Exploring Future Trends at InspireFest

Gaze into our crystal ball as we explore some of the future trends discussed at this year’s InspireFest event in Dublin. From the future of money to the future of work, no topic was off limits. Here are some of the key takeaways.

The Future of Motoring

As a country that doesn’t manufacture cars, it might seem odd to put Ireland at the forefront of a motoring revolution. But it’s not so unbelievable when you consider the massive changes afoot in the industry. John Cormican of Jaguar Land Rover took to the stage to talk about how Ireland is positioning itself to become a global hub for autonomous cars. “The industry is drastically changing,” he explained. “So is the DNA of most car manufacturing.” Ireland has all the companies and talent required to drive that change.

“When it comes to CAV (Connected Autonomous Vehicles), it’s much more about technology and ICT information activity,” he noted. “To put a car on the road and make it drive itself is quite a complex problem; you need software, sensors, cameras and data centres – a lot of different components. This is why Ireland should be at the centre of the world when it comes to CAV. We have so many tech companies located here, and a lot of the them want to come together to make it the centre.”

John and his team have recently partnered with the IDA and Enterprise Ireland to bring all those resources together at a new CAV centre in Shannon. This is truly transformative tech. As John explained: “The social impact of autonomous driving is huge. It can drastically reduce accidents and injuries. It’s a complex problem. We have the talent to address it in this country.”

The Future of Work is… Romantic?

Romance and the future of work are not typically topics you hear together, but self-proclaimed business romantic Tim Leberecht made the case for a more romantic workplace in the age of automation at his talk ‘The Business Romantic Society’.

Romance is what makes us human and makes us the ultimate differentiator when everyone else is just scaling efficiencies and optimising everything,” he argued. He then posed the question: “What will it mean to be human in an age of the machine?”

“As machines take our jobs and do them more efficiently, soon the most important work for us humans will be the kind that must be done beautifully, rather than efficiently.” He proposed three Rules for Enchantment: “Do the unnecessary, create intimacy, and suffer (a little).”

Separately, a panel discussion on the future of work debated some of the key challenges that will define our work in the future, with topical issues like the gender pay gap and work/life balance taking centre stage.

The Future of Money

The opportunity to rub shoulders with global industry experts is just one of the things that makes Ireland an excellent place for techies. One such expert is Karen Contet Farzam. Karen is the co-founder of WHub.io, Hong Kong’s biggest start-up community, and a founding board member of the Fintech Association of Hong Kong. She spoke about how FinTech is revolutionising the financial services industry – and how China is blazing a trail.

“It’s the world’s largest retail and e-commerce market, with over 500 million FinTech users,” she explained. “With a FinTech adoption rate of 70%, it’s far ahead of the USA and Ireland, which is roughly 30%. China is the largest innovation hub in the world. With a savvy population and a mobile penetration rate of 90%, it’s switched from being an imitator to an innovator. People say FinTech in China is two years ahead of the rest of the world.”

One fascinating way the FinTech has penetrated Chinese life is through QR codes. “In China, they’re the new cash,” Karen noted. Even street musicians are getting in on the act! “People just lift up their phone, and in seconds it scans their codes and sends a few euro to the performers. Even Chinese beggars are following the trend and now accept QR codes.”

She closed with an interesting thought: “We don’t know what the future holds but, “We don’t take cash” might be the future of money.”

Ireland Keeps You on the Cutting Edge of Tech

From the chance to talk to the industry’s movers and shakers, to our own vibrant scene – Ireland is an excellent place to build your career. Find out more about what’s going on in Irish tech.