By: Robert Reiss
Reid Hoffman, the founding CEO of LinkedIn, once told me, “Your ideal timing for innovation is two years because you want to get the runway going.” As digital and artificial intelligence transform most industries, I thought it would be interesting to explore how some of today’s transformative CEOs envision the future. Below are insights from five CEOs – who are transforming healthcare, smart phones, entertainment, corporate culture and the internet – about their technology breakthrough, and how they see technology changing the world over the next five years.
• Jim Barnett, Co-founder, CEO & Chairman, Glint
• Lixin Cheng, CEO, ZTE Mobile Devices
• Graham Gardner MD, Co-founder & CEO, Kyruus
• Andy Ory, Co-founder & CEO, 128 Technology
• Rich Riley, CEO, Shazam
Robert Reiss: Describe your breakthrough in technology?
Lixin Cheng: The foldable ZTE Axon M is the first real innovation to hit the smartphone market in the last 10 years. Its two identical 5.2-inch screens enable consumers to take advantage of true multitasking capabilities and much more through four different modes. Dual screen functionality allows a consumer to use two different apps on two different screens all at the same time. When unfolded, the Axon M can use both screens as one, providing a full 6.75-inch screen for a tablet-like experience. There are many more use cases and modes the ZTE Axon M can deliver, and we believe this new foldable smartphone category ZTE created represents meaningful innovation that will transform the industry’s approach to smartphone design.
Dr. Graham Gardner: While healthcare is a field known for scientific breakthroughs that can transform patients’ lives, it often lags behind other industries when it comes to the adoption of workflow best practices. To make matters worse, even though the healthcare industry has been a tremendous producer of data (in the form of information like medical record notes and claims data), it has historically been a poor utilizer of that data – only recently beginning to incorporate individual and population health analytics into care coordination efforts. Cumbersome processes and information challenges too often hamper the very mission of healthcare.
Several years ago, we saw the convergence of several trends that inspired us to leverage an analytical framework from the world of sports to improve care delivery. Just as Moneyball helped baseball teams understand players’ relative strengths and taught managers how to use statistics to inform optimal team composition, we saw an opportunity to use data to help health systems determine how to match providers with patients in a way that benefits the patient, provider, and health system alike. Multiple factors facilitated this opportunity in healthcare: the increasing liquidity of data about providers; the emergence of Big Data and the ability to process information at scale; and the passage of Obamacare, which created urgency to understand and manage provider networks oriented around value-based care. Today, Kyruus’ platform houses tens of millions of data points on over 100,000 providers and helps health systems across the country make precise patient-provider matches based on clinical expertise, insurance, demographics, availability, and more.
Rich Riley: I think ‘technology’ started for me when my parents bought one of the first computers – a Radio Shack TRS80 with 16k of memory that loaded software via cassette tapes (wow, I feel old just saying that) – and I would write simple programs in BASIC. My breakthrough came when I found a real problem to solve: how to store usernames and passwords in the very early days of the Internet. This journey led me to work with my much more technical friends to create a solution, and next thing you know, we had a patent on what is today the toolbar and we were acquired by Yahoo!. Finding a real problem and applying technology to solve it is the angle that comes most naturally to me. Shazam is a similar story – using technology to magically connect people with music and just keep making it better and better
Andy Ory: Today, the internet interconnects billions of computers for the purpose of delivering and consuming applications and services. But it wasn’t originally designed for that, and as a result, it’s evolved into a patchwork of thousands of complex networks resulting in numerous security and reliability vulnerabilities. What’s more, today’s networks are ill-equipped to handle the demands of what’s coming next – millions of applications, billions of devices, trillions of transactions.
While other areas of technology – like compute and storage – have been radically disrupted over the last 15 years, networking has not fundamentally changed. Routing, the functional core of the internet, has barely changed since the 1990s.
128 Technology has gone back to the foundation of the internet and rethought routing, with an understanding of how the network is used today. Legacy, hardware-based routers forward packets (bits of information) blindly, but 128 Technology has developed a software-based router that understands sessions – the language of applications and services. The result is a more simple, secure and agile network, which allows network operators to better understand their network characteristics and handle future requirements more efficiently.
Jim Barnett: Most organizations today have dashboards to track and course-correct just about any business metric — except the metrics that represent the health of their people. Glint has brought the same sophisticated, AI-powered technology to people analytics, helping organizations increase employee engagement, develop their people, and improve business results. Leading brands like LinkedIn, Intuit, and Sky leverage Glint’s unique combination of AI, intuitive design, and actionable intelligence to help make employees happier and more successful at work.
Reiss: How do you see technology changing the world over the next five years?
Gardner: Healthcare has the dubious distinction of being an industry that has lost productivity during an era of explosive technological advancement that has propelled other sectors. Much of what has driven the slide in productivity is our reliance on people and manual processes. This is not a secret. In fact, it is one of the reasons why there has been so much excitement around the potential of HCIT.
Unfortunately, healthcare is stubborn – and understandably so. Patients are all different. As such, it is critical for technology companies to focus on augmenting how we deliver care while not over-reaching and trying to replace processes that are in fact complicated and may need to be individualized. We also must recognize that sometimes it is important for a person to be involved – there is no replacement for a human being holding the hand of another human being when delivering a difficult prognosis.
That said, there are other times when human beings don’t need to speak to each other. Just as chat-bots now help us cancel or reschedule flights, so can the use of conversational UI offload the burden of low-yield tasks on people in health system call centers. In fact, as the potential for “guided flow” of conversations improves, we see chat-bots as a powerful way of driving cost savings and best practices, while delivering convenience to patients. They can also help right-size human interaction in those situations still requiring it, enabling consumers to start with a digital engagement and transition to a human interaction at the appropriate point.
Riley: It used to be that there was a ‘tech’ industry and then everything else. So maybe every year your computer got faster but not much else changed. What’s so exciting to me is that every business is becoming a ‘tech’ business and our lives are being enriched by technology, as everything gets smarter – first our phones, but increasingly our homes and soon our cars and more. With computing power everywhere and high-speed connectivity to everything else, I think the rate of advancement will accelerate. It has the power to make us more productive, more entertained and more connected, and I’m really excited about where everything is headed.
Ory: We have traded privacy for convenience. We spend more money than ever on security, and feel less secure. We are more connected than anyone in history ever imagined. The pace of these changes – and new ones, such as IoT, AI, augmented reality, and biotechnology – are happening faster than ever. Many industries will be disrupted, and jobs lost. However, whole new industries will emerge, resulting in net-new jobs, and improved career opportunities.
Business increasingly will be forced to embrace change of all sorts more quickly than ever before. This includes a changing work force, changing economics, changing time frames for business strategies, and embracing changing technologies. The ability to enable businesses to more quickly and safely adapt to these unanticipated changes is critical to survival and success.
Cheng: Looking into the future, ZTE is preparing for, and leading, a world driven by high-speed networks (5G), the Internet of Things, and immersive experiences (AR/VR) that will open up new services and solutions. We see technology revolutionizing connectivity with a new standard of download speeds that will make 360° panoramic VR video, instant cloud storage, entertainment upgrades and fast cache of ultra Hi-Fi music and movies possible. As data speed increases we will see deployment of end-to-end IoT solutions that will transform our homes, our cities and transportation networks. This will result in higher-quality and more personalized services for consumers within a variety of sectors including transportation, education, healthcare and public services as well as support industries and local economic development.
Barnett: The need to listen to, understand and engage the whole workforce has reached a tipping point. This year in particular, the biggest lesson learned is that it takes more than just the brightest minds, the most innovative products, and the flashiest optics to be a successful and admired company. Any organization can begin to crumble if its foundation—the environment it creates for its people—is built on shaky ground.
In the next five years, it will continue to be critical for companies to listen to, understand, and take action on employee feedback. Here, AI has the potential to drive stronger human connection and have a meaningful impact on employees’ lives. By harnessing AI, Glint enables feedback from employees at any time and delivers actionable insights to employers that don’t just break down employee data, but break through it.
In particular, Glint customers will benefit from its Narrative Intelligence™ technology, which analyzes open-ended feedback to connect the dots between what employees say, how they feel about it, and how it relates to their engagement. The results provide managers with an understanding of the full spectrum of employee sentiment, leading to effective action. In turn, employees feel their voices are heard—which helps them feel more satisfied, successful and purpose-driven at work.
In summary, I remember reading in 1994, ‘Competing for the Future’. Over two decades ago it shared an insight which I believe for CEOs is more relevant than ever: think through how technology will change the future and build the model ahead of schedule that tomorrow’s consumer will want. Hopefully the insights from these five visionary CEOs will help you build your organization’s model.