Welcome to 2021, the year of healing with innovation
I have been thinking about
how 2020 has been a nightmare for all of us unifying us into an
alternate reality and grounding us to rethink how we live, and what our
daily actions and social interactions mean. As we see a glimmer
of hope with the promise of a vaccine in the new year, 2021 becomes the
year of healing. And as a Technology Futurist, innovation is the best
tool I recommend to begin the healing process.
One thing that binds all of us innovators is that we dream of
the future and conceive of ways to bring that to the present using
technology. 2020 brought more connected devices to buildings for remote
work and facilities management than ever before. It brought
technologies to watch whether we wore masks and practiced social
distancing. All this came at a price because we paid for it with our
freedom. We had to work from home. We had to stay indoors and get
grocery delivered to us. We had to sit in front of large screens and
watch streaming videos of entertainment. All of these would have been
perks on a vacation, but they soured easily because we were forced to
limit our mobility. And everything was out of our control because the
pandemic was a silent invisible spreader and we could not see an end in
As technology innovators, we have been fighting to connect IoT sensors
to everything to manage remotely, bring cameras to do computer vision
and touchfree devices to be activated by voice. Now all of these
innovations are being adopted by everyone but it is happening with
In 2021, as part of the healing process, first we get to stop and
breathe in hope. We see the hope of a vaccine which will free us of the
pandemic. We will still have the bruises of behavior change from being
quarantined indoors for most of the year. We still will have travel
restrictions and so much work to do to get the whole world
vaccinated. If we pause and look around, we can see the data from
connected devices and cameras and a huge deluge of data from our new
behaviour of doing everything online. There is even going to be more
data about the distribution of vaccines and who is getting vaccinated
and when different parts of the world reaches the critical mass of
vaccinated people required to stop the pandemic. There is going to be
healthcare data and AI segmenting people to show who should get the
vaccine first. There is going to be supply chain data, fraud prevention
data and AI forecasting and prediction to follow the vaccine.
We saw a generation of kids who adopted mobile first with the advent of
smart phone apps. Now we will see a new generation of kids who know to
engage with AI with computer screens all around them. As we resume our
mobility to go back to bring life to buildings, we are not the same
people who hurriedly left the buildings.
What does this mean for us as humans? It means that we have moved
closer to co-exist with machines and AI albeit unknowingly.
What does this mean for us as business users? It means that we have new
data to navigate to understand us as new users, though this time, we
are the same users returning back from quarantine. It means that now we
have new data calling for AI from connected assets begging us to track
Anomalies and make predictions as a matter of fact.
What does this mean for us as innovators? It means that we can get back
to do what we do best - change the world because this time there is no
doubt that we are going to change it for the better.
Sudha Jamthe is a Technology Futurist who enjoys mentoring business
leaders with a learning community and a live learning lab for product managers and business leaders to innovate in their business and careers with data and NoCodeAI at BusinessSchoolofAI.com and teaches AI at Stanford Continuing Studies.
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