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10 TED Talks Every CIO and CTO Should Watch in 2018

Written by Adam Woozeer

TED talks have always had a strong influence in the world of IT. But with an array of speakers at the two annual events and the plethora of independently organised TEDx conferences throughout the year, some of the genuinely innovative speeches can get lost in the crowd.

So we have pulled out the top talks we think every CIO/CTO should have on their radar to watch, and learn from, this year.


Welcome to the age of the Industrial Internet - Marco Annunziata

In this talk, economist Marco Annunziata discusses the revolutions from the industry to the internet, into the newly formed industrial internet. This age combines smart machines, advanced analytics and human creativity to transform all sectors of industry.

Annunziata describes how this new access to realms of data is changing the way in which we optimise machinery and infrastructure. From self-learning aircraft maintenance devices, to collaborative tools that help engineers repair wind turbines, the industrial internet brings wide-ranging possibilities to our future jobs.   





The Puzzle of Motivation - Dan Pink

A self-confessed law graduate who never practiced law, this TED talk sees Pink propose an evidence-based case for rethinking how to run businesses – overcoming functional fixedness to solve problems.

He says that whilst financial rewards can be effective incentives to promote better performance for tasks with a narrow focus, they can inadvertently have a negative impact on those more creative challenges that require cognitive skills. Forgoing the classic carrot and stick method of motivation, Pink suggests using autonomy, mastery and purpose to encourage business growth.



How data will transform business - Phillip Evans

Technology is challenging some fundamental business ideas, and in this talk, Evans says that two long-standing theories of strategy are no longer fit for purpose. Both concentrating mass against weakness, and the concept of the value chain, have been transformed since they were formulated.

As a result, the historical premise of business strategy is all but obsolete. To combat such changes, as Evans explains in his TED talk, data has been used to create new ways to analyse how businesses are structured.



Technology disruption meets the change monster…who wins? - Patrick Forth

Patrick Forth, a development expert, sets out his belief that success will increasingly be driven by an organisation’s ability to change – citing research which suggests that we won’t recognise three-quarters of today’s Fortune 500 companies by 2020. This talk centres on how larger companies can avoid this slide into oblivion and avoid being consumed by the ‘change monster’ by embracing disruption.

Forth maintains that companies need to change the mind set of unconscious learning, shift from traditional to digital, and add digitally native executive to the leadership team, in order to promote the necessary change on an industrial scale.



5 ways to lead in an era of constant change - Jim Hemerling

Organisational change expert Jim Hemerling has a plan to make change energising instead of exhausting. His strategy consists of giving people purpose by putting them first and going all in to fundamentally reshape and develop them.

Then they need to capabilities to support sustained, continuous learning. For leaders, he offers a further tip: have a vision marked with milestones and hold people accountable for their results. 




Business model innovation – beating yourself at your own game - Stefan Gross-Selbeck 

Business transformation Stefan Gross-Selbeck discusses how start ups are driving innovation, and what legacy companies can learn from their successes. Whether it’s Uber with taxis or Airbnb with hotels, in the last few years almost every industry has been shaken up by disruptive start ups.

Gross-Selbeck explains how companies can replicate their mind-set in order to both innovate and implement – following in the footsteps of companies like Netflix who has managed to disrupt the video rental business by replacing stores with mail order, and then utilise this disruption to create a successful video streaming company.




How the blockchain will radically transform the economy: Bettina Warburg 

More relevant than ever in today’s digital economy, Blockchain researcher Betting Warburg breaks down information using advice, tips and explainers on how blockchain will transform business strategies today.

Providing a definition of the term, she discusses how the technology has given us the capability of creating an exchange and accessing digital and physical assets in a whole new way. “You can think of blockchain as an open infrastructure that stores many kinds of assets. It stores the history, ownership and location for assets such as Bitcoin” she explains.



 How great leaders inspire action - Simon Sinek

Discussing the great secret of success, Sinek explains how the likes of Martin Luther King Junior, Apple and the Wright brothers were all able to achieve despite having now extraordinary resources. His explanation lies in a ‘golden circle’ with the question ‘Why’ at its centre.

Whilst every leader knows what they do and how they do it, only the most successful can answer why. It is this deeper motivation that makes people care. Sinek’s TED talk focuses on the biological basis of his theory and how leaders can use it to inspire cooperation, trust and change. 



What AI is – and isn’t - Sebastian Thrun and Chris Anderson

Professor Thrun and journalist Anderson want to use AI to help reduce repetitive work for individuals, whilst also increasing our creativity. In their TED talk they discuss deep learning, the challenges around AI and society’s uses of machine learning.

Anderson also helps us understand how machine learning, and the excitement surrounding artificial intelligence, have helped us reach a scale of computing and datasets that has now made machines smart.



 Want to innovate? Become a ‘now-ist’ – Joi Ito

Innovation is no longer something that is reserved for multi-million dollar businesses. Instead, the declining cost of innovation is making citizen-led schemes possible, and more bottom-up, democratic strategies led by amateurs keep emerging as evidence.

Exemplifying this, in his TED talk, Ito discusses how he formed a group called Safecast in the midst of the 2011 earthquake in Japan and that, whilst preparation is always crucial, plans cannot help us to predict the future.