I love to go back to the places I know. Am I sentimental? Maybe as part of such sentimental journeys I have changed the middle of winter into a blossom-strewn spring. So don’t be too surprised by my euphoric joy. It is true that winter this year has spared us the worst, but I have been to Davos recently where snow is in abundance. Perhaps I have more reason to thank the sun shining over Monaco through sparsely scattered whimsical clouds for putting a smile on my face than to thank the overcast sky over Warsaw. Yes, it could be a bit warmer but we’ll make do with what we’ve got.
But the spring break in the middle of winter is no more than value added. As I have done many times before, I have come to Monaco again strictly in connection with Distree, an annual forum for the crem de la crem among IT suppliers and distributors. It is indeed here, on the shores of the Ligurian Sea, that we share our experiences and make plans for the future. As it happens, the plans made here often shape future company policies. Without a shadow of a doubt, during the next few days Monaco will be the beating heart of the global distribution industry.
I have always preached that being up to date in business is not enough to stay in the game. It’s far too little to achieve success. You have to be a step or a few steps ahead if possible. For ABC Data this is especially important. Thanks to one of the first online sales platforms in Poland – I mean our InterLink of course -we outpaced our competitors as early as the late 90s. We have kept the competitive edge over others in the field ever since for the simple reason that, then as now, we have always aimed to innovate. Attending Distree makes this easier. For me, Distree is an opportunity to sound out views, make sure that, during both scheduled events and informal chats, I use my instincts to pick up the rhythm of global markets and predict accurately the direction in which things are changing so that I could buy ABC Data enough time to adjust its course.
Let’s look at artificial intelligence for example, a subject that arouses strong feelings and which was widely discussed at Distree, of course. It attracts views as diverse as extreme and totally unjustified optimism alongside equally unjustified skepticism. However, one look at the solutions currently in place is enough to reassure ourselves that AI will come to play an ever increasing role not only in business but in our everyday life. For the record, I don’t mean the kind of artificial intelligence that is the stuff of science fiction movies but real solutions. A good example of just such intelligence comes from NASA, which saw the first digital employee join its team last year. This bot was named after the first president of the United States and works for the NASA Shared Services Center at Stennis Space Center in Mississippi, where his job involves doing simple administrative tasks. Before long, he was joined by a few more software machines – they are of course John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, etc. Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if within a short period of time “all former American presidents” got on the payroll. So far, no human being has lost their job to a bot. Each of the bots is invaluable in assisting other employees but the limits of process automation are drawn with scrupulous precision.
Development of services has been a hotly debated issue in global distribution for years, so predictably it made it onto the agenda in Monaco. The point to remember is that this area is currently in the throes of fundamental changes which are the result of technological development. Today, attention is focused on the opportunities which the creation of cloud-based services brings with it, Big Data, AI, IoT, opportunities that lend themselves to being exploited in literally countless ways. Innovation and creativity are doubtless very desirable qualities in the age of the fourth industrial revolution, where business is driven by data streams.
As you can see, I have many reasons to enjoy my short spring breaks, where after the snowed-in Davos and cloud-bound Warsaw I can feast on the sight of spring blossom in Monaco. Of course, this is only value added to productive meetings and a sense of certainty that ABC Data is taking big strides in the right direction. But isn’t value added an essential ingredient of doing business today?