Companies need to be curious about emerging technology, prepare for future of work

Takeaways from Iowa Technology Summit keynote speaker Ian Khan

Ian Khan wanted the one word audiences took away from his presentation at the Technology Association of Iowa’s Iowa Technology Summit to be “change” as an acknowledgement that currently emerging technologies are set to dramatically disrupt and alter the world of work as well as people’s lives.

The author and documentary filmmaker said the evolutions that will happen in the next decade or so are signals of the fifth industrial revolution, where artificial intelligence “will completely change the nature of jobs and completely take over our jobs.”

“No need to panic. It’s not happening right now,” but he said it’s important to prepare for how to work as it does become a reality.

In his fast-paced keynote address Khan touched on trending technologies and concepts like blockchain and cryptocurrency, Web 3.0, automation, robotics, globalization and the metaverse.

He moved through them quickly to communicate the amount of change that lies ahead and that companies and specifically their technologists need to become curious about the ways the future of work will be different from today’s circumstances.

“We have to be curious, and we have to keep on learning about what is happening so that we can add more value to the world around us,” he said.

Not only are there the individual technologies to understand and track, but also how they will interact with the current economy and spawn new economic models.

“The creative economy, crypto economy, algorithmic economy, energy economy, the metaverse economy — these are words that you should familiarize yourself with because all of these are happening,” he said.

He noted how the Great Resignation may be in its own sense a new revolution as the creator economy has largely democratized opportunities to turn an idea into a business or a product in a relatively short time.

One of Khan’s beliefs about the future of work is that it will center on the convergence of technologies and traditional and new economic systems.

He offered examples of how credit card company Visa has launched a program to help artists and other creators navigate the world of non-fungible tokens and how the manufacturing and health care sectors are collaborating on technologies like 3D-printed organs.

As discussed in the Q&A following Khan’s presentation, these trending technologies may inspire a range of feelings from excitement to reservation or even fear among companies as they consider how to prepare for the future. Here are the ways Khan said businesses can become future-ready:

  • Focus on engagement. “What is the perception of your organization that other people have? So start investing in delivering incredible engagement experiences for every audience, whether it’s investors or customers or stakeholders, change the way you engage.”
  • Become a learning organization. “Everyone within the organization should know at the tip of their tongue what value they offer, not just what they produce, not just what they do.”
  • Acknowledge your people. “Reward people, acknowledge their strengths, acknowledge the challenges they have, but help them get better. … Especially if you’re an organization leader, help people grow, take care of them.”
  • Create accountability.
  • Focus on your organization’s culture.
  • Collaborate.
  • Execute.

To learn more about Khan’s work, visit his website.