“Technology will change our biology and our genes”

Simon VuillaumeDirector for International Projects, Cegos Group

Ger Leonhard, Future Strategist and CEO @ The Futures AgencyGerd Leonhard is a future strategist and the CEO of The Future Agency. He will be in Portugal in October for the Business Transformation Summit, organized by CEGOC at the Lagoas Park Congress Centre. Link To Leaders took advantage of this opportunity to speak to the future strategist and CEO of The Future Agency regarding the challenges of digital transformation.

Musician, international consultant and opinion maker, Gerd Leonhard speaks to us about his futuristic vision and takes a pragmatic approach to strategic thought, in order to dominate complex aspects that will dictate our evolution or extinction in the Digital Era. In his most recent book Technology vs. Humanity the future strategist and CEO of The Future Agency analyzes the “faustian pact” that we are making with technologies that are capable of helping us reach exponential levels of growth.

Considered by Wired in 2015 to be one of the 100 most influential people in Europe, he will bring his views to the Business Transformation Summit regarding the most significant technological transformation that will take place in the market in general and in businesses in particular in the near future.

>View the original article published on July 3rd, 2017 by Link to Leaders (in portuguese)

How does a musician become a future strategist?

I began my musical career with digital music in 1995. I later dedicated myself to entrepreneurial projects and launched approximately 10 start-ups and like most companies in 2011, I was hit hard by the economic crisis. In 2014 I wrote my first book The Future of Music, which contributed to my status as a speaker and a visionary. I am currently working with 47 other visionaries from all over the world providing consulting services to hundreds of great brands and clients.

Is technology changing the way we think and behave?

This is the least we can say when we speak about technology. In fact, technology is changing how we communicate, changing our culture and how we do business, in essence it is changing our society and soon it will change our biology and our genes (one of our biggest ethical challenges).

And what about values? Are people becoming better or worse?

Human beings currently have the opportunity to become better every day in almost all areas – content, media, communication, health, nutrition and energy. Technology allows enormous challenges to be met, but sometimes it can also contribute to what we call a “standard deviation.” Technology tends to be used excessively and in the future this excess may be harmful to us all. We need to develop wise and well-guided leadership.

What will the “megashifts” in consumption be in the coming years?

What I call “megashifts” are: digitalization, mobilization, automation, datafication, cognition, virtualization, robotization, among others. Of course there are also the topics I have included in the book and which are based on artificial intelligence, augmented and virtual reality, the Internet of things and personalized medicine.

What about the ones that will radically change our society and our economy?

It is a combination of all of them, seeing as they are exponential, combinatory and interdependent. The main trends, such as cognitive computing contribute to a vast number of alterations and changes.

Which e-commerce models do you recommend?

The platform model is becoming increasingly popular. It is essential to connect potential buyers to sellers through a vast inventory of powerful services. In addition, we can clearly see that there has been greater investment in experiences, to the detriment of products and services.

What is the future of social networks and business made via these channels?

Today, this is considered normal, but I am convinced that briefly we will see an increase in applicable regulation and directives as concerns linked to data protection grow.

What needs to change with regard to mobile content?

Inserting advertising into videos is dead . . . we have to completely re-invent advertising with respect to content.

How can innovation be fostered and stimulated?

In my opinion, this has more to do with transformation rather than innovation. We have to learn to work on what is important today, but also on what will be important tomorrow. It is essential that experiences and entertainment be involved. My premise is “Assume less and discover more.”

You are one of the speakers at the Business Transformation Summit. What main messages will you bring?

Transformation is exponential; linear thinking is dangerous. The way in which business was done up until now no longer exists. Data is the new fuel and artificial intelligence the new electricity. Embrace technology, but do not be become hostage to it.

What do you expect from the event?

I hope the audience will be curious and involved.

Short answers

  • Highest risk: Wanting to avoid all risks.
  • Biggest mistake: Assume that the future is an extension of the present.
  • Best idea: Think about the future.
  • Most important lesson: Restarting after the 2001 Internet crash.
  • Greatest achievement: My new book Technology Vs. Humanity.

Business Transformation Summit

Gerd Leonhard presented a keynote at the 2017 Business Transformation Summit

Read our post on "the future of machines and human" to discover the key takeaways.

Written by

Simon Vuillaume

Simon used to share his insights in this space when he worked at Cegos Group
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