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Magali De Reu talks about Xylos Inspire 2019: when people and technology come together

The success of a modern business hinges on its employees. But how do you make sure your organisation’s staff evolves along with your technological developments? The same goes the other way around: how do you find out which solutions are essential in this age of digital transformation? At Xylos Inspire 2019, we spent the day exploring these questions. Were you unable to attend or would you like an overview of the day’s key points? TEDx speaker and tech influancer Magali De Reu * lists the most important lessons here.

* Magali De Reu writes stories for and about start-ups and companies. In addition, she hosts the YouTube series Techmag and Ctrl + Alt + Dialogue. 

#1: Technology doesn’t exclusively belong in the tech industry

Technology is everywhere, that much is clear – but the morning sessions at Xylos Inspire demonstrated that technological innovations don’t just belong in the tech industry.

“We have more computing power than ever before”, our (soon-to-be ex-) CEO Ludo Wijckmans stated at the start of the event. “Technology entrepreneur Felix Van de Maele has predicted that artificial intelligence will soon be able to make decisions about your job and even your loans. This is actually happening already: over 50% of all mortgage loans are already being processed by artificial intelligence.”

“It’s not a question of ‘do we go along with technology or not?’ anymore”, said economist Geert Noels. “If you don’t want to disappear in the crowd, you simply no longer have a choice. The real question is about finding the right pace at which to innovate. Don’t be too quick, because speed doesn’t equal success. But don’t be too slow either, or you’ll miss the digital train.” Noels and his Econopolis colleague Siddy Jobe told us an interesting story titled ‘All will be technology or die’. “Technology’s disruptive nature has already caused countless problems for businesses and industries who have waited too long”, Noels said. “Of course, Belgium is a little behind when it comes to digital transformation. But it’s not too late: Belgian companies still have a chance to join the technological revolution. Don’t miss that chance if you don’t want to risk becoming a dinosaur. We all know what happened to these ancient reptiles.” “With artificial intelligence quickly gaining ground, there are plenty of opportunities to pick up on”, Jobe added. “More than on the Internet and social media put together.”


#2: Create a (mobile) future-oriented workplace with an adapted mindset

We have access to work wherever we go: in the office, at home, on the road... The workplace is more mobile than ever, and this evolution comes with various challenges. Kurt Callens and Thomas Vochten, Competence Center Lead Advanced Workplace and Microsoft MVP & Solution Advisor at Xylos, discussed them extensively. Their most important lesson: many companies urgently need a new, future-proof mindset. One slide that immediately stood out said: “It’s about 20% technology and 80% change”.

“The mobile workplace pushes companies to question their current work methods”, Callens explained. “As a company leader, you want your staff to be able to work as productively as possible with the help of user-friendly tools, but without having to compromise on security and control. Bombarding your employees with new tools won’t work. Ideally, you should go for a holistic approach in which the end user is always at the centre. If you offer users an all-in-one app, their productivity will increase.”

Vochten referred to Microsoft Teams, a tool that can offer a solution for each of these challenges. “Microsoft Teams offers a digital workspace and facilitates teamwork in a secure environment”, he explained. “Many businesses still swear by an unnecessarily complex collection of different software applications. They see technology as a necessary evil. If you follow that reasoning, you’ll inevitably fall behind. Try implementing a fresh, flexible mindset and identifying which technological solutions could support your vision.”


#3: Learn how to innovate... with the Spaghetti Principle

Innovation is a fundamental part of digital transformation, but how do you make sure that your company only launches relevant innovations? As Lars Sudmann, keynote speaker and executive trainer in leadership, strategy, innovation and communication, puts it: “Throw some pasta against the wall and see what sticks”. This is the Spaghetti Principle. “This recipe requires two ingredients: trying new initiatives regularly and measuring each initiative’s impact to see which innovations stick.”

Sudmann believes that all companies should iterate and learn lessons from the process. Test, evaluate, repeat.  “Have you found an innovation that sticks? Good, now you can build on that”, he advised. “If it just flops to the floor instead, leave it and try something else. You’ve got nothing to lose. This may be the most important thing to remember: no organisation knows all the answers beforehand. It’s incredibly hard to predict whether a new product or idea will work, but you’ll never know unless you try.”

Do you want to find out who won the Xylos Inspire Awards? Read more about our customer projects.

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