I’ve always been interested in Ray Kurzweil’s concept of singularity—that superior man/machine merger (see The Man-Machine Boundary Continues To Fade and We’ll Accept Robots As Human – And Become Immortal As Human-Machines). In a recent presentation, he predicted the date for this convergence as 2045 (see Kurzweil Claims That The Singularity Will Happen By 2045).
2045 may seem too far in the future for consideration in your next strategic plan, but there are projections that in the next 12 years (by 2030), 38% of job holders in the United States will be replaced by robots and artificial intelligence (see U.S. Workers Face Higher Risk Of Being Replaced By Robots. Here’s Why). There are also analysts who think that in seven years (by 2025) we will see the end of the occupation of “driver,” a profession occupied by a third of American men (see Will Technology Make Truck Drivers Obsolete In 10 Years?).
But I would argue that we don’t need to wait for 2025, or 2030, or 2045, to see the impact of augmented intelligence (AI) on the health and human service field. We’ve written extensively about eCBT and other automated digital therapies (see eCBT More Effective For Treating Depression & Anxiety Than Usual Care and The Incidence Of Dementia On The Rise – Will The Preferred Treatment Be ‘Brain Training’?); about care coordination robots (see The Virtual Assistants & Avatars Among Us and The Future Of Care Coordination? It’s Elementary, Watson); and about AI-informed diagnostics and decision support (see Facebook Uses AI Tools For Suicide Prevention and Ready Or Not, Cognitive Computing Will Change Your Organization). These changes signal a fundamental shift in the delivery of professional services and a soon-to-be-upon-us environment where professionals need to explicitly demonstrate the value they deliver (see Technology Will Replace Many Doctors, Lawyers, and Other Professionals).
The strategy question at hand is how to prepare for this “fundamental shift.” How do executives lead their team and re-conceptualize the value they deliver and how they deliver it. I think the framework proposed in 10 Principles For Winning The Game Of Digital Disruption in strategy+business is a great place to start. I think these principles for changing an executive team’s attitude toward the technologies that will remake their relationship with customers are essential to find a tech-enabled path for the future.
Embrace the new logic—If you are convinced that new technology won’t work, then it won’t… for you. Your competition on the other hand, with the proper mentality, will find a way to make the new tech work.
Start now, move deliberately—The biggest successes and gains to be had may not be until years after you have made a tech adoption. This means you need to succeed in “business as usual” while taking the intentional steps needed to succeed in the future. Don’t wait to get started.
Focus on your right to win—”Success” isn’t about a one-time investment. That can be successful, but the market moves too fast for that success to last long. Build on you existing brand and organizational strengths, to adapt to the challenges of disruptive competitive services.
Create your customers’ future—Many organizations focus on their own future when writing a strategic plan. But it is important to consider what your customers’ future options will be… both payers and consumers. Digital technologies are creating new options for both, options that need to be considered as the “new competition.”
Price to drive demand—The ability to lower costs is an integral part of digital disruption. Part of preparing your organization for digital disruption is to embrace the concept of lowering costs by using technology “creatively.”
Profit from overlooked assets—Leveraging digital technology can also involve getting new value from old assets. Many organizations have intellectual property (in service models and expertise) and non-core service capabilities (knowledge of local resources or “free” consumer services) that can be monetized with new technology.
Control your part of the platform—Taking best advantage of new technologies doesn’t have to mean owning the platform or becoming a one-stop shop (though it could). More likely, it involves understanding the emerging tech-enabled services, and where your organization can become an integral part of the platform service offering.
Integrate, don’t isolate—To navigate the disruption of new competitors with new digitally-infused service offerings, organizations need to innovate. But, innovation can’t happen in silos disconnected from the organization. Organizations need adaptive leadership, and the ability to marry entrepreneurship with their existing operations (for more, see The Leadership Success Checklist For Uncertain Times).
Challenge the rules—This is a tough one in health and human services, a highly-regulated market space. But, what the new competition has is the managerial mindset that thinks more about the spirit of the “law,” rather than the letter of the “law.” Successful digital disruptions may demand interpreting your compliance requirements in a new way, and getting regulators to buy into that view.
Define a new way of working—Digital technology can, and needs, to improve the way that organizations operate by rethinking how individuals, teams, and departments work… and work together. Remember the Peter Drucker advice: strategy drives structure, structure drives process.
My big takeaway? Technology is a tool. The competency in using the tool will distinguish the winners from the losers. For more on what those innovation could look like, join us at The 2018 Strategy and Innovation Institute in New Orleans on June 5 for the session, Innovation In Addiction Treatment: The New Community-Based, Tech-Enabled Models, led by Steve Ramsland, Ed.D., Senior Associate, OPEN MINDS.