In Progress

Disrupting ‘The Professions’ – Scenarios for Human and Machine Expertise

For centuries, ‘The Professions’ – Doctors, Lawyers, Professors, Architects, and so on – have been a cornerstone of technologically advanced civilizations. Rigorous, specialized and verifiable life-long learning has been the main path to both the advancement of human knowledge and its practical application. Such individuals have always been among the most respected members of society.

But while the professions remain as vital as ever, they are also under pressure as never before. Many doctors feel overwhelmed by their rising workloads, and demotivated by the health care system’s relentless cost control focus. Lawyers are increasingly frustrated by today’s ever-changing regulations and procedures, and often with the legal working experience itself. US student debt now exceeds $1 trillion, even as the value of many university programmes is openly questioned. As if these pressures are not enough, society remains massively under-served. Billions of global citizens can only dream of having affordable access to modern medical care, a fulfilling education, or sound legal and financial advice.

Information technology clearly has the potential to break through these bottlenecks. Cloud-based applications and consumer-style business models can provide inexpensive (often free) mass market services. Standardized global offerings, automated operations, expert systems, software agents, the blockchain and similar innovations all hold tremendous promise. These advances have long raised the possibility that health, education, law and other domains of deep human knowledge will someday be challenged by the PhD equivalents of Amazon, Netflix and Uber. While this type of disruption could enable profound benefits for society, the rate of change thus far has been so slow that many professionals have understandably become skeptical that any real change will ever occur. 

Disrupting ‘The Professions’ – Scenarios for Human and Machine Expertise

PROJECT TEAM
David Moschella

Research Fellow
Leading Edge Forum

David Moschella, based in the United States, is a Research Fellow for Leading Edge Forum.  David's focus is on industry disruptions, machine intelligence and related business model strategies.  He is the project lead for our 2017 research into Disrupting ‘The Professions’ – Scenarios for Human and Machine Expertise. David was previously Research Director of the programme.

David’s key areas of expertise include globalization, industry restructuring, disruptive technologies, and the co-evolution of business and IT.  David is the author of multiple research reports, including 2016 Study Tour Report: Applying Machine Intelligence, There is Now a Formula for Machine Intelligence Innovation,  Embracing 'the Matrix' and the Machine Intelligence Era and The Myths and Realities of Digital Disruption.

An author and columnist, David’s second book, Customer-Driven IT, How Users Are Shaping Technology Industry Growth, was published in 2003 by Harvard Business School Press.  The book predicted the shift from a supplier-driven to today’s customer-led IT environment.  His 1997 book, Waves of Power, assessed global competition within the IT supplier community.  He has written some 200 columns for Computerworld, the IT Industry’s leading publication on Enterprise IT, and has presented at countless industry events all around the world.

David previously spent 15 years with International Data Corporation, where he was IDC’s main spokesperson on global IT industry trends and was responsible for its worldwide technology, industry and market forecasts.

 

 

PROJECT DELIVERABLES

A research report that provides insight through case studies, tools and action plans. The research report, executive summary and presentation will be published in May 2017.

BENEFITS OF PARTICIPATING

As a result of taking part in a 60 minute telephone research interview, you will benefit from early access to the findings. We also hope you will find the interview itself challenging and thought provoking.

PARTICIPATING IN THIS RESEARCH

We are now in the process of establishing a project advisory board consisting of clients working in the major professional services industries, as well as other interested parties. We would be delighted to hear from organizations that are interested in contributing ideas and experiences to this research. To participate, please contact David by email at david.moschella@leadingedgeforum.com or Kate Taylor at kate.taylor@leadingedgeforum.com.

(Those professions that require both mental and physical skills – surgeons, nurses, dentists, hygienists, electricians, builders, pilots, drivers, machinists, therapists, soldiers and so on – will be considered for a follow-on study focused on the eventual impact of machine intelligence and robotics.)

RESEARCH APPROACH

The contrast between the way The Professions have worked in the 20th century versus the way they will eventually work in the 21st couldn’t be more sharp. Indeed, in many ways the professionals of today don’t work all that differently from their 19th century (and earlier) predecessors. There is an elite guild of experts who operate mostly as one-to-one practitioners. In contrast, modern information technology is clearly much more efficient when operating in a one-to-very-many model. Below are some of the diverse forms of potential professional disruptions that we expect to cover: 

  • Algorithmic operations and robo-advice in financial services. 
  • Consumerization and expert systems in health care. 
  • Best practices embedded in software and/or the blockchain in both accounting and law. 
  • Virtual reality in architecture. 
  • Mass customization and standardized accreditation in education. 
  • Automated design and maintenance in software programming. 

See the FULL project scope in the DOWNLOADS section for more detail.

DOWNLOADS
Full Project Scope

PDF (269.7 KB)

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