Dr. Pero Mićić is active as an author, entrepreneur, consultant and speaker in the field of future management. He is one of the founders of the Association of Professional Futurists, Chairman of the Advisory Board of the European Futurists Conference, Chairman of the Advisory Board of the Futures Research Program at the University of Houston and Chairman of the International Trend and Future Management Conference. On July 3, 2019, he will give the keynote speech “How do you live tomorrow? How to make digitization, robotics, artificial intelligence & Co. your chances” at the prudsys retail intelligence summit in Berlin.
Mr. Mićić, we are delighted that you will be the keynote speaker at this year’s prudsys retail intelligence summit. You are dealing with the future of companies. What makes your work as a future manager particularly exciting for you?
Every day, my colleagues and I can satisfy our overwhelming curiosity about the new things that are coming. We know what is going to come, what will remain and what needs to go earlier than most people.
It is even more valuable and exciting for us to make sure that our clients get a better future orientation, a clear vision and future strategy and to convince and motivate the employees in their companies to set off for a bright future.
Now look at the retail sector. What are the most important developments in the medium and long term that a retailer should be aware of in order to survive in the market?
It is quite obvious that pure trading, which is limited to the classic trading functions, continues to lose value for customers and is therefore becoming increasingly unprofitable.
In addition, practically no product really has to be purchased physically. In the past, people thought that you had to buy clothing physically, which turned out to be a false assumption. Today, most people consider buying a car to be physical. Tesla shows that this is not true either.
Therefore I recommend, at least as a method of thinking, to give up the identity as a “trader”. And then ask yourself the following questions:
- What convincing benefits do we offer beyond the classic retail function?
- How do we deliver these benefits even in a maximum digitalized business model?
- How do we make this benefit unique, i.e. unrivalled?
How will we shop in 10 years, for example food, clothes or furniture?
It depends who “we” are. I have been buying food online for several years. This works wonderfully and saves both time and effort. I just go through my shopping list and select how much of what I need. I walk around the house with my smartphone. At the end of my five-minute tour I click on “order” and select the delivery time. That is all present. For the future it is only open how many people will get used to this kind of food shopping. It’s a question of diffusion. Typically, the younger and technically more open-minded people will be present in the early phase and the more conservative and older people in the late phase. But those who experience in their own environment how easy it is to shop will probably overcome their skepticism and save themselves the hassle of making personal purchases.
Since nothing necessarily has to be purchased physically, the same applies to clothing or furniture, too. Only if you enjoy shopping as a leisure activity, for example to be inspired by smells and touches, you will continue to shop physically. The only question is how quickly habits will change.
Artificial intelligence is finding its way into trade and almost every other industry. How do you think AI will change the way we work?
You should assume that today or soon intelligent machines can do everything man can do and do it better. Better perception, better thinking, better learning, better communication, better decision-making and so on. Badly asked; what does the machine actually need the human being for? To be useful to him or her. After all, intelligent machines are there for us. And it needs the human being to be developed, operated and used by him or her.
However, the capabilities of the machines are so far very specialized. It is “narrow artificial intelligence”. What distinguishes us as human beings is the breadth of our abilities. That’s why we won’t lose as many jobs to AI as some fear. But we will lose many tasks to them, or be able to delegate them better.
As a result, we will not have less work, but more. The only real problem is that the demands on qualifications will increase significantly. Some people will be unable or unwilling to learn as quickly as they should. Then we need to find a solution to redefine income so that millions are not considered ‘unemployed’, while the labour market is in dire straits.
The world we live in seems more complex and indeterminate than ever before. What advice can you give companies for more orientation and security?
In a few words: To develop and consistently pursue a clear mission, positioning and vision. If the environment becomes more complex and faster, one must focus and concentrate in order to reflect the complexity of the environment in one’s own company in a narrower field. To put it simply, we have to do fewer things in order to do them better.
The future strategy, i.e. mission, positioning and vision, must be future-proof. To achieve this, the business model must be designed in such a way that it corresponds to the foreseeable trends and technologies of the coming years and ideally benefits from them. The biggest problem here is that the future assumptions of many decision-makers are too much wishful thinking and too little systematic foresight. Nobody can predict the future, but everyone can improve their assumptions about the future by looking more closely at trends and technologies and being prepared to adapt their convictions to what is foreseeable.
Last but not least, it is crucial for success that employees in companies look for orientation more than ever before. A clear mission defines the team’s valuable and inspiring task. The positioning explains how you have a unique offer in a market. Finally, the vision shows a picture that you can work towards with motivation. These three elements of a future strategy are dramatically underestimated in their importance. They can even be the most valuable thing a company has. Developing and improving them is often the most profitable investment you can make.
Dr. Pero Mićić advises management teams and strategists of large corporations and leading medium-sized companies on the orientation towards future markets and the development of well-founded scenarios, motivating visions and effective strategies.
See Dr. Pero Mićić live at the prudsys retail intelligence summit in Berlin at July 3. We can’t wait to listen to his keynote “What Will We Live on in the Future? How to Make Digitalization, Robotics & Artificial Intelligence a Chance for You.“ Join us in Berlin! Get your ticket today!