Can you outsmart the digital deluge? Dave Coplin thinks so

How exactly do you cope with the digital overload? On June 11, Microsoft UK’s Chief Envisioning Officer Dave Coplin talked about the influence and pitfalls of big data in our hyperconnected society and how humans need to cope more intelligently with the flourishing spread of technology and the growth of the app industry.

“Our future lies in our ability to harness technology and data while taking back control,” Coplin said, alluding to his new book The Rise of the Humans: How to outsmart the digital deluge*.
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Here are my key takeaways from the event hosted by Microsoft Europe.
Skim across the surface and snack on information. Make conscious decisions when consuming information, identify the useful from the useless, and advocate for quality rather than quantity.

Filter and think big. There are many filters that you can use to tailor the information you get – like search engines – that help personalize your data and results. “To connect the dots floating in the sea of digital information, we actually need to be able to see all the possible dots in the first place,” shares Coplin. By knowing when and how to harness technology (and by filtering), we can outsmart the digital deluge and integrate personalized data.

Don’t multitask. Coplin believes that “doing more, it seems, often means doing less.” He describes multitasking as “an entirely computer based concept invented in the 20th century.” Perhaps humans would fare better if we don’t let other tasks distract us? Emerging digital technologies are contributing to disruption at work and play, and disconnects us from the essence of what we are trying to achieve… we need to learn how to embrace technology, not let it distract us. Be mindful.

Take advantage of the rise of the connected customer. To harness the potential offered by the digital world, companies need to redefine their expectations of customers based on their preferences and actions. There is a need to reorient and take advantage of this new generation of connected customers and CRM tools.

Change the culture of organizations, end organizational silos. Unleashing the “right data culture knowledge” at the roots of the organization can alter the way organizations work and make a positive impact. Transformational companies have more engaged employees who are empowered with the right tools, data, and culture.

Unleash intelligent organisms. Big Data is not just about lots of data, its power lies in using it in different ways (after it’s been interpreted properly). “Data is given voluntarily but maybe involuntarily in a none driven way,” someone pointed out at the Microsoft event. There is a need to enable people to contribute, allowing them to have more access to information to make conscious changes.

Don’t be intimidated by the rise of the machines. “Understanding the potential of the machines and how we can best work with them is the ultimate answer to harnessing the digital deluge,” says Coplin. Services like statistical pattern recognition are going to change the way we see the world and machine learning is something we should use as a tool. Sure there’s Skype language translator, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t bother to learn a foreign language.

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The rise of the humans
We want a future where “technology lives the capabilities.” Humans need to take full advantage of the tools at our disposal and take control of it.
Whether you believe in the power of technology or not, the truth is that evolving and learning is no longer a choice if you want to be connected. It’s up to you to make that possible.
*If you want to find out more, download David Coplin’s e-book for free!

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