This article serves as a great reminder that close to twenty years ago retailers, caught off guard with the societal shift to online purchasing, partnered with Amazon to provide their e-commerce solutions as a quick fix entry into the new marketplace. In an age of disruption, be willing to look to past shifts for guidance. Most of what is happening today has happened before in another form, you just must look for it. The Target story is a good one to understand when it’s time to invest in your own systems and technology versus leaning on someone else’s.
As summer comes to an end, we all turn our attention to achieving end of year goals and planning for 2020. As I work with boards in managing disruption, I look for not just the new technologies that will disrupt industries, but unusual intersections or unexpected consequences of disruption. I’ve outlined here just a couple of the trends I am watching and what is evolving as new trends in board room oversight of disruption.
Speed will intersect internet decentralization
Oversight will become increasingly important and privacy will become an industry
Virtual environments and space transform experiences
AI, IOT and Voice Tech change everything
In the last couple of weeks there have been a series of articles and commentary about trust busting big tech companies like Google, Facebook and Amazon. Will government agencies and/or legislators really doing something or is it just rhetoric? What impact would it have on consumers and businesses? The topic of big tech trust busting has been surprisingly bi-partisan, particularly in such a divided political era.
Gen Z Will Start Their Own Business
In the last five years, business models that have been around for generations have suddenly found themselves disrupted in new and surprising ways. Most board members and senior executives come to work with a certain set of assumptions about the world, the economy, the environment and their work force. Those assumptions are often built on decades of experience. But what if those assumptions are wrong or simply outdated?
Human Oversight Will Become More Important Than Ever
As c-suite executives and directors, a big part of your role is oversight of what’s happening in your organization and foresight to see what could be coming. The realty is several aspects of these new technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI), self-driving cars, drones, and the connection of all of our devices through the internet of things (IOT) will require more oversight throughout your organization. The culture set from the very top to value oversight will be more important than ever as every company transforms into a technology company. The time to start thinking about what will be needed in the future is now.
In my digital disruption workshops, I often lead a discussion among executives and board members about Facebook’s role in the disruptive societal shifts we are all experiencing, capped with what role companies have played in boosting Facebook through advertising dollars. After reading McNamee’s new book and pouring through the latest revelations from the UK investigations, it becomes even more clear that directors and senior executives should be cautiously thinking about the future of Facebook and the role other technology companies (like Google, Twitter, Amazon and Apple) play in shaping the expectations of customers and your work force, as well as what laws and regulations may come as legislators awaken to the reality of how these companies have actually made their fortunes.
What was more striking to me at CES this year was the realization that none of what we saw really surprised any of us in our group. We have all come to a point of acceptance that technology and connectivity weaves in and out of our life at points we used to believe to be private or disconnected. The bigger questions will be how company cultures adapt to this new reality we accept as consumers and how privacy, laws and regulation may shape the business models of these technology companies in the future.
As you look to the year ahead, concerns about market stability and sales growth are likely top on your list. To be prepared for uncertainty and a changing marketplace, c-suite executives and boards can look to three driving forces that will impact every organization: cybersecurity, digital disruption and societal shifts. How is your company preparing to address these issues with a cross functional approach in the c-suite and how will your board oversee the management of the risks? How are you gathering the industry intelligence and data you need to ensure you don’t miss an important trend?
As the world is waking up to the data gold mine big tech has used to become the richest companies in the world, a backlash is forming as government leaders and individuals realize their privacy was sold off in the process and may never be recovered. Smart retailers are already using this to their advantage.
Enron collapsed in October of 2001 after the complex structure of subsidiaries and questionable accounting practices built by the energy giant fell apart, sending ripples across government, Wall Street and individual faith in Corporate America. In 2008, the financial markets collapsed. Most missed all the signals that something was coming. Are we at the same tipping point in digital?
How the gig economy, generational shifts and technology will change the way we work.
Often dubbed the fourth industrial revolution, we are living in a time of profound transformation impacting how we live, work, play and plan for our future. Digital disruption is not discriminatory – it impacts every industry and every profession. For c-suite executives and directors, it is crucial to understand how these shifts not only impact the products and services you sell and how you sell them, but how you manage the workforce and resources of the future. There are a number of trends impacting the future of work.
Social media has changed our culture and will continue to shape how people think. We have reached a tipping point of business leaders taking to Twitter to express their personal views. It’s no longer about just becoming aware of it and drafting a policy, it’s about governance and responsibility and more thoughtful oversight than just a few lines in an employee handbook.
All too often, “cybersecurity” is pushed to a chief information security officer or chief information officer to manage the threat as though that “assignment” has checked the box and everyone else need not worry. After the Equifax breach, the General Counsel, along with other senior executives, was pushed out for failure to manage the impact effectively (including a long list of misguided steps). If you are a general counsel, chief legal officer, corporate secretary or serve on a board, the reality of cybersecurity is that when a breach occurs, it will fall on your desk and you will be held accountable for the action the company takes.
The ball is never simply passed off to someone else when it comes to cybersecurity. This is a holistic effort that requires not just project management but checks and balances among the senior executive team and oversight by the board of directors. Learn more about why and how to tackle cybersecurity in your organization.
Blockchain has the potential to be transformative like IBM’s SQL database was in the 1960s or the adoption of the world-wide-web by businesses and consumers was in the late 1990s. But, it is still just potential. It will take a lot of companies, organizations, governments and thought leaders acting in cooperation to make the kind of transformations anticipated. But all that has happened before and we can learn from mistakes made in the past.
While many have touted what a fantastic job Zuckerberg did in answering questions from lawmakers, there were some glaring holes in his testimony. I think he did a good job representing his company, but the underlying missing substance has paved the way for future laws in privacy protection that could have implications for boards and c-suite executives across industries. Zuckerberg, clearly rehearsed and briefed by lawyers, repeatedly told both the house and senate committees that users have control over their data and that Facebook doesn’t sell data. But, to quote his beloved Star Wars, that’s only true “from a certain point of view.”
The European Union’s new privacy law, General Data Protection Regulation (aka “GDPR”) will take effect on May 25, 2018. In the final countdown, lawyers and consultants scramble to work with their clients to map when, where, how and why data is collected, stored and used. But the real question for people like me who are interested in digital trends is: “how will this change digital behavior?”
Blockchain has become such a hot buzz word that companies adding the word “blockchain” to their company name are seeing a surge in their stock price. In December, Bloomberg News reported that the Long Island Ice Tea Corp shares rose 289 percent after it rebranded itself Long Blockchain Corp (https://bloom.bg/2BsDCLg). In January, it was announced that Kodak, emerging from the shadows of its 2012 bankruptcy, loaned its name to a new digital currency called KodakCoin which will help photographers manage their digital rights. Kodak’s stock rose more than 200 percent following the announcement. This article provides insights into research from Jen's new book, Blockchain in the Boardroom, and a layman's term explanation how blockchain could replace legacy systems.
As you return from the holiday break and look towards your first quarterly board meeting, consider a few of the stories from 2017 that signal change for the year ahead and the implications in the boardroom. The bottom line: big changes are coming, and you need to be prepared.
As the story and forensics behind the Equifax breach continues to unfold, directors can dissect what went wrong, who knew and what could have been done about it. What questions should you be asking at your next board meeting? This article provides an overview of the root cause of the breach and questions board members should consider asking senior executives.