December 14, 2020 by Speakers' Spotlight
Sinead Bovell on Key Small Business Trends for 2021
A common thread among innovation and business speakers right now is a focus on how the already high-speed digital transformation underway across nearly every industry has been accelerated by an incredible degree during the coronavirus pandemic. AI and Future of Work expert Sinead Bovell recently published a new piece highlighting a few of the most important ways this transformation is going to effect small businesses and entrepreneurs in the coming months.
In a blog hosted by Intuit, creators of accounting software QuickBooks, Sinead outlined what she sees as three pivotal changes on the horizon. They are related to each other to varying degrees, but overall the biggest takeaway is the importance of AI technology—understanding how to engage with it effectively and realizing how the quickly increasing size of its role will impact how we prioritize various skills, both for ourselves and the people we employee.
Below are a few excerpts from Sinead’s piece, highlighting the three trends that she focuses on:
Artificial Intelligence Will Catapult the Entrepreneurship and Side-hustle Economy
“If you are a small business, an aspiring entrepreneur, or currently building up your side-hustle, befriending artificial intelligence could be your winning ticket. Artificial intelligence (AI) is predicted to contribute $15.7 trillion to the global economy by 2030. A significant portion of these contributions come from productivity increases and labor efficiencies. As an entrepreneur, I know that wearing multiple hats comes with the position. In the early days of business, you often sit as the head of sales, operations, logistics, social media, and administrative tasks. Of course, the plan is to hire more employees to help you scale, but that is all contingent on early-day success.”
Remote Work Will Be a Competitive Strategy
“Post COVID-19, a significant portion of companies will have realized the potential advantages of remote work. They will reposition their operational models to make it a part of the core infrastructure. This will have a significant impact on how work gets done.
Remote work as a strategy means that companies will no longer be constrained by geography when it comes to hiring. This means competition in the talent pool will truly go global. This is a transformative win for startups and small businesses who are often outbid by larger companies for local all-star talent.”
Soft Skills Will Be Viewed as a Competitive Advantage
“While it may seem counterintuitive, soft skills and AI go hand-in-hand. You will need both to navigate the future successfully. A common misconception about a future with artificial intelligence is that only those who can code it will be able to use it. But this is far from the truth, and it presents a huge opportunity for entrepreneurs and small businesses.”
“So where do your soft skills come into play? You have to possess a basic level of digital literacy to use AI. But you do need to be adept in employing soft skills, such as empathy, communication, and critical thinking. If your machine learning software is learning how to reply to emails through examples of your past correspondence, it will reflect your skillset. Your treatment of the recipients of your past emails will shine through. Or say your machine learning software takes over all of your data analysis tasks. It’s your critical thinking skills that are required to choose the best course of action based on what the data is telling you.”
On a mission to bridge the gap between young entrepreneurs and the digital future, Sinead Bovell strives to create conversations that will lead towards a progressive, informed, and thriving new era. She is a futurist and the founder of WAYE, an organization that helps prepare the next generation of business leaders for a world radically transformed by technology, focusing on non-traditional and minority markets.