Retraining, Learning and Adapting Will Be Vital, says BIMS Keynote

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"The future will increasingly be about new methods of individualized learning. It will be important to learn how to learn. It will be important to be adaptive. These are the skills that will be most useful—and most prized by employers—in the workplace of tomorrow. Work will be far more about intelligence (the ability to apply novel thinking to never-before-seen challenges) and less about smarts (the ability to memorize, retain and apply information)." 

Jared Weiner, executive vice president and chief strategy officer, Future Hunters, a leading futurist consulting firm

Weiner will be one of three keynote speakers at our Business Information & Media Summit (BIMS), Nov. 14-16 in Fort Lauderdale. I've interviewed the other two keynotes—Matt Bailey and Rajeev Kapur. I've not yet had a chance to speak with Weiner, but I have listened to a couple video interviews, including one on our BIMS site. 

Where Bailey and Kapur take everything going on now and deliver information to help us prosper in the present, Weiner wants us to keep at least one eye open for tomorrow. It's not always what we want to hear, but it's usually what we need to hear.

Here are seven takeaways from recent interviews:

1. Prepare for the templosion—the exponential implosion of big events to smaller amounts of time. Nobody has as much time as they need any more, he said. "Things are happening much more quickly. As a result of that the way that businesses do everything has to fundamentally change. Their primary value proposition always has to be about optimizing time for their customer. Attention really is the new monetary unit in this economy."

2. Pay full attention to the customer experience. It's going to have to be more interactive, more dynamic, and it's also going to have to take into account that customers are going to want everything to be efficient. I spoke to the founder of a medical startup yesterday and when I asked if he had been talking to his customers, he almost laughed and said that's all he had been doing.

3. Communicate more effectively. Weiner spoke about getting through "the noise with the implementation of all these really cool interactive technologies. We're finally at a tipping point where virtual [and] augmented reality [will be] embedded into the customer experience like never before.

4. Observe millennials and cybrids. "I try to coach all of our clients to pay very close attention to millennials because they're vital," Weiner said. "But think about what's coming up behind them. Those cybrids were born around 1996 so they're turning 20, 21 now and entering the workforce." And because of generational compression, they're going to be a lot different.

5. On your mark, get set, retrain. "It's difficult to bridge a digital divide," Weiner said. But companies need to make sure that their employees are up to the new digital warp drive—at least somewhat. He also spoke of flip-gen leadership. "You're going to see millennials rising to positions of leadership, managing people in their 40s and 50s. In those cases you are going to have that divide we're talking about—the way they do their work, the way they consume information [which] is fundamentally different."

6. Recruit data analysts. "Business information has become increasingly sophisticated and voluminous," Weiner said. "It is going to require more skilled analysts, and it's also going to be crowdsourced. More information will be coming from the crowd, from consumers."

7. Be adaptable, responsive and intelligent leaders. "There is no one silver bullet as to what leadership will look like," Weiner said. He gave three key characteristics: a) be adaptable to rapid change; b) be quick to respond to the world's increasing complexity—overlying technologies are making everyone's job a lot harder; and c) be more intelligent than smart. "Smart is about being programmed, learning a fact and applying it. Intelligence is making a decision with imperfect information or under circumstances you've never been taught before."

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Ronn Levine began his career as a reporter for The Washington Post and has won numerous writing and publications awards since. Most recently, he spent 12 years at the Newspaper Association of America covering a variety of topics before joining SIPA in 2009 and SIIA in 2013 as editorial director…