Home » Speeches » University of Deusto – Opening Ceremony of Master’s programme (2017)

University of Deusto – Opening Ceremony of Master’s programme (2017)

22nd September 2017

International​ ​Uncertainty​ ​and​ ​The​ ​Challenges​ ​Companies Face​ ​for​ ​Innovation.

Today​ ​I​ ​would​ ​like​ ​to​ ​talk​ ​about​ ​things​ ​that​ ​change​ ​the​ ​world.

The​ ​new​ ​thinking​ ​and​ ​new​ ​skills,​ ​the​ ​emerging​ ​technology​ ​and​ ​the​ ​creativity​ ​it​ ​enables​ ​–​ ​all of​ ​which​ ​is​ ​being​ ​harnessed​ ​differently​ ​-​ ​used​ ​differently​ ​-​ ​to​ ​change​ ​how​ ​we​ ​live,​ ​work, communicate​ ​and​ ​play.

Pure​ ​innovation​ ​has​ ​to​ ​be​ ​powered​ ​by​ ​the​ ​drive​ ​to​ ​deliver​ ​added​ ​value:​ ​to​ ​make​ ​things easier,​ ​faster,​ ​safer,​ ​better​ ​-​ ​or​ ​less​ ​expensive.​ ​​​Sometimes​ ​these​ ​gains​ ​come​ ​at​ ​a​ ​price.

We​ ​are​ ​standing​ ​together​ ​on​ ​the​ ​edge​ ​of​ ​the​ ​fourth​ ​industrial​ ​revolution.​ ​​​I’d​ ​argue​ ​it’s​ ​as much​ ​about​ ​revolutionary​ ​thinking​ ​as​ ​it​ ​is​ ​about​ ​ground-breaking​ ​engineering​ ​–​ ​the​ ​two​ ​go hand-in-hand.

While​ ​studying​ ​for​ ​my​ ​MBA​ ​I​ ​had​ ​the​ ​luxury​ ​of​ ​time​ ​to​ ​connect​ ​to,​ ​and​ ​consider,​ ​the possibilities​ ​of​ ​this​ ​incoming​ ​disruption:​ ​this​ ​challenge​ ​to​ ​the​ ​way​ ​of​ ​doing​ ​things;​ ​this boundless​ ​opportunity.

These​ ​are​ ​exciting​ ​times,​ ​and​ ​we​ ​have​ ​to​ ​decide​ ​whether​ ​to​ ​sink,​ ​or​ ​swim​ ​with​ ​our​ ​heads held​ ​high.

The​ ​dinosaurs​ ​became​ ​extinct​ ​because​ ​of​ ​an​ ​inability​ ​to​ ​adapt.​ ​​​Although​ ​some​ ​survive​ ​– ancient​ ​species​ ​like​ ​the​ ​shark,​ ​the​ ​turtle​ ​and​ ​some​ ​reptiles​ ​–​ ​they​ ​were​ ​in​ ​the​ ​minority.​ ​​​To survive​ ​this​ ​latest​ ​challenge​ ​to​ ​our​ ​world,​ ​a​ ​self-created​ ​challenge,​ ​we​ ​have​ ​to​ ​not​ ​only adapt,​ ​but​ ​adapt​ ​in​ ​the​ ​right​ ​way.

A​ ​job​ ​for​ ​life​ ​will​ ​become​ ​a​ ​rare​ ​thing.​ ​​​It’s​ ​already​ ​on​ ​the​ ​endangered​ ​list.​ ​​​I​ ​see​ ​90%​ ​of white​ ​collar​ ​jobs​ ​vanishing.​ ​​​That​ ​means​ ​the​ ​very​ ​fabric​ ​of​ ​life​ ​will​ ​change​ ​beyond​ ​all recognition.

And​ ​it​ ​won’t​ ​be​ ​the​ ​first​ ​time.

Early​ ​explorers​ ​discovered​ ​new​ ​continents​ ​and​ ​brought​ ​diseases​ ​previously​ ​unknown​ ​to their​ ​inhabitants,​ ​wiping​ ​out​ ​indigenous​ ​populations​ ​with​ ​a​ ​sneeze.​ ​​​They​ ​helped​ ​themselves to​ ​others’​ ​mineral​ ​and​ ​natural​ ​resources​ ​–​ ​from​ ​precious​ ​metals​ ​to​ ​coffee​ ​and​ ​cotton​ ​–​ ​and changed​ ​the​ ​ways​ ​of​ ​these​ ​‘new​ ​worlds’​ ​forever.

A​ ​commercial​ ​quake​ ​was​ ​triggered​ ​by​ ​the​ ​Portuguese.

With​ ​it​ ​came​ ​slavery​ ​and​ ​mass​ ​manufacturing.​ ​​​England’s​ ​peasants​ ​became​ ​workers​ ​and​ ​a land​ ​grab​ ​saw​ ​rich​ ​native​ ​lands​ ​snapped​ ​up,​ ​driven​ ​by​ ​a​ ​pure​ ​commercial​ ​imperative​ ​–​ ​some might​ ​call​ ​it​ ​greed.

It​ ​was​ ​the​ ​beginning​ ​of​ ​European​ ​domination​ ​of​ ​the​ ​world.

In​ ​1497​ ​India​ ​was​ ​the​ ​Empire​ ​of​ ​Cotton,​ ​one​ ​of​ ​the​ ​most​ ​sought-after​ ​manufacturing products​ ​in​ ​the​ ​world.​ ​​​​​Cotton​ ​changed​ ​the​ ​way​ ​we​ ​lived,​ ​looked​ ​and​ ​smelled​ ​(as​ ​we abandoned​ ​heavy​ ​wool​ ​for​ ​something​ ​lighter)​ ​as​ ​well​ ​as​ ​the​ ​economy.

The​ ​market​ ​for​ ​cotton​ ​was​ ​interwoven​ ​with​ ​middlemen,​ ​entrepreneurial​ ​‘pirates’​ ​who​ ​held Europe​ ​to​ ​ransom​ ​at​ ​every​ ​step​ ​of​ ​the​ ​new​ ​must-have​ ​commodity’s​ ​journey.

Eventually​ ​it​ ​was​ ​the​ ​British,​ ​with​ ​their​ ​massive​ ​demand​ ​for​ ​Indian​ ​cotton​ ​to​ ​feed​ ​the​ ​mills​ ​in Manchester​ ​that​ ​drove​ ​out​ ​the​ ​middleman​ ​–​ ​and​ ​that’s​ ​a​ ​step​ ​that​ ​has​ ​been​ ​constant​ ​in economic​ ​innovation.

So,​ ​none​ ​of​ ​this​ ​is​ ​‘new’.

In​ ​the​ ​early​ ​days​ ​of​ ​expanding​ ​international​ ​trade​ ​the​ ​disruption​ ​that​ ​eliminated​ ​the​ ​Asian, Arab​ ​and​ ​Ottoman​ ​middleman​ ​was​ ​Portuguese,​ ​Dutch​ ​and​ ​later​ ​British​ ​naval​ ​superiority. Every​ ​generation​ ​has​ ​its​ ​disruptive​ ​technology.​ ​Today​ ​that​ ​technology​ ​is​ ​the​ ​Internet.

We​ ​are​ ​at​ ​risk​ ​of​ ​discovering​ ​that​ ​some​ ​of​ ​us​ ​are​ ​middlemen.​ ​​​And​ ​we​ ​know​ ​what​ ​happens to​ ​them!​ ​​​So,​ ​if​ ​you’re​ ​in​ ​a​ ​service​ ​industry,​ ​if​ ​you​ ​don’t​ ​make​ ​anything,​ ​if​ ​you’re​ ​Mr​ ​or​ ​Mrs white​ ​collar,​ ​then​ ​we​ ​should​ ​all​ ​be​ ​advised​ ​to​ ​stay​ ​on​ ​our​ ​toes​ ​and​ ​find​ ​something​ ​else​ ​to​ ​do as​ ​technology​ ​gets​ ​its​ ​feet​ ​under​ ​our​ ​desks.

Are​ ​we​ ​likely​ ​to​ ​see​ ​the​ ​arrival​ ​of​ ​a​ ​new​ ​breed​ ​of​ ​luddite?​ ​Those​ ​workforces​ ​who​ ​smashed the​ ​machines​ ​to​ ​postpone​ ​progress​ ​and​ ​preserve​ ​their​ ​jobs​ ​in​ ​the​ ​mills​ ​as​ ​their​ ​new technology​ ​revolution​ ​took​ ​its​ ​first​ ​step​ ​and​ ​then​ ​broke​ ​into​ ​a​ ​run?

We’re​ ​already​ ​in​ ​technology’s​ ​tentacles​ ​–​ ​we’re​ ​glued​ ​to​ ​our​ ​smart​ ​phones​ ​and​ ​tablets. When​ ​we​ ​walk​ ​we’re​ ​more​ ​likely​ ​to​ ​be​ ​‘pod’destrians​ ​than​ ​pedestrians,​ ​plugged​ ​in​ ​as​ ​we​ ​are to​ ​our​ ​own​ ​personal​ ​sound​ ​track​ ​or​ ​conversations.

Our​ ​own​ ​commercial​ ​value​ ​–​ ​what​ ​we​ ​‘bring​ ​to​ ​the​ ​business’​ ​–​ ​is​ ​on​ ​thin​ ​ice.

Professionals​ ​who​ ​command​ ​a​ ​premium​ ​for​ ​their​ ​skill​ ​today​ ​has​ ​something​ ​to​ ​share​ ​with those​ ​early​ ​textile​ ​millworkers​ ​as​ ​they​ ​contemplated​ ​the​ ​arrival​ ​of​ ​their​ ​nemesis​ ​-​ ​The Spinning​ ​Jenny.

Massive​ ​technological​ ​disruption;​ ​it’s​ ​been​ ​with​ ​us​ ​for​ ​centuries,​ ​and​ ​it’s​ ​not​ ​finished​ ​yet.

This​ ​fourth​ ​industrial​ ​revolution​ ​drives​ ​the​ ​need​ ​for​ ​continuous​ ​learning.​ ​​​It’s​ ​been​ ​a buzz-topic​ ​for​ ​some​ ​time,​ ​but​ ​life,​ ​I​ ​believe​ ​will​ ​take​ ​a​ ​more​ ​varied​ ​path​ ​as​ ​people​ ​leave education,​ ​gain​ ​skills,​ ​have​ ​their​ ​jobs​ ​change,​ ​re-educate​ ​and​ ​re-skill,​ ​change​ ​jobs​ ​and​ ​move forward.

If​ ​we​ ​don’t​ ​prepare​ ​for​ ​these​ ​seismic​ ​changes​ ​now,​ ​we​ ​will​ ​be​ ​left​ ​severely​ ​wrong-footed.

Take​ ​wholesale​ ​and​ ​retail​ ​for​ ​example.

For​ ​years​ ​robots​ ​have​ ​been​ ​working​ ​in​ ​a​ ​manufacturing​ ​environment,​ ​and​ ​intelligent tracking,​ ​packing​ ​and​ ​stacking​ ​systems​ ​have​ ​defined​ ​advances​ ​for​ ​retail​ ​warehousing.​ ​​​These are​ ​low-skilled​ ​tasks,​ ​but​ ​the​ ​robots​ ​–​ ​they’re​ ​getting​ ​smarter,​ ​they’re​ ​learning.

We​ ​may​ ​have​ ​less​ ​than​ ​two​ ​decades​ ​before​ ​automation​ ​of​ ​routine​ ​tasks​ ​ups​ ​its​ ​game. Almost​ ​a​ ​third​ ​of​ ​British​ ​jobs​ ​could​ ​potentially​ ​fall​ ​foul​ ​to​ ​breakthroughs​ ​in​ ​artificial

intelligence,​ ​possibly​ ​more.

Automation​ ​would​ ​do​ ​what​ ​it​ ​always​ ​does.​ ​​​We’ve​ ​only​ ​to​ ​look​ ​at​ ​history.​ ​​​Productivity would​ ​increase​ ​and​ ​create​ ​fresh​ ​job​ ​opportunities,​ ​but​ ​if​ ​they’re​ ​getting​ ​smarter,​ ​why restrict​ ​robots​ ​to​ ​those​ ​lower​ ​skill​ ​areas?​ ​​​Driverless​ ​cars​ ​have​ ​arrived​ ​–​ ​where​ ​does​ ​that leave​ ​taxi,​ ​lorry,​ ​bus​ ​and​ ​train​ ​driver?​ ​​​Old​ ​science​ ​fiction​ ​movies​ ​are​ ​proving​ ​to​ ​have​ ​been fairly​ ​accurate​ ​in​ ​their​ ​depictions​ ​of​ ​how​ ​life​ ​is​ ​lived​ ​in​ ​the​ ​future.

So,​ ​we​ ​have​ ​to​ ​be​ ​smart​ ​and​ ​stay​ ​smarter.​ ​​​The​ ​smart​ ​money​ ​is​ ​on​ ​finding​ ​ways​ ​to​ ​work better​ ​with​ ​the​ ​technology,​ ​and​ ​to​ ​do​ ​that​ ​we​ ​need​ ​to​ ​educate​ ​ourselves​ ​better​ ​and​ ​–​ ​now​ ​- more​ ​often.

We​ ​can’t​ ​afford​ ​to​ ​box​ ​ourselves​ ​in​ ​to​ ​the​ ​‘low​ ​skilled’​ ​bracket,​ ​we​ ​have​ ​to​ ​train​ ​better​ ​and with​ ​relevance.

Upskilling,​ ​creative​ ​and​ ​critical​ ​thinking​ ​will​ ​be​ ​highly​ ​valued,​ ​as​ ​will​ ​emotional​ ​intelligence, something​ ​that​ ​AI​ ​has​ ​not​ ​quite​ ​mastered​ ​–​ ​yet.

Artificial​ ​intelligence​ ​(AI),​ ​big​ ​data,​ ​the​ ​internet​ ​of​ ​things​ ​(IoT)​ ​and​ ​robotics​ ​are​ ​already​ ​here.

They’re​ ​driving​ ​predictive​ ​and​ ​automated​ ​devices​ ​which,​ ​in​ ​turn,​ ​collect​ ​more​ ​data,​ ​enabling machine​ ​learning.​ ​​​Also,​ ​conversely,​ ​their​ ​learning​ ​serves​ ​to​ ​narrow​ ​human​ ​horizons.​ ​​​We’re walking​ ​blindly​ ​from​ ​broadcast​ ​to​ ​narrow​ ​cast,​ ​being​ ​shown​ ​more​ ​of​ ​what​ ​we​ ​‘like’​ ​and challenged​ ​less​ ​by​ ​what​ ​we​ ​seldom​ ​explore.

AI​ ​has​ ​been​ ​around​ ​for​ ​more​ ​than​ ​50​ ​years,​ ​but​ ​suddenly​ ​it’s​ ​stepping​ ​into​ ​the​ ​spotlight. One​ ​of​ ​the​ ​more​ ​useful​ ​degrees​ ​has​ ​to​ ​be​ ​those​ ​involved​ ​in​ ​the​ ​development​ ​of​ ​artificial intelligence.

Computers​ ​are​ ​better​ ​at​ ​crunching​ ​through​ ​the​ ​leg-work​ ​of​ ​some​ ​areas​ ​of​ ​police investigations​ ​–​ ​we​ ​now​ ​have​ ​face​ ​recognition​ ​technology,​ ​Britain​ ​has​ ​one​ ​of​ ​the​ ​most densely​ ​watched​ ​CCTV​ ​communities​ ​and​ ​a​ ​fingerprint​ ​match,​ ​if​ ​the​ ​system​ ​has​ ​it,​ ​is​ ​the​ ​work of​ ​seconds​ ​rather​ ​than​ ​days.

But​ ​let’s​ ​not​ ​forget​ ​who​ ​built​ ​the​ ​machines.​ ​​​We​ ​did.​ ​​​You​ ​did.

Perhaps​ ​the​ ​machines,​ ​once​ ​they’ve​ ​learned​ ​to​ ​worry,​ ​need​ ​to​ ​worry​ ​about​ ​what​ ​we’ll​ ​build next​ ​–​ ​it​ ​may​ ​well​ ​put​ ​them​ ​out​ ​of​ ​a​ ​job!

Modern​ ​cars​ ​have​ ​diagnostic​ ​systems​ ​–​ ​robots​ ​are​ ​carrying​ ​out​ ​incredibly​ ​delicate​ ​surgical procedures​ ​on​ ​people​ ​–​ ​even​ ​when​ ​the​ ​senior​ ​surgeon​ ​is​ ​sitting​ ​a​ ​continent​ ​away.

There​ ​are​ ​AI​ ​systems​ ​that​ ​can​ ​perform​ ​clinical​ ​diagnoses​ ​on​ ​patient​ ​records​ ​by​ ​ploughing through​ ​thousands​ ​of​ ​records​ ​in​ ​seconds,​ ​with​ ​an​ ​almost​ ​total​ ​accuracy​ ​rate.

But​ ​we​ ​humans​ ​are​ ​not​ ​on​ ​the​ ​endangered​ ​list​ ​quite​ ​yet.​ ​​​Cyber​ ​security,​ ​for​ ​example,​ ​is​ ​a career​ ​born​ ​from​ ​new​ ​technology.​ ​​​It’s​ ​not​ ​the​ ​only​ ​one.

The​ ​job​ ​market​ ​is​ ​evolving​ ​and​ ​right​ ​now​ ​we’re​ ​not​ ​entirely​ ​sure​ ​where​ ​it​ ​will​ ​go.​ ​​​Business​ ​is having​ ​to​ ​change.​ ​​​People​ ​have​ ​a​ ​handle​ ​on​ ​the​ ​world,​ ​usually​ ​in​ ​a​ ​pocket​ ​or​ ​a​ ​bag,​ ​and​ ​they expect​ ​to​ ​drive​ ​everything​ ​from​ ​it.​ ​​​Your​ ​mobile​ ​phone​ ​will​ ​even​ ​track​ ​you​ ​should​ ​you​ ​get lost​ ​and​ ​still​ ​have​ ​it​ ​with​ ​you.​ ​​​So,​ ​businesses​ ​are​ ​going​ ​to​ ​have​ ​to​ ​collaborate​ ​more​ ​to ensure​ ​their​ ​systems​ ​talk​ ​to​ ​each​ ​other​ ​and​ ​their​ ​customer​ ​service​ ​is​ ​integrated​ ​and​ ​smooth.

Of​ ​course​ ​the​ ​big​ ​question​ ​is​ ​do​ ​we​ ​really​ ​need​ ​all​ ​this​ ​technology.​ ​​​Given​ ​a​ ​choice​ ​would some​ ​of​ ​us​ ​turn​ ​off​ ​the​ ​phone,​ ​ditch​ ​the​ ​tablet​ ​and​ ​go​ ​for​ ​a​ ​walk​ ​or​ ​communicate​ ​or​ ​interact with​ ​each​ ​other​ ​without​ ​the​ ​benefit​ ​of​ ​Skype​ ​or​ ​a​ ​shared​ ​gaming​ ​experience?

Like​ ​all​ ​industrial​ ​revolutions,​ ​this​ ​one​ ​is​ ​like​ ​no​ ​other.​ ​​​It’s​ ​not​ ​steam​ ​or​ ​water​ ​–​ ​Industrial Revolution​ ​1,​ ​it’s​ ​not​ ​simple​ ​electric​ ​power​ ​to​ ​create​ ​mass​ ​production​ ​that​ ​defined​ ​the second​ ​one.​ ​The​ ​Third​ ​used​ ​electronics​ ​and​ ​information​ ​technology​ ​to​ ​automate production.​ ​​​​​The​ ​Fourth​ ​moves​ ​on​ ​the​ ​Third,​ ​the​ ​digital​ ​age,​ ​dipping​ ​into​ ​a​ ​range​ ​of different​ ​aspects​ ​that​ ​together​ ​create​ ​this​ ​fourth​ ​dimension​ ​for​ ​industrial​ ​change.

What​ ​does​ ​define​ ​all​ ​the​ ​change​ ​this​ ​time,​ ​is​ ​the​ ​pure​ ​speed​ ​of​ ​it.​ ​​​The​ ​pace​ ​of​ ​these​ ​21s​ t Century​ ​breakthroughs​ ​has​ ​no​ ​historical​ ​precedent,​ ​and​ ​it​ ​is​ ​disrupting​ ​almost​ ​every industry​ ​in​ ​every​ ​country.

We​ ​are​ ​more​ ​connected​ ​than​ ​ever.​ ​​​I​ ​can​ ​find​ ​out​ ​more​ ​about​ ​you​ ​before​ ​or​ ​after​ ​I​ ​meet​ ​you than​ ​ever​ ​before​ ​–​ ​and​ ​the​ ​same​ ​is​ ​true​ ​of​ ​business.

Drones​ ​are​ ​now​ ​deployed​ ​as​ ​weapons,​ ​surveillance​ ​and​ ​video​ ​tools,​ ​they’re​ ​even​ ​used​ ​for some​ ​deliveries.​ ​​​Our​ ​phones​ ​speak​ ​to​ ​us,​ ​they​ ​house​ ​our​ ​personal​ ​assistants,​ ​they​ ​can​ ​even remind​ ​us​ ​that​ ​it’s​ ​time​ ​to​ ​apply​ ​more​ ​sunscreen.

This​ ​industrial​ ​revolution,​ ​the​ ​one​ ​we’re​ ​owning​ ​and​ ​living​ ​through​ ​right​ ​now,​ ​has​ ​huge potential;​ ​potential​ ​for​ ​good.​ ​​​Costs​ ​drop​ ​when​ ​efficiencies​ ​increase.​ ​​​This​ ​revolution​ ​will work​ ​smarter​ ​because​ ​​it​ ​is​​ ​smarter,​ ​we​ ​have​ ​a​ ​tiger​ ​by​ ​the​ ​tail,​ ​we​ ​need​ ​to​ ​learn​ ​how​ ​to train​ ​it,​ ​not​ ​tame​ ​it.

The​ ​biggest​ ​beneficiaries​ ​of​ ​innovation​ ​tend​ ​to​ ​be​ ​the​ ​providers​ ​of​ ​intellectual​ ​and​ ​physical capital.

This​ ​latest​ ​revolution​ ​has​ ​seen​ ​the​ ​commercial​ ​winners​ ​come​ ​from​ ​left​ ​of​ ​field.​ ​​​Not​ ​the biggest,​ ​fattest​ ​corporations,​ ​but​ ​leaner​ ​and​ ​hungrier​ ​entrepreneurs​ ​with​ ​ideas​ ​and​ ​passion.

More​ ​than​ ​30​ ​percent​ ​of​ ​the​ ​global​ ​population​ ​now​ ​uses​ ​social​ ​media​ ​platforms​ ​to​ ​connect, learn,​ ​and​ ​share​ ​information.​ ​​​These​ ​communication​ ​avenues​ ​were​ ​not​ ​always​ ​here,​ ​and​ ​we are​ ​still​ ​learning​ ​how​ ​to​ ​use​ ​them​ ​ethically​ ​as​ ​well​ ​as​ ​for​ ​entertainment​ ​and​ ​enlightenment.

The​ ​gathering​ ​momentum​ ​of​ ​innovation​ ​and​ ​the​ ​speed​ ​of​ ​disruption​ ​are​ ​hard​ ​to comprehend,​ ​even​ ​for​ ​the​ ​best​ ​informed.

So,​ ​welcome​ ​to​ ​the​ ​fourth​ ​industrial​ ​revolution.​ ​​​The​ ​choice​ ​is​ ​ours.​ ​​​Embrace​ ​the disruption?

I’d​ ​argue​ ​that​ ​we,​ ​our​ ​businesses​ ​and​ ​our​ ​outlooks​ ​must​ ​adapt,​ ​die​ ​or​ ​simply​ ​stay​ ​a​ ​turtle, shark​ ​or​ ​lizard.