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What to do when Machines can do everything?

Kaustubh Patwardhan I Director – Southeast Asia and Hong Kong, Ashnik
Singapore, 17 Aug 2017

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Stories from South East Asia

Singapore’s Changi Airport T4 will be opening later this year. It is supposed to be less than half the size of Terminal 3, but expected to handle almost equivalent amount of traffic. It is designed to offer all travelers with state-of-the-art automated processes. And all this with 20% less workforce! In another instance, on July 28th 2017, Cheers launched its 1stunmanned, cashless store in Singapore. The store will also utilize data and video analytics to analyse purchasing behavior and customize its inventories. An auto-ordering system eliminates the need to manually track and order stocks. With no cashiers to process the payments and bag purchases, an unmanned store saves up to 180 man-hours a week for Cheers.
Yes, welcome to the Digital and AI Age!

Our world has experienced many such disruptions earlier, so it’s not alien to us. There was an Industrial Age, followed by an Information or Knowledge Age disruption, and now we are experiencing a Digital and AI Age. However, there are significant differences between the earlier versions of disruptions and today’s Digital disruption, as well pointed out by Devadas Krishnadas article in TODAY.

First and foremost is the speed of disruption. While the Industrial age spanned for more than two centuries, Information Age also ended up covering almost a century – and since the birth of computers and now the growth of internet, the Digital Age is just breaking upon us at breakneck speed. The effects of disruption and displacement are both rapid and radical.

Secondly, the earlier waves of disruptions ran in parallel helping to accommodate both those working with traditional, prevailing skills and those who upgraded their skills. However, the Digital Age disruptions are less accommodating. As a result of the intelligent automation, it would become increasingly difficult for those displaced to find a suitable, alternative job.

Third and the most important point would be the eroding value of experience. Historically, work experience, judgement, networks, tacit knowledge has always had a premium economic value. Companies used to give compensations based on increasing years of service and long experience. However, Digitization and machine learning are rapidly eroding the value of experience. Machines can make sense of historical information far more, better and faster than human beings. They can continue to absorb new data, make sense of it and make decisions rapidly on a continuous basis without getting tired. Experience in the digital age is now merely a function of the size of computer memory, computing power and complexity of programming.

So how should one survive in this Digital Age?

Predominantly, there is a need to change the mindset. Nobody should take their job for granted, be it in technology, knowledge industry, sales, marketing, manufacturing, healthcare etc. One should be ready for iterative investments into re-skilling and acquiring new knowledge levels to ensure continued economic relevance.

Subsequently, creativity and diversity would be the most important aspects to differentiate ourselves with Machines, which can replicate and substitute both manual and cognitive labor effectively and efficiently. Those who can think differently and create new products or new ways of doing business will have an advantage.

So the secret recipe to survive in this digital age would be to learn continually and autonomously and applying the knowledge creatively and differently. As the changes are and will keep happening swiftly, we need to be receptive and have synchronized actions with the change in order to survive in this Digital Age.

There are so many digital disruptions happening around us constantly, it’s imperative for us to keep track and keep up!

Kaustubh Patwardhan, Head of  Business Development and Strategy at Ashnik

Kaustubh (KP) is the Head of Business Development and Strategy at Ashnik. His role comprises of heading Strategic Partnerships, Channels Management and Business Development for ASEAN. With his expansive experience in IT, he plays a pivotal role in strategic initiatives undertaken by Ashnik. Apart from his usual responsibilities at Ashnik, he is passionate about photography, cricket and other sports. He is also an enthusiastic participant in poetic circles and plays.


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