April 2019 Message From UNICON Chair Peter Hirst

April 2019 Message From UNICON Chair Peter Hirst

Useful Robots, the Internet of Things, and the Importance of Lifelong Learning

Last week, I had the pleasure and an honor of addressing an audience of lawyers in Sao Paulo, Brazil, as the keynote speaker at the New Law Annual Meeting and conference. Ostensibly, the topic of my talk was the Internet of Things, or, more specifically, what I call the Human Face of the Internet of Things. The main idea is that, now, it’s more important than ever to be curious about the impacts of technology for professionals and the nature of professional work, and the roles and responsibilities that different professions—in this case, the legal profession—might take on in helping shape the future.

The UNICON-sponsored reports “Make Or Buy To Scale” and “ROI on Executive Education”which are very useful contributions to thinking about the “why” and the “how” of executive education—were very much in my mind when I made that presentation. I invite you to read the full text of my talk in the accompanying PDF, but the most important point I wanted to share with the conference audience was that lifelong learning is the key—and is vital—for remaining relevant in any profession. And executive education is an effective way for experienced professionals to keep learning “on-demand,” as it were.

Does everyone need to become a technology expert to stay relevant in the robot-inundated marketplace? Of course, not. What is needed, at a minimum, is an understanding and appreciation of the technological context. With this in mind, along with other organizations concerned with the future of the human workforce, MIT Sloan Executive Education became one of the founding members of a cross-industry group called the Internet of Things Talent Consortium. This group’s goal is to be a resource that organizations in any sector can use to create and grow the workforce needed to drive IoT-enabled digital transformation.

In the management education context, our engagement with the IoT Talent Consortium has validated our hypothesis that, in this world of accelerating change, we need much tighter coupling and faster feedback loops between industry and academia, so that together we are developing and supplying the skills and capabilities that business and society need, and train current and future generations for the jobs that we don’t even know will exist yet.

By the way, I delivered the talk in Brazil without having to travel there physically, using a telepresence robot technology. This underlines the fact that the kinds of technology that we were thinking about together during the UNICON Summer Workshop at MIT, last July, really are useful!

Speaking of getting together, I look forward to seeing many of you at the 2019 UNICON Directors Conference hosted by Moscow School of Management SKOLKOVO later this month. And if you can’t make it to Moscow, keep an eye out for the Summer Workshop at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, July 16-17, and the 2019 Team Development Conference at the Silicon Valley Conference Center, at Santa Clara University, November 20-22.

Full Text: PeterHirst_KeynoteAddress_NewLawAnnualMeeting_2019.pdf

Peter Hirst, UNICON Board Chair 2018-2019


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