For anyone responsible for leading a business over the last few years, it is absolutely clear that significant changes in the way people live and work have shifted irrevocably, and it is now impossible to conceive of going back to the situation in which we operated before. This shift cannot be seen simply in terms of just social disruption, some of the most significant trends that have affected our lives over the last two to three years include the rise in use of new technology.
Notably, this has been felt most through advances in e-commerce, virtual learning and work, but even before the global pandemic, the initial steps towards the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) were clearly underway and the face of business and society was inevitably moving towards a more heavily digitized space and environment.
Fully devoted to a grand vision for its business growth, since its founding in 2015, Terminus Group is a company very much in alignment with 4IR, and Victor Ai, its Founder and CEO, has often been asked about his management approach, his plans for the pioneering tech company, and the future of its R&D and investment strategy.
It can be argued that the global pandemic served to expedite an evolutionary process that was already well underway; however, what may have previously been expected to take years to implement has now been thrust forward into a “new normal” of strategic decisions being taken within a timeline of just months or days. Of course, this has made it incredibly difficult for leaders to manage the rapid emergence of challenges ranging from logistical supply lines and economic crises to keeping pace with the emergence of new industries and the technologies driving them.
The rise of artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (AIoT), automation, and the increasing specializations surrounding the increasing digitization of our lives, has effectively created a new reality that can best be described as: relentless, ubiquitous, and exponential.
Taking Terminus Group as an example: Since its founding, back in 2015, the company started out with only one smart product line – digital door management systems. Today, it is now a world-leading smart services provider, developing AI CITIES, R&D into AIoT-powered systems, and other ancillary devices like robotics. At the time of Terminus Group’s founding, people were starting to recognize the future of the IoT and the business opportunities it presented. It was at this point Victor’s understanding of how Terminus Group would start and grow was formed.
Commenting on the nature and speed of growth across these new technology sectors, Victor says: “The development of mobile Internet has grown exponentially in the last decade, leading to rapid network upgrades from 2G to 5G. Many new tech enterprises were established riding on the opportunities brought by this changing process, including mobile e-commerce, video streaming, payment, etc., and so with that a need to re-evaluate company management and leadership became crucial to survival."
At the root of Victor’s philosophy is his belief that the popularization of tech use across both B2C and B2B businesses needs a process – first, the cost must go down; second, commercial products and civil products require higher complexity and maturity.
An “accelerated global evolution” of new technologies has, in effect, created a new reality that requires both leaders and workers to address these challenges and what it will take to navigate through uncharted waters. This new reality requires leaders to assess the effectiveness of strategies and manage their organizations, no longer simply for driving more efficient processes and profit, but in re-evaluating the processes themselves and constantly be in development of brand-new profit centers for the business.
Traditional leadership styles are often based on a linear approach or a premise of maintaining relative stability and expecting only a few occasional bursts of large change. The rapid emergence and evolution of new technologies – including the rise of completely new industry sectors and specializations – has created a new business landscape that requires leaders to be able to navigate through any confusion and, subsequently, vulnerability.
“The question we must ask ourselves is: What type of leadership style is most effective for navigating the changes brought about by the rapid emergence and evolution of new technologies?” says Victor, adding, “And equally, what are the various characteristics of a leader that are needed to effectively manage these changes?”
In today's world of exponential change, Victor asserts the importance of leaders adopting a continuous process of evolution to ensure that they are able to effectively manage the challenges they face. According to Victor, instead of the more traditional corporate approach of fitting an organization around the leader's will, a leader should be willing to take on new challenges and develop new strategies – surrounded by specialists and advisors with expertise to future-proof the company’s direction and mission.
To effectively manage the changes brought about by the rapid emergence and evolution of new technologies, leaders must continuously learn and improve their skills to manage the changes. Through the use of this new leadership dynamic, leaders will be better placed to develop effective strategies and manage their organizations, well into the new and smart era of 4IR, and help them create a powerful and lasting capability for their companies and society as a whole.