The Rise of Smart Technology

The Rise of Smart Technology
Is the Rise of Smart Technology really a laughing matter?

by Kerry Stackpole FASAE CAE

Where does your life intersect with the rise of smart technology? As you approach the office tower, you access your smartphone to call for a building elevator to arrive in the lobby to take you to a specific floor at a specific time of your convenience. The elevator will arrive when you need it. If this sounds like the Uber of elevators, that suits Otis Elevators‘ smart technology just fine.

When the mid-engine 2020 Corvette Stingray arrives, it will come with a new option – front lift. When you need to pull into a steep driveway or drive over a speed bump, the feature raises the front end about two inches to avoid potential damage to the lower fascia. The feature is programmable with up to 1,000 waypoints, so you can note where these potential hazards may be through GPS and the car will adjust automatically.

As someone who has spent a fair amount of my life engaging with and mastering new technology, I’ve heard more than my share of tech shorthand. The “last mile” was used in telecommunications to refer to the final leg of the networks that deliver services to customers. Today, it’s often used to describe the toughest part of a journey –the delay in disembarking an aircraft or assuring on-time delivery to a customer. The “last mile” is prone to delay and discord, and it’s also a rich opportunity.

In regard to e-commerce retailing, Industry Week reports that a year ago, home improvement retailer Home Depot announced plans to spend $1.2 billion over a five-year period to improve its supply chain operations. According to Industry Week, the company has already leveraged its distribution network to the point where it can reach 95% of the U.S. population within two days, and 30% within one day. By adding 170 distribution facilities, the retailer hopes to reach 90% of the U.S. population in one day or less.

FedEx ships 15 million packages every business day. UPS delivers 20.7 million packages daily. Amazon ships 1.6 million of those packages. Getting close to the customer isn’t a slogan or just a nice thing to do. It is now a business imperative. In all this hustle-bustle it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the rapid pace of change and overlook the smart technology and key certainties driving our business.

One thing for certain – the baby boomers are going to continue their retirement exodus. That means having and using knowledge management tools are an essential part of your workforce development. Machine intelligence is going to continue its rise and application across an array of services. It’s somewhat ironic that getting a human being to answer the telephone at the telephone company is getting increasingly difficult. “Chat Now!” is becoming the standard.

It’s fair to say there will be increased globalization of laws, regulations, codes and standards. Our laws will not become less complex. The regulatory challenges will continue to multiply as smart technology advances. It’s also clear that cloud computing will continue its sweep for individuals and businesses, supporting increased mobility for people across a growing range of occupations and professions.

There is little doubt the American workforce will become more diverse and require an ongoing schedule of training and re-training in the years to come. Rolling these ideas into your department strategy and plans will accelerate your competitive advantage. Creating a mentor program before the baby boomers sail off into retirement is another solid strategy based on a hard fact.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is the de facto way Netflix makes movie recommendations, and Amazon makes product recommendations including pricing and promotions. Today, AI technologies support diagnostics and create management plans for oncology patients. Johnson & Johnson and IBM are using AI to analyze scientific papers to find new connections for drug development.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has created a platform for gathering human perspective on moral decisions that will have to be made by machine intelligence, such as that included in self-driving cars. The Moral Machine ( lets you experience and experiment with the moral dilemmas associated with machine intelligence. There’s more than a little uncertainty in what choices you have to meet in the simulations. Feeling creative? You can design your own scenarios for others to navigate as well.

While it is easy to be overwhelmed by unpredictability and uncertainty, it’s equally important to bring focus to what you do know. I know with complete certainty there will be a full moon on January 29, 2040, that will surely illuminate the work at hand.

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