If you’re not living under a rock, you know our world is changing at an incredibly rapid pace…

Things will become possible within the next few months that as of 12 months ago, we thought were years away.  Artificial intelligence and other technologies are advancing exponentially, creating a brand new reality.

Example: self-driving cars.

This is a trend I’ve followed for a while.  As of a year ago, I would have told you that self-driving cars will start to be really prevalent around 2020.

But then something interesting happened.  Tesla had driver-assist tech that was giving them a TON of data.  And they were cranking away at that data, while nobody was really looking (actually, while the media was arguing over the one death while on autopilot technology).

Then, as of late last year, they started installing full self-driving car hardware on ALL cars rolling out of the factory.  As of October 19, 2016, every car they produce is capable of driving itself.

That means any time you hear someone say, “I just got a new Tesla,” you will recognize that there is yet another self-driving car on the road.

Tesla has so much more data, that they’re probably at least a year ahead of everybody else.

Everybody else is working on a minuscule data set generated by a small fleet of test cars.  Tesla just put the data capture on all the cars they were putting on the road, then processed it until they could roll out the self-driving tech itself across the board.

This is going to happen in every industry.

And what’s the implication?  Well, if a car can drive itself today, soon a semi will be able to, too.  The entire logistics industry and the 3.5 million professional truck drivers in the U.S. will be without jobs.  It is going to happen.

And other complex tasks that previously relied on humans to complete them will be automated, too.  (e.g. There are artificial intelligence algorithms today that are more accurate at diagnosis than a team of doctors.)

This will keep happening in job after job, industry after industry, faster and faster.

There is almost no area of life and business that is not impacted by this technology as its adoption grows widespread.

And if you think I’ve gone off the deep end and become a pie-in-the-sky futurist, just think about how rapidly cell phones have been adopted across the globe.  Just think how fast a hot new app is added to phones around the world as it gets introduced.  What if the next big AI breakthrough is an app that you can install on existing hardware?  That’s exactly what’s happening, and will continue to happen.

The world is changing at blistering speed, and as AI starts to get even more intelligent, it’s actually going to start creating more AI.  (This is already happening, too.  Just at a less sophisticated level than I’m talking about.)

Nearly every process in business — all the way down to the creation of marketing messaging — will eventually be able to completed by a computer, better than a human doing that same job…

The good news is this creates a world of abundance.  If you think technological advancement doesn’t fuel the rise of humankind, I invite you to go live somewhere that there is no clean water, no communications, no mass agriculture, no hospital, no power grid, and none of the modern amenities that you surely rely on for your day-to-day life.

You will very quickly find that for all the pitfalls of modern life and problems technology has created, it has also solved a ton of problems, too.  And it will continue to do so, as long as humans don’t screw it up.

The thing is, technology also creates change.

And the more dramatically and rapidly that technology changes, the more rapidly it will send changes like shock waves through life and work and culture.

For example, when weaving machinery displaced textile workers in English mills in the 19th Century, a group called the Luddites arose from the out-of-work masses who took to the mills to destroy the machines.

The gut reaction to the displacement of jobs was to try to get the old jobs back by destroying the machines.  Those jobs never came back.  But today, new jobs have been created that have allowed that segment of the population to have meaningful work.

The same thing will happen with AI.  There will be meaningful work in the future, to replace the work being lost now.  But to try to make the old work be the new work will be a losing proposition.

The most valuable jobs today and through the rise of AI tech will be those that manage the transition…

Over the next 20 years or so, the most important role is Business Process Architect.

Now, I’m not necessarily saying you should go chase the job with that title.  If you were to go job hunting today, you’d find them — they’re usually an offshoot of the IT department, helping business processes get technological automation.

Rather, the skill itself of defining, designing, creating, and implementing a process to solve a business challenge or meet a business objective will be the most valuable role…  In EVERY department.

Unless you’re talking a one-time, single-use project within a business, there should be a process.  And whether that process is managed and implemented by humans, AI, or a combination, it needs to be designed by someone with a complex enough perspective to ask the right questions.

As of right now, AI is not capable of asking the right questions.  AI can give some pretty dang good answers.  And AI can complete complex tasks, and even get better at completing complex tasks, if you give it the framework for improving.  But AI can’t step back and say, “What are we really trying to accomplish here?  And is there a different way to look at it?”

The people who can do that — whether their title is marketer, entrepreneur, manager, salesperson, consultant, Business Process Manager, secretary, or whatever — will be the people who rule the future.

Heck, I saw a documentary recently about American manufacturing.  It explained that even though manufacturing JOBS are disappearing, manufacturing in America is making a grand resurgence.  And no, it’s not because of Trump.  It’s because AI and robotics technology can manufacture faster and better than people, and it doesn’t matter where in the world you set up a robot, the output is the same.  So manufacturing tasks that were being sent overseas for cheap labor now have cheaper labor and logistics costs by being done in a big automated plant in Middle America.

And the documentary demonstrated what the new manufacturing jobs looked like.  They were people who could come in, watch the process as it happened, and ask the right questions to make the process work better.

These are better, higher-paying factory floor jobs.  And they require very little manual labor.  Rather, they are all about thinking about the process.

So, what’s the core skill of a Business Process Architect?

In short, a business process architect by any title defines, designs, creates, and manages the initial implementation of any business process.  They then hand off the process to a process manager for ongoing operations and maintenance.

This series of steps represents the core work of a business process architect:

— First they ask, “Does it repeat?”  If it is something in a business that repeats, it needs a process.

— If it needs a process, they then define what success looks like.  They create a clear finish line for what the first successful application of the process looks like.  If the process is to create widgets, the finish line would be the manufacturing of the first widget.  Or, for processes that produce high volumes, the first 100, 1,000, or 10,000 widgets.

— Then they brainstorm, or lead a brainstorming session.  The idea is to get everything on the table that might have an impact on a successful outcome, positive or negative.  This is done without judgment.  The idea here is to capture as much thinking as possible, to decide what to do with it later.

— They then filter the output of the brainstorming to determine what actually needs to be part of the process, either as action steps within the process, or reference material for decision making.  Here judgment must be applied for what is useful, and what is noise.

— Next, they determine the action steps necessary for the completion of the process, and the order in which they must be executed.  Along with these action steps, they look at any supporting materials that are needed for completing the action steps and making any decisions that must happen.  They define everything they can see in advance.

— Then, they test the process, and measure the results.  Where does the process run smoothly?  Where does it hit roadblocks or snags that could be made smoother?

— Then, they optimize based on feedback from the initial tests.

— Finally, they hand off the process — either to technology, or to a process manager who executes the process as needed.

If you’re able to do this thinking in your business, or for your clients, you will be creating incredible value.  You’ll create leveraged assets that accomplish business goals and overcome business obstacles at scale.  Depending on where you apply it within their business, you’ll generate more sales, more profits (through efficiencies), or both.

It’s a marketing skill.  It’s a selling skill.  It’s a management skill.  It’s a technology skill.  It’s an entrepreneurial skill.  It’s a universal skill.

And it will help you beat the machines without resorting to burning them…  🙂

Yours for bigger breakthroughs,

Roy Furr

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