Last week, I was a keynote speaker at the Mobile Edge ’16 conference in Lisbon, Portugal. Following the conference I met individually with many different companies. These companies represented a variety of industries, sizes and digital maturity levels. I was sharing my latest digital strategy report findings, and then answering questions and brainstorming about what the data meant to each of them.
At the hotel, following a long day of meetings, it occurred to me that the biggest value I was bringing to these businesses was the breadth of my experience – the kind of experience that has turned my hair gray.
The report I was sharing was titled, “40-Months of Hyper-Digital Transformation.” This report was the result of surveying 2,000 global executives across 18 countries on the current impact of digital technologies on their business, and their expectations for future impact. In this report I wrote a lot about artificial intelligence and software robots. I wrote about how robotic process automation will change the role of processes, employees and managers.
While pondering my day over a hot drink, it occurred to me that the report and the data I shared could have been presented by a junior employee with good communication skills. The value my gray hair brought to the table was the ability to understand the back-story, the history, how today is different, and analyze what needs to be done today to prepare for tomorrow. It was perspective, experience and wisdom gained from many years of accumulated successes and failures. It was my human baggage that was so valuable. It allowed me to listen to many disparate situations and challenges, understand them, and then see a unique path to success for each. It allowed me to see their challenges in abstraction and define steps to follow. I chuckled and sipped my coffee. Just try to do that, I challenged all the bots and artificial intelligence engines I had been writing and speaking about. Just try to do that.