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Barcelona, such a beautiful horizon…for AI

6 November 2018

Group Managing Director Levon Antonian was recently invited to attend Gartner’s ITXPO in Barcelona. Levon is on the ground at the symposium this week – and reports back from the flagship event, talking future of work, AI and hordes of CIOs.

What’s the collective noun for a group of 6000 migratory CIOs? A gaggle (or google)? Perhaps a herd or a Cloud? Whatever the nomenclature, there’s a mass migration this week to Barcelona for 2018’s Gartner ITXPO. A richer environment for the latest thinking, innovation and knowledge-sharing in IT products and services would be hard to find, and even if that’s not enough, having a beautiful and vibrant city on the doorstep doesn’t hurt!

It’s already abundantly clear that the level of discourse at the ITXPO is top quality. I’ve heard a few excellent talks on my first day here, but one stuck with me in particular. Helen Poitevin, a senior director analyst with Gartner, delivered a presentation entitled ‘Talent Futures: How AI will impact jobs and your workforce.’ Placing and managing talent being a pillar of our business, I was all ears for Helen, and wasn’t disappointed. Here are a few of the key takeaways:

  • Technology has always shaped us. From sailors to software developers, miners to machine learning experts, the available roster of technology affects everything from sleep and work schedules to the production and worker environment. AI is just the latest iteration of a well-worn story. Today though, these new and amazingly capable applications of tech are enabling a wider range of working possibilities than ever before. In this world of ever-increasing opportunity, managing talent is tougher than ever simply because we can all expect a lot more from our workplace.
  • The future of AI isn’t written in stone. Business leaders may well be preparing for a future where the majority of their workforce consists of machines. But just how the bots (physical and software) integrate into our working environments is still dependent on a range of factors. Different futures exist where bots might have a limited range of capabilities or are rejected from certain industries altogether, as compared to public perception of AI, where for better or worse, it runs the show.
  • Digital dexterity is key. This is the most important point of all. Decision makers need to be using AI to recognise worker capability and potential. We need to be having proper conversations around digital ethics, and actively participating in the public debate. Only the right combination of attitude and aptitude will ensure organisations stay with the pack.

Thanks to Helen for a fantastic talk, and to everyone else I’ve met and spoken to so far. It might seem obvious, but organisations of all shapes and sizes need to realise that they should shape the future of work carefully. Because after all, it will shape us just as much.

I’m looking forward to the rest of the week. Vamos!