Dr. Pero Mićić

What are your real opportunities in the crisis?

Crisis opportunity no. 07: Make your capability portfolio future-robust

How much will your current capabilities be worth in the future? Who will pay how much for your capabilities, for your skills? I mean you personally and I mean the capabilities of your company. Are your capabilities future-robust?

Many companies are very good at doing things today that will not be needed anymore in the future. Yours too?

The crisis accelerates the change. And it will make some of your skills obsolete faster than you can imagine or would like.

How future-robust are the capabilities of German car manufacturers?

The capabilities of German automakers in combustion engines are virtually unrivalled. Well over a hundred years of experience have given them a lead that is hard to match. The Chinese have recognized and acknowledged the uncatchability of this German lead and have not tried to fight it with all their power. No, they are strategically focusing on the electric drive, which is drastically simpler and can be built by virtually anyone, at least in the basic sense. They leapfrog.

The electric cars, moreover, will have ever greater advantages in terms of performance, environmental sustainability and costs in the future. Yes, also in terms of the joy of driving. It is my assumption (as is well known) that in the developed countries of the world in the year 2030 almost nobody will buy a car with a combustion engine anymore. A few years later, this will also apply to trucks and ultimately to all vehicles. We in Europe and especially in Germany will then be extremely good at something that is no longer needed!

Hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people have spent their training and working lives with the combustion engine. They have mastered the complexity of the more than 1,500 moving parts of a combustion engine to perfection. But with a mere 20 moving parts of a battery electric drive, there are simply fewer things to master. In a comparatively short time, the capabilities of these many people will lose their value dramatically.

Changing production is already a huge investment. But to convert so many people in their capabilities from the old to the new world is an even greater and more difficult challenge.

And that’ s not all. Customer-facing software has never been a particular focus for traditional automotive OEMs. At least not compared to Tesla, where software employs a very large percentage of the workforce. The minimal marginal costs of software will also lead to a situation where this is precisely where the money will be earned in the future.

Even today in the latest vehicles of German and European manufacturers, customer-side software is much more complicated and cumbersome than it should be. The user experience is still less pleasant than interface designers can actually provide today. And even more so in the future.

Remember the Nokia N97 from 2010? It was supposed to be the iPhone killer. But you could see the old thinking in the device. Even three years after the launch of the iPhone, Nokia wasn’t able to relearn fast enough. The rest is well-known history.

Valuable capabilities today may not be future-robust

Please don’t think that this is just about these obviously vulnerable industries. Just as the free Google Maps first destroyed the navigation market and then significantly reduced the value of a taxi driver’s skills, who used to have the entire city in their head. The same will happen again with AI and self-driving cars.

As mentioned in a previous post: Everything humans can do cognitively, AI can today or soon do better. And everything that humans can do physically, robots can today or soon do better. We are facing a dramatic and radical change in the world of work. Valuable capabilities today can become almost worthless in a few years.

Start early to make your capabilities future-robust

You need time to retrain an entire company. Time that you only have if you start early enough. And you can only start early enough if you look ahead to future developments, especially technological ones.

  • CRISPR Cas9 will revolutionize medicine, agriculture and nutrition.
  • Additive manufacturing, 3D and 4D printing, will change prosthetics and organ transplantation.
  • Artificial intelligence will dramatically improve consulting and education while at the same time making them cheaper.

Rigor in implementation

And the second requirement, aside from starting early, is rigor in implementation. Compared to the speed and agility of disruptive start-ups and also to Asian competitors, we have a cultural and therefore very persistent competitive disadvantage. We are too cumbersome and too slow in many respects. We can no longer afford this. Or we will have to live with the loss of economic power and prosperity – if we do not succeed in making our capabilities future-robust.

And now? Your task:

Take an inventory of your company’s capabilities. Which, of course, is the sum of all the skills of your employees. The best way to do this is to make a table or use a spreadsheet.

Column 1: For which skills and capabilities are you actually paid today? One line per capability.

Column 2: Which of these capabilities can be taken over in the next few years by which types of artificial intelligence and/or robotics?

Column 3: What other technologies will devalue these skills?

Column 4: Which start-ups and scale-ups already promise to deliver your capabilities much better, easier or cheaper today? Even if you laugh at them today.

This provides you with two kinds of insights.

First, you know which capabilities are better performed by technology than by your people. Gradually, or perhaps even from now on, you will have to invest less in these human capabilities and more in substitutional technologies. And instead, help the people in your team to acquire new, more future-robust capabilities.

And secondly, you then know that the skills for which, despite thorough research, you have not found substitutive and disruptive technologies and business models are the skills that you, your team and your company will still need as human capabilities in the future. Focused investment into the development of these skills is required.

What do you think about the capabilities that we really need for the future?

Have a bright future!


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Further crisis opportunities

Crisis opportunity no. 01: Lead! Accept your role as leader and “hero” in the crisis

Crisis opportunity no. 02: Create a credibly positive “future we” for your team

Crisis opportunity no. 03: Focus your business model on an eternal need

Crisis opportunity no. 04: Make social value the core of your mission

Crisis opportunity no. 05: Intelligentize your business model now

Crisis opportunity no. 06: Virtualize your company

Crisis opportunity no. 08: Use an opportunity radar