By Manuel Sandoval Ríos, CEO of ProMX
The COVID-19 crisis has propitiated a more digitalized, more collaborative and, hopefully, more united planet. This was the general opinion expressed at the last session of the Mexico Innovation Network (REDi Mx).
In the wake of the health emergency, can we expect the state of things to improve? And if so, how can we create the necessary conditions to evolve in this direction? Maybe the time has come to take stock of existing development models and take some time out from our frantic daily struggles to think about the future?
Due to the speed with which COVID-19 spreads and the need for a rapid response by society, things that were on the horizon are now on our doorstep: digitalization, the sharing economy, the gig economy, teleworking, blockchain, artificial intelligence and other exponential technologies. Necessity has forced amateurs and the technologically challenged to experiment with new digital tools, often to discover how practical and easy to use they are.
We are living in a de facto wartime economy, but the enemy is not other human beings: it is an invisible weapon with the capacity to affect us globally and our only chance of survival is to join forces against it. The way in which this crisis unfolds will determine whether our future is one of autarky or global cooperation. Responses have been polarized, from the Turkish ban on exporting ventilators to Italy to the solidarity shown by Asian countries toward Europe, Africa and Latin America. The international playing field is being leveled and the predicted watering down of America’s power has become more apparent than ever. Taking its place is a structure of blocs with increasing Asian leadership. This crisis will change the world order.
As the French mathematician René Thom explains in his catastrophe theory, a dynamic system that is subjected to sudden (catastrophic) change cannot return to its original state, but in these processes of change, it should be remembered that the future state of the system is unknown, because, strictly speaking, the future does not exist; it is created on the go. So to achieve a specific outcome, we need to lend it a guiding hand.
It follows, then, that the easiest way to predict the future is to build it. Our actions should be consciously geared toward the gradual materialization of a collective vision of the future, as opposed to passively waiting for it to happen.
Thus, the future as envisaged by REDi-Mx is guaranteed only to the extent that a critical mass of wills can be mobilized. This is when innovation requires a coordinated network of experts, innovators, designers, entrepreneurs and collaborators desirous to materialize this vision. As Richard Florida would say, “the task of building a creative society is not a game of solitaire. This game, we play as a team.”
It should be noted that the network’s goals and statements are spelled out in actions and ideas that benefit society. REDi-Mx is a non-profit civil society organization that seeks solutions to major national challenges, in this particular case, the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The network should be viewed merely as a facilitator that expresses itself through the capacities of its members and the synergies of cooperation that arise thereof: “together we are more than the sum of our parts.”
This vision of the future is only possible if we manage the crisis at hand in the best possible way. It is not a matter of choice; it is a goal around which we need to organize ourselves and pit our energies and skills. It is a challenge that cannot be put off, but that we must face up to and win.
These are just some of the issues that will be analyzed in-depth at Industrial Transformation Mexico 2020 (www.industrialtransformation.mx), the first Hannover Messe in Latin America and the leading Industry 4.0 tradeshow in the region, scheduled to take place on October 7-9 at Poliforum León, Guanajuato.