“Just a few hours at In the Pocket and I’ve heard so many inspirational talks, it’s refreshing.”
“It’s been a while since I attended an event like this and actually learned something I can use.”
“Every little detail was taken care of. Top content, top organisation.”
And that’s just a selection of the reactions. First-rate speakers, inventive workshops, exquisite catering,... the place was buzzing with positive people from companies like Telenet, Colruyt Group, de Persgroep, Proximus, Belfius, KBC Group and Medialaan.
Missed Shift '17? Download the Shift report on the next big digital trends. Or why not invite us to organise one of our workshops at your company?
But let’s get down to business and get you up to speed on the most inspiring moments of Shift '17!
#1. "Augmented reality is getting real."
In 3 different ways, guests at Shift got to experience augmented reality. Many put on the Microsoft HoloLens and saw the world in a whole new way. Digicorders were installed with unexpected delight with the prototype of our Telenet AR experience. And last but not least, people could take a relaxing stroll through the office guided by the Shift AR app, built for the occasion.
#2. “Launch your product before it's finished.”
Build it, ship it, tweak it. Deploy or die. You get the picture. Don’t wait for your product to be perfect before you launch it. Only by putting it out there, will you be able to tweak it into perfection. Because you need user feedback to do that. You can’t improve your product by having meetings behind closed doors. You need data from the real world.
Or as MyColruyt’s product owner Laurent Vanduynhoven said it “The go live is just the beginning”. After that, numerous releases will follow, making your product better each time.
#3. "A lot of people work on human-level AI, but few people work on what would happen after we succeed."
Keynote speaker Nick Bostrom claimed that the change that awaits humanity when we invent general AI, might be even bigger than the evolution from big ape to homo sapiens. In the last 7 years, we’ve taken big leaps forward in artificial intelligence (AI). The field has become irresistible for researchers and tech companies alike. Just think of the 1 million pounds that Elon Musk pumped into Bostrom’s Future of Humanity Institute.
An AI that’s smarter than us humans might not be that far away. In fact, on average, AI experts believe it will happen within the next 50 years (though opinions vary greatly). But how rampant would it be? Will it act as we intended? Or will it be indifferent to human values? What can we do to shift the odds towards more favourable outcomes for us? Answers to those questions might only come when artificial superintelligence arises. Nevertheless, several research groups across the world, including Bostrom’s, are working on scalable control methods for AI. While only a few years ago it was completely dismissed within the AI community, it has now become an actual technical research field, considered vital by many.
#4. “Managers are obsolete."
Worldwide, only 13% of employees are engaged. That fact inspired Pawel Brodzinski to make his company, Lunar Logic, the best place to work. He believes that autonomy is key in the process. And he takes it to the extreme. Hierarchy removes autonomy. That's why, from purchasing new computers to firing people (including the CEO), at Brodzinski’s company, everything is decided by his employees through a common decision making process. Not by managers or a CEO. Just like a website or app with user-generated content, the company is constantly tweaked by its employees, its actual users.
Later that night, we heard a different sound from Pieterjan Bouten during the evening panel. The CEO of Showpad doesn’t think holacracy would work for his company. Showpad attracts a lot of young and unexperienced millennials. This calls for a balance between strong leadership and guidance on the one hand, and openness, empowerment and agility on the other.
#5. "Don’t marry a new technology."
All members of the Navigating New Tech Panel agreed: even though you keep an eye out for new technologies, you don’t just embrace them the moment they enter the market.
“Everything looks like a miracle solution at first”, Jan Hollez, Director of Development at Lightspeed, said. But you don’t push your company to use it. You challenge them about it and trust that your engineers will find the right way to introduce it. “You should create an environment where new tech flows into your company naturally”, CoScale’s CEO Stijl Polfliet thinks.
#6. "Shifting is not about speed, it's about timing."
The evening panel was all about dealing with digital shifts as a company. Speed was discussed at length. In digital times, speed is essential. Decision speed, speed to market,… According to Showpad’s Pieterjan Bouten, trust and empowerment are essential to making speed possible. Hierarchy should not stand in the way of speed.
In big companies like KBC Securities though, hierarchy is ever-present. According to Bart Verhaeren, the best solution is to take a project out of the existing structure, so that it can behave like a start-up or scale-up. When there are so many rules, it’s impossible to go full speed ahead without breaking any. There’s a thin line between intrapreneurship and insubordination, he quoted.
Professor Beulens, probably the event’s most charming speaker, intervened. In an unstable environment –and tech is making everything unstable– timing is everything, not speed. It’s like telling a joke: you can tell it too slow, but you can also tell it too fast. You want better timings to create stability.
#7. "Think different, but don’t just throw any tech at your company."
Just because a technology is new, doesn’t mean you have to adopt it. Pick the right ingredients for your soup. Or start cooking a new soup all together.
To help you come up with the perfect digital recipe for your company, we designed an innovation card game called Shift.
During what was probably the most popular workshop of the day, Shift the game was played in 2 high-energy sessions. The cards can be used for ideating on new digital products or services, or improving existing ones. So ... that's what we did.
The game takes the best elements from innovative companies, promising technologies and relevant trends and helps participants combine them in ways they might not think of themselves. They came up with tens of innovative ideas within the hour. "By seeing all of these combinations, I was immediately inspired to extend our current portfolio of products," said one. "I'm taking these ideas back to my next product meeting," said another.
Every guest at Shift got to take home a brand-new deck of Shift cards. We’re curious to see the ground-breaking ideas that will follow!