Gary Fowler is a serial AI entrepreneur with 15 startups and an IPO. He is CEO and Co-Founder of GSD Venture Studios and Yva.ai.
Mad scientist. Genius. Visionary. Delusional. Nikola Tesla’s name evoked a wide variety of opinions 150 years ago. But today, many regard him as one of the most influential scientists who, in many ways, foresaw the development of the world we live in now.
The Serbian-American scientist’s genius inspired such inventions as the radio, power grids and even Elon Musk’s electric car. These are things we so seamlessly use today — and even take for granted. Tesla registered around 300 patents, and he developed a few progressive and unusual ideas that, although they didn’t pass as realistic at the time, are possible today.
For example, the “thought camera” he believed could “read” the image in a person’s mind is the precedent for the mind-reading algorithms today that can analyze the electrical impulses in the human brain and reproduce approximate “images” from the mind based on the brain’s signals. Tesla also predicted the rise of video livestream, believing we would be able to witness major events as if we were present at the exact moment they happened. He also foresaw the widespread use of cellphones — or what he called a “world telegraphy system” — that would allow for instant communication at a distance through portable handheld devices.
Tesla’s biggest dream for the world was to electrify it. More specifically, he dreamed about wireless electricity transmission across long distances — a step further from his innovations in electrifying the world and perhaps a step toward the future we will come to witness. Indeed, there are a few examples of wireless energy transmission that we can already see: Think of your iPhone or AirPods wirelessly charging in a matter of minutes. While long-distance energy transmission is still out of range currently, one aspect of his dream has come true through digital transformation, accelerated technological advancements and the subsequent leveling of the playing field in terms of the opportunities available today.
With the pandemic afflicting the world for months now, the global digital transformation accelerated its pace and set a new standard for how people, industries and companies operate. And with a majority of daily activities shifting to the digital realm due to social distancing and safety practices around the world, a need for better connectivity came to the forefront, bringing us a step closer to Tesla’s electrified, connected dreamworld.
As people turned to remote work, the need for high-quality, real-time connection from their homes — be it in rural, suburban areas or cities — increased dramatically. The result? There has been a strong push toward developing next-generation 5G coverage. In May, Verizon jump-started a virtual lab to experiment with 5G applications and deployed 5G coverage across San Diego. Ericsson followed suit and increased its 5G enrollment goal in China. According to Forbes, 60% of Qualcomm’s most recent devices shipped in the quarter were 5G. This new coverage, in addition to other innovations that spearhead global transformation and push advancement forward, hasn’t simply established a new standard for global connectivity. In many ways, these innovations have brought on widespread democratization of opportunity as well, be it on an individual or corporate level.
With remote work now proving to be doable and, moreover, efficient, companies understand there is a unique opportunity in expanding the scope of their search for professional, expert employees and tapping into the global skill and knowledge resources — something largely considered to be impossible before the pandemic due to physical distances and time differences. With physical boundaries blurred and a digital world the new norm, this also opens a window for candidates to seek opportunities they would normally discount due to the same barriers of distance and time. This leveling of the playing field is equally true for companies fully embracing the digital transformation and undergoing the necessary adaptations to keep up with the constantly shifting business landscape. With many behemoths such as Apple, Amazon, Microsoft and others leading and gaining a competitive advantage through technology and innovation, the pandemic forced many companies to turn to digital transformation in order to stay afloat and, eventually, catch up with the companies that have been dominating the field for a long time. If your company falls into the latter category, here are some things to keep in mind as you innovate:
1. Identify the objectives for your business transformation. The goals in this case will be unique to each business and can include anything from gaining a competitive advantage in the market to improving internal efficiency and productivity levels in order to increase revenue.
2. Explore technological advancements that will be the best fit for your organization. The solutions that are the most “cutting-edge” or “progressive” aren’t always (or automatically) the best — after all, these innovations are not one-size-fits-all. Instead, take the time to deep-dive into the current state of the company. Ask yourself: How far is the company in the digitization process? What data can the company rely on? How ready is our infrastructure for the latest technology?
3. Get your employees onboard. No digital transformation goes smoothly without the team — the core of any company — accepting and embracing it. The goal here is to exemplify the opportunities the digital transformation will create for each employee, instead of leaving them uninformed and scared the transformation will come to replace them. Make employees feel heard and valued and focus on how the transformation can take their career aspirations and positions within the company a step further.
Today, undergoing digital transformation is almost a prerequisite for a company’s ability to thrive in times of uncertainty and amid a global health crisis, but beyond just being a requirement, it’s a door to success.
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