Technological disruptions in business – does it change everything? Webinar Recording Reply

Our Business Perspectives webinar on “Technological disruptions in business – does it change everything?” took place on Monday 2 July. If you missed the webinar or want to watch it again, it is now available to view on demand. If you haven’t already, you will need to complete the registration form for access.

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During our webinar we explored the opportunities and challenges surrounding the ‘fourth industrial revolution, industry 4.0’. This was followed by a question and answer session with questions and insights from the webinar audience.

Our webinar panellists were Robert Herian, Lecturer in Law, from The Open University Law School and Dr Charles Barthold, Lecturer in People Management, OUBS. The webinar was facilitated by Lucy Clarke, Digital Development Manager, OUBS.

You can also share your views and comments about the event or topic by following us on Twitter @OUBSchool, using #OU_BP.

Money for nothing? The pros and cons of a ‘basic income’ 2

The recent news that the Finnish Government will not be expanding its trial which provided 2,000 unemployed people with a state-supplied basic income has sparked fresh debate on the topic.

A basic income is defined as ‘a periodic cash payment unconditionally delivered to all on an individual basis, without means test or work requirement’. It is supplementary to any other support someone might receive such as unemployment, child or housing benefit.

Dr Charles Barthold, Lecturer in People Management at OUBS, discussed the potential advantages and drawbacks in ‘Modern Empowerment Today: The Possibilities of a Citizen’s Basic Income’, one of three presentations at a masterclass organised by OUBS at the Crowne Plaza in The City on Wednesday 2 May 2018.

Charles discusses the issue:

“The important criteria of a basic income are that it is an ‘unconditional’ income to every individual in a particular country via a repetitive cash payment and is universal (so not means tested). The idea is to democratise society with an intention to be inclusive as everyone becomes ‘part of society’ regardless of gender, class or poverty. It could empower us all and provide more choices for people such as offering the opportunity for couples to both work part-time, for example. It would be simple to administer and much easier than the complex current means tested system which is subject to both fraud and errors, although some people would still be receiving other benefits on top of this basic income.

“There is an expectation that innovation will destroy and create jobs and that the current level of employment will continue to increase. Basic income is an instrument to smooth the transition from one job to another but with individual responsibility to look for the next job and to be employable. It’s meant to provide a minimum income as you transition to another job – perhaps by learning new skills through going back to education – as a response to automation which will see some repetitive, low-skilled jobs replaced and a move towards other low-skilled jobs that are not repeatable such as cleaners and care workers.

“Usually these experiments are very limited in both the amount of people involved and the time it happens for. Despite the Finnish experiment not being continued beyond the end of the year, people have continued to work and stress levels decreased during these trials. I don’t see the basic income as a silver bullet as it’s difficult to provide money to people without any responsibility – according to the current world view – but it could offer more freedom and choice through education and entrepreneurship.”

‘The future of work 4.0: Disruptive technologies, opportunity or threat?’ Business Perspectives masterclass also featured presentations on the fourth industrial revolution and regulating blockchain led by Lecturer in Law Robert Herian from The Open University Law School, as well as a discussion on some of the opportunities and challenges posed by potential economic ‘disruptions’.

Do we need to regulate blockchain technology? 2

By Robert Herian, Lecturer in Law, The Open University Law School

Blockchain technologies first emerged as the architecture making Bitcoin work after the 2008 financial crisis, and arguably as a direct response to it. Since then, blockchains have been promoted as a means of conducting peer-to-peer, decentralised networking in a variety of sectors in order to do away with the problem of the ‘middleman’, and help build the economic layer the World Wide Web never truly had.

From supply chain management to land registries, provenance to artist income, electoral monitoring to health records, blockchain appears to its stakeholders as a clear answer to the question of how online activity between individuals and businesses can be made more secure, trustworthy and transparent. Centralised global financial institutions and services that blockchain was designed to circumvent are, however, now in control of much of the research and development around the technology. So, what is the future for blockchain?

Robert Herian from the OU Law School sits on the All-Party Parliamentary Group on blockchain, examining policy development and regulation of distributed ledger technologies. With the debate raging about how to regulate – or indeed even ban – cryptocurrency and the role blockchain can play in the world economy, his new book ‘Regulating blockchain’ is due out later in the year. The Lecturer in Law also gave one of three presentations at a masterclass organised by the OU Business School at the Crowne Plaza in The City last Wednesday (2 May) to discuss his ideas.

“There’s so much excitement and positivity about blockchain at the moment, while radical blockchains undoubtedly scare governments and big business. It’s still really unclear what role blockchain will play in the fourth industrial revolution but one thing is for certain, this technology can’t be ignored.

“Businesses have been put on notice but in reality, it’s really hard to tell when it will arrive on a wider scale. There is a marked contrast between blockchain evangelists who claim that the technology can solve all the world’s problems, versus a far more mundane reality that blockchain is little more than a means of accounting. Our underlying problems in society will still exist even though we’re using a new technology.”

‘The future of work 4.0: Disruptive technologies, opportunity or threat?’ Business Perspectives masterclass also featured presentations from Dr Charles Barthold, Lecturer in People Management, on the fourth industrial revolution and the possibility of a universal basic income, as well as a discussion on some of the opportunities and challenges posed by potential economic ‘disruptions’.

Have we anything to fear from the ‘fourth industrial revolution’? 2

By Dr Charles Barthold, Lecturer in People Management, The Open University Business School

A life full of copious amounts of leisure time with mundane tasks a thing of the past, or a world with mass unemployment which is ruled by machines?

Nobody is quite sure what the period we are entering, often referred to as the ‘fourth industrial revolution’, will mean for mankind but there will be significant changes to the lives of many as we progress through the 21st century.

Is it a positive, utopian prospect as we become a technology-driven ‘leisure society’? Or is there a far more troubling dystopian view that robots and corporations will dominate in a world of large-scale unemployment as both blue and some white collar jobs disappear?

Dr Charles Barthold, Lecturer in People Management, discussed both theories in ‘Preparing for Industry 4.0’, one of three presentations at a masterclass organised by the OU Business School at the Crowne Plaza in The City last Wednesday (2 May).

“The future is not inevitable and it’s something humans will create. It’s only the beginning and there’s lots of scope to shape what will happen. The future will be what we make it to be and it will be shaped by debate and will require global buy-in through investment decisions and political support.

“With artificial intelligence (AI) able to make strategic decisions, it could operate interconnected factories, rather than having a need for the current network of managers. ‘Smart’ organisations will be more efficient, providing better services to their customers. According to current patterns, inequality between countries as a whole is likely to decrease but also increase among individuals in a world of ‘smart’ technologies, organisations and cities. There is the assumption that low-skill jobs will be replaced; with our existing economic model disrupted, a new lifelong education system will be required to upskill workers for the new jobs created.

“This vision of the future is sure to raise moral and ethical issues such as drones fighting our wars, using genetics to cure cancer, or even AI controlling our sacrosanct justice system as lawyers and even judges could become obsolete. All the three previous industrial revolutions led to conflicts – will this one be any different?”

‘The future of work 4.0: Disruptive technologies, opportunity or threat?’ Business Perspectives masterclass also featured presentations on the possibilities of a basic income and regulating blockchain led by Lecturer in Law Robert Herian from the OU Law School, as well as a discussion on some of the opportunities and challenges posed by potential economic ‘disruptions’.

Video Highlights: The Future of Work 4.0: Disruptive technologies, opportunity or threat? Reply

Are we in the dawn of a new era?

Technology is rapidly changing both our work and lives. Many experts are predicting that we are rapidly headed toward a ‘fourth industrial revolution’.

In this masterclass, held on 2 May in London, Lecturer in People Management Dr Charles Barthold asked how can the rapid technological advances in computing, robotics and communications that are revolutionising work and life, be empowering, rather than dis-empowering, for people and organisations? He explored the ways in which practitioners can use technology for social empowerment and how we can create a smarter work force.

Robert Herian, Lecturer in Law from The Open University Law School, discussed Blockchain – what is it, how it is regulated, and how it will affect workplaces of the future.

Video highlights are available:

You can also share your views and comments about the event or topic by following us on Twitter @OUBSchool, using #OU_BP.

Disruptive technologies and intelligence: business opportunity or threat? Webinar Recording Reply

Our Business Perspectives webinar on “Disruptive technologies and intelligence: business opportunity or threat?” took place on Friday 26 January. If you missed the webinar or want to watch it again, it is now available to view on demand.  If you haven’t already, you will need to complete the registration form for access.

WATCH THE WEBINAR

Download the slides

During our webinar we discussed how general data protection and compliance may be affected by a ‘fourth industrial revolution’ as technology rapidly changes both our work and lives. This was followed by a question and answer session with questions and insights from the webinar audience.

Our webinar panellists included David Mudd, IoT Business Development Director, BSI and Dr Peter Bloom, Head of the Department for People and Organisations, OUBS. The webinar was facilitated by Janet Barker, External Engagement Manager, OUBS.

You can also share your views and comments about the event or topic by following us on Twitter @OUBSchool, using #OU_BP.

How well do we adapt to change in the workplace? Reply

Matthew Haigh (1)

Guest blogger: Dr Matthew Haigh is Senior Lecturer in Accounting at The Open University Business School (OUBS). Dr Matthew Haigh is leading the Festive Networking event on Wednesday 6 December. For more information, visit the OUBS website.

This mis-named Brexit – the existential crisis of our day. Maybe, or maybe not. What to do about it seems the more pressing question. Any period of substantial structural change represents an opportunity to examine ourselves as much as an opportunity to understand employment markets. Take the City of London as an example of a regionally important market. The interesting thing here is that one can see the best parts of regionally important industries dumped into a tiny area, all co-operating, competing, communicating and relying on each other. Basically, the City’s an ant’s nest and not many outside it know much about what happens inside. In the lead up to EU-withdrawal, we might be able to learn both something about the City and something about how well we adapt to change in the workplace.

At the time of writing, EU-withdrawal already tells us something about the City. What stands out in public discussions and the press is a generalised fixation on the City. It’s interesting that the City’s borders – who’s in, who’s leaving and where they’re heading – has suddenly become a matter of national concern, when what the City does is organise a market without borders: globalised financial services. The City supports 100,000 business administration positions; 87,000 positions in financial services; 80,000 in professional services; insurance, perhaps surprising some, comes in at 50,000 positions; technology, 25,000 and growing fast, and retail with 23,000 positions (1). All in one not very square mile, plus Canary Wharf. As we approach the big date of 29 March 2019 – the day the United Kingdom is due to leave the European Union – how will this employment pattern change?

If one were to look at recent data, it would appear that net employment losses in the City, going forwards into 2019, are likely. Perhaps net losses in 2019 will prove no larger than any of the five big employment dips since 1997. Certainly, there has been widespread expectation that the City’s employment landscape is about to change. Between March 2016 and November 2017, the fourteen regional newspapers distributed in central London published at least 700 articles alluding to the City’s future relationship with the European Union. Four rhetorical themes emerge in London’s daily press: in descending order, we have Loss (42% of headlines), Existential Threat (30%), Uncertainty (15%) and Hardship (11%). Let’s take a peek at two articles.

Extract 1, 8 November 2017:
“Wall St warns Trump team of Brexit point of no return. High-level meetings hear lack of clarity threatens thousands of UK financial jobs. […] Absent clarity from the government about post-Brexit plans, the executives said jobs would move back to the US or to other European capitals as banks begin to enact their worst-case contingency plans, the sources said.”

Extract 2, 31 October 2017:
“Brexit/City job cuts: Oliver’s army: Consultants predict the loss of 75,000 jobs, but forecasts of shake-outs are often wrong.”

Extract 1 adopts a militaristic tone: ‘Wall St warns’, ‘point of no return’, ‘threatens thousands’. Many headlines have used numbers to frame predicted losses in the City. A headline from October 2016 predicted 100,000 City positions at risk. A few weeks later, another warned “Losing clearing would cost London 83,000 jobs […] up to 232,000 losses across the nation”. A year later, one read “Uncertainty over Brexit transition ‘could put 75,000 City jobs at risk’”. This type of arithmetic rhetoric speaks strongest to Existential Threat.

Extract 2 may prompt your knowledge of military history. The headline alludes to the professional status of soldiers in the New Model Army and their eventual fate: unemployment. The New Model Army fought for a Commonwealth of England, only to be disbanded in 1660 following disputes over pay and political demands. A connection to the ‘army’ of commuters heading for City of London is clear, as is our classification of Extract 2 under the Loss and Uncertainty categories.

In all of this, the City has been cast both as a victim of circumstances and as something to blame, or that should be made responsible, for the consequences. Why both victim and scapegoat? The answer, of course, is employment multipliers, with the Office for National Statistics using multipliers between 1 and 5 for financial services, insurance and related industries (2). Whatever happens in the City in the run-up to March 2019 we might expect that to be felt across a range of employment markets. So we might benefit from considering how well we adapt to change.

Conveniently, a tool exists to help you gauge how you adapt to change. It’s called a career adaptability scale, it’s from vocational behaviour research, and it’s been tested in English-speaking and non-English-speaking countries. Access a copy of the instrument and score yourself using a five-point scale: 5 for ‘strongest’ to 1 for ‘not strong’ (3). If your total score comes out below 60, you might need to work on your adaptability strengths in the run-up to March 2019.

  1. See The Impact of Firm Migration on the City of London, http://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/economicresearch, accessed 10 December 2017.
  2. See ONS tables ‘Type I employment multipliers and effects by SU114 industry and sector (market, government and NPISH) Reference year: 2010’.
  3. Mark L. Savickas and Erik J. Porfeli (2012) “Career Adapt-Abilities Scale: Construction, reliability, and measurement equivalence across 13 countries”, Journal of Vocational Behavior, Volume 80, Issue 3, Pages 661-673.

Video highlights from our masterclass – Disruptive Technologies and Intelligence: Business Opportunity or Threat? Reply

During our masterclass in Hemel Hempstead on 11 October, Penny Asher, Director, Executive Education at OUBS hosted David Mudd of BSI and Dr Peter Bloom of OUBS at this event to explore the challenges of working smart with disruptive technologies and intelligence.

Dr Bloom’s presentation asked “Are you ready for the fourth industrial revolution and should you be?” and discussed issues such as whether we are heading for a utopian or dystopian future workplace, considering new ways of working, planning for the future today, and highlighting that the future is not inevitable.

David Mudd’s presentation explored the “Internet of Things: What does it mean for business today?” David addressed issues including Reward vs. Risk, IoT security, why people matter most and why your organisation shouldn’t rush into joining the new revolution.

Video highlights are available:

Are you ready for the fourth industrial revolution and should you be?

Dr Peter Bloom, Senior Lecturer in Organisational Studies, The Open University Business School

The Internet of Things (IoT): What does it mean for businesses today? The rewards and the risks

David Mudd, British Standards Institution (BSI), IoT Business Development Director

Innovation quarter summary report Reply

Business Perspectives Innovation SummaryTo conclude the Business Perspectives innovation quarter, we have created a summary report that offers diverse ideas and insights about innovation – a snapshot of perspectives from around the globe.

We invite you to download and share the report and please send us any comments.  We will create a similar summary report following the strategy quarter, if you would like to contribute your perspective towards the strategy theme, please contact our Business Perspectives Editor using the web-form below.

Click here to download the report.