Blog

Educating Your Future Self (Part 1)

May 2, 2017

Vinod Kumar   

Managing Director and Group CEO Tata Communications

I was recently honoured to give a commencement speech to management graduates. It was a fantastic opportunity to crystallise some of my thoughts about the changing world of work, and what we all need to do to prepare.

In today’s world the words ‘disruption’, ‘innovation’ and ‘pivot’ are very real.

They impact business, societies, governments and – most importantly – individuals. And in a world that’s constantly in flux, it is critical that you keep yourself relevant and ready, by continuously acquiring new skills and capabilities, both through structured and unstructured learning.

Moving on from university or school is no excuse to stop learning. In fact, the world outside education is perhaps the best environment to learn what matters most, in a way that suits you. Beyond the walls of an institution, you can choose to pursue what interests you, and do it at your own pace, using the various platforms and technologies available to us these days.

However, it is critical that you weave together what you learn – be that in the work place or elsewhere – into a unique fabric that is distinctly yours. It is this ability to synthesise thoughts that leads to differentiation, innovation and constructive disruption.

As we are already experiencing, ubiquitous connectivity and powerful mobile computing have empowered and impacted each of our lives as individual consumers. The way we communicate, the way we shop, the way we entertain ourselves, the way we teach ourselves, the way we meet our friends and even life partners; all this has been changed by the confluence of connectivity, powerful computing and mobility.

Whether you’re entering the workforce for the first time, or coming to the end of a long career, I can assure you that we are all about to witness a revolution.

The mainstream availability of artificial intelligence, cloud computing, internet of things and advanced robotics are turning the tables on every industry from banking to retail, and from manufacturing to logistics. Rest assured that the formula to make profit or create value in nearly every industry will undergo radical change within the next decade.

This applies to the non-profit sector too. The open source movement and platform thinking is now making advanced technologies available to both big firms and start-ups at the same time. The technology is now available in modular form and can be applied in a small scale before making any large financial outlays. You can see this in how IBM makes Watson available to start-ups and giant MNCs, and in how Google openly shares it AI capability for free.

There is not a day that passes when I don’t personally witness the steady march that AI is making into various operational activities across industries. Recently, I had a conversation with a US start-up that is using AI to eliminate a lot of the work done by private wealth management experts, a trend towards ‘robo-advisors’ and bot investors that is rapidly changing the industry.

But what matters more than the technology itself are the new business models and the revamped value creation formulae that the technology enables. These are an order of magnitude more complicated, connecting dots across industries and platforms to reshape how the world makes money and shares ideas.

This is why it is so essential to build as broad a knowledge base as possible.  Never stop learning, never stop exploring, never stop asking yourself ‘what’s next’; because the world is speeding up, and it certainly won’t stop for you.

To learn more about Vinod’s thoughts on the changing world of work, read his previous blogs here.