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The Future of Almost Everything

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“Every risk poses an opportunity,” stated Patrick Dixon, one of Europe’s leading futurists, in his session “The Future of Almost Everything” at the WeDo Technologies’ 11th annual User Group.  

As Dixon explained, some people may see risk as a negative, but if the risk can be managed better than the competitor, and can be turned around to discover a business opportunity, we can realise the future. Dixon noted how it’s these broad kinds of conversations that allow the opportunity to share experiences that go way beyond the individual day that we’re in.

Dixon divides the FUTURE into the following acronym:

Fast – Complexity and scale are creating unimaginable risks, and to deal with the speed of change today we need to act fast. Tiny events can change huge industries rapidly, in ways that are particularly complicated, as they don’t always affect the same countries in each sector.

One of the greatest risks is only having one plan, because the world can change faster than you can hold a board meeting. We therefore need to have contingency plans in place to make sure we’re one step ahead. One of the fastest ways of doing this is by building agility inside risk teams. It’s not just individual risk – we’re also now seeing the emergence of co-incidental risk, where every risk in the world is connected. For example, an earthquake in Japan taking place on the same day that Russia enters Crimea. What would be the chance of two political events taking place in the same moment? They have a multiplying impact and this is where the future of management is going.

Reputation risk is the number one thing that most companies will be thinking about over the next decade. Why? Because it’s lost so quickly, it’s so hard to win back and it really matters. A cyber security risk, for example, is also a reputation risk.

When looking to address risks, speed is critical. For example, a website that takes fifteen seconds to load instead of three can be a major operational risk. You could lose eighty-five to ninety-five percent of your customers before you even begin. It’s about being compliant, regulatory approved and making sure that your fraud detection systems are correct.

Urban – Risk management is also about the demographics of your country. Eighty-five percent of humanity on this earth in ten years’ time will be in emerging markets. We are witnessing establishing growth of the middle class, and this will be the driver of economic growth across Europe and North America. We’re saturated markets, but one billion people will migrate in the next thirty years looking for wealth, prosperity and education, and most of them will migrate from remote, rural areas into towns and cities. This creates all kinds of consequences. Many university graduates across the world are also now coming out of universities from emerging markets, including China and India.

With life expectancy growing much faster than previously forecast, another big risk within many populations is the solvency of your pension fund. Every year added to your life expectancy will add a five percent deficit on your pension, which has could have severe ramifications for the future. Tribalism – Society is about teams, belonging, groups and friends. Whether that’s being part of the WeDo tribe, or another brand or customer’s tribe, every social group is a tribe. That’s why people love cities like Lisbon, where we come to visit people in their own tribe. At the WeDo User Group for example, we celebrated Portuguese culture, language and music.

Tribalism – Society is about teams, belonging, groups and friends. Whether that’s being part of the WeDo tribe, or another brand or customer’s tribe, every social group is a tribe. That’s why people love cities like Lisbon, where we come to visit people in their own tribe. At the WeDo User Group for example, we celebrated Portuguese culture, language and music.

Like big data, we’re also fascinated about tiny data and how it relates to tribal culture. Tiny data will identify the fraud back to the individual person and make the arrest. With tiny data, 85 percent of all fraud happening inside the organisation is 0.01 per cent of the data set. The genius is in finding it and knowing where to start looking. Little data really matters and it’s the key to customer experience that will give you these numbers.

When going to a supermarket, for example, we give them a tiny bit of our data. It’s just cash, but they print the receipt and compare the bill to three competitors and if they haven’t won on price, they often immediately offer a refund. As you can see, it costs nothing for a company to build a relationship with the customer. However, with the growth of digital and move to shopping online, it means retailers will have to shake things up in order to retain and attract customers.

Take mobile payments for example, which are changing and adapting to meet consumer demand. In Africa, M-PESA is now handling thirty percent of the entire country’s turnover, just using one mobile payment platform. 1.7 billion people in the world have no bank account, yet they have a mobile. With the increasing emergence of mobile, 8 billion people will have access to banking and insurance, which is the biggest change in financial services in human history.

Universalism – Globalisation means that sometimes we lose our own national and cultural identities.

Radicalism – The death of traditional politics. Today we are seeing political lines being redrawn, on all kinds of issues, including sustainability, retail technology, explosions in innovation, alongside big booms and busts and huge investment. Solar energy, for example, is falling in price and has become free in certain parts of the world. This can however also be negative in effect, with Germany once paying people three times as much to use electricity than solar power. Power is failing to keep up with risk and complexity in the same way that technology is, and alongside this issue, radicalism is needed to address urban, demographical and health challenges, together with social consequences.

Ethical – Ethics comprise the things we like and enjoy, and are a part of our destiny. It’s about going beyond regulation to do what we want and think is right, and going far beyond what the law requires, in order to do something we’re proud of and believe in. This includes developing products that we’re passionate about and make sense for our customers. All leadership over the next one thousand years across all industries will be developed using the same values – the vision of a better future – one of lower risk, business continuity and being able to satisfy customers. By collaborating and working together, we can build that better world.

While the world can change very quickly, Dixon stated that by carefully considering each of these individual factors and sharing experience, businesses can examine the future risks facing them, and create an agile contingency plan. Together with having the correct revenue assurance and fraud management controls in place, organisations will be able to not only combat the risk, but will be able to ensure they stay one step ahead of their competitors.


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Rui Paiva

Chief Executive Officer at WeDo Technologies