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Bigger, Bolder, Brighter

It’s been a big year on the technology front - from the meteoric rise of Artificial Intelligence, to the rollout of driverless cars and cashless payments.

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2 min

From Silicon Valley to the stars: How the new space race is disrupting leadership

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From Silicon Valley to the stars: How the new space race is disrupting leadership

A new struggle to reach the stars has emerged – and this time it’s between the billionaires of Silicon Valley.

Five decades after the race to plant a flag on the moon, outer space is still an enticing, yet mostly distant, dream. But not for all of us.

Silicon Valley pioneers such as the billionaire founder of rocket designer and manufacturer SpaceX, Elon Musk, and Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon and aerospace development company Blue Origin, are reinvigorating the push to reach outer orbit.

This quest is not only changing the rules of the space race, it also promises to have lasting implications for business thinking and leadership the planet over.

From business-as-usual to business-as-future

The entrepreneurial players in this race are proving there’s no room for a business-as-usual mindset if your sights are set high.

For instance, a NASA study found it cost about $US440 million for SpaceX to develop the Falcon 9 rocket (for delivering cargo to the International Space Station) and estimated that NASA itself would have paid three times as much to arrive at the same design.

It’s this kind of disruptive innovation that is key to survival across many industries these days, says Jeffrey Tobias, managing director at innovation consultancy The Strategy Group.

“The interesting thing about mobility and technology is that it’s not only about what we know today, it’s really about what we don’t know for the future,” Tobias says. “Elon Musk is living not only in the today – he’s living in the future.”

Group chief executive and managing director of Domino’s Pizza Enterprises, Don Meij, shares this vision for disruption. “You can’t say, ‘Well we’ve been successful, we’ve got a platform, it’s market leading, so we can stay here’,” Meij says. “It’s got to be disruptive. You’ve actually got to challenge yourself to take it to another place and it has to have the customer as the reason for taking that approach.”

From outside the box to no box

The new-age space racers are also proving there’s value for large companies in partnering with entrepreneurial and innovative thinkers.

This is perhaps most evident in Blue Origin and SpaceX’s pursuit of NASA’s oft-abandoned dream of a reusable launch system, which came to fruition when Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket was successfully reused four times over the past year.

According to Tobias, it’s innovators like these who will pave the way across many sectors in business. “We are potentially being disrupted by entrepreneurial organisations that are picking off little bits of our traditional business and saying, ‘You know what? What got you here won’t get you there – but we will get you there’,” he says.

So what does all this disruption mean for those of us who remain firmly planted on Earth? If you ask Tobias, it’s all about mobility, technology and the pace of change.

“Technology like the Internet of Things provides us an environment a bit like Elon Musk’s vision to reach Mars,” says Tobias. “It illustrates the difference between thinking outside the box and being in an environment where there is no box.”

 

In today’s fast-paced business environment, your people need to communicate with each other, partners and customers at a moment’s notice – ask your AE how Telstra can help make this a reality.

 

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2 min

Seven disruptive technologies to watch out for in 2017

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Seven disruptive technologies to watch out for in 2017

Technological progress is speeding up, powered by artificial intelligence, expanding computing capabilities, the rise of the digital assistant and the return of bricks-and-mortar stores.

In 1965 Intel co-founder Gordon Moore articulated what has become widely known as “Moore’s Law”: that the number of transistors in a dense integrated circuit will double about every two years. Consider that this has held true for some 50 years now, and you don’t need to be a computer scientist to get the pace of the modern digital revolution.

And as technology keeps on colliding with reality, our lives and businesses will change forever.

Digital assistants will manage our schedules, autonomous cars will take us to our next meeting and a new generation of wearables will keep us fit, healthy and constantly connected.

Here are just some of the technologies to keep an eye on in the year ahead:

Reality, enhanced

We’ve all heard of virtual reality and augmented reality, but mixed reality is set to be even bigger. This form of reality is set to be highly integrated, with technology overlaying our daily activities seamlessly to create a personalised, digitally enhanced experience to enable smarter, faster business. This integration will enable deeper integration and harvesting of data than ever before.

Personalised experience

Virtual reality and augmented reality will make their way into bricks-and-mortar stores, enabling personal shopping experiences like never before. Go to a shop, get your body scanned and have a complete, customised wardrobe created for you. The real world will take on a new meaning, with stores as brand embassies designed to create new experiences for customers outside the limits of their internet browsers.

The road to autonomy

In 2017, autonomous vehicles – cars that can drive themselves without human intervention – are predicted to progress in leaps and bounds. Look for software updates from Tesla, and new products from Mercedes and others, to introduce this technology over the next few months. Driving will be safer and more convenient, and new businesses, such as co-owned vehicle ride sharing, will emerge.

Measured health

Watches and other fitness trackers will mean big business, especially with added features such as the ability to take blood pressure and measure glucose levels. Beyond smart watches, the next step change is in smart devices and wearables such as contact lenses, skin patches and glasses.

Smart money

Distributed Ledger Technology (known as DLT or blockchain) will make some banking processes radically more efficient, and create a new type of competitor for core banking services. This secure, transparent technology built on open-source principles, and it’s set to transform almost every aspect of a business’s finances – from invoices that pay themselves to share certificates that automatically send dividends if profits reach a certain level.

Real-time assistance

Technologies such as Google Assistant, Siri, Cortana and Amazon’s Alexa are like having a butler who can anticipate your needs and desires. From pre-emptively booking an Uber to take you to your next meeting to ordering more coffee pods when the machine is empty and organising a restaurant and inviting guests to a birthday party, the promise is endless.

Everything connected

Everyday devices that can communicate between each other and users will transform day-to-day life. Think consumer goods that automatically call a technician if they’re in need of service through to office buildings so green they manage their own energy use and waste disposal, sending power credits back to the grid and using smart solar to heat (and cool) the structure.

 

IoT is enabling transformation across all industries, giving businesses access to information and control like never before. Discover what this could mean for your business.

 

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3 min

Connection Revolution: The hyperconnected year ahead

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Connection Revolution: The hyperconnected year ahead

From drones that deliver pizzas to speakers that stock your fridge – welcome to the connection revolution.

When addressing a conference in Sydney recently, Jeffrey Cole, analyst and director of the Center for the Digital Future at the University of Southern California Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism, recounted a story of early disruption: “In 1999, Bill Gates was asked, ‘Who keeps you awake at night? Is it Intel? Is it Time Warner?’ And he said, ‘You want to know what keeps me awake at night? It’s two guys in a garage in Silicon Valley’.”

This anecdote has come to be a favourite among futurists looking to highlight the agile thinking and responsiveness leaders need if they are to survive and succeed into tomorrow. And there’s no mistaking why.

If the rise of mobility and connectivity are any indication, there’s little room for leaders to be anything but transformational and nimble, says futurist and founder of think tank Thinque, Anders Sörman-Nilsson. Leaders need to grasp that we are at the knee of the “singularity curve” where biology and technology start converging – and expect exponential advances, he says.

 

From disruption to integration

Sörman-Nilsson predicts that change will come fast, in the form of the “transformation economy” anchored in automation. “In an age of machines, human skills have to be redefined,” he says, adding that half of all jobs in New South Wales are up for automation, meaning many people will need to upgrade their skill-sets to stay relevant.

Meanwhile, organisations should integrate the analogue and digital worlds seamlessly. This means ensuring that transitions between mobile and virtual reality (VR) are human-centric and friction-free, Sörman-Nilsson says.

Central to the connected era is technology that can integrate into almost every element of our lives, says Cole, who cites Amazon’s Alexa as the new frontier in artificial intelligence. A personal assistant with seven speakers and eight microphones, Alexa is designed with personalisation and integration in mind.

“You open the refrigerator and you say, ‘Alexa, I need eggs’, and it goes right on to your shopping list, which is on your smartphone,” Cole says. “Then when you’re in the market, you pull out your phone, you look at the Alexa app, and everything you told Alexa is there.

“And every week Amazon sends an email outlining all of her new powers, which are considerable: everything from tracking sports scores to more functions in the home.”

 

“It’s a device – it’s a thing that’s going to help and assist your life, and if it’s emotive, you’ll put a far better value on it than if it’s just a functional thing.”

  • Don Meij, group chief executive and managing director, Domino’s Pizza
 

Digital breeds disruption

Of course there are those who argue that in the course of the digital revolution, disruption is inevitable. “It’s an intense environment,” says Don Meij, group chief executive and managing director at Domino’s Pizza.

“I always think it’s a bit like white-water rafting in that you’re always navigating through so many things,” Meij says, adding that what organisations should focus on is love or empathy, which can be baked into products ranging from pizzas to smartphones.

“Technology is emotive – you know, people think it’s wires, and plugs, and silicone, and glass, and aluminium and whatever, but it’s not,” Meij adds.

“It’s a device – it’s a thing that’s going to help and assist your life, and if it’s emotive, you’ll put a far better value on it than if it’s just a functional thing.”

Meij’s vision of lovable, emotive devices finds expression in Domino’s fleet of congenial delivery vehicles. The vehicles, or DRUs (Domino’s Robotics Units), roll along, equipped with friendly personalities designed to encourage customer engagement.

The company is confident that one day the four-wheeled devices armed with sensors that detect obstacles will deliver piping-hot pizzas to your door. DRU has now been joined by its aerial counterpart, DRU Drone by Flirtey, to reach even more customers.

While there’s no knowing for sure where this will lead, there’s little doubt this is the sort of technology that’s connecting us in the right direction. “The things that are worth the most are the things you end up loving,” Meij says.

“The word ‘love’ gets attached to it because you get the sensory things that have gone into it. It’s intuitive to who you are, it’s emotional to who you are. We hope our customers love DRUs as much as we do.”

 

Find out how newly emerging technologies will impact the way you communicate with staff and customers.

 

In summary

  • Greater mobility and connectivity mean leaders need to be transformational and adaptable.
  • In a rapidly transforming economy, up to half of the people in NSW will need to upgrade their skill sets.
  • Technology is integrating into almost every element of our lives – think Amazon’s Alexa personal assistant.
  • Domino’s Pizza is developing and exploring the use of pizza delivery drones.
  • People are more likely to use technology if it has an emotive element.
2 min

4 habits for health and happiness in 2017

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4 habits for health and happiness in 2017

As 2017 kicks into gear, we look at the personal habits that create the capacity highly transformative leaders need to instigate and sustain success.

It’s often said that the culture, behaviour and habits of leaders have an impact throughout any organisation, yet when it comes to change, the tactical focus is invariably on the collective, not the individual.

“Corporations in the end are about individuals and how they prepare for the future,” says Lynda Gratton, Professor of Management Practice at London Business School and founder of research and consultancy team Hot Spots Movement.

“We’ve tended to focus on building tangible assets such as savings, pensions and home ownership,” says Gratton. “In future, we will need to apply the same rigour to building our intangible assets such as vitality, productive skills and capabilities, and networks that help us to transform into new roles.”

With this in mind, here are just four habits that effective leaders swear by for sustained success:

 

Build your dream team

If you look at somebody throughout their lifetime, the key determinant of happiness and satisfaction isn’t money, says Gratton, but relationships and long-term friendships. “We have totally different sorts of networks, all of which are important,” she says. “Not just with your husband or wife or your kids, but also with the sort of friends who are going to help you regenerate and stay happy over the course of your life.”

As a globally recognised health and wellness coach to Fortune 500 CEOs, Nikki Fogden-Moore agrees that surrounding yourself with the right people affects just about everything you do – from making decisions to productivity and creativity. “Leadership is a lonely road,” she says. “It’s about having people you can talk to and share ideas with in a trusted setting.”

 

Book a time for everything

Many of us start with the best of intentions but often only book in time for work-related activities, to the detriment of home life and our health, says Fogden-Moore, who is known as the Vitality Coach. “It’s about leading by example,” she says. “If you want your team to be healthy and you want good team performance, you need to plan for that.”

For Brett Kelly, executive coach and founder at accounting firm Kelly Partners, this means booking leave and planning holidays well in advance, a practice he encourages all his clients to adopt. “I don’t mean scratch in your diary that you might go if something else doesn’t come up,” Kelly says. “I mean physically book, pay for the tickets, pay for the accommodation, and commit to yourself and others that you are going away. You can’t get what you don’t know you’re trying to get.”

 

Be more present

Award-winning author, coach and mentor Cyril Peupion lives by a simple approach “Think Quarterly, Plan Weekly, Act Daily’.

“Most executives let what is urgent take over what is important, so their days are filled with urgent meetings, last-minute requests, emails and other crises, to the detriment of long-term priorities and their personal life.”

The best way to overcome this is to think about what is truly important and protect time to do it, Peupion says.

 

Bigger picture thinking

Consider what you’re teaching others in the long term, says Kelly, warning that many leaders fall into the trap of thinking they’re too busy to look beyond the day-to-day work cycle. “If you’re not energetic you’ll attract people who aren’t energetic,” he says.

“Your employees are a read out on who you are and so are your children. You might not like that, so be honest with yourself. You’ve got to be quite clear. Ask yourself, ‘Do I want to go somewhere?’”

On this point, Gratton firmly agrees: “The only way to ensure people are productive throughout long working lives is to make sure they go to work feeling authentic, resilient and supported, and leave work feeling networked, inspired and knowledgeable.”

 

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