Our CEO’s reflections on re-building business

Yesterday, I attended the IS Copenhagen summit and had the pleasure of listening to some great speakers regarding re-building business.

Dominic Barton, the global CEO of McKinsey, started off with a presentation that to me was very interesting. I guess the key element in his presentation was that we are going through the greatest change of modern business history as we speak. The rate at which we are adopting new technology, and especially the revolution of smart phones, have and will make a tremendous impact on business. Just as a thought, a modern washing machine has more computing power than NASA had for landing on the moon.

The financial epicenter is shifting towards Asia, but also possible southwards as Africa is emerging. We need to be looking out of our own markets, and focus on the new markets. The sheer volume of the new markets are so vast, that we need to have a global vision. It really doesn’t matter if you’re a large or a small business. With the technology today, you can gain a global reach.

The shift from production to technology is also having a great impact on our work force. We don’t employ as much as we used to. This will definitely be a huge challenge for governments. There will also be a great imbalance within countries. As an entity, cities will become more valuable than the country. Just look at Hollywood or Silicon valley. The same will apply to many other business fields. Shenzhen or Shanghai will be more interesting than China itself.

The CEO of Ericsson, Mr. Hans Vestberg, gave us an insight into the huge, and in many ways painful change Ericsson has gone through. What I picked out from his presentation was how the power on the market has changed. In the 80s we had a supplier power. The suppliers could dictate who was allowed to become a client. This changed in the 90s and we now have the power of the buyer. However, in the future it’s all about partnership. This is also something I am advocating, as I believe every company needs to see their suppliers as partnerships.

Personally, I found the presentation of Professor Costas Markides from London Business school the most interesting. We can all talk about innovation. But we don’t become innovative by talking about it. So how do we become innovative? Innovation is about curiosity. But it’s as much about passion. We need to have the will to change. And we get the will by having passion. We need to burn for what we do.

Talking about passion, there were two real entrepreneurs present. Christian Von Koenigsegg representing a type of a relentless fighter, who never gives up regardless of the setbacks. Sir Richard Branson on the other hand, I guess could be called the rock star of business. The lesson learned is to know your weaknesses and to surround yourself with great people. And have fun. Never forget that and never mind the bollocks.

As an entrepreneur and as the CEO of Qvalia, a feeling of the necessity to change has definitely been a key driver for me. As a company we’ve gone through a tremendous change in the past 10 years and we will continue to do so. For many years I couldn’t quite place why I had this need to change. I misplaced the feel, believing it was the fear of becoming redundant. This, as competitors, can of course be a great motivator for improvement. However, I’ve come to realize that it wasn’t only me and Qvalia that had to change. It’s the market. It’s how we conduct business. We haven’t focused well enough on the possibilities of digitalization. This realization gave me for the first time a real corporate vision and strategy for the coming 10 years. One that I could truly feel passionate about. I could see where our company had to be on the market and most importantly, why. The feel was in fact the existential search why we as a company should exist.

To summarize, I believe reshaping business is not an action; it’s not something you do in order to turn around your company. I believe we are reshaping business everyday. We need not only to deliver to our clients on a daily basis, we need to do it better, cheaper, smarter and faster than we did the day before. Reshaping and innovation is a constant process, just like evolution. Our challenge will be the rate at which this evolution takes place. Today, we are all IT companies. It really doesn’t matter what business you are in. But as IT companies, we are also susceptible for the volatility of the IT business; The leaders of today may very well become the losers of tomorrow.

Henri Taipale CEO, Qvalia Group

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