What does it mean to be living in beta?

Living in Beta - Capita's presentation at the TED event
Date Published


Reading time

3 mins read


Ismail Amla

We’re living in a world of disruption – and, to deal with a world of disruption, we need to disrupt ourselves and the way we think.

Our people solutions division recently undertook a huge piece of research – ‘Human to Hybrid’ – talking to more than 2,500 employees and business leaders about the rise of technology and, specifically, the concept of a shift to a hybrid human-AI workforce. Unlike many other deep dives into this area, it’s not future-gazing and it’s not focusing on newly emerging technologies. I think it’s more useful than that.

It’s about the real-life impact that new tech is already having on the world of work. Massive changes are happening right now within the UK workforce – AI and robots are not futuristic anymore. The research showed that 72% of business leaders in the UK believe that the transition to a hybrid workforce will be their biggest challenge over the next five years. While 93% believe they’ll need to start actually managing that shift in the next 12 months.

We all need to start thinking about how we can adapt to that.

The new illiterate will not be those who can’t read or write, but those who can’t learn, unlearn or relearn.

With tech innovation moving at such lightning speed, no one can predict what skills we’ll need in the future world and which will be obsolete or irrelevant.

Settling for what you’ve learnt at school, in further education, or even in your current role, is not going to cut it anymore. Kids are still being taught the same things they were taught over 100 years ago – and it’s unlikely that those things are going to equip you for the future.

Will the most essential skill be the ability to re-skill? The idea of an ‘always learning’ mindset, always curious, always in ‘beta’ – ready to change in order to deal with what’s over the horizon. It’s something we’ve been thinking about a lot at Capita, as we ourselves go through a period of transformation, and support our clients through theirs.

Living in beta: sparking curiosity

It’s something I’ve been thinking about personally too. On Tuesday, I’ll be introducing a Capita workshop at the TEDSummit in Edinburgh, based on this idea that to thrive in today’s world you need a whole different approach to learning.

Our partnership with TED

In 2019 Capita is partnering with TED, a non-profit organisation devoted to the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and, ultimately, the world. TEDSummit gathers the most engaged members of the global TED community for brainstorms, discussions, performances, workshops, outdoor activities and an eclectic programme of mainstage talks.

In the workshop, we’ll be running a live experiment with Andy Hagerman, CEO of creativity and change experts The Design Gym. Everyone in the room will be asked to identify personal, critical moments of learning, unlearning and relearning that influenced their careers and lives. In that room we will have some pretty ‘extreme thinkers’ – including people from the TED community – and we‘ll need to prepare for some inspirational and emotional stories. Passion and emotion are a huge part of a curious mindset, after all. From these learning stories, we can spot the patterns, and begin to see what the key principles of a journey of learning could look like. We don’t know exactly what will happen on the day – but that’s what living in beta is all about.

What comes next?

This workshop marks the start of our longer-term study into the future of learning and preparing ourselves – and the next generations – for a new approach and mindset. Over the next few months we’ll be publishing the results of this learning, as well as further research and thinking.

It promises to be the start of an incredible project that will really explore what the future of learning may hold.

Written by


Ismail Amla

Chief Growth Officer, Capita

Ismail is leading business development, sales and marketing to support our transformation and organic growth plans. 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 previously led IBM's Global Business Services division in North America.


Thinking about your organisation?

Get in touch