Curiosity and Innovation in Tech

In This Podcast
Show Notes
Nicklas Bergman
E 82

In This Podcast

  • Accepting uncertainty
  • Being curious but skeptical
  • Navigating the Tech Storm
  • A three-way process for innovation in technology 
  • Interesting tech trends
  • Listening to different opinions

Nicklas Bergman has spent the past 25 years working as an entrepreneur and a technology investor, mostly focusing on investments and business development in emerging markets.

Show Notes

Curiosity and Innovation in Tech – Meet Nicklas Bergman

A couple of years ago Nicklas Bergman cleared his schedule and embarked on a journey to understand where technology is taking us and if we are ready for the upcoming tech storm, and is now dividing his time between technology investments, and writing and speaking all over the world on the future of technology and business.

Accepting uncertainty

Technology is the strongest driver of change today, but the rate at which we are progressing means we will never have all of the information. 

One of the main challenges for any executive is to let their guard down and venture into the unknown. 

“People are fighting that uncertainty. I think instead we should just accept the fact that we will never have full information, and focus on making decisions based not on having all the information, but maybe having slightly more information than the competition has.”

Curious but skeptical

Executives quite often say, “let’s wait and see.” But according to Nicklas, that’s also a bad idea. Instead we should be curious about these new technologies and learn about what’s happening in the sectors outside the bubble of our organization, looking at all the trends that are happening. 

When it comes to tech innovation, Nicklas believes it is essential to be curious, open-minded, and take everything in, but also to be skeptical. Everyone is trying to sell you their view of the world, he says. He advises us to be curious, but also make sure we’re coming to our own conclusions and create a mindset around being informed about new technology and innovations. 

Navigating the Tech Storm

Nicklas recently published the book, Navigating the Tech Storm: Strategy in Times of Technological Uncertainty, in which he talks about how to deal with new technologies from a business perspective.

He wanted to write a practical guide—a handbook providing tools for understanding the technology landscape and how it affects business. 

“Society is not really ready for what’s coming. People in general have no clue about how tech will transform society and business in the next 10, 20, 30 years, so we need to talk about that.”

He set out to describe how he had been working with technology and business for the past 20 years, and he initially thought his main audience would consist of established companies in large industries. However, the topic is so prescient and relevant that the book has been useful for a diverse audience, including those in the startup world, the investment community, and policymakers and others in the public sector. 

A three-way process for innovation in technology 

The process for approaching a better understanding of technology consists of three steps, according to Nicklaus. 

First, you need to analyze technologies and see what’s out there and what the trends are, while also analyzing the time perspective–when it is happening. 

Second, you need to assess the business implications—how it will affect your industry, your customers, and your company.

Lastly, you need to adapt to that new reality and find new ways of how to lead people and how to organize your work, while paying attention to sustainability and the ethical perspectives.

Interesting tech trends

Everyone is talking about climate change and new energy solutions as well as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. 

According to Nicklas, emerging technologies with a tremendous opportunity about which people rarely talk include nanotechnology and new materials. He finds these fascinating because they are general-purpose, enabling technologies behind many other breakthroughs that we’re seeing. 

Nanotechnology is everywhere, but it’s in its early stages. Nicklas predicts we will see amazing things come out of the field of nanotechnology in the coming years. Because it is more complicated and less understandable to most people, however, we need another set of entrepreneurs and investors to understand and develop applications in these areas. 

Then there’s the combining of technologies, like using IT to understand the human brain, using AI and machine learning and eventually quantum computing to design new medicine, using nanotechnology to improve cognitive functionality. 

“This cross pollination, that is where I see a lot of interesting things happening. It’s still in its infancy, but definitely something to look out for in the future.”

Listening to different opinions

A shift in the past decade in society is that there is more hostility, more fear of change, and an unwillingness to hear the different opinions of others. 

If there’s one thing the world needs most right now, according to Nicklas, it’s that we should be more open-minded and accept different opinions. 

Allowing different opinions and interested, heated discussion around things is important in an entrepreneurial, startup, investor, or corporate setting, but it is also important in a political and societal context. 

“We need to get back to a point where we respect each other although we have different opinions. That is something we are lacking today as we shrink more and more into our own ‘filter bubbles.’”

We tend to close out things we disagree with, because that makes life easier. Now it’s easier than ever to do that. But we need to be open minded and accepting of different opinions, because that’s part of democracy. 

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