Here's What I Learned at RELEVANS 2023
Norway is well-positioned for success in digitalization, but we're not harnessing its full potential effectively
As the opening keynote at RELEVANS 2023, Øystein Eriksen Søreide presented Abelias Omstillingsbarometer for 2023. The barometer assesses Norway's ability to adapt compared to other countries. It became clear that the indicators are moving in the wrong direction. We have several fundamental prerequisites for adaptation in place, such as a relatively competent population, efficient workforce utilization, and a high degree of collaboration among various competency hubs.
However, despite a conducive environment for innovation, we are lacking in risk capital and motivated entrepreneurs. We also utilize important enabling technologies less than other countries. In summary, there needs to be a greater focus on digitalization in Norway, or else we risk becoming a digital laggard on the international stage.
The world's best-kept secret is the significance of today's technology investments for (future) value creation and productivity
"Have we been too optimistic about the significance of technology? Should we prioritize differently in the times ahead?" asked Runar Wiksnes, Chief Analyst at Virke, rhetorically from the stage at RELEVANS 2023. In the long term, productivity growth has a significant impact on a country's level of prosperity. Despite significant technological advancements, productivity growth appears to have plateaued over the last 15 years, both in Norway and among our trading partners.
Why is this the case? According to Wiksnes, we excel at quantifying the "canned economy" but not the digital economy. The digital economy is much larger than what macroeconomics suggests. By not investing in good ideas today, we miss out on tomorrow's gains. We must maintain our focus on technology and innovation investments today to reap the benefits tomorrow. We must continue to gather building blocks, layer by layer, and invest in new technology to achieve the productivity growth we hope for in the future. It's when people come together and exchange ideas that productivity emerges.
Digitalization fosters growth and stability in times of turbulence
How can one invest in digital technology during uncertain times? How to work more purposefully, smarter, and cross-functionally with digital transformation? And what steps can be taken to systematically pursue innovation and new digital business opportunities? These were some of the questions posed by Eivind Thorsrud Willard, CCO of Forte Digital, in front of a packed audience at Hotel Clarion. He provided the following advice at this year's conference:
- Work in agile teams that can adapt quickly - scale to the organization.
- Plan for long-term gains but ensure quick value creation.
- Make data a cornerstone of initiatives for increased productivity.
- Ensure that those close to the problem can also make decisions.
- Invest in digitalization and technology when the switching cost is low.
- Gain an edge by developing new services during downturns."
Digitalization creates value in all businesses and across all industries
"We need to become more data-driven!" is a statement that most leaders have either said or heard many times - and it's perhaps not surprising. It was also repeated several times at this year's conference. The volume of data generated by people, organizations, and things has never been larger. The Fourth Industrial Revolution has turned logistics, marketing, operations, customer service, financial management, and how people work together upside down. Data is at the core of this transformation. Taking control of one's own data has become crucial for making better decisions, solving problems more efficiently, and gaining new insights.
Data platforms are the key to success
What is the common denominator among companies like Skanska, Måsøval, Farmasiet, and NorgesGruppen - who took the stage at this year's conference? Well, they are all investing in digitalization as an integral part of their core business. They are building digital platforms and actively utilizing data. At Forte Digital, we have extensive experience in constructing data platforms to support this need. Data platforms are meant to ensure that people and technology work together effectively, creating lasting competitive advantages, long-term growth, and scalability. We believe it's about building smarter organizations.
Data platforms also help reduce technical debt. As Daniel Aasen Andersen at Google Norway put it, technical debt hinders competitiveness. It's worth exploring data usage opportunities in any industry. Don't wait until everything is perfect to start using the data you have. Begin somewhere with smaller initiatives to build experience and learning.