The future: the best of the past plus innovation for value creation

How old am I?

When I started in business, typing pools still existed, mobile phones were still a decade away, laptop computers hadn’t been invented, and desktops were exceedingly rare

As a bag carrier to some senior executives, my first international business trip entailed lugging a massively expensive – and heavy – first generation Compaq, green screen ‘laptop’ computer, all the way to China and back. We needed it to capture data and do calculations that could easily be done on the cheapest mobile phone today. You may think this means I started work in the 1950s and that the workplace was like the set of ‘Mad Men’, but no… this was the 1980s.

I won’t tell you how old I am. But I will tell you what I would have done differently if I knew then what I know now:

  1. I would have invested in the energy storage/battery industry and the distributed generation industries e.g. fuel cell, solar or wind technologies
  2. I would have read more comics as a serious source of future realities and used these to identify real world opportunities
  3. I would have adopted technological change with a more inquisitive and positive attitude, recognising that while early adoption can be challenging, the competitive advantage can be truly disruptive and significant
  4. I would have kept any data I had on almost anything, since data analytics would increasingly allow real time, fact based decisions, which were considered impossible at the time
  5. I would have convinced my partner to marry me sooner than I did!

After reflecting on this snippet of ‘would haves’ – and yes, let’s be honest, there are a bunch of other things I would or should have done differently – I look at business today and at the accelerating pace of change enabled by technology, design, and data analytics, and realise there are things many of my clients or contemporaries would still consider a ‘bit out there’, when in fact they are very much here and now and should be actively engaged with.

You only need to read the myriad articles on the rapid evolution of robotics, artificial intelligence, or the changing face of the workforce to appreciate that many jobs performed by people today could be replaced by robots in the near future. We are moving way beyond the innovations of the auto industry and manufacturing environment of decades past into highly complex decision routines that can apply in environments such as professional services. Getting ahead of this thinking, piloting initiatives, and making managed investments will be crucial for firms to succeed, or even survive, just as re-skilling to be relevant will be crucial for us as individuals.

Consequently, different business models within professional services are growing. These changes allow clients to access high value intellectual property, or facilitate models that are otherwise disrupting the landscape. Start-ups in the legal domain are making offerings once only available through interactions with lawyers available on a self-serve basis, radically reducing the cost and time to set up a simple company. Others have launched businesses that provide enterprises access to highly skilled contingent workers of a calibre they may have struggled to access in the past.

At Deloitte, we believe the future is about bringing the best of the past and innovating make a positive impact that matters for our clients and the community we live in. We have recently launched a new venture – Solutions by Deloitte – which provides any enterprise direct access to the intellectual property that has powered Deloitte to become the world’s leading and one of the most innovative professional services firms. The business ‘apps’ on Solutions by Deloitte aim to allow enterprises to get started on resolving that “gnarly” business issue anywhere, any time and – should they feel the need – to then engage with a Deloitte practitioner to secure the advice and human support that only experienced practitioners can bring.

At Solutions by Deloitte, we are exploring new ways to ensure you get value and can access Deloitte’s intellectual property and experience in ways that work for you – blending both the best of the past with the innovation available today. Our aim is to provide exceptional digital products that are intuitive and quickly deliver value.

So don’t be a ‘would have or should have’ person. Grasp the future and shape it today.

We’d love to hear from you. Tell us what you need that you don’t get from your professional services provider. What could make your life easier, simpler, and more efficient? What business activities do you think could be ‘productised’?

Let’s start a conversation


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