During UNLEASH 2022, renowned technology expert and author Peter Hinssen took to the stage to talk about the latest trends and observations within his world of technology. ‘My colleagues at MIT say the most important things they teach freshman engineers are outdated before they get their degree’, he said.
From the new normal
When Peter Hinssen speaks about technology, the room generally listens. The Belgium-born Hinssen is somewhat of an authority when it comes to the impact of technology on society — and the digital world he calls the new normal. Beyond speaking about tech on various stages across the world, Hinssen also teaches at various international business schools such as London Business School (UK) and MIT in Boston.
In the past few years, Hinssen has authored several books. One of those book is entitled the New Normal, in which he looks at the way companies have to adapt their information strategy, their technology strategy, their innovation strategy and the way they are organised internally. The book is particularly interesting for any manager who is concerned with the future of his company as it is hit by the digital revolution.
To the never normal
But as the world evolves, Hinssen’s terminology has evolved along with it. What will the world look like when we finally reach that stage of post pandemic? “I think we’re going to see even more seismic shocks, and some of it is going to be technological”, Hinssen said. “It’s not because digital is done, but new realities, the real power of analytics, the real power of intelligence, and the important force of automation that is a powerful cocktail that is going to probably come in the next decade, even more than the last one. And the most important thing for you is not just to see the technology, but to actually understand how you can actually really leverage that. And that is something where you have to be open-minded.”
“My main message is we shouldn’t be afraid of uncertainty. But to try and see how we can actually leverage that and that’s what I started calling the never normal.”
Throughout everything though, Hinssen notices polarisation. Even in his world of technology. “That polarisation is that there is a Western technology stack and an Eastern technology tech stack. And they’re polarising further apart. But my main message is we should see this as maybe opportunities, not just only the negative sides. We seem to be going from crisis to crisis with more uncertainty. But my main message is we shouldn’t be afraid of that, but to try and see how we can actually leverage that and that’s what I started calling the never normal.”
‘The reskilling velocity has to dramatically increase’
And within that never normal, Hinssen sees a need for organisations to become broad in the way they attack skills gaps. “The skills that we used to have are narrow band skills in our companies to focus on the task ahead. They’re not broadband skills to look outside of our normal frame division. At the same time, the shelf life of our skills is dramatically going down. My colleagues at MIT who teach computer science to some of the best engineers in the world. They say the most important thing is what we teach freshman engineers at MIT in their first year is outdated before they get their degree. That is the realisation of skills today. So the reskilling velocity that we’re going to have to be something our company is going to have to dramatically increase.”
‘You can’t act with yesterday’s logic’
Beyond reskilling, Hinssen argues that you can’t act with yesterday’s logic. “We have to go beyond digital and think about processes and partnerships and network-based thinking in ways we could have never imagined”, he continued. “And it’s going to be a quantum leap, ultimately when it comes to flexibility: How often are you using yesterday’s logic or yesterday’s data? How often are you using yesterday’s tools?”
“We’re in this world where technology is becoming something that isn’t even a question anymore.”
For Hinssen, it’s all about the realisation that technology isn’t ‘magically fixing’ broader issues like talent shortages or skills gaps. “I really believe there is a potential for companies to use think to use technology, to use innovation to become stronger. We’re in this world where technology is becoming something that isn’t even a question anymore. But for me, what is interesting is that of the results of the proven pandemic is that many people start to realise that digital is not just the cherry on top of the cake. It can be a big part of your business.”