As we rapidly approach the end of another year, it is salutary to look both backwards on the year just passing and on the year fast coming into view.
As far as 2017 is concerned, I can look back on one where I travelled to more parts of the world than ever, where work took me to new destinations and where lectures gave me the opportunity to talk to young people in my natural and adopted countries. In other words, this was a year that was one of my busiest.
This was also a year when technology seemed to deliver faster than ever. Suddenly we were talking driverless cars, doctors controlling multiple robots, the speedy development of ‘chatbots’, the use of artificial intelligence, controlling homes from a smartphone and many other advances.
If we look forward to 2018, we have already seen Audi announce their first driverless car for delivery in autumn next year and we can expect to see the relentless march towards removing unreliable humans from the customer experience in favour of chatbots and robots.
Of course, this relentless move forward inevitably brings out the human resistance to change. There are those that say some of these things will never come to pass, a bit like not being able to put a man on the moon!
The main concern of those resisting change is the loss of jobs from the use of technology. However, as we embrace the fourth industrial revolution it is worth remembering that the same resistance to change accompanied each of the three previous revolutions.
Indeed, it was the first industrial revolution that created the term Luddite. Although this was a term given to people who wrecked knitting machines for fear of losing jobs in 1811, the fear from the machines had been there 200 years previously when Elizabeth I refused a patent for the machine for the very same reason.
Interestingly, Ned Ludd was never involved with the wrecking campaigns, but was taken up as a symbol because he smashed up a machine twenty years previously because he was told off. Perhaps that is why the authorities never found and captured him!
But despite all of the concerns at each of the three previous revolutions, where old jobs were lost then new jobs were created. Because of this, I think there are a few pointers for the coming year.
· Those most prepared to change will be those that benefit most from progress
· Companies that recognise the value of their recruited workforce and who invest in retraining into the new jobs in order to keep them will benefit most
· Those that try to oppose change and attempt to maintain the status quo would do better to go to the seaside and get a job as the local King Canute!
What will the world look like in 12 months time? I have absolutely no idea, but I know that 2018 will be as exciting and fast moving as any year before it.
May I wish all of those that have followed me this year, Seasons Greetings and a prosperous New Year.