It is a powerful yet stark observation; the technologists are winning. We will all become technology companies someday.

We are at a tipping point where machines replace man, and the confluence of technology will impact both B2B and B2C companies in ways we are just beginning to understand. The Digital Mash Up will combine artificial intelligence, machine learning, virtual reality, the cloud, relational databases and IoT (Internet of Things) to form a digital ecosystem that will radically change everything.

A recent Las Vegas trip my wife and I took provides context. Uber seamlessly picked us up at the airport and dropped us off at our hotel for about 40% less than typical cab fare. We approached a kiosk that checked us in and dispensed our keys. Walking through the casino, I imagined all the algorithms at work, predicting the probability of every transaction and providing big data on movements within the hotel.

Every Vistage management team should be asking, “How will we survive in a world driven by algorithms?

Key technology trends for 2017 include:

Virtual Reality (applicable to both B2C and B2B) 

Samsung is slated to sell over two million virtual headsets next year. By 2025, virtual/augmented reality is expected to be a $100 Billion market, rivaling the size of the PC/smartphone market.

Virtual/augmented reality software is catching up to hardware. This summer’s Pokémon Go augmented reality craze was an indicator of emerging technologies that allow content to lay over traditional media.

Virtual reality will have immense applications in B2B. Imagine a world where:

  • Virtual reality training programs let recruits walk the facility, practicing safety techniques or on-the-job training through a device worn like a mask.
  • Remote operation of heavy equipment (such as excavators) will expand access, lower cost and improve safety.
  • 3D business meetings where users act and move as if they are in a physical meeting room.
  • Virtual storefronts where consumers can try on clothes and garments, and custom-tailored garments are shipped on demand.
  • Remote health care in which intricate, specialized surgeries are completed by surgeons from anywhere in the world.

Artificial intelligence & advanced machine learning will help organize us

We are on the apex of a new frontier where systems can learn, adapt and think for themselves (as opposed to making decisions based on predesigned instructions).

The combination of greater processing power and more adept algorithms will open up new possibilities. For example, voice-activated virtual assistants (think Siri or Alexa on steroids) will provide new utility to busy executive teams. Upon dictating a document in your car, the assistant could edit and store it for others to consume. The continuity offered through this process is known as Ambient User Experience.

IoT technologies will become “intelligent”, collaborating with other devices such as Alexa to command your music, air conditioning, or security based on what she learns about you.

We will need to hire cutting-edge marketing and technology talent

According to Forrester Research, the shift toward digital business is forcing companies to reevaluate their talent. Traditional skill sets will not apply in a world where customers fire you based on a single bad experience, or to save 3-4% in cost. CMOs (chief marketing officers) and CIOs (chief information officers) who are unable to shift toward omni-channel marketing and data analytics will be replaced by younger, nimble technologists who can pivot quickly.

In addition, technologists will have to deliver real-time information to finance and management teams that need customer- and product-level information. If your IT department consists of the people who used to fix the copiers, they are not going to survive the onslaught.

The Big Data floodgates will open

Faster processing speeds and relational databases provide an environment where companies will finally realize the potential of big data. Driven by a need for deeper customer engagement, devices such as mobile, wearable and IoT will drive behavior and analytics.

Consider big data’s utility in health care today. Big data is already being used by the Center for Disease Control to curb illnesses, and by physicians for chronic disease management. With technologies such as wearables, health care robots, artificial intelligence and IoT exploding onto the scene, the health care IT infrastructure is strained (electronic medical records are still only 3-4 years old). But within a few years, medical science will become more equipped to digest troves of patient data gathered from multiple fronts.

The robots are here

At this point in their evolution, robots have crossed a threshold. To date, robots have been used primarily to replace remedial, repetitive tasks in manufacturing environments and the like. But a confluence of recent technological advancements, such as richly engineered software and faster processing speeds, offers something unprecedented. Today’s robots are capable of spatial reasoning and situational awareness. In other words, they can think for themselves. While it may be an inconvenient truth, robots who can replace labor at $4 per hour will take on a bigger role in our economy. In Manila, more than 1.2 million call center jobs that were once high-end technology careers, such as network monitoring, have been replaced by robots. 

The next generation of robots will, for the first time, conduct tasks that were once reserved for surgeons, nurses and other jobs that require human judgment. New materials are making robots lighter and more compact. For instance, nano-robots are smaller than a pebble and are capable of performing medical procedures unmatched by doctors.

Follow the money

Venture capital is actually moving away from technology, as the sector has not delivered the sizzling returns of the ‘90s. Apple’s revenue was down 9% last quarter, in the face of cheap competition from Chinese smartphone manufacturers. Bloomberg’s U.S. Startups Barometer, an indicator of investment in early-stage companies, was down 21% this time last year. Many technologies are facing competition for the first time. In Q1 and Q2, Uber lost over $1 Billion. To boot, the largest technology companies such as Amazon, Facebook, Google and Uber all face significant regulatory scrutiny in Europe.

eCommerce and procurement goes omni-channel

Procurement is under a radical shift, as professional procurement organizations embrace eCommerce and eProcurement. Companies are integrating ERP, invoicing, and eCommerce platforms that make transactions more seamless. Data collected from multiple sources will translate into more meaningful analysis for buyers and sellers.

IoT sensors can predict what needs to be procured in advance. Consider the possibilities for customized offers within B2B environments, much like Amazon recommending complementary items on their B2C platform.

Security is fluid and adaptive

Ransomware is a billion dollar business and growing. We are well past the time when cybercrime was just a nuisance. According to AT&T, 73% of surveyed American companies were victims of ransomware attacks in 2015.

With the proliferation of systems and devices (including hundreds of thousands of IoT devices), cybercriminals have more points of entry. Cyberattacks will only proliferate. Security experts point out that Adaptive Security Architecture is required to fend off multilayer attacks including targeted espionage, ransomware, denial of service and privacy.


It is abundantly clear that Moore’s Law is still in play, and that there is no slowdown in the adoption of new technology. In fact, there is an acceleration of disruptive technologies in many of these sectors. As 5G comes online by 2020, mobile processing speeds are expected to increase 10x-100x, enabling even faster computing.

So keep investing in technology, and make sure you have the right people to navigate the digital mashup. Brace yourself for choppy waters.



[i] Making VR Better, Bloomberg Businessweek

[ii] Gartner’s Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2017, Forbes

[iii] Forrester Predictions: 2017 Is a Year of Action

[iv] Forrester Predictions: 2017 Is a Year of Action

[v] Big Data, Artificial Intelligence, IoT May Change Healthcare in 2017,

[vi] Robots on Track to Bump Humans from Call-Center Jobs, The Wall Street Journal

[vii] The Slow-Motion Bust, Bloomberg BusinessWeek

[viii] Euro Trip to Hell, Bloomberg BusinessWeek

[ix] IoT, Big Data and The Tech Fueling Better B2B eCommerce,

[x] Gartner’s Top 10 Technology Trends for 2017

[xi] Cybercrime A Billion-Dollar Industry Bloomberg Businessweek