Technological developments are so exponentially fast that, in order to keep up with the pace, innovation and optimisation are no longer sufficient. We have never experienced this before. Businesses and governments really need to move away from existing business models, even ‘disturb’ them, in a way, in order to survive. ‘Disruption’ is what trend watcher and keynote speaker Richard van Hooijdonk calls it. "Young people who have brilliant talent for implementing technology completely differently are slowly taking over entire sectors. They are leading the new world at an increasingly rapid pace – which has a major impact on companies, institutions and governments."
Text: Jacques Geluk
Many businesses, institutions, governments and even hospitals do the same things each and every day, which makes them unprepared for changes that happen at an increasingly faster pace. "I notice more and more that forward thinking, which is very important for survival, is complicated for a lot of people. Most of us find it difficult to change and we hold on to existing processes. That is why, five years ago, I became mesmerised by the trends that determine the future of the world. It is my passion to awaken people and to raise awareness. Not by talking about all the things that robots and 3D printers are able to do and which gadgets are being introduced, but by highlighting their impact on the way we live and work – and how we can benefit from that." Richard van Hooijdonk has found that change cycles which previously had a 15-year lifespan have been reduced to five years or (much) less. "Look what Airbnb, Spotify, Netflix, Uber and many other young start-ups have triggered in various industries recently. They have completely torn down old business models in these sectors. Intel founder Gordon Moore’s Law - which stipulates that performance is to be doubled every twenty months – is now irrelevant. Innovation happens faster than ever before. Furthermore, many standard algorithms are being made available and technology that enables changes is becoming increasingly cheaper. Satellites no longer cost a billion, but a 100K.
These days, you can get robots for 1.500 euros. The smart gyroscope in drones is now available for $ 15, compared to $ 100 million in the Space Shuttle days. That means that companies that are going to keep doing the same thing will have a problem. They will be overtaken by boys and girls from as young as 16 years old who eat, breathe and think technology and can take over industries without any specific knowledge. They ‘disrupt' with drones, big data, 3D printers and robots. Think of a hairdressing chain, where hair-washing is done by robots, and perhaps, pretty soon haircuts will be, too. Or they develop a fully automated supply chain, with self-propelled (freight) cars and stock-picking robots. Lego, Barilla and the shipping industry do it smartly by ‘disrupting’ themselves before eager youngsters do it for them. The toy manufacturer 3D-prints Lego blocks, the food producer prints pasta and freight companies do the same – they print parts. These companies understand that everyone needs to participate in the 'disruption' and governments should adapt their laws to facilitate the rapid change."
Smart pills and chips
Agriculture is also changing rapidly. "Sensors are already so cheap that you can insert them into a million plants. A drone flying overhead can immediately detect the bad plants. This technology can double the yield. Spray-robots can work so efficiently that the use of pesticide can be minimised. " Amazon is saving because they have 15.000 robots that take customer orders off the and governments need to be aware that the road to the future starts with 'disruptive management' and 'young digitals’ who want to work differently - under a different type of leadership - and they want to do the steering. These brilliant minds should be given a place in management or on the board of directors. I believe in 'reverse mentoring': Allow the young to teach the old."shelves and load them onto self-propelled trucks. Banks and governments can carry out half their processes through intelligent data and algorithmically controlled machines. This results in enormous cost reductions. "The use of technology can even cut healthcare costs in half," says Van Hooijdonk. "Smart toothbrushes turn the evening ritual into an exciting game for children which helps them to beat the plaque monsters for real. I am getting some smart pills soon, which will, after I swallow them, keep track of 140 health values in my body.
See also: Onward to the 3rd industrial revolution
When there are any deviations from the norm, the GP will give me a call! This will greatly reduce the number of unnecessary doctor’s visits. I've recently had a chip implanted in my body. Not only is this useful for medical purposes, it also contains my bitcoins and my passwords and soon I will be able to start my Tesla with it, too!” "Of course, companies should also keep in mind that in the future, every device will be smart. They will have the ability to process information and communicate with each other throughout the world. Think of cars, ovens, mixers, suits, shoes and even underwear. The toolbox of the future is already here – but some of the instruments are still unknown and not everybody knows how to use the tools.
"Preparing for the future begins with letting go of old values and models," Van Hooijdonk says. Loosely translated: first abort (disrupt) and then re-build, taking continuous change into account. "During my talks I teach my audience how to identify black, brown and white bears. The black bear does not change anything, the brown bear is afraid of change and the white bear loves it. Because many companies are not yet ready for the future, 20 percent of their bears will be black and 60 percent will be brown, but sometimes more than half are black. We need a different mindset. And we achieve this by letting go of what we are accustomed to. This is a complicated process that takes place in the human brain. During my lectures I therefore also show people how to affect such a ‘mindset-change’. Of course I use many examples and I use humor. Companies, institutions and governments need to be aware that the road to the future starts with 'disruptive management' and 'young digitals’ who want to work differently - under a different type of leadership - and they want to do the steering. These brilliant minds should be given a place in management or on the board of directors. I believe in 'reverse mentoring': Allow the young to teach the old."
The organization of the future according to van Hooijdonk
Besides the 'Trends 2030'-session', Van Hooijdonk also presents the new inspiration session ‘Company of the Future’ in which he introduces his audience to ten aspects the company (organization/government) needs to possess in order to survive and to grow exponentially in a rapidly changing society. The first aspect is less property and more data-driven, but just as important: half of the workforce should consist of freelancers. Previously, people could make use of their skills for at least thirty years. Today this is less than five. Companies need to be able to change employees periodically and should have the option to hire brilliant minds from around the world. Additionally, organisations are increasingly working with algorithms, which allow devices, robots and machines to learn things from their own intelligence, without human intervention. Independently thinking mechanisms. All these aspects combined and the fact that robots and smart machines take over work because they are cheaper and more efficient, will result in companies laying off employees. According to the trend watcher, domotics- and algorithm experts, robot designers and data scientists have nothing to worry about, but lower educated people (such as 22 percent of youths between 18 and 35 years), will feel the changes first. For them there will be less work.
"The world is talking about robot tax. For example, companies pay half of the financial benefit that robots generate to the government, which returns the revenue to society. The idea is that every citizen of the world will have a basic income, with little or no service being required in return. Experiments with this concept are already being done in the Netherlands but also elsewhere in the world." Van Hooijdonk is of the opinion that parents and teachers play an important role in preparing young people for the future. "The principle is that in the next five years, two billion people will be given additional access to Internet Technology. This technology will be so effective that people in many industries will become redundant. Entire supply chains will cease to exist and many have already disappeared. Photography, for instance. It doesn’t cost anything anymore. Film is no longer necessary, photographic printing companies are out of work. Cameras have become virtually redundant because you can take pictures with any smartphone. Nowadays, more pictures are shared on social media every day than were previously printed in an entire year.
Richard van Hooijdonk and his international team of researchers are looking at fifteen industries to examine seven mega trends such as big data, robots, Internet of Things, wearables and cyber crime. "I see myself as a kind of radar, scanning the Internet and running algorithms. What we discover in terms of global developments in the market is used in our articles, books and lectures.
Many of these developments focus on opportunities of which cybercrime is the downside. "Data security will become a thing of the past and that will be the biggest disaster ever. To limit the damage caused by hackers – which continues to break world records - governments (which actually don’t have ‘thinking DNA’) and the disruptive businesses (the Googles and Amazons of this world) need to communicate much more, collaborate dynamically, create rules, and learn from each other." On the other hand we’re already seeing companies that reward failure. Learning from failure can often yield positive results.
Of course not everything will pan out exactly the way we predict. "But there are things that remain, smarter and better, such as algorithms, robots, sensors, and big data. There is a reason why I explain what algorithms are and what robots are capable of and I point out that the world is changing and that we need to be on top of new developments in order keep up the pace. This requires pilot projects and future-labs but also a completely different organisational management style. I also hold talks for boards of directors and management in which I show them how to look at integration processes and acquisitions. My basic story is that we have never before experienced the speed and complexity of change that we are experiencing right now, and for us, forward thinkers, the world is changing even faster. Being a futurist, I know and I see a lot, but I still get surprised by everything happening around me on a daily basis."