobility (Uber, Lyft, Fasten, BlaBlaCar), the generation and financing of ideas (Innocentive, Kickstarter) and the exchange of property and transactions (Blockchain). The appropriation of value in any sector is changing hands continuously, even in politics.
Not to mention the impact on industry of commercial communications and branding. It’s a new stage in which not even advertisers, agencies or conventional media have control of a brand anymore. We’re all agencies, creators, art directors, copywriters, producers… and we all have our own resources (social media) with which to build, ignore or directly destroy a brand. It’s collaborative branding. Advertising as we once knew it is dead.
And this changing scenario is endless. It is and will continue to be frenetic, and exponentially so. And that’s good news in the sense that, far from feeling bad about it, we should feel alive and become active agents of this transformation.
I learned the meaning of the acronym VUCA from my friend Miguel Ángel Tovar @matovarm: we live in environments of permanent vulnerability, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. Solid, firm scenarios where everything is safe and reasonably stable over time are gone. And that makes things even more thrilling.
The future will never again be a simple extrapolation of the past. That’s why we must imbue in our companies a culture of permanent learning, of constant reinvention. The idea is to maximize the number of opportunities to gain knowledge by expanding the borders of our companies through constant questions that arouse our curiosity to learn. We must ask ourselves every day, “What don’t we know about what we don’t know?” Stop focusing on the competition and start focusing on learning. Looking at the competition is for losers, and that’s something I personally believe 100%.
The horizon toward the Technological Singularity is drawing near. Futurists like Ray Kurzweil and Peter Diamandis (cofounders of Singularity University) predict it for 2029, when machines will have the same level of consciousness as us humans. And it won’t be an overnight surprise, because the path is already marked by an exponential, not linear, evolution. Ask yourself why you should settle for 10% growth rates (if that) when the technology put in place for achieving great milestones (moonshots) can take us to exponential, 10-fold rates.
Concepts like Kurzweil’s own Law of Accelerated Returns, Moore’s Law and Peter Diamandis’s Mental State of Abundance give credence to and provide evidence for the theory of exponentiality.
And we already have that technology: infinite computation, sensors and networks, robotics, virtual and augmented reality, artificial intelligence, synthetic biology, digital medicine, 3D printing, the brain-computer interface, self-driving cars, etc.
Did you know that people are already saying that when this singularity arrives, we’ll be able to connect our biological neocortex to the Cloud using a synthetic neocortex? Can you imagine what this could mean for humanity in terms of Augmented Intelligence?
In the 21st century, we won’t experience 100 years of progress. At the current rate, we’ll advance 20,000 years in one century. Ray Kurzweil
In coming posts I’ll bring all these concepts down to earth and share with you my reflections on how all this will also impact the future of branding.
Don’t stop learning, dreaming, reinventing yourself and driving change. It’s Thrilling, it’s Unique, it’s Exponential and it’s going to help give our lives even more meaning.
Embrace the Infinite Learning OS!
By Ángel González