We’ve all heard of virtual reality, and by now we’ve also all heard of augmented reality, but the most recent version of these alternate worlds comes with an entirely new term: synthetic reality. Bringing with it countless new opportunities for business, this technology is being used in the most unexpected of places – not least of which the recently announced comeback concert of renowned pop group: ABBA.
Almost every business wants to be known for being innovative, but in a world saturated with systems and bureaucracy, not all businesses have the mindset that will get them there. When it comes to innovation, I often recall a quote by former business professor of the University of San Francisco Oren Harari, ‘The electric light did not come from the continuous improvement of candles.’
Years ago, I visited an acupuncturist following the recommendation of a friend, interested to see how the experience would differ from the dozens of chiropractors and physiotherapists I had seen. It did not disappoint. Where I would have expected him to examine my posture, ask about medical history and order X-rays, this acupuncturist asked to examine my tongue and somehow read with complete accuracy the state of my stress levels, diet and sleeping patterns.
The importance of technology in education is becoming increasingly undeniable in schools around the globe. As the future steadily approaches us, today’s students and teachers simply cannot exclude digital literacy and technological competence from the skillset being learned. COVID has accelerated the integration of technology into schooling, as remote learning has required innovative solutions to everyday lessons.
Australia’s reform to its national assessment program, NAPLAN, to include digital literacy in its testing is a clear indication of the necessary advancements of education in keeping up with the times. COVID has meant that learning these crucial digital skills has become a top priority and students and teachers alike will benefit from this long-term. Online learning, innovative technology and digital abilities as seemingly niche as coding, are now essential for students’ preparation for the future.
If we have learned anything in the last year, it is that the only certain thing is uncertainty. Businesses have felt this too, with lockdowns, virus variants and financial instability sending consumer confidence plummeting. This is in line with trends that were already at play as a series of scandals, ethical missteps and moral failures in public organisations drove home the undeniable message that businesses and institutions cannot be trusted.
For this reason, building trust should be one of the central priorities for all companies in today’s world. Especially post-pandemic, much of this trust needs to be built through consistency. For all the pivoting we have done during COVID, there is much to be said for the value of consistency in the face of uncertainty.
We have all grown used to the trends and influencers of social media, but developments of the last year are seeing the platforms we have come to know enter a new stage. The ‘creator economy’ involves the proliferating number of independent individuals who are making an earning by using social media to share their skills, knowledge and abilities. Leaving behind the influencers and polished posts of yesterday, the creator economy is ushering in a new era of marketing, influence and branding online – businesses best pay attention!
Downturns and hard times are often perceived as a curse in business. When lockdowns hit, sales dry up and market share dwindles, leaders often long for the former glory days of growth and prosperity. However, in the same way that nature has seasons, industries have cycles that serve an important purpose. The key to surviving, thriving and achieving enduring relevance in the long-term is to work with rather than war against seasons and cycles – especially the adverse ones.
In the digital age, the adage stands: if you are not paying for the product, you are the product. In an era where business marketing, sales and influence are increasingly personalised and driven by insights into consumers, there is no product of more value than your personal data. The quantified self movement and the general focus on health, fitness and beauty in recent years has brought about a proliferation of apps and devices focussed on improving these areas of our lives. However, more and more it is seeming as if our smartphones and wearable devices know us better than we know ourselves.