Swarm Intelligence as an innovation booster and enabler for change management
Vice-President, Head of Machine Intelligence at Atos and member of the Scientific Community
Chief Architect, Distinguished Expert and member of the Scientific Community
Do van Rijn
Bid Executive at Atos
Posted on: 22 January 2020
In the first article in our series on Swarm Intelligence, we discussed how Swarm Intelligence will be a game changer in tomorrow’s business and society, underlying several schools of thoughts like human, algorithms and automation.
Let us now examine these various schools, starting with the human one.
While many companies are already struggling today to attract and retain top talented millennials, another tsunami, potentially just as disruptive, is now hitting the market: the Gen Z.
Embrace the YOLO entrepreneurial spirit
But what’s Gen Z? Gen Z, people born from the mid-1990s to the early 2000s, is the first generation who has grown up with smartphones and does not remember a time before social media. More importantly, Gen Z is driven by YOLO: “You Only Live Once”.
Companies need to understand how to capture and embrace the YOLO entrepreneurial spirit, developing new models of lifelong learning, a combination of hands-on experience, training and mentoring.
Companies also have to continuously manage fundamental changes in the way they deal with customers, build their brands, design, process, distribute, market, analyze information, and in the way customers access their products and services. This data-driven hyper-competition is fueled by multi-dimensional and interlaced innovation capabilities, for new products and services on one hand and new business models on the other.
This new multi-dimensional competition for innovation as well as the Gen Z expectations are strong organizational challenges. Organizations need to build interdisciplinary teams beyond the established hierarchies, but also teams able to quickly act and react to unforeseen changes. These teams’ efficiency relies on peer-to-peer connections and self-organization. They will operate as swarms, continuously organizing themselves to adapt to changes in the environment. This model is quite different from the traditional vertical hierarchical structures, which are inherently slow in coping with change. A DevOps team can be considered as an example of such a swarm-based organization model.
Get ready for the gig economy
The macro-economic trend ‘gig economy’ also fits the swarm-model very well: workers hired simply as freelancers by companies for short term engagements.
Although the gig economy is not yet widespread, it is gaining ground with people, specially the Gen Z, having a different attitude toward work and for whom flexibility and independency are key drivers in seeking a new job experience. We could even consider blockchain technology with its smart contract capabilities associating freelancers and investment funds competing against classical companies on a deal-per-deal basis. In such environments, corporates would not face anymore a situation where the gig economy brings them advantages, but competitors with the best experts, great flexibility and agility, and backed by credible financial capabilities.
It’s time for you to ask yourself: Will your company be a disrupter, or will it be disrupted?
In our next blog article, we’ll explore how Swarm Intelligence can speed up the decision-making process.
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