Kenneth Fredriksen & Eirik Stranden: Keeping Pace with Digital Transformation

Kenneth Fredriksen is the Executive Vice President, Central East Europe and Nordic Region, for Huawei. Eirik Stranden is the CEO of 24Seven Office, a web-based enterprise resource planning system offering integrated systems and interaction solutions

At Oslo Business Forum, Kenneth and Eirik sat down for a discussion about how the pandemic accelerated digital transformation and the trends that leaders must watch as technology continues to evolve.

Trends in digital transformation

The pandemic accelerated transformation in many aspects of our lives and on the digital front, automation has opened up mind-blowing possibilities. It has become a strong force changing when, where, and how we carry out our work.

Technology is seamlessly connecting people and enabling businesses to create value and drive innovation. Kenneth and Eirik recounted some of the biggest trends they see in the tech space today.

“I think there are two important trends,” said Kenneth. “The first is the awareness of technology we have gained that has allowed us to see the potential in new ways. The second is the acknowledgment that the future is digital.”

Driving innovation

Both leaders believe that the ability to test and pilot new technologies is driving innovation, allowing organizations to experiment with combining new technologies, such as artificial intelligence, cloud computing, and 5G connectivity. They cautioned, however, that effective experimentation requires us to expand our knowledge.

“You have to have digital competence,” Kenneth said. “You need to make sure your infrastructure and solutions are sustainable, and [that] involves robustness in how you design your infrastructures.”

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Balancing fear and optimism

The first wave of advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) promised many new things. With the second wave coming, we can expect to see greater optimization and an expansion of networks.

Eirik noted that networks are becoming deeper and more complex. And that means understanding what is driving them is becoming more important.

“In Europe, we have a lot to learn in terms of forward-thinking in using data and modeling,” he said. He encouraged leaders not to be fearful that technology is developing so fast. “You need to understand the underlying factors and push the regulations, but hand-in-hand with development.”

Keeping up with transformation

Both Kenneth and Eirik acknowledged the need for all organizations to be able to compete in the digital world, especially when faced with complex laws and regulations.

“If we put ourselves into a following role instead of a controlling role, we have no chance of keeping our competitiveness,” said Kenneth. “It is important to make sure we are taking part in this game for real.”

Playing the game means maintaining awareness of the ways in which technology will continue to evolve and how consumers will respond. Looking to the future, these tech leaders expect an evolution in AI similar to the evolution of sustainability.

“When you have a big network,” Eirik said, “You have the same emissions of greenhouse gases as that of a car. Would you use AI that’s not built in the best way?”

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Building competence

Nordic leaders have expressed concern about keeping up with advancements in technology. As the world becomes more global, leaders must become more dynamic and agile. When asked about how to close the skills gap, the leaders pointed to capabilities beyond the technical.

“A lot of it is about cognitive IQ. That is a prerequisite but not the most important factor,” said Eirik. “Emotional IQ—being able to connect with and communicate with people from different backgrounds—is also important.”

Both Eirik and Kenneth emphasized the importance of creating a safe environment where it’s ok to fail and the need to make learning a top priority.

“We need to use both push and pull mechanisms to stimulate this,” said Kenneth. As he explored what differentiates Nordic culture from others, he pointed to the importance of continuous learning, realizing that you are never fully educated and always looking to build new competence.

Key Points

  • The pandemic accelerated transformation in many aspects of our lives.
  • On the digital front, automation has become a strong force changing when, where, and how we work.
  • Increasing awareness of technology is driving innovation and empowering experimentation.
  • This awareness must go hand-in-hand with greater competence to ensure our organizations are able to keep pace.

Questions to Consider

  • How did the pandemic prompt an acceleration of your business's digital transformation?
  • Which trends in technology have you most concerned? Which are you most excited about?
  • Has your organization been able to keep pace with emerging trends?
    Where do your teams need to build greater competencies to ensure you continue to compete?

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