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Artificial Intelligence

In Times of Disruption, Hiring an AI Futurist can Help Executives Navigate the Unknown

Prior to COVID-19 disruption, not many executives had experience in navigating a global pandemic. Yet, in times of disruption, especially when markets are forced to shut down all around the world, leaders need experts, and more so, they need accurate, timely, and competitive insights that guide direction and consequential decisions in real-time. More so, decision-makers also need the ability to understand trends to predict how to make moves that accelerate recovery and drive growth in new, unforeseen opportunities. But traditional experts are in short supply.

It got me thinking. What if every company hired a futurist to advise the C-Suite not only to navigate emerging trends related to COVID-19, but also to explore future scenarios that unlock possibilities that were difficult if not impossible to see otherwise. 

At Salesforce, Peter Schwartz is our resident futurist. Along with the “Office of Innovation,” Schwartz led the scenario planning and research initiatives to help businesses reopen safely during this ongoing pandemic. Their work also led to the development of a helpful playbook that outlines four models of potential economic outcomes shaping the Novel Economy

Now Hiring: Futurists and AI futurist counterparts in the c-suite

COVID-19 disruption is profound and unique in the challenges it presents even the best of futurists and scenario planners. Strategists could use superhuman help.

In a recent article in ZDNet, I explore the role of futurists, scenario planning, and how innovative AI can guide the C-Suite by assessing incredible volumes of real-time and still evolving data sets. 

I was inspired by Salesforce Research and its release of the AI Economist, a new line of research that studies how to improve economic design using AI. The goal is a noble one, to optimize productivity and social equality for everyone. 

What if an AI Futurist explored the potential of deep AI in a different economic scenario, one of understanding and optimizing unimagined scenarios in the throes of COVID-19 and beyond?

Adding the role of futurists partnered with AI could serve as strategic advisors to the C-Suite and help executives make critical decisions while minimizing risks and increasing positive outcomes.

New times call for novel approaches

Any data sets pre-pandemic, any “future of…” scenarios previously developed, and any roadmaps based on either, need a redux. Our Ctrl-Alt-Del moment started on Day Zero of COVID-19. 

AI, machine learning, and automation are each — in their own way — fast-tracking digital transformation to scale critical areas of demand and capacity where humans can’t. But, to navigate these “uncertain times,” executives need access to extraordinary brain power, both human and digital. 

In this ZDNet article, we’ll learn how futurists + AI can play a much more strategic role in business evolution than we imagined pre-COVID. Together, AI and human futurists can help…

  1. Model future scenarios based on new data stemming from pandemic disruption and accelerate the study of new data sets to inform executives on  COVID-19-inspired scenarios.. 
  2. Study patterns and trends to understand and anticipate what could happen in future scenarios and help decision-makers prepare for and gain an advantage ahead of those likely changes.  
  3. Assist in the development of high impact strategy and investment decisions. 
  4. Plan and execute accordingly to affect the future and influence events and outcomes to drive current and possible scenarios.  

This is all new territory. And as such, new solutions, ideas, and thinking are needed. AI futurists represent an incredible opportunity to augment a specially created human task force, one consisting of scenario planners and economic, health, and tech experts. By forecasting alternative or ideal futures, these new expert resources can assist in the development of high impact strategy and investment decisions that would otherwise go undiscovered.

Did you know that Salesforce Research offers deep learning AI research and engineering for businesses to explore new growth opportunities? Learn more about the team’s mission here