A century ago, Paul Klee painted a picture called Angelus Novus, which shows one of the “new angels” that, according to the tradition of the Talmud, are created to sing a hymn to God and then vanish into the ether. The painting was bought by the philosopher Walter Benjamin, who interpreted it as the “angel of history”, a metaphor for progress that fails to fulfill its promises and leaves a path of destruction in its wake. The angel looks back to see the ravages of human history, but, at the same time, is pushed forward by a celestial hurricane.
In a contemporary interpretation, we can equate this progress with the inexorable advancement of digitization and paradigm shifts, and the destruction with the population excluded from the benefits of the same, who, owing to a lack of means, infrastructure or digital literacy, will miss out on opportunities in society of the future. If Mexico fails to anticipate the challenges of the present and future economy, the same technological forces could destroy companies and jobs, and widen the social gap.
As the pandemic has revealed, technological adaptation is more important than ever. Automation and artificial intelligence are advancing by leaps and bounds, and Mexico is not prepared for this imminent transformation. We are not ready to compete in the digital economy: we do not have relevant innovation ecosystems, we are not capitalizing on the emerging technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution or changing our business models in face of permanent disruption in many sectors, and, above all, we have not developed our talent sufficiently.
Nevertheless, this crisis represents an opportunity to reflect, reimagine and reset our world, as demanded by Klaus Schwab and the WEF. This reset requires us to prevent risk, create crisis anticipation mechanisms, and develop more resilient, agile, flexible, entrepreneurial, empowered, scalable and connected organizations. We need to capture the social and business value of the exponential technological changes accelerated by the pandemic, such as artificial intelligence, biotechnology, robotics, blockchain, 3D printing and augmented reality, which already define new business and work models in the knowledge economy, providing opportunities for large companies and SMEs, but also creating a more sustainable society.
Private initiative has the capacity to drive collective solutions to the challenges we are facing. Therefore, at EGADE Business School, we recently published the Decalogue for the Economic-Business Refounding of Mexico with ten initiatives generated by our faculty and researchers to “reset” our country, inviting companies to:
As the “angel of history” shows us, we have the capacity to learn from past mistakes, press the reset button and position companies as an engine of a fairer, more humanistic and sustainable progress.
Article originally published in Reforma.