Futurist Rohit Talwar on AI and the Next Frontiers of Business

There has obviously been a lot of careful thought and preparation gone into the structure of this year’s Basware Connect conference. Basware, who provide enterprise software for finance and procurement, have taken on the subject of ‘The Rise of Mind and Machine’ - the areas that will blur as we progress and evolve alongside the technologies that are disrupting what we do and how we do it.


It’s not another future-of-procurement seminar, it’s a deep think into how and why we must change, and the presentations and workshops that make up the one-day conference are carefully chosen to mirror and help us with our development, in a well thought-out order.

The morning session in particular flows nicely: it starts with an opening keynote that is all about change - what it means to be human in a world that’s increasingly reliant on machines, and how that will affect the products and services that organisations like Basware are developing and selling. Then, the theme goes a bit deeper and looks at how people need to augment their brains and bodies, sometimes outside of their comfort zones. It takes a startling look at what some, ‘the transhumanists,’ believe to be the next stage of human evolution, freeing ourselves from the limitations of our hardware, the flesh and blood, and merging physically with our and other software. Then our own Peter Smith will be thinking about what comes next -- once so much of what we currently do has been AI’d and ‘transhumanised’ what is left for procurement?

It’s all thought-provoking stuff – but sitting in the middle of all of that, is the necessity for us to understand where it is we are going, and what that will mean for us, the performance of the function we work within, and the business.

The person in charge of that part of the discussion is Rohit Talwar. He is an award-winning keynote speaker, author, strategic advisor to global corporations and governments, and the CEO of Fast Future, specialising in the emerging future and the impacts of change. We talked to him recently about what he will be focusing on, and what we can expect to learn from his presentation – and it looks like this is going to be a fascinating session! Here’s what he told us …

We can expect to be doing tasks on a scale never been done before, so we need to have a feel for how AI might evolve over time and what the next steps are. It’s important to know in what ways, and how quickly, it will evolve. There is a growing emphasis in business on the need to think through how we will organise our work with AI, and, importantly, what we need to do to raise the capability and digital literacy of our people to cope with, or adjust to, new expectations of how we will work.

In the future, we can’t guarantee who we’ll be working for, no one can as businesses evolve, therefore we cannot foresee what will be required of us. But we know it will change. So how do we develop the skillsets for the future? That is what we should be asking ourselves, now.

There are three things that every Finance and Procurement professional should be thinking about now and starting to do something about:

  1. There is a ‘STOP’ process we should all go through - performing a brutal assault on anything that does not add value – clearing the decks, freeing up the time, and creating the mental space we will need to do the learning and implement the changes required to be ready for the future.

  2. Investing time in understanding what is coming – raising our digital literacy. We need to get to grips with how the world is changing and what the impact is on us.

  3. Look at how we organise our teams, what we do, and how we do it. Make sure we have the right design for our organisation and take advantage of the technology available to us.

He will be talking through all of these key messages, with actionable takeaways for everyone, but there’s a clear call to action for the CPO and CFO. We are at a point when the expectations of the business and of finance are changing; very disruptive technologies are affecting how we work and how we need to be working, and the scale of the challenge is growing. The C-suite and equivalent really need to start to think about upping their game, how they will manage themselves and the organisation through all of this disruptive change, and how to help colleagues rethink the nature of their work. There’s mounting pressure on leaders to make sure they manage change in a thoughtful and sensitive manner, because how we treat our people, customers, business partners, and external stakeholders is critical to the perception of our brand and people’s willingness to work with us. They are the ones facing the full force of the change hurricane and we need to show we are there to support them.

So, there’s a lot to discuss in the space of 35 minutes, and we’re sure there will be plenty of questions. There’s a short Q&A at the end, but for anything that can’t be answered in that time, Rohit will be around for the whole morning. And as usual, we will be coming back to this subject and reporting more on his session from Basware Connect:

on October 17
CodeNode, 10 South Pl, London EC2M 7EB
Register here

This article was written by Spend Matters. The original article is available on the Spend Matters UK/Europe website.

Publishing Director, Spend Matters UK/Europe