16 ways to ‘future-proof’ your career

Change is constant, especially when it comes to technological advances. Many businesses are quick to embrace and adapt to include these technological advances, such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, in their daily operations. Indeed, the increasing use of AI and ML has many people nervous about being pushed out of their jobs.

Members of the Business Journals Leadership Trust understand these professionals’ concerns and have shared some recommendations for “future-proofing” yourself for the working world. Try these strategies to prepare yourself for the increased role of technology in the workplace.

Forbes Agency Council

1. Take inventory of your skills.
Inventory your skills and know what value you bring to an organization so that you can adapt and grow based on your success, not what’s hot in the market. For example, a skilled writer will always be a skilled writer, regardless of whether that is within a creative shop or a highly technical environment. Some raw, innate skills will always be in demand. Focus on those and the rest will follow. – Paul Weber, EAG Advertising & Marketing

2. Learn about and leverage your technological ‘competition.’
Learn about your AI/ML competition. Find out what makes them great and what their pitfalls are. You can strategize ways to work with and use AI/ML to enhance your human level of service instead of fighting against it. – Christen McCamie, Nesta Real Estate Consultants

3. Do the things AI and ML can’t.
Do the things that AI and ML can’t do or don’t do well. These are mostly related to human interaction. The human mind is far more complex than any computer can understand (at least right now). Furthermore, we are each so different that a computer could never keep track of those differences. Lastly, emotional intelligence is still a (rare) human talent. – Brian Walters, Walters Gilbreath, PLLC

4. Reframe your value based on operational and cultural knowledge.
Employees should first reframe their value based on their operational knowledge and their ability to navigate company culture, including the unique elements they contribute — things the machine cannot use in decision-making. They also have a chance to take advantage of the current situation to learn new skill sets, earn relevant industry certification and position themselves to add value to the bottom line. – Daniel Villao, Intelligent Partnerships, Inc.

5. Hone in on your creativity.
Humans’ unique differential will remain regardless of automation. We are creative beings, and as long as we approach problem-solving and pain points with creativity, our jobs are “future-proofed.” Embracing AI and ML to enhance efficiency and competency is a good thing! The door is open for more human invention and innovation. – Rachel Namoff, Arapaho Asset Management

6. Never stop learning.
Learn a new skill, language or even a new code. Make sure your employer knows you are hungry to learn and conquer new opportunities. Never stop learning and developing new skills. – Andrew Duffell, Research Park at FAU

7. Be able to recognize and adapt to business changes.
Being able to adapt and recognize modern changes in the way business is done is very important to any professional, no matter the industry. While it’s impossible to be an expert on everything, professionals should stay relevant by continuing to learn and embrace the modern new technologies that are entering our daily lives. – Tom Rourick, RSM US LLP

8. Remember there’s no substitute for human empathy.
In our business, human interaction and involvement each step of the way are what sets us apart. Even if we get to the point where there’s more automation, there is no substitution for empathy and feeling heard. As more industries utilize AI, the human touch will continue to differentiate us. It’s important to create an environment that celebrates the unique experiences our team brings to the table. – Jake Gilbreath, Walters Gilbreath, PLLC

9. Develop a growth mindset.
Every professional should develop a growth mindset where they focus on learning and make conquering new challenges a part of their routine. This will allow them to grow as businesses evolve. If professionals have a fixed mindset where they give up or avoid challenges, it will inevitably lead to failure to adapt to changes in the environment. – Vincent Phamvan, Vyten Career Coaching

10. Look for opportunities to streamline mundane tasks.
AI and ML are growing, but instead of being nervous about job security, people can see it as an opportunity for the more mundane tasks to be taken care of with technology. Then the human aspect can blossom, with professionals being more creative in their work, planning and strategy. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

11. Get ahead of the curve.
We must all continually update our skills! The technologies are coming, and we can either be displaced by them or be the innovator who solves problems through these new tools. Staying current and getting ahead of the curve is critical to remaining relevant in the new workplace. – Kathleen Schofield, Northeast Florida Regional STEM2 Hub

12. Prioritize your critical thinking skills.
This is an age-old question. People worried about the calculator, then the computer, now AI and ML. The one professional asset that is constant is critical thinking. Train your brain to look at problems from a macro/micro, conceptual/analytic and social/strategic viewpoint. Critical thinkers will be the next generation’s leaders — they will be the conductors rather than the musicians. – Lane Conner, Fuzse

13. Demonstrate your resilience.
While no one really knows which employment opportunities will be available in the future, you can still learn to future proof your career so employers see you as the best candidate. People who are adaptable and resilient will be the ones who will have longevity. A “change is inevitable” mindset must be adopted by professionals. Have an open mind about what change brings and take it head-on. – Katie Wahlquist, Star Bank

14. Challenge yourself to think creatively about your job and business.
Allow yourself — better yet, challenge yourself — to try creative thinking sessions (all pencils down and phones off) at least once a month about your job/business. AI and ML can do a lot at an impressive speed but are nonetheless tethered to data and processes that have occurred in the past. To date, only the human mind can envision something that has not been done or existed before. – Michael Sluka, B2B CFO Partners

15. Find ways to make tech work for you.
In today’s era of distributed workforces, cross-functional collaboration is digitally driven. All professionals must keep up with emerging technologies and upgrade their tools regularly. If you’ve used the same old tool for years, you may not even know what you are missing! My recommendation is to make tech work for you, not be scared of it. – Mark Zinman, Zinman & Company

16. Think like an entrepreneur.
There is no such thing as future-proofing. It is important to understand the market value of what you have to offer. You should always think like an entrepreneur. What can I offer that others need? What is the hiring manager looking for? When the skill you are currently known for is plentiful, build your other skills or acquire a new skill that is less available — then promote it. – Samir Mokashi, Code Unlimited LLC

7 Tips For Leveraging Ai To Improve User Experience

The use of artificial intelligence in marketing and advertising has been constantly on the rise due to the technology’s versatility in connecting brands with customers. AI has already found its way into several areas of the industry, most notably in the form of AI-based chatbots designed to enhance and optimize customer service.

7 tips for Ai and User Experience

However, AI can go so much deeper in improving the overall user experience that a customer may have. AI has the potential to do a lot more in terms of data processing to garner insights for a business. Focusing on the metrics that are specific to a business is just the surface layer. User interaction data can also provide a significant store of data that the company can use to improve customer experience. An element like a product recommendation service based on what the user has searched for and viewed previously is an excellent way to leverage AI to improve consumer interaction with the brand.

These leaders from Ad Age Collective understand the immense potential that AI can provide to the industry as a whole. We asked them to help us understand how a brand can best include AI in designing and upgrading its user experience. Here’s what they had to say.

1. Create a system of checks and balances.
There are plenty of applications of AI across all areas of advertising and marketing. Whether you’re building your own AI or using a technology provider, it’s important to ensure that there are checks and balances and a discernible ROI created. That requires checking that the algorithms are working optimally, mitigating biases and surfacing the most impactful recommendations on an ongoing basis. – Ricky Ray Butler, Branded Entertainment Network

2. Identify your visual brand equity.
As AI-driven user experience becomes the norm, a brand’s differentiated visual equity will be critical to stand out in multibrand platforms. Brands must identify visual elements that are relevant and ownable. For instance, Target owns the bull’s-eye. What else can they own? – Arjun Sen, ZenMango

3. Focus on audio.
Most of the brands have largely been neglecting their audio dimension. Developers and marketers focus mainly on visual and haptics to a lesser extent, while the sound is the sense dimension that connects emotionally. – Marcello Magalhaes, Speakeasy – Knowledge Brokers

4. Use AI to enhance personalization.
AI can be used to enhance the personalization of your offering. Use it to alter product options, add-ons and benefits in real time while a consumer is online searching for your brand in order to directly benefit their lifestyle. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

5. Use AI to manage out-of-stocks.
Some progressive retailers like Wakefern and Kroeger are using AI-powered image recognition to identify out-of-stock issues and to efficiently restock the shelves. Some brand owners like AB InBev, especially those with direct store delivery (DSD), are also doing the same. Collaborate with your retail channel partners to capture and act on this data. – Dan Beltramo, Onclusive (formerly AirPR)

6. Keep a close eye on it.
While AI is powerful and can help carry out activities easily and fast, it’s not 100 percent reliable. Remember Microsoft’s “Tay” Twitter bot that went from having engaging interactions to using slurs? Use AI in creating content and better experiences, but keep a close eye on it. AI is literal and does not take context into account, nor can it make moral judgments. You need to constantly monitor it. – Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner

7. Be cognizant of inherent bias.
AI is incredibly efficient and underpins many popular systems we use today. One only has to investigate the world of streaming services, with content recommendations powered by AI, to see its impact. However, brands need to remember to not be blinded by AI’s abilities and to be cognizant of inherent biases that exist within AI systems. AI is only as good as its creator — and that creator is human. – Patrick Ward, Rootstrap

8 Practical Ways To Optimize AI For Marketing

With today’s increased access to quality technology, businesses are constantly searching for ways to improve and tailor their marketing efforts. One development that’s taking the industry by storm is artificial intelligence (AI). Many brands are beginning to incorporate AI into their marketing strategies for more personalized, data-driven outreach.

8 Practical Ways

But are you ready to start using AI in your marketing efforts? Eight members of Ad Age Collective shared some practical approaches to making this technology impactful for your own business campaigns.

1. Start small and simple.

The scary aspect of AI is that most marketers don’t know where to start. Rather than thinking you need to implement AI in every facet of your job, think of some quick wins that would make your life easier as a marketer. Phrasee and Automizy are two examples of AI tools that analyze your email subject lines before you send out a campaign to help optimize your subject line, leading to increased open rates. – Patrick Ward, Rootstrap

2. Find the balance between ‘artificial’ and ‘human’ intelligence.

The same question that is being asked today was asked several years ago with the emergence of “big data.” The reality is that artificial intelligence is a wonderful thing, a tool that helps you to process, predict and project your marketing. However those that default to the “answers” that AI provides are often missing the point; AI can enable stronger human thinking, not replace it. – Rich Honiball, Navy Exchange Service Command

3. Aim to find something that solves your problems.

Over the years, I’ve discussed AI with dozens of experts who influence which AI solutions and companies are selected by large enterprises and/or partners. In one case, I asked, “Out of the thousands of companies you could recommend, why this one?” The answer was beautiful. “It works.” The expert’s point was: Many “sell” AI, but very few offer AI that solves something important. – Lana McGilvray, Purpose Worldwide

4. Use AI to support your human marketing staff.

AI will be a critical component for data collection and analytics to streamline efforts and minimize potential expensive errors. After the data is scrubbed clean of errors, centralized and uniformed, AI can be implemented to support the marketing team to quickly and effectively analyze results and determine the best campaign strategies that would not be possible for a human to compute. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

5. Think beyond your usual KPIs.

Optimizing digital spend with AI brings marketing back to real business by putting data to work. AI that optimizes directly toward true business outcomes — with client-specific data, audiences and creative inputs at the core — offers a competitive advantage beyond stale KPI metrics. The Xaxis proprietary AI technology, Copilot, delivers beyond traditional media metrics using customized algorithms. – Kerry Curran, Catalyst

6. Shift from predictive to prescriptive solutions.

There are interesting AI solutions that have evolved from predicting what is going to happen based on prior occurrences to now, where they can prescribe solutions. For example, in SEO, if a tool observes positive results from a competitor’s tactics, it recommends similar tactics that will either blunt the competitive force or offer ways to apply the learning more broadly. – Reid Carr, Red Door Interactive

7. Find out what people are saying about you.

AI is powerful enough to read all the content published about your company and products globally and understand or categorize it more consistently than humans. AI can predict how exposure to that media drives various business outcomes. Use those AI-driven insights about what the world is saying about your company to produce better, more engaging content. – Dan Beltramo, Onclusive (formerly AirPR)

8. Apply AI to account-based marketing.

There’s no time for thumb-twiddling in the dynamic world of B2B marketing. AI in ABM tells you what personas matter most to your opportunities and what they care about in real-time. But, to truly harness the power of AI-driven insights and orchestration, AI must be baked into the core of your marketing solution. Only then can you uncover valuable insights and deliver targeted messages at scale. – Latane Conant, 6sense

How Voice Technology Is Changing The Way We Work

How Voice Technology Is Changing The Way We Work

Author: Forbes Agency Council

Original Publication: Forbes

Date Published: July 27, 2018

How many times have you set a reminder, sent a message or searched for the answer to a question, simply by speaking into your phone? Voice technology, combined with built-in AI assistants like Siri and Cortana, have made these situations commonplace, and it’s changing the way we live our daily lives.

But voice technology isn’t just useful in the consumer realm: Businesses can — and already do — greatly benefit from the ability to give commands, look up information and dictate notes using just their voice and a smart device. Here’s what nine Forbes Agency Council members believe the future of voice technology in the workplace looks like. How Voice Technology Is Changing The Way We Work

1. Improved Internal Information Sharing

IBM Watson has been building customized voice applications for the enterprise. Think: Being on the factory floor and having access to all of the company’s intranet, process documentation and HR documentation, all without lifting a finger. Making information accessible to everyone will help all levels of the organization to be more efficient. – Dan Golden, Be Found Online

2. Increased Productivity Through Multitasking

Being able to ask simple questions, set meetings, timers, reminders and more, without stopping what you’re doing can be incredibly helpful, and already is. Alexa is a key office tool for me today, ensuring I keep track of action items and to-do lists, and reminding me of upcoming meetings. – Molly Mulloy, Crafted Communications

3. More Free Time For Administrative Executives

Voice assistance has the possibility of freeing up valuable time for administrative executives, allowing them to shift their focus to higher priority to-dos on their list. Inputting meetings on calendars, sending quick texts and other similar tasks will be replaced with voice technology. – Priscila Martinez, The Brand Agency

4. Greater Control Over The Work Environment

It is predicted that by 2020, 30% of all web searches will be screenless, and within four years, shopping online by voice-only is expect to reach $40 billion. While I am working through my emails, I use Alexa to replenish snacks by ordering from Amazon, get restaurant recommendations, search for the latest stats and change the office temperature. I can also ask Alexa to answer my calls. – Alannah Tsimis Sandehl, IDM Brand

5. Automation Of Mundane Processes

Alexa for business utilizes simple voice commands to control the equipment in the room, set up meetings without issues, and save time in the corporate world. It also can report to the IT department about broken printers, etc. Looking longer-term, I feel one of the biggest value propositions of voice assistants will be the ability to automate mundane processes. – Imran Tariq, WebMetrix Group LLC

6. Streamlined Workflows And Reduced Communicative Friction

Google has already introduced the ability of voice tech to schedule appointments, impacting our daily processes. Soon we’ll be able to say out loud, “Schedule a meeting with Tom at 2 p.m.,” and done! Between emails, instant messages and endless office minutia that can take time out of our day, voice tech will soon be an invaluable tool for streamlining general workflows and reducing friction. – Bernard May, National Positions

7. Greater Insights Into The Consumer Mindset

Aside from the utility of audio assistants in the workplace, which could be used to book meetings, manage to-do lists and send messages to colleagues, voice technology could help marketers get in the mindset of consumers by exploring voice search results and popular Skills/Actions. Voice gaming, for example, could be used as a model for how consumers will navigate website content by voice. – Nina Hale, Nina Hale / Performance Digital

8. Easier Documentation And Note-Taking

Every company needs some degree of process documentation, standard operating procedures and long, tedious written forms of communication. Yet, no one ever has the time to write them, so why not say them using voice technology? It’s easier to edit something than to write it from scratch. – Brooke Weller, iProspect, San Diego

9. Uniquely Human Jobs

Voice has already started to make its way into the workplace to improve worker efficiency. Dictation allows you to take real-time detailed notes during a meeting so there are no discrepancies. Cortana helps you search, schedule appointments and set reminders. When used effectively, technology will allow the worker to focus on strategy and creativity, the elements that make us uniquely human. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, hawthornedirect.com

2018: The Year Ahead and Beyond

Jessica Hawthorne-Castro

Author: Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, CEO

Original Publication: LinkedIn

Date Published: February 8, 2018

Jessica Hawthorne-Castro

We have firmly been in Connected Age and we are catapulting into the Data Age. The Consumer Electronics Show is always a good way to kick off the New Year displaying the latest in AI, autonomous vehicles, 5G, smart cities, IoT, robotics, digital health, AR, VR, and more. Walking through some of the 2.75 million net square feet of the 3,900 exhibitors, below are some of the key trends that stuck out to me surrounding today’s breakthrough innovations that will help shape the future of our planet.

 Autonomous Vehicles

Today, innovators are thinking beyond the development of autonomous vehicles and expanding to think about “Transportation-as-a-Service.” Down the road, autonomous vehicles won’t just deliver people to their destinations, but will also deliver all goods and services, whether it’s an Amazon package or a pizza. Automakers are already exploring how they can fit into this new future. For example, Toyota announced at CES its vision to transform from a car company into a mobility company, while Ford’s opening keynote focused on creating a reliable future of transportation through a systems-based approach for smart cities. Local logistics as opposed to long distance will be key.

However, autonomous vehicles won’t be ready to ship to the public this year. Even with friendly city regulators, the real-world hurdles still take time to navigate. CES clearly showed that pilot programs for autonomous vehicles will become increasingly ambitious in 2018, reflecting a broader vision of what this technology will be able to do. And get ready for flying taxis, which could travel up to 150 mph and be ready for trials in 2020—just two years away. In addition, there were exhibitors showcasing skyscraper/building-hopping helicopters, which could enable an “Uber of helicopters.” One company that is currently testing this technology is Textron’s Bell Helicopters, expected to be in-market by 2025.

Drones

A memorable moment at CES for all was watching 250 drones “perform” an amazing synchronized demo over the Bellagio waters. In addition, Intel’s preshow keynoteshowcased advances in drone technology with creative artistry that rivaled top Las Vegas shows. During the extravaganza, Intel celebrated innovation by setting a Guinness World Record with its Shooting Star Mini Drone show – the most advanced software fleet of 100 drones controlled without GPS by one pilot.

Entertainment aside, these feats of drone technology emphasized the major practical impact drones will have on a variety of industries, such as agriculture, logistics, and mapping.

Connected Home/Smart Cities

Smart Cities spotlighted many of these innovative technologies, including 5G, Artificial Intelligence and the Internet of Things. How AI will affect humanity is a topic of the utmost importance right now and there were several hundred industry innovators, policymakers, city officials and several hundred government leaders discussing how these technologies can transform municipal life. Meanwhile, tech giants like IBM and Intel showcased quantum computing technologies that can make smart cities a reality.

Inside the home will also be transformed. CES featured many connected homewares, such as voice-activated systems, smart speakers, and digital assistants, which made their way into everything from cars to appliances. Even the things we wear will become equipped with smart features. For example, clothing with sensors that measure heart rates and blood sugar, or glasses that help wearers focus on meditation.

Artificial Intelligence

After years of prototypes, AI-enabled software now dominates a corporation’s investing heavily moving forward. AI and automation are already having a big impact on the economy and employment. Moving forward, the discussion of how AI will impact employment will shift from focusing solely on the elimination of jobs to how to best help workers accommodate the inevitable change.

This year, in addition to business-focused AI technologies, CES also displayed the potential benefits AI has for individuals—we’ll increasingly witness the power of the AI-augmented human. Major breakthroughs and intersections in the field of Brain-Computer Interfaces (BCI) are anticipated in the next 10 to 15 years. Nanotechnology and Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) are also on the horizon over the next decade, as these technologies mature.

 Health / BioHacking / Longevity

The interest in using AI to enhance humans is related to other trends around health, biohacking, and longevity. Walking around the exhibition hall at CES, I noticed a few innovators promoting innovations around “exo-bionics.” This concept is still on the fringes, but will be huge in the future for boosting human strength and sport, with companies like Furrion and Ekso Bionics paving the way.

Other companies are more focused on extending the healthy human lifespan. Human Longevity Inc. (HLI), for example, aims to make “100 the new 60.” I also saw innovations in the field of stem cell treatments and non-invasive temperature fertility monitors, which are are 99% accurate. Technology is providing greater insight and control into our bodies than ever before.

Sustainability

Climate change is [almost] universally agreed to be one of the greatest threats facing our planet, and the humans who live on it. CES showcased an exciting array of clean energy technologies and initiatives that aim to mitigate the damage. Progress is being made. Consider a couple of statistics: Solar energy is now responsible for one in every 50 new jobs created in the United States, and the clean energy sector is growing at 12 times the rate of the rest of the economy. General Motors believes “the future is all-electric,” while Volkswagen announced it’s investing 70 billion euros and “putting its full force behind a shift into electric cars.” Volvo said that, starting in 2019, it will only make fully electric or hybrid cars “the end of the combustion engine-powered car.

These types of changes are happening across the world. China installed 54GW of solar by the end of 2017, more than any country has ever previously deployed in a single year, and doubled its 2020 goal to 213 GW. Following in China’s footsteps, India more than doubledits solar installations in 2017, accounting for more than 40% of new capacity— the largest addition to the grid of any energy source. Environmental progress also translates into an improved standard of living. In 1991, more than 40% of Bangladesh lived in extreme poverty. The World Bank said this year that the number has now dropped to 14% (equating to 50 million fewer people).

Singularity & Abundance

Seeing all the incredible innovations, makes it seem like the world is speeding up. And in fact, it is—we are moving towards Singularity. Singularity is the theory that the invention of artificial superintelligence will abruptly trigger runaway technological growth, resulting in unfathomable changes to human civilization. By 2029, computers will have human-level intelligence. 2045 is the year estimated for Singularity, when we will multiply our effective intelligence a billion fold by merging with the intelligence we have created.

Singularity will translate into Abundance as leaders like Peter Diamandis have defined it. As things speed up, they will get better. Just look at history for proof. Poverty has declined more in the past 50 years than the previous 500. During the last 50 years, while the population on Earth has doubled, the average per capita income around the world (adjusted for inflation) has tripled. During the last century, maternal mortality has decreased by 90 percent while the length of the average human lifespan has more than doubled. Violence has also been in constant decline. And if your measure of prosperity is tilted towards the availability of goods and services, consider that even the poorest Americans today have access to phones, toilets, running water, air conditioning and even cars.

During the last two decades, we have witnessed a technological acceleration and exponential progress in artificial intelligence, infinite computing, nano-materials, synthetic biology, to name a few—many which were on display at CES. These advancements put us on track to make greater gains in the next two decades than we have had in the previous 200 years. We will soon have the ability to meet and exceed the basic needs of every man, woman, and child on the planet. Abundance for all is within our grasp, and that’s what I move into 2018 feeling the most excited about.