E=Mbracing Cognitive Capabilities (E=MC2)

If there’s a scientific formula that is famous for representing a brilliant breakthrough, Albert Einstein’s E=MC2 must surely be it.   Besides formalising a fundamental relation in Physics, it has come to symbolize a then-new way of looking at how the world works.  More practically for us, it also captures the guiding spirit and thinking behind ConnectGov 2018, as well as the discussions we aim to instigate at the event.

For just as Einstein’s formula was a breakthrough in its time, we today likewise seem to be at the verge of something similarly ground-breaking as new technological capabilities develop in ever faster successive waves.  From analytics, big data and cloud just a few years ago to machine learning, different flavours of artificial intelligence and blockchain developments more recently, enterprise leaders and organisations are already at various stages of grappling with these technologies and barely have time to catch their breaths before the next onslaught of new technologies comes.

Feeding Anticipation

But perhaps more likely among industry and government tech and business leaders comprising ConnectGov 2018’s participants, this is just a familiar pattern of change that leads up to tantalisingly challenging times ahead. Each new wave of tech-led change stirs the imagination and excitement – and even where there is doubt or fear, the mind skips ahead to the possibilities, implications and unknown complexities that will come.  The mind-bending speed of developments is almost a given, changing not only how we think but what is even imaginable.  As a saying goes, the appetite grows for what it feeds on.

Cognitive computing aims to simulate human thought processes in a computerised model and solve problems with human-like thinking. Through neural networks and deep learning algorithms that use data mining, pattern recognition and natural language processing, cognitive computing can mimic the way the human brain works.
– What Everyone Should Know About Cognitive Computing

Ready for the Big wave?

Like it or not and regardless of our natural inclinations, we are catching glimpses of profound change to come.  Thanks to the nexus of Data, Connectivity, algorithmically-driven Intelligence and Computational Power, a future led by Cognitive Computing is becoming more fact than fiction, promising to enable capabilities that can exponentially empower businesses, industries, and governments with game-changing implications.  We are standing on the sand looking at the front-edge of the massive wave racing towards us, at which point we might either pray and wish we had paid more attention during swim class, wonder how fast we can run or climb to higher ground if there’s any, look around for a boat, or start sprinting into the water with a surfboard hoping to catch the Big One!

Regardless of the actual size or speed of the wave, the prospect and implications of Cognitive Computing is something to keep an eye on today – on top of existing issues like talent and HR conundrums, organisational culture and legacy issues, resource constraints and competing priorities. And just as there are no easy or formulaic approaches to Digital Transformation, we can expect even more complexities with Cognitive Computing – but if we can manoeuvre fast enough, embrace change and get our imperatives for leadership, insight, talent and strategies right, there might be more in it for us than we can imagine.

C is also for Caveats, Context and Considerations

That’s enough to cast us as optimists – at least in the sense of a willingness to embrace and proactively explore options.  But rather than blind optimism, most of us have come far enough to know better.  Just as we hope to feed the optimism and lead exploratory parties to new frontiers with our ConnectGov 2018 theme E=Mbracing Cognitive Capabilities or E=MC2, we also bring experiences seen through the lens of different contexts and considerations, with caveats often learned the hard way from years at front-lines of leadership.  There is much we have to learn from each other on that score, and not least from our Estonian hosts of ConnectGov 2018 who will be bringing participants on an insider’s journey of their world-leading initiatives in Cognitive Computing.  This will be an advance party to new territory, so brace yourselves for the ride!

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Spark (formerly CIO Academy Asia) brings together a community of technology and business leaders from across Asia.