Innovation Explorer 2021: Rik Vera Cracks The Magic Formula For The Day After Tomorrow

© Rik Vera

As we are steadily walking into 2021, and the wishful thinking that the new year will bring us back to the old normal proved wrong. It is time for us again to start looking for realistic answers to the burning questions that excite society and businesses. Are we living in the new normal yet, when will all the novelties become “normal”, and do we even want to go back to the old normal? 

Innovation once again can be the answer to the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic and on the 25th February 2021, for the seventh consecutive year, Innovation Starter and will gather economists, scientists, public officials, and business leaders who will present their visions for tomorrow. Exactly one month from today, Innovation Explorer 2021 “Innovation Crossroads” will explore what are the future perspectives for citizens, businesses, and governments and how we can evolve into healthy and successful nations so that we avoid repeating our previous behavior. 

In order to give you a sneak peek into the intriguing content that will be featured in the event, the Trending Topics team talked with some of the visionary speakers who shared their noble viewpoints and predictions. The first speaker of Innovation Explorer who our team will meet you with is the renowned thought leader and business philosopher, Rik Vera. Drawing on years of business experience at C-level in sales and marketing-related functions, Vera uses his expertise to advise companies on how to thrive in a world of networks, adopt customer-centric strategies and align their operations for digital disruption. An author, a professor of customer-centric strategy, and a partner of the thought-leader community dedicated to helping companies thrive in the age of disruption, Nexxworks, Rik Vera will explore what it takes to “Crack the magic formula for the Day after Tomorrow”. 

Trending Topics: How is Covid-19 killing the “old normal” and eliminating the boxes and fixed patterns that businesses and societies were used to? 

Rik Vera: In the long-run, we won’t look at Covid-19 as the destroyer of the system because the system has already been broken. We already knew that the way we were making profits was not good for people and the planet – we were running an economy based on unlimited growth on a limited planet. Because the virus forced people, society, and business into a standstill, we stopped the rat race, doing today what we did yesterday and doing tomorrow what we did today. We had time to look at our lives, interactions, and business models instead of leading our lives, interacting with our environment, and running businesses. 

We realised that the rigid way we were running companies with balanced scorecards and processes and KPI’s didn’t prepare us for the unexpected. We realised that global supply chains could easily fall apart and were bad for the planet and we realised that consumers wanted companies to act in a more sustainable manner. Covid-19 was a hard wake up call to stop partying like it is 1999 and to start getting ready for a new age. Even the World Economic Forum talks about ‘The Big Reset’.

What future perspectives can governments and businesses offer to people and worldwide to make their lives possible in the “new normal”?

Companies of the future should be built on the principle used to build cathedrals in the Middle Ages. People discovered new building techniques and instead of forgoing the opportunities because they didn’t fit in the initial plan, they adapted the plan, so all of the projects that had started as Roman cathedrals, ended up as Gothic cathedrals. I am trying to get people into the mindset of executing while building and building while executing. 

In the future, governments will be less about central authority and more about making sure that distributed authority is well-organizers. They will still do the same, making sure that life is as good as possible for as many people as possible, but the functionality of government will change – they won’t be decision-makers but enablers and translators between humans and AI.   

How can big companies learn to think more about startups – create radical innovation and adapt faster?

They can learn how to apply the basic principles of a good start-up. First of all, they need to put technology at the core of their businesses. They should aim to be guided by Red Ocean Strategies and hunt existing customer frustrations to turn them into delight. Moreover, they need to focus on marketing to engage their customers and should ensure that they are creating sustainable business ecosystems.

In times like today when political, individual, and scientific perspectives about the pandemic collide, what do you believe is the right choice? 

People first. Never economy first. Customer first. Never profit first.

How has the “new normal” re-shaped the meaning of successful leadership? 

A leader does not know and he or she has to admit that. Right now we need leaders that are there to guide the companies and be something like people-managers who hold their teams together and make them feel comfortable with experimenting. Leaders need to be a CHIEF by showing Compassion, Humbleness, Integrity, Empathy, and Forgiveness. The implication for companies is that in order to prosper, they need to show they have a HEART by being Honest, Ethical, Authentic, Responsible, and Transparent.

How do you imagine the role of Big Data and AI to evolve in the post-Covid world?

The Holy trinity Big data + AI + Robotization, will be as normal in our lives as the Internet is, with the difference that the impact will be even bigger. Augmented intelligence will help us to create a better world – I think that if we combine AI, human intelligence, our will to survive as species, and the realization that we only have this one blue planet, we will be able to do it.


+++ Find out the full list of speakers and the program of Innovation Explorer 2021 +++

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