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Idealog year in review: Accenture's Ben Morgan

Accenture Interactive lead in New Zealand Ben Morgan shares his views on the year that was, and the years that could be.

What was the most interesting New Zealand company that caught your eye?

Hnry – I love their approach to solve real pain for contractors and freelancers. It is wonderful example of innovation in the gig economy and the shift to providing value through managed services

The other is Nyraid, a commercial spin-out from research on the Square Kilometre Array, a multi-billion-dollar radio telescope and the world’s largest computing project that captures 160TB of data per second. Whilst I am still getting my head around what they do, it feels game changing.

What about internationally?

Soda-stream – I love how they have pivoted from a soft-drink company to water with a focus on saving the environment.

What was the most interesting launch/trend/idea/building/product of the year?

Every year, Fjord (part of Accenture Interactive) publish Fjord Trends which look at what is ahead for the future of business, technology and design. My favourite trend this year is The Last Straw – our climate is changing and so is the way we’re thinking about it. It’s no longer enough for companies to simply acknowledge environmental concerns; consumers will expect commitment to be proven through action. 

Most exciting project you worked on this year?

Exploring what artificial intelligence means for a large central government agency. It is hugely exciting to look at the impact beyond the application of the technology and focusing on how it will drive real value for citizens and organisations.

What public event that impacted on or affected you the most?

The rise of dockless bike and e-scooters on our streets. It has changed how I think about getting from A to B, and if we can learn the lessons from other cities such as Paris we can lead the way.

What was your favourite book/TV show/podcast/album/website/magazine/story/performance enhancing of 2018?

Memos from the chairman – An apt reminder of the basic principles of leadership that we should never lose sight of.

Heroes?

Justin Gallegos – a professional athlete with Nike. Justin has cerebral palsy and is redefining and melting all sorts of stereotypes. 

Villains?

Clients who think it is ok to issue RFPs on the 18th of December and expect them back on the 7th of January.

Your own personal highlight?

Seeing my wife set-up her own business and turning her passion into a viable concept.   

Biggest learning for you?

Understanding and recognising my own implicit biases in how I act and make decisions. It is scary stuff but without awareness we are blind to them.

Going into 2019, what’s the change you want to see in the world?

More curiosity, collaboration and diversity.

What should be invented and/or un-invented in the next year?

Invented: A way to make conference calls work the first time and be less awkward.

Un-invented: Vegemite #marmiteforlife

Is it the robots we should be worried about, or the humans?

I would reframe the question: How can robots and humans work together?  This is the missing middle where amazing things and innovation will happen.

How long before we have:  

DNA modification?

If it is not fake news, then two little Chinese girls name Lulu and Nana would suggest it has happened.

Driverless cars?

I like to hang on to a future that looks like the Jetsons (Google it if you're younger than 35)

Immortality?

Best saved for bad sci-fi movies.

Cities that all look like Venice?

Way to soon, if we don’t all take individual action to reduce our footprint. 

No animals farmed or eaten?

By 2050, it is conceivable most of what we eat will be synthetic.

Non-human, AI lovers?

Best to Google search that in incognito.

Chips implanted in our brains?

Chips in brains seems extreme but I am not against a chip in the arm – it would simplify little things like locks, payment and verification.

Colonies on Mars?

Soon I hope, based on the way we are destroying this planet.

Secure bunkers to protect us from the zombie apocalypse?

Sounds like something in Fortnite, but proudly I would not know!

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