Noodle making robots

April 22, 2013

Robots have long been the stuff of science fiction and many of us have grown up waiting for the day when our dreams might turn into technological reality.

In this morning’s regular look ahead David Dowsett of radio ABC and I took a look at robots and discovered that they are already here.

telemedicien robotTelemedicine robots allows Doctors to virtually jump inside a moving mechanical device and transport themselves around hospitals and clinics engaging and treating patients along the way. Robotic surgeons use their robotic arms to accurately guide and oversee complex operations often in tandem with skilled physical physician hands. Nano robots are routinely swallowed into our body and then guided around to take internal x-rays and photographs. Robotic limbs replace lost, degenerated and non-existent limbs, as well as provide heart pumps and other life-giving robotically controlled devices.

telework robotsIn our offices and factory’s we see the increased use of teleworkers using robotic Segway like devices that allow executives to be in two places at once by jumping on-board a telerobot and riding it virtually around far away offices to attend board meeting in one country without ever having to leave the comforts of their own offices. Many of these devices cost no more than $250 and use PC tablets mounted on robotic shoulders and free software to see and connect you.

drievelss carOn our roads we can expect to see a fleet of driverless cars who know where you need to be and when, have real-time updates of the road conditions ahead and will chauffeur you to your destination in comfort and safety.

Robot-Noodle-SlicerRobots are also entering the hospitality industry as noodle makers, hamburger flippers and sous chefs and in retail as clerks and sales assistants.

Robots as anthropomorphic, high functioning, independently thinking, self replicating humanoid machines are still a long way off. In theory they appear to be easy to create, but in reality are still beyond the ready boundaries of our capabilities and technologies.

There is much work being done in robotics and the most recent catalyst of this is the growth and convergence of big data, mobile technologies, changing culture and a growing appetite for robot like devices together with a practical and pragmatic future need to overcome a growing chronic shortage of workers in some industry’s.

For now, and the immediate future, we will have to contend ourselves with robots and mechanical devices that provide assistance with life and works more mundane and repetitive tasks.

Robots when they do arrive will bring with them many challenges. They will start and stop careers, industry’s and jobs. They will require us to grapple with the ethics and rights of robots and humans and make decisions that we have never had to make before as we learn to co-exist with machines.

The time to start these debates is now, for we are truly on the precipice of when not if as science fiction turns daily to robotic science fact.

Have a listen to the segment now…

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Tourism industry funds call

July 17, 2012

reprinted from Tasmania’s Mercury 18 July 2012
this excerpt comes after my keynote address on the Future of Tourism at Tourism Industry Council Tasmania’s annual conference

TASMANIA’S key tourism body has slammed the State Government for failing to provide adequate funding to promote the industry.

Tourism Industry Council of Tasmania chairman Simon Currant said more needed to be done to stop the decline in visitor numbers.

Mr Currant was speaking to more than 350 tourism operators at the seventh annual Tasmanian Tourism Conference, being held at the Country Club in Launceston today.

Tourism Minister Scott Bacon officially opened the conference this morning and said the State Government had “quarantined” Tourism Tasmania’s marketing funding from recent budget cuts.

But Mr Currant said it wasn’t enough.

“The forward estimates are reducing the expenditure of Tourism Tasmania this year and next year,” he said.

“This has to be arrested; the Government has to invest in this industry.”

Mr Currant said unless the State Government increased funding for the state’s peak tourism marketing body, there would be job losses in the industry.

He said this was despite the fact that Tasmania had a strong tourism product, as shown by five wins at the Australian Tourism Awards earlier this year.

“(The tourism industry) offers the answer for our state,” he said.

“We’ve got a natural asset here that everyone wants. We’ve got to tell people about it.”

But the state’s share of the national domestic tourism market was slipping.

Mr Currant said the number of visitors from Melbourne — traditionally Tasmania’s core visitor market — was dropping drastically.

Despite this, Mr Currant said operators should be “optimistic” about the future and invest in ways to improve the state’s tourism product.

Business futurist Morris Miselowski was the keynote speaker at the conference this morning.

He urged operators to harness the benefits of social media for their businesses.

Mr Miselowski said it was not enough for operators to rely solely on the marketing initiatives of Tourism Tasmania.

He said operators need to embrace new technologies and have a presence on social media sites such as Facebook, Pintrest and Tumblr.

TICT chief executive Luke Martin said the sites offered “unique and creative marketing options” for operators constrained by small advertising budgets.

“People have to be responsible for their own business and look at it as part of their own marketing activities,” Mr Martin said.

“It’s no different from the past where you look at buying an advertisement or paying for marketing information in a booklet.”

He said workshops at the conference aimed to lift the skills of operators across the industry.


The Future of Australian Tourism

May 3, 2012

I was privileged this morning to present a keynote on the Future of Australia’s Tourism Industry to the Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC) annual conference, after which I did this impromptu interview with eGlobal Travel Media.

Take a look:


Step into the light

April 2, 2012

On the eve of a keynote I will deliver in Perth in mid April on the Future of the Accounting profession, here’s an article that was published in the April edition of Institute of Chartered Accountants “Charter” magazine:

The world of accounting will be revolutionised over the next 15 years with a fundamental move by most accountants away from the backline, with its focus on historic figures and tax compliance, to become a forward-looking well-informed wholistic business adviser on the frontline.

So says business futurist Morris Miselowski, who is speaking at an Institute of Chartered Accountants Conference in Perth on April 19.

Miselowski sees a futuristic world where employees work remotely and carry their offices with them in their mobile device which can be accessed anywhere in the world at any time.

“There will be an increasing reliance on accountants, with their detailed knowledge of their clients’ business, for information about how best to manage the business’s financial affairs. Accountants will have access to all of their clients’ relevant business details at their fingertips.

“Much of the mundane donkeywork needed for tax compliance will be outsourced and accountants will become specialist financial advisors who become an integral part of their clients’ thinking process.”

Miselowski says accountants will move from a reactionary role to a proactive role.

“In the past much of the work accountants have done is client-driven, reactionary and done after the fact. In 10-15 years they will be part of a process that works in tandem in real-time with business operators,” he says.

“By 2020 relationships between organizations, people and service providers will be far more intimate, accountants will be part of an individual’s advisory group and statutory requirements will be outsourced to some other country or person – that’s a fundamental shift.”

Accountants’ relationship with their clients will be significantly different.

Accountants who prosper in the world of the future will have moved beyond traditional taxation advice, playing a broader role in their clients’ businesses and offering more wholistic advice.

“In tomorrow’s business model clients will think ‘you are my financial advisor, you are part of my trusted tribe, you work in relationship with me and the others who advise me, you are constantly aware and on; I expect your advice when I ask for it but also at times when I don’t.’ Accountants will know that information because they will monitor their clients, with permission, in real time,” he says.

“This approach will apply to accountants working within a firm and those working externally within an accounting firm,” Miselowski says.

Much of the numberwork will be sent to workers in the future economic powerhouses of China and India. Bigger firms in the US already send up to 70 per cent of their tax compliance work offshore.

“Already book-keepers in India have good knowledge of tax laws in various countries around the world,” Miselowski says.

“The world will become a much smaller place and work will be routinely sent around the globe.”

While at pains to acknowledge that some accountants – particularly in big accounting firms or boutique accounting businesses – already have close relationships with their clients, Miselowski says by 2020 closer client relations would become the norm rather than the exception.

“The growth in the industry as we move into tomorrow will see accountants offer more than just numbers advice. They will offer business growth advice and bring in specialists to assist their client with other elements of their business,” he says.

“Large firms already act as a trusted advisor and offer specialists in various areas of business,” Miselowski says.

“We are already seeing the Big Four employing non-traditional employees – such as experts in online shopping and retailing and online digital advertising – because this is a space about which many of their clients are seeking advice.”

There will be a revolution of business across all levels, and its effects will be felt by accountants who work within a corporation or accounting firm, and in Australia and across the globe.

“Over the next 10 years we will see business change more significantly than we have in many hundreds of years. The financial/accounting world will evolve to meet new demands,” Miselowski says.

”There will be new jobs, a whole lot of new areas we create, and new industries.”

The pace of change in the past 20 years had been exponential, with it not being unusual these days for businesses to amass millions of customers within a year – a rate of unprecedented business.

“In the next 10 years we will move forward more than 100 years of technology and within 100 years we will move forward 1000 years of technology,” he says.

Miselowski says we are living a digital wild west, with few rules to guide us.

“We have moved into the virtual world and we now have an online world where every physical activity we do has an online equivalent,” he says.

Generation Y and Z, the next generation to take over business boardrooms, would have been raised in a virtual world. “They have grown up with computers and mobile devices and are incessantly on them. They see the world as simultaneously physical and virtual.”

Miselowski says technological advance has brought with it information (“we’re drowning in it from Google”); knowledge (“I can go to a blog and get someone else’s interpretation”) but to get wisdom an accountant would need to be consulted.

“What clients in the future will be wanting is the wisdom of someone with specialist knowledge at a time and place that is meaningful to them,” he says.

Advances in technology will allow accountants to mine and capture the number work.

“Accountants’ main role in the future will be in selling the interpretive wisdom. The wisdom sought will deliver different skills, different mindsets and offer different opportunities,” Miselowski says.

“Accountants will have to become good at interpreting information; work successfully with clients to inform them – sometimes in advance of their actions; and become adept at communication.”

He says the move to mobile access to information has already begun.

“We are moving away from a fixed computer and moving into a mobile world. Smart phones recognise where we are, who we are with, what we are doing and do all kinds of things at our behest. Bank accounts, share portfolios and other financial information will be connected in one space and will be able to give you advice, such as which credit card is best to use at this time.

“Within 10 years this will be absolutely normal. Accountants will be mining that information routinely and they’ll know all about their clients, their spending habits and what they have bought.”

Looking further into the future, Miselowski says by 2020 stemcells wil start to be used to grow organs and bones, travelling into space for tourism will be offered, an increasing number of today’s cancers would have been tamed, we will have an understanding of how the brain works and children born then will live for at least 120 years.

The accounting industry will also be involved in a revolution in the way people work, and predicts a third of the workers in the western world will work virtually and remotely by 2025.

Accountants will no longer be physically housed in a building, and won’t work 9-5 days.

“The notion of squeezing work in between the hours of 9am and 5pm is a nonsense. The business world will adopt a project and task model, whether accountants work internally or externally,” he says.

While the need for traditional numbercrunching accounting work will remain, today’s accounting practice business model will be turned on its head by 2025, he predicts.

“In the accounting world of the future numbercrunchers will be a small enclave rather than the totality. The current business model – which sees most accounting practices with a majority of numbercrunchers and the minority (partners) outreaching and outsourcing business – simply doesn’t make sense financially.”

His advice to today’s accountants in accounting firms is to find a specialist niche that can be sold or provided through an accounting or financial firm which is a growth area for the world in which they work.

He advises internal advisors to take on a generalist advisor role because that will also be needed. While there was limited room for businesses to continue to exist in their current narrow model, there was still a need for them, he says.

Future accounting practices will have extremely communicative consultants with a far closer and more intimate relationship with their clients and accountancy would become a much more advice-based people profession.

“Where once accountants saw their clients once or twice a year and interacted more with texts, books and notes, in the future they will be consulted much more often and interact much more with people,” Miselowski says.

“Accounting will become a complete customer interaction industry because there will no longer be any need for clients to use them ‘to get their books done’.”

He says accountants will continue their education by constant up-skilling because they will be custodian of their own career and predicts global accounting qualifications will begin around 2030.

He says the working world had changed vastly even in his lifetime.

“Generations X and Y have learnt, through watching their parents, that employment is short-term and loyalty is no longer required. There are a growing number of employees defined by the notion of six careers and 14 jobs in one lifetime.”
Miselowski notes the huge opportunities open to Australians keen to capitalise on the growth of the economic powerhouses of China and India.

“By 2025 China will be a dominant spending power on the planet and will have a large middle class. India’s growth in consumer demand will be about a decade or so later.

“Australia, in the Asia corridor, is placed perfectly to have a great influence on those economies. Geographically, it is close to most Asian countries and has better time zones than the US and UK.

“Australia also knows, from a financial/accounting perspective, how businesses will evolve. These countries are inviting Australia to share the business wisdom they have and that they are yet to gain.

“There are huge possibilities for Australians in those spaces”.


Postcards from the Future – Business 2020

March 1, 2011

I was recently asked by the Greater City of Dandenong to ponder on the future of business and work and decided to turn it into an article for them, which has just come out in there March – May edition of Stakeholder

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I’m sitting here in Dandenong in the year 2020 reflecting on my belief that in the last 20 years we’ve moved forward 100 technological years and contemplating where the journey has taken us and our businesses.

In 2020, by far the most fundamental change looking back is that we have all irrevocably moved our businesses and lives into a blended real world and cyberspace existence.

In the late 1990’s and 2000’s most businesses had static websites overflowing with promotional, informational and contact details, but by the end of 2010 a grassroots movement, many considered a fad then, had begun to take permanent hold – social business.

This new way of being and seeing transformed our cyber presence and websites from a flat one dimensional glorified online brochure into a multilayered user centric online portal that seamlessly mixed and included social media, online conversations, customer interactions, live chat, video conferencing with real time insights from staff, users, suppliers, stakeholders, prospects and others all available wherever and whenever we wanted it.

Today this has gone far beyond Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, which in the early 2000’s hadn’t yet existed and by 2010 had become major online players and phenomena’s; to now in 2020 having become less important in their own right and more noted for having been the vanguards and innovators of what was to come.

We now take for granted our mobile computers (MC) and handheld devices that feed us real time information about the places we’re walking into and around. These devices have become our constantly-on personal assistant and speak seamlessly with the world around us on our behalf, negotiating travel routes, notifying us of who and what’s around and vetting and presenting the world to us in a way compatible with our ever changing needs and circumstances.

We now shift information, virtual products and services backwards and forwards on them with ease and little thought.

We use them to guide us through our lives, the streets, shopping malls and supermarket aisles. We use them to pay and get paid for all our products and services and they have become our cyber world’s virtual umbilical cord keeping us connected and up to date with our real world.

Our board rooms and offices have also transformed in the last decade as Baby Boomers have retired on mass. Gen X and Y’s have moved into the decision making roles and begun to steer the boardrooms around the world, guiding their Generation Z employees and lamenting how these new up and coming employees see the world and work so differently from the way they do.

The Manager of 2020 now oversees a diverse team of people and tasks. One third of their workforce does not work on-site and rarely, if ever, physically meets with their co-workers. They are often not even in the same country as the search for the best and brightest employees regularly sees us scouring the globe and employing people to work for us from wherever they are.

Today’s outstanding managers have learnt to juggle the demands of physical and virtual employees and worlds; is able to work in fast iterative cycles; is constantly reviewing and innovating products, services and procedures against a global “small village” background and knows that a profitable robust business is a seamless blend of off and on line activities.

Business models have also evolved. Where once we may have jealously guarded our intellectual property and unique know-how, we now seek ways to leverage and make best use of these by forming alliances with other business and providers servicing similar and complimentary markets, knowing that in this collaborative offering there is strength, growth and profitability for all partners.

Our Australian centric world view has increasingly come to include a solid focus on China and India as these two countries continue to flex their economic power and open up markets and opportunities to us that we had not had before.

New industries and new jobs have also evolved and the old adage that 60% of the jobs and tasks we will be doing in the next ten years still rings as true as it has for the last twenty years.

In the 2010’s the hot jobs included online community evangelists, gaming designers, organic farmers, financial and investment advisors and retirement consultants.

In 2020 we have a huge demand for telematics engineers, human organ designers and information forecasters.
In the past forty years we have lived through the eye of a technological revolution which has forever changed and reshaped our existence, the way we see ourselves, others and the world we live in.

It has flattened the globe and made it transparent giving us all the opportunity to see the world from our unique vantage point and to tap into people, places, thinking and products that previously only existed in the realms of science fiction and imagination.

This new way of being and seeing has demanded that we evolve the way we work and has insisted that we maintain a constant eye on the future.

We must celebrate what we have already achieved, but stand ready with the knowledge that what we have done and have achieved was perfect in its time, but that tomorrow it may no longer serve us as well.

As I look back on the last two decades and reflect on those businesses that have continued to thrive and grow they all share common characteristics. They are agile, know who and what they are giving them a strong core which allows them to flex easily as adversity and opportunity finds them and to take profitable advantage of whatever the future may offer.


Postcard from the Future – Events 2020

August 16, 2010

I was recently commissioned by BT Publishing, producers of Micenet Australia, Australia’s leading bi-monthly publication for the business events community, to ponder how events might be in the year 2020, here is a reprint of the article:

Postcard from the Future – Events 2020

I’m sitting here in August 2020, preparing for another conference keynote and reminiscing on how the business events, meetings, exhibition and incentives industry has changed over the last 10 years and how much of it is still the same.

The biggest difference for me over the past decade is that the industry offerings have become far more intimate and hyper personalised and the line between event organiser, client, venue, supplier, presenter and attendee has blurred.

The hype in 2010 of technology, virtual meetings, 3D meetings, social networking and constant online communications being the death of the industry has, as I had thought, not harmed the industry but strengthened it. It has become far more robust with those that innovated their offerings to take full advantage of the changes not only surviving, but thriving.

Technology has continued to enmesh itself in our lives and it is sometimes difficult to distinguish between the real and virtual worlds, but strangely it has also become less intrusive and far better at discerning and presenting real time in situ knowledge when and where it is needed.

Turning up to events, meetings and venues now, as opposed to 2010, is a self-check in behind the scenes technology driven process.

Our me-centric superphone has already received, reviewed, stored and replied to all our bookings and event briefings. It has booked us into our room, sent our session attendance notifications, dietary and other needs to the organisers and is on standby ready to give us step by step in situ instructions of where we need to go, when we need to be there, how to get there, who’s around us and any last minute briefings we need before getting started.

Behind the scenes organisers now routinely and collaboratively use virtual 3D on line technology to trial venue and meeting spaces, decide on layouts and setups, design theming and lighting. In this online virtual space all suppliers are able to meet, negotiate, test, build and eventually run a virtual audition of the event or meeting and when it’s finalised use the online model as the collective 3D template for every facet of the event.

Attendees have become far savvier and acutely focused on their event needs. Long before deciding to attend they tap into their online communities to engage with prospective attendees, organisers, sponsors, suppliers, venues, speakers, industry delegates and other interested participants to get a real sense of what the event or meeting may be and how best, if at all, to attend.

Attendance decisions in the past were often influenced by a narrow band of work colleagues or networks, but now information, comments and critiques come from everywhere and the decision making process has shifted to include and value a wider circle of influence.

Events and meetings have also evolved over the past decades offering a far more diverse range of attendance options ranging from the traditional entire event in person attendance, to being able to choose and pay only for those specific segments you want to attend either in person or online, through to complete virtual and online opportunities to attend and participate. These even include post event online pay per view opportunities to watch previously delivered content and presentations.

One of the other interesting shifts I’ve seen over the last decade is events and meetings being commissioned by members of self-assembled interest groups that have spent time on line with each other around their professions, hobbies, experiences, needs or interests and have the community desire and numbers to turn their ad hoc interaction into an event or meeting .

The demands of these groups have spawned a new breed of meeting specialist, someone who is capable of pulling together a multi-faceted online and offline event or meeting often with very short lead times, in a less formal or structured manner and in what may have once been considered less traditional meeting venues or spaces.

The other interesting change looking back is that it is now far more common for disparate suppliers, venues and organisers to work collaboratively and share resources and to come together around a tender or event and then disband only to form again with others as the need requires.

Looking around the year 2020 the meetings, events, incentive and exhibition companies that have thrived and grown over the last decade have been those that have embraced the changes.

They have clearly understood what they do but have constantly been willing to innovate and adapt, to find new markets and new opportunities and not been afraid to reach out and grab for them.

I’d love to know what you see ahead for the travel, meeting and events industry