Digitalization Day in Mjärdevi – summary and reflections

Digitalization continues to be a topic for discussion in Science Park Mjärdevi, when arranging the Digitalization Day together with Strängnäs Business Park, as part of the project Growth Zone (Växtzon). Växtzon has the ambition to contribute to the creation of acceleration growth companies, each one with a turnover of 100 MSEK.

Sweden is well known for it’s innovation capacity and has a high level of expertise. This reflects in the many successful start-ups and multinational companies that are integrated with EU. To build further competitiveness on a global market it is of the utmost importance that we join the digital transformation taking place in both society and business. Our companies need the insight of how the digitalization accelerates the way we communicate and do business. We are no longer competing on a local market, but on a global market. That is something we all need to deal with. And, to become a growth company with a turnover of 100 MSEK, digitalization is a top priority.

Brilliant minds challenging us

Therefore, we decided to bring in some brilliant minds to highlight some of the topics that build awareness. Karin Zingmark, former marketing manager at Microsoft, were our moderator of the day, and the speakers represented different industry perspectives combined with a local and global perspective on how to address the digital transformation.

Initially, we started with defining the meaning of digitalization – this widely used term. Stefan Wendin said he exchanged it with network. Social networks, business networks, technical networks – like system of systems. He stressed the importance of having a networking strategy. Claudia Olsson talked about the exponential growth, and the accelerating computing power, which has doubled by the year. Gunilla Herlitz described the digitalization as technical solutions that give humans the possibility to act and change behaviors. Karin Zingmark talked about the combination of business development and about optimizing costs.

In her speech, former editor of Dagens Nyheter and Bonniers, Gunilla Herlitz gave a historical overview about how media developed. With the entrance of the digital area ad incomes has decreased to almost non-existing at the same time as print is slowly dying with its generation of readers. On the positive hand, the audience reach is larger than ever. The demand increases and the media brands are continuously growing stronger. Google and Facebook are new platforms that drive traffic, and they in many ways succeed better in their ad sales than traditional media.

To succeed in transforming media, you need a sense of urgency said Gunilla Herlitz. You need to shift the focus and follow your customers. In the digital era, everything is data-driven, and we need to collect and capitalize on our data. See what the readers want to knot, interact with them – and at the same time deliver qualitative media reports. It is important, she stressed, to continuously evaluate your digital strategies. If there is something not working, you need to replace it quickly. Do not wait!

Gunilla Herlitz highlighted corporate venturing as a great strategy to stay ahead of competition, and mentioned Shibsted as a great example. The media company has done more than 40 investments in startups. “It is a great way of staying in the forefront of development”, said Gunilla Herlitz. Building an entrepreneurial culture in the borderline between the old organization and the new can be quite challenging.

Digital leadership – a key success factor

In the following discussion with the panel, the topic of digital leadership, were addressed and the conclusion was that it needs to be facilitating. It needs to help the employees no navigate in a more decentralized and constantly changing world, where hierarchies are put a side and decisions are taken out in the organization, closer to the action. The people working closest to the customers get a more central role in the digitalized organizations. A unifying vision could take the organizations further by driving engagement and passion in the right direction.

Exponential technologies and future trends

Claudia Olsson is the founder and CEO of Exponential, a global consultancy specialized in providing strategic advice, analysis and professional development related to the digital transformation. Claudia gave us a retrospective of exponential technologies, future trends, leadership and governance. She also focused on the impact of new technologies on citizens, society and global markets.

By 2016, we had 3,4 billion internet users. By 2017 we had three times as many connected devices as people on earth. By 2023, the exponential computing power is expected to exceed the brain capacity of a human. In 2045, it is expected to exceed the brain capacity of all men on earth. Fascinating!

Claudia guided us through the technology trends talking about 3D printed food exemplifying how it could give elderly a better taste and chewing experience, how biosensors could give us better health diagnoses and how future kids, with the help of biotech will have their whole human genome catalogued at birth. She talked about how the future robots not only will do the dirty, dull and dangerous jobs – but also contribute where care, creativity and solving complex problems are needed. She predicted the rise of technologies like AR and haptic and highlighted trends like persuasive technologies.

Finally, she talked about the consequences for the labour market as well as future leadership. “We need a strategy for a digital world”, she said and stressed the importance of nursing a foundation of self-leadership. “When the access to capital, ideas, resources and possibilities is everywhere, you need to be more selective. You can do anything, but not everything”, she said.

Change your perspectives

Stefan Wendin calls himself a global troublemaker. It’s refreshing to share his perspectives and he urges us all to challenge ourselves. By letting us practise for 30 seconds about what we could do with a brick and a blanket, he showed us how easy and quickly our minds learn. “The most common assumption about AI is that human intelligence is a single dimension”, he said. The human brain is an unbroken chain of evolution for the past three billion years. He also gave us some historical examples on when the technology has challenged our ways of thinking and acting in defending old technologies. “If we focus only on the problems, we will be really good at identifying problems everywhere”, he said advocating that we should spend more time focusing on the possibilities.

Stefan Wendin

7 steps to digitalize your organization

Gaia System, one of the Mjärdevi companies, taking part of the day, presented 7 steps on how to embrace the digital transformation. “Waiting to see where the world is heading is not a good idea…”, said Gaia CEO Johan Lindén. The customer experience, he said, is what comes first. This is your foremost competitive advantage. You need to understand how your customer think, feel, act – and use this information to make you better. Digitalization, he continued, has very little to do with technology, and much more to do with business development, structure, behaviour. Your data is you knowledge that you can capitalize from. Use it. With digital platforms, the customer finds their way to you, given that you are visible. Put effort into having the right offer at the right time, provide knowledge and have an open dialogue. Do not put effort in pushing out campaigns.

Johan Lindén said we should build open platforms for the future. “Today, a lot of traffic runs through our iPhones, but there will be others and new digital channels in the future, you can be sure of that”. He also told us to cherish our unique selling points. Not only in comparison to your competitors, but also to other actors in the value chain.

Finally, he told us to start moving – and keep on moving.

Great day, many new insights and food for thought!