Interview with Hylke Sprangers – CTO | CIO | Advisor | Owner of the Company Mount Holland by Annalise Filomena, Consultant – The Decision Group
1. How is tech impacting our world order?
Certainly, it is extremely difficult to predict the future. However, the best way to do that is to look at tech innovation waves in the past, and the current megatrends in the world of technology.
We already know from the past that most of the paradigm, world and economic shifts were driven by technology. If you look at the big macroeconomic cycles in the world in the past 250 years, they have always matched with the introduction of new technologies.
For example, around 50 years ago, the introduction of computing power, then of the personal computer, of the Internet and mobile phones, and AI, have opened up to an infinite variance in new business models, products, services and society as a whole. Right now, these paradigm shifts are accelerating and happening faster than ever: they occur in only a few years’ time. This is also the reason why it is harder to predict the future. Volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity are the elements that characterized our “VUCA” world.
2. How can we strategize in a VUCA world?
In my opinion, the business and societal organizational response related to the VUCA characteristics need speed in fast-changing scenarios, adaptability in unpredictable scenarios, understanding driving forces in complexity and experimentation to deal with the haziness of reality.
From the strategic point of view, there is an urgency to combine top-down approaches with those who are bottom-up. So, as a company you have to define a deliberate strategy that follows market cycles based on a strong vision (top-down) while combining that with an emergent strategy by testing single new products/services to exploit opportunities (bottom-up). As a result continuous innovation should be at the heart of every company.
3. What are the current megatrends?
The two major megatrends that have been and are still changing the way companies strategize their business are “globalization” and “dispersion”.
Something that already started around 20 years ago is globalization. It is a megatrend because this new concept had made the world flat. Thanks to globalization, it is now possible to manufacture your products in China, outsource operations to India and levelling up worldwide your departments.
I call the second megatrend the “big dispersion” in the sense that products and services are distributed digitally and globally through multipolar platforms, bypassing intermediaries thus removing friction & cost. Platforms are allowing businesses to scale up across the world.
A new big megatrend is sustainability. After several industrial revolutions, you could say we are now facing a green Industrial Revolution. Sustainable Development Goals combined with new technology vectors will determine what the world looks like in 2050.
4. What are the current tech trends?
There is no doubt that the main tech vectors are currently: cloud computing, big data, internet of things, extended reality, blockchain and artificial intelligence.
Just to give an example, big data allows us to measure anything and in enormous quantities. You can analyze software/hardware sensors data and use them in your operation, products, innovation and governance. Indeed, big data can be used for operational improvements, product advances, new product design innovation, and governance organizational models.
VR & AR technologies will drive new interfaces and content creation, with metaverses spinning up to interact with each other in a 3D spatial internet. Blockchain, on the other side, is giving the chance to create more decentralized ecosystems.
5. What will be the main tech trend in 2030?
Looking at the future, the main tech trends of 2030 and major tech shifts will be:
a) The further decentralization of the internet
The current Internet and digital economy are dominated by platform models. A platform is a business model that facilitates transactions for multiple parties. The interesting thing about the current rise of these business models is that platforms unbundle production from distribution while integrating the provisioning of infrastructure with the central governance. To give an example, Amazon defines the rules of the game and the requirements for being or not in the platform acting as a sort of monopoly.
So, markets moved from being vertical to being decentralized and unbundled. Looking at 2030, you will see further decentralization of corporations and technology. This decentralization will be happening faster as a result of new technologies. Moreover, technologies will not only focus on central securities but also consumers’ data protection. So, in 2030 we are more likely to see further decentralized ecosystems and unbundling businesses where consumers own data and control their own identities. Governance will be jointly regulated by ecosystems instead of central platforms. Effectively moving to ‘we-all-benefit’ instead of ‘winner-takes-all’ business models.
b) Quantum computing
Quantum computing will be a giant paradigm shift as it will be able to solve all kinds of extremely complex problems. Using the probabilistic laws, it can perform new, previously impossible tasks such as, for example, quantum teleportation, where information encoded in quantum particles disappears in one location and is recreated in another location. Such a future quantum internet could be combined with quantum AI. For example, the time for training AI algorithms will be much shorter with the quantum application, as this can be done in parallel. This allows for discoveries in territories such as medicine and material design. It will also break in all the security protocols in many industries especially the banking one. Other major breakthroughs with quantum computing are to be expected in chemistry, climate & energy and logistics.
c) The convergence of tech factors
The third trend is about the convergence of all the different technologies outside digital called MANBRIC technologies – medical, additive, nano, bio, robotics, information and cognitive. These are all converging in the sense that they are using each other together, together with quantum, to produce completely new outcomes. Multi-disciplinary approaches and applying different skillsets with regards to innovation become even more important considering this trend.
6) How can leaders and decision-makers be ready for 2030?
Decision-makers need to focus on the driving forces in the market: technological, political, environmental, legal, and geographical. Always ask yourself how the macro trends and forces and impacting your business, your workforce, products, services and opportunities. It is a continuous experiment of different and flexible strategies. A strong vision combined with continuous innovation, agility and speed.