AHT Group expands its team: Insights from our Sydney team meeting

On Monday April 13, AHT Group’s team members in Sydney had the exciting opportunity to get together and discuss our processes, projects, and plans for expansion. Having recently welcomed quite a few new team members, AHT is shifting to a team project model. This shift requires a comprehensive master plan, refined project team frameworks and new profit share structures. Inviting each other’s input was constructive, with the flow of ideas adding value to AHT’s planning.

Team skills and diversity 
The meeting room at Hub Sydney was packed with sixteen of our talented team members, including Chairman Ross Dawson and workers from a wide variety of disciplines. It was eye-opening to meet team members who have started their own cutting-edge businesses, built apps or worked in 3D printing. A common theme across AHT’s team is project management, but the sheer diversity of skills is impressive. Our team includes consultants, journalists, marketers,
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Cities reconfigured: How changing work, shopping, community, and transport will transform our collective lives

One of our companies, Future Exploration Network, recently created a detailed report for a client delving into the most important shifts shaping the next decade and beyond.
City_aerial1 One of the themes was Cities Reconfigured. The section began: Urbanisation has proved to be a dominant global force, shaping both developed and developing countries. We know cities are both spreading out and become denser at their centres, but radical shifts are now reshaping the structure and shape of cities. The rise of flexible, remote and freelance work and shifts where and how people shop and socialise are significantly changing travel patterns. The widespread deployment of data sensors is providing real-time insights into environmental, traffic and infrastructure conditions, enabling rapid response and a deeply-needed increase in urban efficiency.
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Using testable hypotheses to bring lean startup into the enterprise

Last week I ran a brief workshop at the strategy offsite of a professional services organization, with their top 100 executives in attendance. They wanted to understand major business trends and the implications for both their own organization as well as the services that will be valuable for their clients. In a highly interactive session I ran through major trends in technology, business, and society, went into depth on the lessons emerging from lean startups and crowd-based models, and then facilitated groups in generating high-potential ideas for new service lines and creating a high-performance organization. While many of the concepts of lean startups feel quite foreign within many established organizations, a useful way to help shift thinking is to focus on the concept of ‘testable hypotheses’. This is central to how dynamic startups function, and can fairly readily be introduced into large organizations – and their clients – without seeming overly radical. In introducing the idea into enterprise I have found it useful to frame testable hypotheses as 5 steps:
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Building richer mental models is the heart of strategy – the role of scenario planning

Strategy is an intrinsically human task. Setting successful strategies is based on our ability to think effectively, both individually and collectively, about extraordinarily complex domains. In a recent keynote I did for clients of New Scientist magazine on Science and Leadership for the Future, I discussed how executives can think effectively about strategy. The following video is one of a series of 7 videos that captured the entire keynote. In the video I note:
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Mapping the entire human brain using AI and crowdsourcing: will we discover who we are?

Who we are largely resides in our brain, a dense network of 100 billion neurons. So far we have gained only tiny insights into how it is connected to give us the extraordinary capabilities and consciousness humans possess. However one researcher may have found a path to uncover that rich lattice of connections, potentially showing us the essence of who we are.
Video: Real-time brain activity visualization from UCSF An excellent article today in the New York Times titled Sebastian Seung’s Quest to Map the Human Brain describes the mission of Prof. Seung of MIT and Princeton Neuroscience Institute to map literally all the connections in a human brain.
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The future of events: technology to make presentations interactive and social

Some events today have innovative formats and strong audience participation. However many conferences still sport essentially the same format as ever, a series of people presenting on a stage in front of a passive audience. It needn’t be this way. Technology eenables us to re-conceive what a presentation is and can be. I approach this idea as both a speaker and an event organizer. I have been a professional speaker for over 15 years, and have also organized many conferences and events, including our Future of Media Summits, the first cross-continental conferences ever held. A recent article in Sydney Morning Herald on how the new app Zeetings helps “keep audiences awake” looks at Zeetings, “a presentation app that is both interactive and social, and promises to stop audiences slumbering in their chairs.” The article describes the background of the app and goes on to quote me:
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Three critical domains of change driving the future of professional services

Yesterday professional services expert George Beaton and I ran the inaugural Clients and Firms of the Future: How to Compete conference in Sydney, bringing together around 100 senior leaders of professional services firms to look at the future of the industry. It is just over 15 years ago now that my first book was released with the subtitle The Future of Professional Services (now out in its Second edition). While these days my work covers a far broader scope, over the years I have worked extensively with professional services firms to help them create successful futures. There has been substantial change in the professions over the last decade, however there will unquestionably be far greater change in the years to come. It was an absolutely fascinating day at the conference exploring the future of professional services. I will be sharing more from the conference over time, but today would just like to put down a few initial thoughts from the three themes of the day.
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Shazam will recognize objects as well as music: the implications for retail and design

The music recognition service Shazam will branch out into new domains, said CEO Rich Riley at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona today.
Reuters reports:
The next phase of development will be to enable phone users to Shazam actual objects, said Riley, such as a cereal packet in the grocery store to get more nutritional information or a DVD case at home to buy the movie soundtrack.
The capability is not new, with services such as Amazon Firefly allowing users to identify objects and buy them on Amazon, and Slyce identifying objects within a store for lookup and purchase. However Shazam’s excellent and long-standing service suggests they will execute well on object recognition and take the domain further. There are massive implications for both retail and product design. Design
A couple of years ago, anticipating this development, I wrote about the idea of “Shoezam“, that could recognize and order shoes on the street. I wrote:
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How the future of work leads to the future of organisations

Last week I did the keynote on The Future of Work and Organisations at a four-city roadshow for social business consulting firm KINSHIP enterprise, spanning Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne and Brisbane. The slides to my presentation are below, together with an overview of the 7 sections of the keynote. My keynote was framed around looking through the critically-important lens of the future of work to gain insights into the future of organisations. As you will see in the slides, I covered:
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Video: Why professional services leaders need to think about the future

Leading up to the Client and Firms of the Future: How to Compete conference in Sydney on March 11 (which I discussed in a previous blog post), my co-organiser George Beaton and I have recorded a brief video to set the scene. In the video we begin by addressing the question: Why do professional services leaders need to think about the future? and go on to discuss what to expect at the conference. Points we make in the video include:
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APIs are enabling an unprecedented flow of innovation

On Tuesday I had the great pleasure and honor of doing the opening keynote at the APIDays Sydney conference, the first API (Application Programming Interface) conference in Australia, excellently organized by Saul Caganoff of SixTree. APIDays was founded by Mehdi Medjaoui in Paris in 2013, has since been run in Barcelona, Berlin, San Francisco and now Sydney, with the event in Paris last year attracting 800 delegates. Below are the slides for my keynote on The Flow of Innovation. As always, note that my slides are designed to support my presentation and not to stand alone, but still may be of interest to people who did not attend my keynote. Continue reading "APIs are enabling an unprecedented flow of innovation"

Creating the future of professional services – Sydney 11 March

The subtitle of my first book, 15 years ago now, was ‘The future of professional services’. I still believe it’s an incredibly important topic, not just in the future of business, but also in the future of work and society. As such I am delighted to be collaborating with one of the world’s leaders in professional services strategy, George Beaton, in organising the Clients and Firms of the Future: How to Compete conference in Sydney on 11 March.
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The future of work: better decisions supported by computers and professionals

This morning I gave the opening keynote on The Future of Work at the Chartered Accountants Thought Leadership Forum on Future Proofing the Profession: Preparing Business Leaders and Finance Professionals for 2025, the third year in a row I’ve given keynotes on different topics at the Thought Leadership Forum. In my keynote I went into depth on the forces shaping the future of work and the action that we can take today to help create a better future. One of the topics I raised was about the future of decision-making in a world of increasing automation. Andrew McAfee of MIT has created a simple illustration of the path to better decisions. Hippo_mcafee_decision_510w
Source: Andrew McAfee
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Launch of keynote speaker influence ranking tracker

We have just launched a keynote speaker influence ranking page, giving an indication of the social and online reach of people who work primarily as keynote speakers. The widget is embedded below (and you can embed it in your own website if you want), though it is better viewed on the main rankings page. There are and have been many influence ranking systems around. This one focuses on a particular group – keynote speakers – for whom online influence is particularly important, and brings together three measures: Klout, website traffic, and Twitter followers. It is of course very easy to criticise any influence rankings mechanism, and we do not pretend this is by any means ‘accurate’, it is intended to be indicative and interesting. We have provided complete transparency by publishing the algorithm we use. The intention is to tweak and develop the algorithm over time. Let us know if you have suggestions on how to improve it!
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Can Facebook-informed algorithms know you better than your mother?

This morning I was interviewed on the national breakfast program Sunrise about whether algorithms can assess our personality better than those who are closest to us. Click on the image below to view the segment. Sunrise130115_2 The segment described some just-released research titled Computer-based personality judgments are more accurate than those made by humans in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, which says:
This study compares the accuracy of personality judgment—a ubiquitous and important social-cognitive activity—between computer models and humans. Using several criteria, we show that computers’ judgments of people’s personalities based on their digital footprints are more accurate and valid than judgments made by their close others or acquaintances (friends, family, spouse, colleagues, etc.). Our findings highlight that people’s personalities can be predicted automatically and without involving human social-cognitive skills.
The personality-assessment algorithm was solely based on Facebook likes made by participants, with results compared to the assessments of people who know them well. As little as 150 likes was sufficient to provide a more accurate personality assessment than a family member such as a parent, while 300 likes enabled a better assessment than a spouse. What was perhaps more interesting was the claim that “computer personality judgments have higher external validity when predicting life outcomes such as substance use, political attitudes, and physical health; for some outcomes, they even outperform the self-rated personality scores.” The potential implications are profound. Article co-author Wu Youyou said “In this context, the human-computer interactions depicted in science fiction films such as ‘Her’ seem to be within our reach.” Being able to interact with people in a way tailored to their personalities and designed to generate particular responses is certainly a fair way beyond being able to assess personalities accurately, but we are rapidly heading in that direction.
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Today show on Back to the Future: celebrating the exceptional ‘future’ that is 2015

This morning I was interviewed on both of Australia’s national breakfast TV programs, Today and Sunrise, to greet 2015. Many of the media outlets interviewing me at this turn-of-the-year have wanted to know how well the film Back to the Future II, which in 1989 depicted the world in 2015, anticipated today’s world. Click on the image below to watch the interview on the Today show.
Today010115 Some of the ideas we covered in the segment:
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7 defining themes for 2015 (with videos)

At the end of every year since 2006 I have created structured thoughts about the year to come. The last months of 2014 have been so crazy that I have, unfortunately, not had the time to create highly designed content on the year ahead. However in preparing for some TV interviews at the turn of the year I have pulled together 7 themes that will help define 2015. Here they are, together with illustrative videos.

1. Robots are here

Robots have so long being part of science fiction that many have come to believe they will never arrive. With recent technological advances, the age of robots is finally beginning, with humanoid robots finally entering the mainstream in work, retail, aged care, the home and even warfare.
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Envisioning the future of government as solution enabler

When you look at the future, there are few more important topics than the future of government. Government was designed to be institutional, providing stability to nations. Yet that design and structure means that governmental institutions are generally very poorly prepared to change as required in the face of extraordinary shifts in society and business. I have been drawn more into the future of government over the last few years, among other activities creating and sharing my Transformation of Government framework with a variety of groups of senior policymakers. William Eggers and his team at Deloitte have distilled some excellent analysis and insights into the future of government at their Government 2020 site, which includes an overview of drivers and trends shaping government, and views on the implications across domains of government. The following slides and video provide nice high-level overviews of the work. The other resources on the website are well worth a look, including the Drivers and Trends sections.

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Timeline of Emerging Science and Technology: A visual framework

My colleague and friend Richard Watson and I have created a number of visual frameworks together, including Trend Blend 2007+ based on the London tube map, which has spawned many imitators over the years. Since Richard has moved back to London we’ve collaborated less on frameworks, however Richard has continued to do some marvellous work. Here is the Timeline of Emerging Science and Technology, created by Richard’s What’s Next in collaboration with Imperial College Tech Foresight. Timeline_Emerging_Science
Click on the image to view the full-size pdf.

The timeline needs careful study, it is not for quick scanning, do spend some time with it. It’s also well worth seeing Richard’s post describing how the visual was generated, including the full design process. Here is a small selection of the emerging technologies mentioned in the visual:
  • Vibration energy harvesting
  • Community grids
  • Synthetic jet fuels
  • Transparent (organic) solar cells on skyscrapers
  • In-road inductive charging for electric vehicles
  • 3D printed soil for vertical agriculture
  • DNA dating agencies
  • Body hacking for sensory augmentation
  • Artificial muscles from spun Nano-fibre
  • Tattooed circuits (video tattoos on the human body)
  • Insect-sized surveillance robots
  • Hacking of implanted neuro-devices
  • Warfare merges with gaming
  • Nanotubes for synthetic neurons and neural implants
  • Hangover-free alcohol substitute
  • Brain prostheses to enhance or erase memory
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Flying cars are here! Will they become mainstream?

I’m at the Marketing Summit 2014 in Istanbul, where I’m giving the closing keynote later today. It is proving a delightful event, drawing on a framework on GameChangers from conference chairman Peter Fisk to invite inspiring speakers from around the world. Yesterday Stefan Klein of Aeromobil described his journey to create a flying car. The beautiful video below shows the maiden flight of Aeromobil, just one month ago.
I was able to catch up with after Stefan after his presentation and gain some more insights into the potential of the flying car. Aeromobil is designed to meet both US and EU Light Sport Aircraft regulations, which will allow it to fly at low levels, with a range potentially exceeding 1,000 kilometers at a high fuel efficiency. Currently the flying car requires 350 meters to take off, though this may become less than 200 meters with better engines. A grass field is adequate, it doesn’t require tarmac. Clearly a critical enabler of flying cars is having convenient runways. The reality is that these will be hard to create in a city. Which means that the initial applications for flying cars are more likely to be relatively rural, rather than providing major alternatives to urban commuting. Because the airplane is also a car, the fields do not necessarily have to be very close together, and a small strip around each town in a rural region would significantly increase mobility. Flying cars for urban transport would need to have vertical take off and landing, meaning gyro-copters are more likely to be used. A major issue with a wholesale shift to aerial transportation is that we may start getting aerial congestion rather than just bad traffic, which could have serious implications. In the future we can envisage that automated systems could manage that traffic efficiently, in a similar way to the way it is done in telecommunications networks, however that is some time off, and the reality is that for a long time there will be severe constraints over aerial traffic, with drones already filling our airspace. So flying cars are arriving, with reasonable adoption outside urban centers quite possible, however for most of us commuting by flying car is still a long way away. The post Flying cars are here! Will they become mainstream? appeared first on Trends in the Living Networks.