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PA innovation event 2014 - Mind versus machine

More than 100 guests joined us for our tenth annual event, held at the National Portrait Gallery in London. The event explored whether human factors are being overlooked in the race for innovation, and how technology is changing the way we understand and experience the world around us.

The panel, chaired by PA IT and digital transformation expert Alan Young, comprised of:

  • Ed Gardiner – Behavioural Design Lead, Design Council
  • Andrew Besford – Head of Business Design, Department for Work and Pensions
  • Clare Salmon – Group Brand Director, Royal London
  • Dr Sukhwant Bal – Expert in leadership and corporate psychology.

Guests had the chance to explore innovative thinking around the importance of culture and leadership within an organisation, how wearable technology can be used to enhance the human body and the arguments for and against artificial intelligence, automation and machine learning.

Watch our event summary video below.

Key areas covered in the panel debate included:

Innovation should be driven by the need to improve lives

Compassion – this is what’s currently missing in the innovation process. Organisations should aim to improve the lives of others, which means we need a better understanding of what people want. Technology can meet this need, but the question we have to ask is: “How can we go from good analytics to more forward-thinking and responsive technologies which meet people’s requirements?” At this time, we are overlooking human factors – and people in general – in the race for innovation.

Confidence in machines which propel change is essential

We are at a turning point, where data and technology play a central role in how organisations operate. Technology has generally been used to support the administration of a business, but it can now deliver services in a radically different way. We have a huge opportunity through the smart use of data to deliver better outcomes, and organisations can find automated, simplified and more efficient ways to deliver services. But, it is crucial that people trust the services they use and organisations need to be confident that machines are driving the right change.

A partnership between humans and machines is crucial

Machines are great at detecting patterns and forecasting trends, but you have to be very careful entrusting a machine with something that requires humour, subtly and irony. It has to be a partnership between humans and machines, not a battle. Nowhere is that partnership more possible and exciting than in the world of wearable technology – the perfect potential synthesis of humans and machines.

Start with the customer and challenge organisations’ self-limiting beliefs

To get real traction for implementing real change and innovation, organisations need see their customers as more than a metric and all staff need to care about them. Moreover, all employees need to step up and innovate, otherwise the change is led by the few. The most advanced technology we have is the human brain – and organisations need to challenge their self-limiting beliefs so they embrace innovation.

To find out more about PA's technology and innovation capabilities, contact us now.

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