In each sector you see the same mistakes, always in the same scenario:
Stage 1: “The disruption will be alright”
Stage 2: “It won’t be that fast in our sector”
Stage 3: “Wait, that’s not even allowed?!”
If you’re past these stages, you’re already quite far. ~Jo Caudron
Jo was asked what the impact of digital disruption will be on liberal professions, where human expertise often plays a fundamental role in the services:
“No sector is safe from disruptive technologies. What you define as expertise is always subject to evolution. In the past taxi drivers in London had to take an exam to prove they knew how to find every single alley in the city – so proving their expertise. Today this is no longer relevant, as there are detailed GPS systems that monitor the traffic in real-time. For some economic professions the same thing is happening: just knowing how to fill in a balance is no longer enough, as there is software that allows customers to do this themselves. There are examples like these in every sector.
We give advice to a Flemish law firm, where they are preparing for IBM’s Watson. This supercomputer is already capable of reading contracts and recognizing weaknesses. The computer indicates which parts should be reviewed by a human, based on precedents and legal rulings. This intelligence exists today, in many languages. Additionally, Watson is already capable of performing medical diagnoses based on a few symptoms, which it cross references with previous medical files. The results are more accurate than those of a human. There is even a Belgian hospital where computers estimate risks based on a dataset of blood levels and such. So yes, the liberal professions are absolutely subject to disruption.”
But personal contact can’t be replicated by a computer?
“There are indeed parts of the value chain which won’t be replaced any time soon, but it is difficult to list these. Everything related to emotions, intuition and creativity will be harder to replace in the near future, but if it is about making fair judgements or performing repetitive tasks, it can be automated a lot easier. Perhaps in the future we won’t even want certain tasks to be handled by a human, because they are less reliable.”
When is it better to let a digital solution handle something?
“The criterium is relevance. Why do people change to alternative services? Because the experience is more relevant. It takes away a disadvantage as it is cheaper, faster, more personalized, easier, has higher quality,… or a combination of these. Sometimes the service isn’t even better, but simply good enough and more relevant.”
What can we do to prepare for this?
“Knowing what is coming and accepting this. No longer denying a clear evolution, or waving something away because it isn’t allowed or still in early development.
Next you need to look at what role you can play in this future. You have to ask yourself whether your approach today is still the best. This may result in severe changes in the way you work, but try to look at it with an open mindset.
This doesn’t mean you need to throw everything overboard that you do today, you don’t need to close offices and strictly work online, but you do need to question the relevancy of your current approach and what you can learn from digital challengers in terms of digital components in your offering.”
Read the full Dutch article here in “DeVrijeBeroeper” magazine.