Face the future…or stay buried in the past.
“If we wait to see the danger, it will be too late” was the underlying premise of entrepreneur and futurist Anders Hvid’s thought-provoking seminar at CBS on February 3, 2016. He spoke of technology and artificial intelligence that conjured up images of Arnold Schwarznegger’s Terminator, which that got many of us thinking about the future and the inevitable changes that are coming. But in a less “dooms day” scenario, Anders spoke instead about the needing to understand technology in order to do business and when speaking to a lecture hall filled to the brim with MBA Alumni, you can imagine what kind of emotions he evoked.
With Google’s self-driving cars and the growth of primitive AI’s like iPhone’s Siri and Netflix’s recommendation algorithm, the opportunities of technological development are endless. Anders animatedly explained to us that this is part of a new paradigm, representing a shift from what was once a linear and local world to a global and exponential one. He said, “when something becomes digital, it changes everything” and gave us the classic example of Kodak vs. Instagram. It illustrated the downfall of what was once a leading technology company suffering, that suffered a $1.4 billion loss in 2012 in the same year that photo-sharing, social media company Instagram, consisting of 13 employees, was acquired by Facebook for $1 billion. Anders referred to this as “a scarcity paradigm vs. an abundancy paradigm”. With these staggering facts, it we were brought us face-to-face with the reality of the exponential rate of technological advancement over the last few years.
An MBA Alum from last years class said he could relate to what Anders was saying, having worked primarily in start-up businesses himself. He added, “with the technological environment changing so quickly, even the most established companies will need to adopt a start-up mentality or else they will get buried in the past.”
Another CBS graduate who is interested in finding ways to combine communication and technology in a business setting, found this kind of growth “fascinating and terrifying all at the same time.”
However, due to the controversial topic, there seemed to be mixed reactions from the audience. One guest brought up the common belief that social media is actually making us less social by reducing the amount of face-to-face communication we have. Anders maintained a positive outlook, saying that he sees it instead as an extension of himself, in that he still has his core group of friends, but that he now also has contacts who he can keep in touch with at a more distant level, adding “we should be aware of the change and think of a better world.”
I’d stipulate that Anders succeeded in challenging the mind-set of some of CBS’s leading businessmen and women as he stressed the importance of creating an innovative edge for businesses before it is too late. And as someone who intends to be part of Denmark’s innovative business landscape one day, I was glad to participate in this eye-opening event. One thing is for certain though - the future is coming, whether we are prepared to face it or not, and the willingness of a business to change could be the difference between their expansion and their extinction.
Georgianna Carlson, Full-time MBA student 2015-16 and student representative on the CBS MBA Alumni Society Board