It’s Not The Technology, It’s the Intersection of Technologies, Culture & Cyber Risk

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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

When 5G connectivity speed becomes a reality, the adoption of emerging technologies like artificial intelligence and the internet of things will accelerate.  But this is not happening in a vacuum.  At the same time the global internet is decentralizing and could face further destabilization.  GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) already transformed how you do business online in Europe.  China has long controlled the internet inside its borders with censorship at the core.  With its advancement in 5G capabilities, it could construct its own internet.  Many parts of the world block content online and do not function under a free and open internet policy.  New technologies like blockchain create new ways to connect computers and networks.  Watch for these changes to merge into a trend.  Speed and new ways to connect computers along-side global views on privacy and censorship means the existing internet infrastructure may have to change or completely destabilize and evolve into something new.  That change impacts every business and means online all business could be directly impacted.  Pay attention to the technology and the laws and policy that will drive this shift.  You don’t want to be caught off guard when it happens.    

Oversight will become increasingly important and privacy will become an industry

It’s clear that government intervention in big technology is around the corner.  As citizens have been awakened to the reality that they traded their privacy for “free” services online, the cost to tech-driven businesses will change and new sectors of service to provide privacy oversight will emerge.  Expect to see privacy as an industry and more cost and regulation to do business in a digital environment.  Likewise,  as artificial intelligence and robots are rolled out into workplaces to reduce costs the need for oversight to ensure there is not bias in the AI or unintended consequences will emerge as a new function inside corporations.  With greater cybersecurity risks in relying upon robots powered by AI, oversight may also become an industry and the need for external audits of technology could become essential.  The recent Boeing 737 Max jet crashes demonstrate how technology without human oversight and ability to override can result in catastrophic outcomes.  Don’t assume all cyber risk is because of an outsider, it could be your own technology that turns on you. 

Virtual environments and space transform experiences

Virtual and augmented reality technology still has a lot of work to do to improve the experience, but for future generations this may be the practical alternative to shopping, relaxation, entertainment and travel. Gen Z (those born in the early 2000s) are more likely to go to virtual reality centers to see the world than travel around the globe, reducing costs and reducing their own carbon footprint.  Expect to see the convergence of concerns about the environment with behavior and new technologies that change the way future generations live. 

Likewise, the race to space for corporations is on.  The ability to launch smaller mini-satellites cost effectively could mean more companies have their own data collection satellites in orbit.  This also means global governance of space will become needed.    Boards need to be aware of the changes in leadership and policy that will shape the future and decide if they want to sit on the sidelines or help frame the landscape. 

AI, IOT and Voice Tech change everything

Artificial Intelligence used to mean deep machine learning – meaning the code or the software has the ability to learn based upon new inputs or exchanges.  But, in the last couple of years in an attempt to capture investors and increase market valuations,  the term has devolved into meaning use of data to make decisions.  This also means that nearly every company is now part of the data revolution and is as much a data company as it is in the industry of the core products or services they provide.  This evolution will be paired with voice recognition.  As voice recognition technology improves the entire search industry will change and become voice driven.  Watch out Google!  This means how you optimize digital experiences for search will fundamentally and holistically need to be reinvented.  Likewise, it means that all types of devices in the home, in the workplace, in schools, in hospitals and in all facets of our life will be powered up with artificial intelligence and the ability to search and deliver what we want by what we say.  Language will become critical.  Overseeing bias in language choices and how artificial intelligence is not only coded but how it learns will also become a critical part of governance and oversight in the boardroom. 

In the boardroom, it is now mission critical to understand not just the new technologies, cybersecurity threats and societal changes, but how these intersect and impact the culture, risk management and return on investment of your company’s choices. 


If you are interested in a keynote, workshop or facilitated discussion on emerging technologies, future trends, cybersecurity or cultural shifts for your next board meeting or executive retreat, contact me at or 513.746.2801.