Last weekend, I had the opportunity to deliver a keynote speech at the Global Software Architecture Conference, in Santa Clara, California, about digital disruption and the future of technology innovation. Today, I’ll share the key takeaways, including the complete presentation (click below).

Although Gartner’s definition of Digital Business has been around for quite some time, people find it very difficult to realize the amazing transformation happening around us. From the days of the first general purpose computer ENIAC that carried out 5000 operations/second at the cost of $5.5 million in 1946 to today’s musical greeting cards that are 1.1 million times less expensive and 800 times faster, the technology industry has come a long way in today’s IoT-centric world.

Digital business is the creation of new business designs by blurring the digital and physical worlds.

With new business and consumption models of “on-demand,” and “as-a-service” becoming more prominent, the pace of disruption is accelerating with democratized innovation. Governments in some countries are launching special programs to leverage the global innovation ecosystem. Cisco’s global innovation centers are a proof point of this corporate mindset shift.

One of the biggest concerns about digital disruption is the loss of conventional jobs. Both Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg have expressed their perspectives on how AI and robotics are matching human cognitive skills and capabilities as a result of technology developments in recent times.

Bill Gates has proposed even a robot tax for companies deploying robots that take away human jobs. Irrespective of the legal and ethical implications of replacing humans with robots in a myriad of fields, the real transformation is about how human potential will be perceived and used in the future.

A seismic shift is happening in human employment. It’s changing skills from hand-based (blue collar) to head-based (white collar) to heart-based (no collar at all?).

According to some viewpoints, only certain skillsets are safe in an increasingly AI-centric world. These skillsets relate to communication, compassion, empathy, creativity, and other heart-centric emotional intelligence aspects of human beings.

Winning this digital disruption game requires a 4-I approach: Innovation, Investment, Internalization, and Introspection. Using innovation as a discipline to invest precious time in internalizing the thought process is the recipe for success. Innovative practices should become a natural habit similar to brushing one’s teeth. It just happens.

Continuous introspection helps us stay focused and calibrated on the path of mindful innovation. At the end of the day, success is measured in how many seeds we’re planting today—and not the yield we’re harvesting.

Do we really want machines to outsmart the human race?



Biren Gandhi

Head of Drone Business & Distinguished Strategist

Corporate Strategy Office