Kevin Parikh, Avasant CEO
Kevin Parikh, Avasant CEO, delivering keynote address at the Avasant Empowering Beyond Middle East 2024 event, held on Wednesday, Feb 28, 2024, Dubai. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Dubai: Humanity is moving towards a stage where innovation will happen at the speed of our minds. Rapid manifestation of our thoughts will blur the traditional lines between imagination and reality, Kevin Parikh, CEO and Chairman of leading management consultancy firm Avasant said in his keynote address at Avasant Empowering Beyond Middle East 2024 event, held in partnership with Gulf News and HCL Tech, on Wednesday, February 28, 2024.

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The world is moving towards this period, which he called the Imagination Age, and according to him, it will be characterized by Enlightened Disruption.

“We're headed to this state of Enlightened Disruption, and we will be able to make what we think almost instantly, and labour and innovation will converge,” he told a select group of industry leaders in Dubai.

The cycle of disruption and innovation

According to Parekh, the history of humanity is a cycle of disruption and innovation.

Innovation is heavily disruptive, and it has cycles. And disruption is a catalyst for humanity’s progress. It creates opportunities. Since the beginning of time, humanity's greatest challenges have triggered extreme, disruptive innovation. The challenges from the World Wars to conflicts to famine, have all been solved by this disruptive innovation. Everything is reset. Consequently, a new order is formed each time, new alliances are forged between countries, and new trading routes are created, he said.

Kevin Parikh
Kevin Parikh during his keynote address in Dubai Image Credit: Jaya Chandran/Gulf News

Understanding those cycles means that we have a window open into the future. Enlightened disruption is the point where innovation enables humanity to instantly transform its ideas into action.

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Innovation and labour

The challenge with any type of innovation is that labour is pushed to keep up with that innovation and that it needs re-skilling. That is what we see each time. The labour displacement will rapidly grow until we become able to cope with that change.

Once we make a big leap, incremental updates follow. Mobile technology was a big leap, which was followed by incremental updates of, say, iPhones 13, 14, etc. Until we get to the next major conflict, which results in a new type of underemployment, which results in labour reskilling activity, followed by incremental updates. This cycle continues, he said.

What's important in this cycle is that you can see a shrinking of the time available for the labour force to respond to the innovation. Because, as technology drives forward, the amount of time that humanity has to

actually adapt is shrinking. With the advent of the Internet, we had less time to reskill. Now with Generative AI and next-generation technologies, we have even less time to reskill. Until what time? Until we have total convergence of labour and innovation. This is the point of enlightened disruption, he explained.

Where we are headed

With 3D printing technology and Generative AI, we are quickly entering an age of innovation where it operates at the speed of our minds. “Many of you have heard about Elon Musk's new microchip that goes inside your brain. I've seen some actual demonstrations of how just thoughts can drive action. It's quite amazing,” he said.

In this Imagination Age, the cycle of innovation and labour disruption are perfectly aligned. We will experience total freedom to dream with infinite creativity, that time is upon us, he said.

The four prerequisites

According to Parekh, there are four prerequisites for the Imagination Age. These are the Ubiquity of artificial intelligence, Freedom from conflict zones, Universal access to broadband and Achievements of the grand challenges, such as environment and climate action, energy, poverty, gender equality, and education.

Kevin Parikh, CEO, Avasant
Image Credit: Jaya Chandran/Gulf News

Challenging time with many possibilities

It is indeed a challenging time but in today's era of AI, there are serval ways for us to maximize the use of the technology, said Marclino Fernandes, COO, Gulf News. People need to be aware of how they approach the AI world, he said, taking part in a panel discussion ‘Revolutionizing- Emerging trends and innovations in the Middle East’. Durgesh Thakur, Regional Sales Director, HCL Tech and Mohammed Rashid Ali, Department Manager, IT, ABNIC also took part in the discussion which was moderated by Akshay Khanna, Managing Partner, Avasant.

A discussion on ‘Beyond Borders, catalyzing innovation in global supply chain amidst uncertainly’ was also held as part of the event. Ghanem Al Falasi, SVP, Technology and Entrepreneurship, Dubai Silicon Oasis, Alexey Kostrov, Principal Digital Transformation, Schneider Electric ME & Africa, Mike Wheeler, Partner and Global Supply Chain Practice Lead, Avasant, were the participants in the session moderated by Anupam Govil, Managing Partner, Avasant.

Avasant Research panel presented a discussion on 'Shaping our Future, Navigating Megatrends, Redefining our world'. Chandrika Dutt, Associate Research Director, Swapnil Bhatnagar, Partner, Avasant, presented their findings in the session moderated by Shael Roopchand, Director, Avasant.