Published: 25 February 2019

Digital workshop prompts diverse organisations to explore the impacts and threats of automation

At the end of January the Executive Education team at Surrey Business School hosted an inaugural Digital Workshop – Artificial Intelligence vs Emotional Intelligence: The Role of Humans in a Technology Led Business World.

The first of a programme of events, the delegation included organisations as diverse as BAe Systems and Heineken Digital, to Government and SME enterprises. The cross-debate was fascinating as each angle and understanding of the challenge of automation was explored. From this exploratory session, it seems there is a tangible need for organisations to take external views and both ask and be asked good questions.

Organizations know change is required, but it’s not as simple as setting up a digital transformation team and expecting to be prepared for the forthcoming disruption. Many organizational questions are posed, challenging whether change can be delivered from within the resource and capabilities available. Larger scale operations are finding they cannot simply set up an ‘Innovation Lab’ and expect the whole enterprise to change in step.

This session explored the positive impacts of technology on a number of areas including climate and change, new technologies, increasing specialisms in supply chain and cost reduction; to some of the potential threats, such as the plateauing of machine learning, rouge advisors and over-selling possibilities.

Crucial take-aways arising from the discussion included:

  • How SMEs can benefit from the opportunity to work with closer relations to academia
  • The vision to best ensure suitable technology exploitation and innovation
  • How to communicate with senior management the urgency around changing business models
  • With a moving future, how to use the pivotal framework of problem hunting
  • Understanding why leadership in a digital era is challenging
  • How to practically utilise team strengths and the best structure for senior and junior colleagues working together.


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