Jack Ma's appearance at the World Economic Forum in Davos is now 20 months ago, but his comments about education still ring in my ears.
"If we do not change the way we teach, 30 years from now we will be in trouble ... the things we teach our kids are from the past 200 years. It is knowledge based. And we cannot teach our kids to compete with machines. They are smarter. We have to teach them something unique, so that a machine can never catch up with us."
Just talk to my banker friends and you'll see how this plays out in practise. Despondency is setting in. Fintechs are disrupting the financial services sector, they say. Robo-advisors are going to eat their lunch, and when they're done, they'll eat their dessert, and then their dinner, and their breakfast, too.
In truth, of course, human customers will still want a human being to interpret the robo-advisor's recommendations and add colour and context that takes the nuanced requirements of the customer into account.
There lies the rub. Human bankers had better be damn good communicators if they are going to add that unassailable layer of value Jack Ma talked about.
But think of the last time you interacted with service staff. That despondency is not misplaced. Do you think you got value the last time you spoke to a banker, or any other front-line service staff? These days I prefer to order food in restaurants through the iPad, rather than try to explain it to half-interested, uncommunicative wait staff who still end up getting it wrong.
Accompanying the digital transformation we need a communications transformation... no, a communications revolution. Death to ambiguity. Long live brevity, clarity, authenticity and credibility.
If you can't communicate well, what use will you be in a disrupted world?