Anthony Stevens

@antpstevens

New Years’ Resolution: Embrace the Chase

‘Economic progress, in capitalist society, means turmoil.’ — Joseph Schumpeter.

I’m an inherent optimist, risk taker and opportunity hunter. As we kick-off 2018, here is what I think is going on, where things are heading, and what we need to do.

Unless you’ve been under a rock, it’s obvious that big-tech is getting stronger by the day summing an increasing pile of cash to further dominate and enter new markets.

If you are running a startup, it’s easier to get going nowadays but, with lower barriers to entry, harder to stay relevant and compete. More than ever, a niche is critical. That said, there’s an abundance of opportunity. Accordingly to Crunchbase, in Q3 2017 deal volumes and venture capital investment surpassed all-time highs with a whopping 6,146 rounds projected and $60.17 billion invested.

As a leader of a pre-digital incumbent, there’s lots of tech you can now buy — there’s an app for just about everything. But how’s this going to help you innovate, make money and compete? It’s often a struggle just to get a project up and running, or understand what all this technology means, let alone how to transform your business or conquer a new market.

I understand this continuous grapple with technology is the stark reality for most of you.

We need to push through and create something big, really big. Something exciting and full of opportunity. There is no need for despair. Like I said, there are plenty of opportunities. What is important to recognise is that it is time to act; the forces of change won’t wait.

“The Only Thing That Is Constant Is Change -” — Heraclitus

The next wave of technology: blockchain and artificial intelligence, will soon be mainstream. The fact is; there’s a small cohort that understand how these technologies work and can be applied, but most of us are on the wrong side of the curve. These technologies are promised to not only make things better, but fundamentally change the way we work and live. What’s not so fun though is watching this take off without being part of the action or, worse, feeling the need to slink away in the shadows.

If you feel this way and are on the wrong side of the curve, keep reading. This is for you, and will help us all.

Most of you work across different ranks in an average business. You are most at risk given the distribution of knowledge and capital is not in your favour. So, what’s the plan?

There’s expectations everywhere that we need to learn more but the problem is that the noise, technology babble and marketing machines of big-tech have made this hard, increasing the gap either side of the curve. At the top of the tree, this gap creates paralysis for leaders and growing disconnects at the board table.

I get it. It’s natural to fall back into our comfort zone and focus on what you know. It’s human nature to stay close to your core but growth occurs on the thin outer branches, not safely in the centre of the tree. So, regardless of your role, where can you start and what can we do together?

Our mission needs to be to quickly bridge the gap and start to execute. In order for both sides of the curve to come together there’s five focus areas to help us move faster:

  1. Don’t accept ‘tech babble’. Work on the basis that unless the explanation is clear, compelling and understood by all it is not worthy of your investment — time or money. While this may lead to some setbacks; take the opportunity to find trusted experts to guide you.
  2. Challenge the status quo. Assess the culture of your organization — the way things are done. As Einstein once said, the definition of madness is to do the same thing twice and expect a different result. With opportunity comes risk, so take risk and do things differently.
  3. Expect more strategically. Expect things to continue ‘as-is’ but at the same time put greater pressure on leaders in relation to their plan — not a set of future objectives or goals but how they are going to get there.
  4. Rethink investment principles. In the past, technology was a cost, a shared service, an enabler. Instead, consider it an asset and driver of growth.

Put simply, those that ‘get it’ need to work much harder to simplify and explain where and how technology ‘fits in’. Simultaneously pre-digital incumbent leaders need to focus on their strategy — communicating and steering a clear course.

The opportunity is, and should be, available for all not just some. No-one needs to be left behind. This is the point — what good is all of this unless it acts as new instrument to accelerate the whole of humanity? Anything less will be another market failure.

Embrace the chase.

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