Archived Event


Fall Study Tour: The Human as a Platform

In the age of artificial intelligence, increased automation, platform business and the war for digital talent, it’s important that we grasp how critical skilled humans are to the digital economy. Business and government agencies are focused on creating successful 21st Century Organizations, reimagining themselves to be digitally fit and able survive and thrive, or even just to remain relevant. But ensuring that your human workforce is equipped with the requisite digital skills to capitalise on disruptive technologies will be pivotal to success in the digital economy.

This study tour is aimed at executives who are charged to deliver leadership and change, making leaders and employees ‘more digital’ by giving them an insight into the strategies and innovation required to underpin the 21st century organization. In our experience that Leadership mantel can sit with a multitude of roles – including CTO, CIO, CDO and CLO – with touchpoints in the organization that include IT, HR, L&D, Strategy and more.

 We will explore innovations in productivity, collaboration and social technologies that the big platform providers are planning or already have available, and the impact this will have for employees. But if we expect our employees to not only embrace but find these opportunities then they must first recognize what they look like. To that end we will utilise Leading Edge Forum’s 21st Century Human Model so that attendees understand not only how to upgrade their own skills, but how to facilitate organizational change and build out development programs to ramp up these essential skills internally.

The outcome will be to learn how to sense and respond to the change agenda that is inevitable, with an immersive experience in applying technologies that can and will transform your workplace – and your people. We will also focus on implications for the data that will be harvested from “smarter” humans, and the matrix of technologies that will be applied to turn data and information into intelligence, all of which has significant privacy, security and deep learning implications.

We’ll visit some of the most exciting and innovative companies helping to evolve the ‘human as a platform’, and specifically focus on the people element of how to super charge their services. To that end we’ll include some of big players you would expect, such as Facebook (Spaces VR), Google (tools & data) and Microsoft (augmented reality) as well as exciting start-ups that are defining the space including IFTTT and Zapier (people API automation), X.AI (personal AI), HVMN (Nootropics), uBIome (gut health biome), HaloNeuoro (neuroscience for human performance) and (VR Metaverse).




Because we think our Study Tours are a unique learning experience (view the video clip). But don’t just take our word for it – see what attendees have said after previous Tours:


  • “I would like to thank you and your colleagues for providing such a stimulating and exciting vision for us to engage with.  The time I spend with LEF is the time I feel most alive at work and it gives me renewed hope and enthusiasm to go back and fight the hard won inches.”

  • “We send two people each year on the LEF Study Tour and it consistently serves to both stoke the innovative flames already burning in some and ignite sparks of new possibilities in others.  We enjoy the challenge of keeping up with the participants upon their return to an industry environment in significant need of innovation and disruptive thought.”  

  • “The LEF Study Tour is always for me and my organization a great source of inspiration to think (and once home, act) differently about developments, products and services in the IT market.  The discussions and interactions with the host companies, LEF staff, and last but not least, the 30+ group members, provide a deeper insight in the forces acting in the IT market.”

  • “As ever, the highlight of the work year.  Informative and great fun.  Excellent networking and great to be able to spend a week in the company of so many like minds.”

  • “Superb event.  A week with peers from different industries provides unique insight and value far beyond what would be achieved reading and alone.”

  • “Great tour!  Seeing the difference between the large incumbents and smaller more nimble firms.”

  • “Overall, an excellent tour – very well organized.  I felt very welcome and the standard of client service (from LEF) was very high.  The tour itself was thought-provoking, and networking with fellow attendees was also good.”

Edward Hess

Professor of Business Administration, Darden Graduate School of Business, University of Virginia

Edward D Hess is a Professor of Business Administration and Batten Executive-in-Residence at the Darden Graduate School of Business, University of Virginia. His research focuses on Growth Strategies, Systems and Processes, as well as High Performance Organizations.  

Lewis Richards

Leading Edge Forum

Lewis Richards is the former researcher and self-styled Digital Chef for Leading Edge Forum.  He was responsible for research into Pro-active, Haptic Sensing and bringing additional value to clients as Head of our 21st Century Human Upgrade Programme Advisory practice, enabling clients to build hands-on digital skills. 

Lewis’ most recent publications are the Technology Trends and Me video series; AI & Me,  Automation & Me and VR & Me which provide insights on today's emerging trends as we try to make sense of the world around us. Prior to this, Lewis authored the report The Field Engineer of the Future – An LEF Xperience Lab Case Study.

Lewis is a seasoned IT leader having spent 16 years working for CSC where he performed a number of UK and International roles within Financial Service and the Corporate Office of Innovation.  Lewis managed the European Innovation Centre for CSC and worked with clients and partners to showcase Next Gen technologies whilst articulating how IT can address the needs of current business problems.

In his previous post, Lewis was responsible for Global Portfolio Management for CSC's Application Business.  This role involved the management of a diverse workforce and the reengineering of the applications business, including the adoption of a globalized portfolio management process and the implementation of product and technology roadmaps.

Lewis is passionate about collaboration and the cultural changes required to enhance business functions.

Lewis has a BSc from the University of Surrey and an MBA in Technology Management from the Open University.

Bob Barker

Digital and Social Media Skills Coach, Leading Edge Forum

Bob Barker is a key facilitator and developer of the 21st Century Human Upgrade Programme, providing immersive digital learning experiences for the 21st century organization.

Bob has over 30 years in the technology industry, working as a marketer in companies including Oracle, SAS, NCR and in smaller software and technology firms in various roles: CMO/Marketing Director, Head of Digital and Social Marketing, Product Marketing, Industry Marketing & Corporate Communications.  As the 'Digital Coach', his focus is on helping people with the digital psychology behind developing 21st Century Human Skills and determining what coaching is required post immersion workshop to make people change and develop.

Bob is a regular publisher, speaker, networker and trainer in social media and the digital skills market.

Bob started his career flying in the Royal Navy and studied Business at Oxford Brookes University.


James Bodsworth

Emerging Technology Advisor, Leading Edge Forum

James is focused on working with clients to understand and embrace emerging and future technologies, and develop the pre-requisite skills required across the workforce to recognise the new opportunities these technologies can catalyse within organisations. He is a member of the LEF 21st Century Human Programme, as well as being responsible for the LEF's own technology solutions.

Start: 09 Sep 2018 09:00
Finish: 14 Sep 2018 17:00

San Francisco and Seattle, USA


Register online here.


Based on our experience of previous study tours, we expect that most delegates will wish to arrange their own travel to and from the United States


In the event of you cancelling either your own or your partner’s registration, you will be liable for any cancellation costs that may be incurred by Leading Edge Forum.  If you cancel your registration and your place on the tour cannot be allocated to another delegate, please understand no refund may be payable.

Liberating Platform Organizations


Study Tour Report: Building the Digital Platform


Becoming a Platform Organization – Preview Chapter, Seeing Digital


Are Platform Organizations a Wicked Problem?