Just as Barack Obama said in Greece, the inequality created by globalization is the greatest challenge for democracy, I agree and argue that the main challenges our society faces are ethical and educational in nature. Our ethical challenge consists of changing the model that educated us, representative ethic, according to which we victimize ourselves in relation to those who represent us, e.g. blaming the mayor for the city’s traffic problem, and adopt a model of participatory ethics that leads us to assume responsibility in an unconditional manner and to understand that the only one who can transform the way I see myself in life is myself.
From the educational perspective, the challenge is to recognize that those who were born between 1960 and 2000 did not contribute as a society to the third industrial revolution, and we saw countries such as Singapore, Malaysia and Taiwan exceed all economic development indicators. Thus, the new generations need to be educated so they understand that the fourth industrial revolution, the 4IR, is the last chance society has, if we take advantage of it properly, to close the inequality gap which ranks us at the bottom of any given statistical classification.
To understand the 4IR, we need to acknowledge the fact that we are actually living in a changing era. We are moving from an economy of scarcity, a mentality that guided our education, to an economy of abundance, where owning goods is no longer the most relevant factor. Today, the key is to gain access to resources we do not own. The secret is to share and leverage assets that belong to others, Airbnb and Uber are likely the best examples of that new mindset.
In the context of this new economy, information is obviously the most valuable resource. The third key is to think big. A large-scale transformation purpose is needed, which in my case is contributing to reducing social inequality in Colombia, and that inspires my fellow travelers at everis, the company of which I am a Partner, as this type of transcendent purpose attracts people, who now act as a community, tribe or cultural movement.
Digital transformation is the answer to this new economic reality. This transformation has been adopted at such a large scale that Brian Solis coined the term Digital Darwinism, which needs no further explanation. However, most transformational efforts have failed. Companies confuse digital optimization with digital transformation. The latter challenges our business model as digital accelerators search for entirely new sources of product revenues and digital services.
Initial efforts prioritized and focused on “what” rather than “how” indeveloping digital skills or developing digital leadership skills. Thus, this is not just about using digital technologies to transform customer experience and business processes, but also about applying them to management models, corporate models and internal relationships to maximize the benefits of digital transformation.
In this sense, it seems that we need to approach external transformation by understanding customer behavior that challenges the current business model and creates new products and services that result in a new digital customer experience model and last, but not least, in inner transformation. In addition to simplifying processes, we need to make the corporate model more liquid and open, transform culture and talents, as well as implement advanced platforms to build a company guided by data and information.
Therefore, the above-mentioned “how” is just as important as the “what”, which is a methodological issue companies could solve by devising new purposes, by developing new strategies in digital labs and, if these work, companies need to learn to scale up those initiatives. To date, we have found that only agile methods can effectively be scaled up.
Therefore, we need to move on and create a digital culture that becomes a true influencer, preparing the best talents for the 4IR. We have to create a talent strategy, organize the digital culture, build leadership and develop sustainable skills and talents to thrive in this new economy.
At this stage, the Japanese concept of Society 5.0 by Keidanren comes up, which is described as a super intelligent society that humanizes digital transformation and the 4IR. This society creates new values by integrating physical and digital spaces into what is now called Phygital. Its physical space is monitored by sensors and devices that collect data (also known as the Internet of Things) that are analyzed by Big Data and Artificial Intelligence and improvements for humanity are implemented by machines and robots.
However, going back to basics, education is the key to Society 5.0. everis has started a pilot project in partnership with SENA, to reduce the equity gap. Cauca was chosen to launch an inclusive development model that increases the number of opportunities by investing and focusing on human resources and talents in that region. Decentralization is key for Cauca’s pilot project, but also internationalization, educating people and creating jobs. We are firmly committed to a social innovation plan and support the efforts of the State by acting as a driver of innovation and by a public-private partnership to tackle social issues. We are transferring technology and knowledge to the regional fabric, promoting scientific and technological talents and building a model that supersedes an economy based on raw material exports and that promotes actual social development.
The next step involves scaling up the pilot project and we have suggested a Digital Hub model, an open innovation model that develops technological solutions to meet our country’s challenges. This model should train approximately 70,000 young people per year in the technological accelerators of the 4IR, support the management of public policies and together with Medellín’s 4IR Center, create qualified jobs as demonstrated by the pilot project, whose rates should be above 70% in the first year. It aims to socially impact the less favored regions of Colombia and to produce technological innovation that should make the dream come true of becoming internationally relevant within the Orange Economy, or Creative Economy. The model proposes to create regional hubs that offer specialization courses in partnership with universities. This initiative is based on the concept of dual education, where companies and training entities join forces to improve the relevance of what is taught, where we all fit in, the state, private initiatives, universities, and entrepreneurs. We are going to donate a work observatory that uses artificial intelligence and advanced analytics to manage the perfect match between education and employment and creates a talent cloud to export Colombian STEM talents (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), similar to the Indian offshoring service model, but aimed at the 4IR. We are going to achieve the “uberization” of education technology. I invite you to join this transformation.