Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Our digital future

There is a point in the not too distant future in which every aspect of our lives will be digitally recorded. What could that mean for the role of our own memories, the ability to revisit any point in our lives, and  the possibility of creating digital clones? In combination with lives increasingly lived in digital realms, comes the extraordinary possibility for us to go back and revise and even relive our lives.

The direction of (time) travel

We are born with a limited tool for time travel - our memory. With it we can wind back the years. A sight, sound, touch or smell can send us spiralling back to a moment in time. But our memories are incomplete. We augment them with diaries and photographs... and more lately with blogs, social media, videos. The opportunity to record our lives has grown with our use of the web, been accelerated by our use of web2 and is set to grow exponentially with the arrival of Web3, and its experience layer, the Metaverse. The more digital 'memories' we have, the less we need to rely on our own memories. If you don't remember who was at a dinner you hosted, a quick google among your saved images will give you the answer.

The more we immerse ourselves in digital realms, the more our actions and behaviours can be digitally recorded. If we follow the direction of travel, there comes a point when our entire lives are recorded digitally. And that presents us with some extraordinary opportunities - and some philosophical challenges.

Rewind and re-experience anything you've ever experienced

Part of the final leap to 100% recorded lives will be lives lived 100% in the digital realm. Let's call that the Metaverse. Vague memories of being 'in the room when it happened' will be replaced by the capability to zoom back to the moment you were in that room. As sensory technologies advance you won't just watch a rerun, you will be able to feel the experience just as it happened. Dickens Ghost of Christmas Past has nothing on the future we are building for ourselves.

The rise of the digital clone

If those digital memories can get even close to capturing a 360-degree understanding of your skills, behaviours and activities, the next step would be to make a copy of you. Think a 3D avatar chatbot that knows what you do and can learn to respond like you would (this is the basic of artificial intelligence). Now you really could be in two places at once, performing multiple functions with multiple groups of people in multiple digital locations - all at once. Forget the grunt work of Robotic Process Automation, here come the digital clones to do all the knowledge work.

Groundhog lives

If you could have your time over, what would you have different. When would you have said yes when you said no - and vice versa. The intriguing possibility offered by the 100%  digital life is that you could go back and explore alternative outcomes shaping alternative life stories across the vast expanse of a Multiverse in which others are also seeking their own perfect lives. The shifting sands of existing in this kind of world, where even time no longer travels universally forwards challenge so much of what we hold to be true about life, to date.

Infinity and beyond

If we ever get done perfecting our lives, and we reach the point where we can record and capture how we feel emotionally - along side how we act and what we know -we may be ready to abandon our human bodies altogether. In the Metaverse you can exist digitally for ever. You can be transmitted at the speed of light and explore the entire universe over eons of time.

Sunday, February 20, 2022

Rebalance inequalities to build the trust you need to win in ecosystems


The situation: Employees have been taken for granted for too long. Rampant and widening pay inequality between those at the top and those in the ranks is just one measure of an unequal world spiralling out of balance. CEO compensation rose 1,322% between 1978 and 2020. Typical worker pay? 18% (Source: The Economic Policy Institute (EPI). The pandemic – and the resulting Great Resignation - coupled with the rapidly emerging business paradigm of HFS OneEcosystem, is creating a perfect storm ready to sweep talent and partnerships away from those who focus only on shareholder value and towards those prepared to align themselves with a wider group of stakeholder needs; employees, partners, society, and our planet, among them.

Employees have become mercenary – moving from gig to gig for money and perks. The only weapon leaders have to resist with is more money and more perks. That’s a sticking plaster of a solution that lasts only until the next better offer.  It does not resolve the worst attrition rates many have seen in our lifetimes – and it never will while you make the cost to change so low.

Stand for something to believe in to earn loyalty beyond the paycheck

To prove worthy of loyalty beyond the paycheck, you must set out a purpose that partners and employees can believe in. Fail to deliver on that purpose and your rivals will scoop up your best talent with nothing more than a bag of gold and flexible working.

Nine in 10 leaders realize the need to reposition their organization to unleash people in the post-Covid world (with 50% boosting talent development spend, and 48% retraining managers and leaders (source, HFS Research, 2021, sample 400 Global 2000 enterprises). Just as critical is the realization that in OneEcosystem, the impact we make reaches way beyond the boundaries of our own organization. In 2021 HFS Research found that among 158 C-level executives in Global 2000 enterprises, 9 out of 10 predicted ecosystems would be even more critical in the post-COVID-19 world.

Establishing a purpose will prove the difference between success and failure in the emerging HFS OneEcosystem. Here success relies on businesses building long-term relationships of trust and mutual benefit in networks of stakeholders.

Purpose attracts customers and builds stakeholder networks of trust

Purpose is just as important in attracting and retaining customers. Accenture found 62% of consumers want companies to take a stand on issues that they are passionate about, (Source: Accenture).

Fortune found 64% of consumers say a company’s primary purpose should be to make the world a better place (Fortune, 2019). Not only does doing the right thing attract consumers, employees, and partners, it also convinces them to put their money where their hearts are. US consumers are more likely to be loyal (83%) to brands that lead with purpose. And 72% say they feel it is more important than ever to buy from companies that reflect their values. (Cone/Porter Novelli 2019)

Grow talent pools, and your market – by standing up to tackle inequality

Purpose isn't a mission statement on a wall, it is lived through actions. You must act now to demonstrate what matters to you. Because the pandemic has exposed the deepening ravine between rich and poor, taking action to tackle inequality has become a prime purpose target with which to attract employees, customers, and partners.

Of course, stakeholders want more than just your alignment with them on inequality.  Sustainability, inclusion, diversity, and philanthropy all matter just as much. So think of this as a start. And since Inequality limits access to education and therefore the size of the talent pool you can draw on – as well as constraining market size, it would seem a worthy win-win place from which to start.

Brutal inequality got worse during the pandemic

The pandemic has thrown the reality of brutal inequality into sharp relief. During the first two years of the pandemic, Charity Oxfam found (January 2022) that the world’s ten richest men (note, all men) more than doubled their nest eggs from $700 billion to $1.5 trillion. Between them, they have six times more than the poorest 3.1 billion people have between them (the global population is currently estimated at 7.9 billion).

In 2020, CEOs of the top 350 firms in the U.S. made $24.2 million, on average. They earn a ratio of 351:1 versus a typical worker. In 1965 that figure was 20:1. This isn’t just a problem of Jeff and Elon’s making. You get to own it, too.

Crazy, and rising pay gaps are not the only route to success

Does it have to be this way to build a successful company? U.S. credit card processing services company Gravity Payments shows there is another path. It raised the company minimum salary to $70k for all 120 employees in 2015 – including the CEO. It has almost doubled in size since, with 90% employee retention.

And when revenues fell 50% almost overnight in the early part of the Covid crisis, staff volunteered to take a pay cut to keep the business afloat. By July 2020 the company was back on an even keel. And boss Dan Price paid back everyone who had sacrificed part of their pay in the interim.

Inequality kills someone every four seconds – and locks out millions more from opportunity, and out of our demand-ravaged talent pools

Disposable income (or its obvious lack) makes a real difference when facing the ravages of inflation. UK average energy bills are going up 54% (BBC, February 3, 2022), food bills are soaring more than 10% (so far). Now food banks are an alarmingly normalized part of day-to-day life for many with 700,000 families using them in 2020 alone (source, The Trussell Trust).

Globally the impact of inequality is real, and it is harsh – particularly among the poorest 3.1 billion. Oxfam says (in its report, Inequality Kills) that while a new billionaire was created every 26 hours since the start of the pandemic, one person every four seconds dies as a result of inequality – lack of access to healthcare, hunger, gender-based violence, and climate breakdown. Many millions more are shut out of opportunities – limiting the talent pool just as the world’s economic recovery faces growth-crippling skills shortages.

Bottom Line: Start to set things right with measures and rewards that prove you care, to reap the benefit of the networks of trust your purpose attracts

Leaders must now make a stand, demonstrating what they and their company stand for, through their actions and through how their performance is both measured and rewarded.

We have to stop rewarding pure bottom-line outcomes as if they come guilt-free. Instead identify measures that better reflect our business’s role in creating a safe and just space for humanity. In doing so you will show the world the purpose you prioritize, attracting those customers, employees, and partners who will form the networks of trust your success in HFS OneEcosystem depends on.

Start with what you can control. To reduce basic wealth inequality within your organization take a lead from the UN Sustainable Development Goals. These suggest that by 2030 income growth of the bottom 40% of the population should be at a higher rate than the ‘national’ average. Substitute ‘company’ for national and make a start today.

Thursday, August 05, 2021

Usage beats technical capabiliity - every time

When the internet first emerged it was damned hard to use. Creating, posting and distributing content - it was all do-able. But you needed the time, patience and inclination to work out how.

Then (eg) Facebook came along. The internet with training wheels on. Anyone could play. 2.8bn users later - everyone is a publisher now.

We need the Facebook moment for application and workflow development. Yes, a plethora of no-code/low-code drag-and-drop solutions promise much. But most are no more user-friendly than a typical Wordpress blog.

Low-code/No code has been with us for a long time now. Yet no vendor has delivered the UX to match the experience of a Facebook.

Imagine how rapidly a solution could scale through an enterprise if it enabled everyone to build apps and workflows as effectively as the social software experience enables everyone to publish.

Usage beats technical capability every time.

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Be kind to India. It's crisis is deeper than it looks

The nature of today's global supply webs and our distributed ways of working mean many, if not all of us have colleagues in the midst of crisis in India right now.

Yes, we have all had our burdens from Covid-19. But I fear India's is way deeper than most - and provides a warning of what still may come to others if we do not come together to vaccinate the globe.

India has been setting record, after unenviable record, for the highest number of cases. The Indian health ministry reported almost 353,000 new cases and 2,812 deaths on Monday (April 26).

For comparison the UK peaked at around 60,000 new cases a day - with around 1800 lives lost per day.

Yes, India is a 'younger' country - and this may account for a substantial reduction in the per capita total deaths. But the UK health service - though stretched to its absolute limits - did cope. There was no shortage of ventilators, beds, treatment or oxygen as we are witnessing in India.

IF, India's deaths per capita is broadly the same as the UK experience, I fear deaths due to Covid may realistically be peaking at in the order 10-11,000 per day.

We can but hope that the authorities get to grips with the actual numbers, get serious about lockdowns and go military scale on vaccine roll-out, or things will only get worse.

in the meantime, all of us with colleagues, friends or family in India need to care for each other, accept delays and late deliverables with good grace, and understand the anxiety and grief of others.

It's harder to be kind than it is to be clever (as Jeff Bezos is quoted as saying... I'll be kind and let him have that (but you may also want to reference some Buddhist texts).


The rate of change is so rapid it's difficult for one person to keep up to speed. Let's pool our thoughts, share our reactions and, who knows, even reach some shared conclusions worth arriving at?