Adapting to technology & globalisation

Adapting to technology & globalisation

This year’s Future of Work conference looks at how business owners and managers can live with and even embrace the twin riptides of technology and globalisation.

In his ‘rules’ to describe our reactions to technology, the late Douglas Adams wrote:20 - FOW web image 300px

  1. Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works.
  2. Anything that’s invented between when you’re 15 and 35 is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it.
  3. Anything invented after you’re 35 is against the natural order of things.

Australia’s two million SMEs contribute much of the competition and innovation that underpins the nation’s productivity growth, according to KPMG, which says this growth will be central to Australia’s ability to shift its reliance on resources.

Yet the knock-on effects of these global shifts are so vast it is little wonder small-business owners might feel adrift in a world that seems, in Adams’s words, against the natural order of things.

The knock-on effects of these global shifts are so vast it is little wonder small-business owners might feel adrift in a world that seems against the natural order of things.

‘It’s easy to underestimate how quickly all this is happening and how it can be quite decimating if businesses aren’t able to respond and be responsive,’ says Professor Peter Gahan, of the Centre for Workplace Leadership.

Gahan says the Future of Work Conference in April, the Centre’s second, will look at both the current state of technology and the adaptation challenges for leaders and organisations.

‘Technology in particular gives them the capacity to reduce their operating costs significantly, in the way they work as well as reaching out to customers in a way they’ve never been able to do before.

‘That transformation spans everybody.’

Keynote speaker and US author Dan Pink, who catapulted to global prominence in a TED Talk, The Puzzle of Motivation, will look at how smart organisations are rethinking innovation.

‘Dan’s message applies to high-tech and low tech organisations equally,’ Gahan says. ‘It’s still hard for many organisations to believe, but the evidence is clear that for most people, if you want them to be engage and be creative and motivated, treating them decently in some simple ways – such as recognition and making sure that there’s interesting work for them to do – actually works. It’s not all about big bonuses and incentive pay.’

Another international presenter is Frederic Laloux, a former organisation and strategy consultant with McKinsey & Company. He will speak on the themes in his book, Reinventing Organisations (available as a Pay-What-Feels-Right ebook).

‘Online business models have begun to change what small businesses can get access to,’ Gahan says. ‘If you’re a small business, even a decade ago the idea that you as a small business would internationalise was a very expensive proposition. Now it’s almost something you can do from your lounge room, with an internet-based site, selling goods and services.’

Gahan says while speakers like Pink and Laloux offer a global ‘wow’ factor through their TED talks, there is rich vein of local expertise. ‘One of our star speakers that everybody should be speaking to is [KPMG partner and demographer] Bernard Salt. He’s a world leader in thinking about how demographic changes are reshaping the competitive landscape for business, understanding how that is changing, what works as a business model and what are some of the business challenges in terms of their own workforce.’

The conference will also bring in entrepreneurs such as Simon Griffiths, the engineering graduate who founded the social start-up Who Gives a Crap, as well as Simon Rossi at Uber, the ride-share app.

‘This is really exciting program with a lot of ideas, packed full of speakers. We’re seeing a lot of innovative and interesting things emerge in Australian business. Bringing some of them together as panel sessions can be the most exciting elements of these as well as the individual ones.’

Elisabeth Lopez

Discounted tickets to the Future of Work: People, Place, Technology conference are available for SMEs.

To access two-day tickets for only $650 (+bf) use the promotional code FOWSmlBiz.

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