We are witnessing major challenges and societal mega trends that have a powerful impact on our lives and our world's future. We can sit by and passively watch…or we can leverage our talent and skills – and those of our global organizations – to focus on solutions. In this excerpt from the SCIP Executive Chronicles, David Frigstad of the Frost & Sullivan Institute discusses how CI professionals can apply their skills in scenario planning, bench marking, and strategy to address the big global challenges we face today and tomorrow.
The Practice and the Profession: Leveraging the Best of Intelligence to Accelerate Social Progress
David Frigstad, Chief Executive Officer, Frost & Sullivan Institute
World challenges, such as extreme poverty, massive underemployment, and gender inequality will shape the future of our society and industries, Frigstad said. Technology and innovation can help address these issues, but it is going to take leaders to determine the future of our industries and society.
Frigstad listed seven key categories for world problems that intelligence can help solve:
- Environment: Key problems include pollution enveloping the environment, a lack of access to clean water, and food distribution challenges.
- Economic Development: Economic inequality is one of the most significant problems in the world – for instance, the richest 100 people have more assets than the poorest 4 billion.
- Human Rights: Empowerment of women is an issue that also has ripple effects on economic development. Studies have shown that GDP can grow up to eight times faster in countries that emphasize equality than in countries where women are not empowered.
- Infrastructure: An estimated 50-70% of all populations on the planet will be in cities within the next decade. Getting the infrastructure in place to support those populations will be difficult. For example, much of the world still lives without access to clean water or the Internet.
- Security: With all of the data available about people and organizations, protecting privacy while allowing for the right amount of transparency is becoming a challenge.
- Education: For most of the world, university education is too expensive and inaccessible, but new technology is allowing for change. For example, Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) can allow one professor to reach hundreds of thousands of students. The link between technology and education has led, for example, to the Minster of Education in Colombia naming a laptop and online connectivity as basic human rights.
- Healthcare: Quality healthcare is also difficult to access for many populations. In this area, too, technology is decreasing costs and increasing access.
Leaders can leverage their skills, Frigstad said, by working together to implement strategies and benchmark best practices in social development. For instance, to enhance education leaders can reach out to different organizations to develop online learning systems that increase employability and promote human rights.
Leaders can also suggest better ways to predict natural disasters and climate changes. With a plan, leaders can also address environmental issues such as water accessibility, energy consumption, or global warming.
Everyone’s role and Competitive Intelligence skills can define change and impact the future of the world. In the interactive portion of the session, groups were formed and assigned one of those seven big global challenges and asked to discuss strategies for solutions. This exercise emphasized how intelligence leaders can make an impact in society.
After brainstorming together around those issues, a few groups presented their ideas to the general audience. Each group was encouraged to focus on a challenge by creating a Utopian vision to solve the issue, and identify stakeholders, unmet needs, and the roles each person can play as SCIP members and industry leaders.
By the end of the exercise, groups were asked to read a hypothetical press release to share their utopian vision. One of the groups mentioned that online education should be free for all. They suggested that governments and organizations can work together to come up with details about the infrastructure, technology, and benefits for each of the stakeholders. For instance, all children regardless of their social status will receive an education; parents will no longer have to worry about the cost of their children’s education and employers can enjoy more qualified talent.
The power leaders have to help address world challenges can shape not only the future of our society, Frigstad said, but also the future of our careers, companies, and industries.