Jan 232015

I read books. Sometimes, I listen to them. Thank God for audio books. Technology has been providing us with almost limitless means to enjoy books and gives us no reason to say we cannot find the time to read books.

Charlie “Tremendous” Jones said, “We will be the same person in five years that we are today except for two things: the people we meet and the book we read.”

And how right he was.

Months ago, I finished listening to the audio book version of “The Innovators” by Walter Isaacson, a brilliant writer. He wrote Steve Job’s biography.

This book traced the history and origins of the people responsible for creating computers and the Internet, both of which, are so prevalent in our daily lives today.

I initially thought that the book would appear “techy” for the nerdy folks, but uninteresting for me. Oh how wrong I was.

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The moment I started listening to the introduction and first chapter, I felt engaged. The impact on me was so strong that I visited the Computer History museum in Mountain View, California last December.

Let me share some things I learned from the book and the things I saw in the museum. Then let me connect them with what is happening today and what we need to do to prepare ourselves for the immediate future.

“Will machines replace humans?”

This is an old debate question stemming from the pioneers themselves.

Here is a fact: machines have already replaced many humans.

Think about it, the population exploded in the last few decades but there was no increase in the number of bank tellers assisting us in our transactions.

This is because ATMs have replaced humans. Machines have taken over the work of tellers. Will machines arrive at a time when they can think for themselves? There are so many schools of thoughts here. Think of this, the day when machines are needed to assist humans in thinking and making decisions might come.

Which brings me to a very sensitive warning: any repetitive job in the work place will certainly be replaced by a machine whether you like it or not.

This is why we need to expand our areas of knowledge, acquire new skills and be adaptable to change.

Now, let’s talk about business.  Products are practically the same. There is commoditization on services. To have a competitive edge is a big challenge.

The “business as usual” attitude will kill your business because your competition knows this and they are not sleeping. And all they have to do is to introduce a game-changing product or service.

Don’t consider the young people entering the market place as “consumers”. By doing this, you underestimate their capability. You should consider the young people today as “creators” because they have all the technology in the world to create new things.

Who would have thought that Uber would have an effect on traditional taxis? Who would have ever suspected that social media platforms would disrupt traditional mass-based advertising?

Here is my take on this.

Your business or services should be remarkable, outstanding, memorable and special that people will talk about you and pass the good news along.

Commit to innovation, reinvention and change.

• ‘Exceeding Expectations’ should become a standard.

• Kill complacency with creativity.

• Challenge the status quo and continue to stretch yourself. 

• Pursue personal growth and development.

• Training and education should be in place.

• Dramatic changes and new business strategies should become regular features.

Disruptive technology drives the pace of change. Technology has changed the world and the way we live.

Expect more changes to happen. Change may be scary, but it is scarier not to change.

(You can connect with Francis Kong through Facebook at www.facebook.com/franciskong2 or listen to his program called “Business Matters” from Monday to Friday at 8 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. in 98.7 dzFE-FM ‘The Master’s Touch’, the classical music station.)

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