Mark Cuban was interviewed during the NBA All-Star Technology Summit in New Orleans and was asked about what advice he would give a high school graduate preparing for college, thinking through what to study etc:

"Cuban believes that the amount of change we’ll see for jobs in the next five or 10 years will dwarf what we’ve observed in the past 30 years, and that as artificial intelligence and machine learning takes center stage, there will be a greater need for expertise in subjects such as English, philosophy and foreign languages.

'I personally think there's going to be a greater demand in 10 years for liberal arts majors than there were for programming majors and maybe even engineering,' he said. 'When the data is all being spit out for you, options are being spit out for you, you need a different perspective in order to have a different view of the data.'

Based on “Gartner Top Strategic Predictions for 2018 and Beyond”(which is a must read, obviously), the coolest Shark on "Shark Tank" (in my humble opinion) is spot on.

Going into your Turkey Day festivities and well deserved holiday downtime, I wanted to share my top 10 takeaways from this fascinating report that focuses on the most important technology trends and resulting predictions associated with how enterprises can capitalize in 2018.

#1 – AI hype is new. AI is not.

I’m not sure how much we need to unpack this one but safe to say everyone is talking about it but it’s more difficult than ever to dig into tangible examples. But they’re there and they should be used as inspiration for how company’s can embrace AI to create real value.

#2 – Don’t confuse automation with AI. Focus on augmentation of humans with AI for decision support.

A great example is Stitch Fix which recently filed for an IPO and represents the symbiosis of people and AI.

“Stitch Fix runs a large data-science operation, which the company says helps it make more accurate styling choices for customers, and also helps it create its own clothing that matches up with current trends.” 

#3 – Chatbots are the “face of AI” but it seems like bots are where the real action is.

Getting into the weeds a little bit but it’s important to note the difference between chatbots and bots as there will be a whole lot of activity in 2018 in this area. 

“A chatbot is a stand-alone conversational interface that uses an app, messaging platform, social network or chat solution for its conversations. Bots, on the other hand, are microservices or apps that can operate on other bots, apps or services in response to event triggers or user requests. Bots automate tasks based on predetermined rules or via more sophisticated algorithms, which may involve AI.”

Revisiting #2 and the importance of focusing on the “symbiosis of people and AI”, all Business Development people are notoriously bad at filling out expense reports and keeping salesforce updated (if I don't say so myself ;)…imagine the value a bot could create for an enterprise BD team by taking just those 2 tasks off the table and giving that time back to the BD team to hunt? Exciting right?

#4 – Enterprises know that “speed kills” but are struggling to keep up.

This is most definitely not an easy one nor is it of the “silver bullet” aka “yep, got that done” variety…

“The advance of technology is outpacing the ability of enterprises to keep up. Enterprises will still be required to develop discipline around how pace can be achieved.”

#5 – Might sound cliché but continuous learning and becoming a “learning organization” is a competitive advantage…but please don’t say “yes, we’re there” when those on the front-lines know you’re not.

“To reduce employee churn and sustain growth, transform from episodic or nonexistent learning to continuous learning. Upskill employees to maximize the effects of AI-enabled roles and decisions. Transform your culture to make it rapidly adaptable to AI-related opportunities or threats.

AI will be taking away routine tasks, freeing up employees to be more productive and creative by doing what humans can do best. Invest in reinforcing agility, soft skills and creative innovative attributes that will be needed in the symbiotic culture of people and AI.”

#6 – Innovation is awesome but be realistic, pace yourself and never forget “Pareto’s Principle”.

While “Creative Destruction”, “Willful Destruction” and “Disrupting Yourself Before You’re Disrupted” all sound very exciting and straight out of the HBS playbook, please be realistic when it comes to this stuff.

“Proponents of digital will need to take a hard look at what they are prepared to undertake. Dreams of artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain or Internet of Things (IoT) proficiency will depend on making sure barriers to success are minimized. Enterprises seeking to keep up with technological innovation will need to understand when those innovations are likely to cause more problems than they solve.”

#7 – While I’m not a fan of the word “Versatilists” because it’s really hard for me pronounce (user error), I’m a LARGE buyer of what it means. Hello multi-disciplinary, diversity of perspective/experience, with a VERY human element etc

"Two-thirds of organizations are not addressing IT skill gaps in a manner that will mature their digital business initiatives. People-centric roles and experience are a critical difference that will aid digital business transformation initiatives.

Many CIOs think digital is all about new technologies, whereas in truth, new digital technologies will aid people, making our work and personal lives easier, more convenient and more efficient. Twenty percent of IT organizations will hire versatilists to scale digital business. Specialists are the most represented IT professional profile in today's IT organization, representing about 42% of the entire IT workforce in 2017.

However, bimodal and digital business initiatives depend on wholesale skill transformation, as profound a change as moving from mainframe to distributed computing was. Success at bimodal and digital business initiatives depend on wholesale skill transformation, something most CIOs are not considering."

#8 – 2020 is the pivotal year in AI jobs dynamics (really hope so)

AI will eliminate more jobs than it created through 2019 (mostly in manufacturing). Starting in 2020, AI-related job creation will cross into positive territory, reaching 2 million net-new jobs in 2025.

#9 – Where will AI go?

"Meeting goals for revenue generation and value creation will rely heavily on engaging and re- engaging people and businesses on how they will adopt and use technology. For the greatest value, focus on augmenting people with AI.

We are at the pivotal point: Where will AI go? This is up to you — you will choose the problems for AI to solve. We say: Enrich people's jobs, reimagine old tasks, and create new industries. AI can handle patterns it has already seen, and humans break new ground."

#10 – Evolution of interaction and engagement models

While “Competing on Customer Experience” is a big part of the future of marketing, engagement is the holy grail.

More to come on this as one of my rockstar colleagues is rolling out something “magical” in the weeks to come and promised me that I get to come along for the ride…

Check out the full Gartner report here and let me know your top 10?


E:; T/IG: @Alec_Coughlin