Dave Coplin of The Envisioners is set to inspire audiences at this year’s ICT Spring conference in Luxembourg, sharing his expertise in digital transformation and emerging technologies. As a renowned thought leader, Coplin’s engaging presentations will challenge traditional thinking and ignite conversations around the opportunities and challenges of the digital era.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your role as Chief Envisioning Officer?
For the last three decades, I have been trying to use my experience in the tech industry to help those outside the industry understand the amazing potential technology offers both at work and at home.
I created the role of the “Chief Envisioning Officer” as a fun way of trying to take the attention off the technology itself and instead help others engage with the potential that the technology-enabled in their business.
The role itself came from a frustration that the IT industry has a tendency to focus primarily on the technology and products alone rather than the humans that use it, and my experience has consistently shown that without engagement from humans, all technology is more or less worthless. Envisioning is simply an attempt to make the technology relevant to the people that use it and to show them how the technology can empower them to achieve more than they could before.
What are some of the key topics that you frequently discuss, and what are some of the main messages that you try to convey to your audiences?
I spend a lot of my time thinking about the intersection of technology and society, trying to understand the potential that new technologies might bring, along with how we might navigate some of the challenges that will inevitably follow.
Specifically, the topics I’ve spent most of my time talking about for the last decade or so have been focused on the impact of artificial intelligence as well as the potential of flexible and remote working. Both topics represent a massive transformation (or disruption!) in our established ways of working and my focus has been really aimed at how we help businesses and individuals maximise the potential to do good with these technologies whist we minimise the risks.
This work has inevitably led me to spend more time thinking about education more broadly and how it needs to change in order to help prepare our future workforce with the skills they will need to stay relevant in a rapidly changing world.
How do you think technology is impacting modern society, and what are some of the opportunities and challenges that come with this?
You only have to pick up the newspaper or watch the news on any given day and no matter where you are, you will likely read a story about the potential risks that new technology is posing to our society. From the displacement of jobs to robots (software and hardware) to the impact on the mental health and well-being of our young people, it really feels like the technology is out to hurt us rather than help us.
I think this is a really dangerous narrative for us to pursue, and it runs the risk of significantly reducing the positive impact that technology can bring to all of our society as we tend to spend far more time catastrophizing the negative potential without spending enough (or any!) time thinking about the positive potential. My job is to help people first understand the good that technology can do across all aspects of our lives before we then start to think about how we might seek to minimise the risks. I think that if we do that we are able to empower people to use technology in a way that helps to move us forward, to be able to achieve more in both our professional and personal lives.
Can you share any tips or advice for fostering the envisioning process, whether for individuals or teams within organizations?
If you want to be prepared for your future, there are a few really simple things you can do that will put you in the best possible place to take advantage of whatever opportunities the future may bring.
The first is you’ve absolutely got to get outside of your business, you’ve got to stop looking from the inside – out and instead look from the outside – in. Think about what your customers might be feeling, and what their expectations might be and then reflect on how you might be living up to them. It really doesn’t take much and I guarantee it will change the way you think about what’s important to you and your organisation.
You need to get out of your industry too. If you think your customers (or even your employees) only think about you in the context of the industry you’re in, you’re dead wrong. Spend time away from the constraints of the straight-line future and instead spend a few fun hours simply pondering “What if?” Even if none of what you imagine comes to pass, you will be better prepared for what takes its place.
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