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Robots vs people, AI vs data, and a big year for Virtual Reality

Ismail Amla, chief growth officer, shares his top 4 predictions for 2019.

1) The advance of automation technology will transform the nature of work.

Some of the jobs people do today will instead be done by technology and robots, but there will also be a need for a whole new set of skills that currently don‘t exist. Couple that with an increase in the gig economy – where people want work rather than a ‘career’ – and you end up with a total redesign of how you manage a workforce.

In 2019 we’ll see a realisation by organisations that re-educating their workforce to master these new skills will become their biggest critical competitive advantage in the future. The way you will judge a good workforce is not by what they know, but by what they can unlearn and relearn, and how quickly they can do it. How well you can teach them will determine how successful your business will become.

2) Virtual Reality will finally make the big time.

I suppose my contentious point of view for 2019 is that despite a slow uptake of Virtual Reality in the past, I think this will be its tipping point year.

Recently the US Government signed a half a billion dollar deal for Microsoft’s HoloLens for the US army. Half a billion dollars. That’s mainstream.

I think it’s a certainty that Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality are going to become part of the customer experience. If you’re creating acustomer-facing website next year and you’re not designing Virtual Reality into that experience, then you’re really not prepared for what’s coming.

But what will also drive adoption are new use cases where you see amazing productivity coming out of it; five people in five countries, all designing a product together on a virtual table, with everyone contributing and improving it at the same time. It’s in that design and collaboration activity where VR and AR will really come into their own.

3) The kings of AI and data will team up.

2019 will be the year that organisations realise just how much competitive advantage Artificial Intelligence can bring. But what you can do with AI is going to be totally dependent on how much data you have and whether you can make use of it.

There’s been a lot of talk around startup technology companies taking over the world and using AI to help them. But to be successful, AI needs good data, and that data sits in the old organisations - the incumbents, not the startups.

So I think 2019 will see the ‘Revenge of the Incumbents!’… The big guys will start flexing their muscles when they realise what they’ve got and the competitive advantage it gives them. I think it’s likely that next year will see more of those older organisations partnering with the start-ups so they can team their data with the latest technology.

4) People will still be handing over their personal information.

This year we saw the introduction of GDPR, but I wonder how much it has truly affected attitudes towards personal data. It’s good to have control, and people and organisations do need to be more careful about how they handle data. However, all that’s really changed is that now when organisations want to use your data they say ‘click this button’. And what happens? Everybody clicks the button! With the increase of interest in personal data, there is an opportunity for a business, such as Capita, to create a platform which is owned by the individual and holds personal data. The individual can then permit data to be shared to organisations, thereby keeping control of who sees what.

So while I think there might be changes on the periphery, and regulation is a good thing, as long at the technology is good and it adds value, it usually wins. And that will be the same in 2019. 

Photo of Ismail Amla

Ismail Amla

Chief Growth Officer, Capita

Ismail is accountable for business development, sales and marketing company-wide. Working to support our transformation and organic growth plans, he’s responsible for the ongoing delivery of tech-enabled solutions to clients and driving change. In 2018 he was named as one of the top 100 most influential black, Asian minority ethnic (BAME) leaders in the UK tech sector by Inclusive Boards. He joined Capita in December 2018 from IBM where he led the Global Business Services division in North America. Prior to that he served as CEO for Capco in North America. Before moving to the United States he operated in various leadership roles including Partner for Accenture and Vice President for CSC Computer Sciences.

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