CFO magazine: Mavericks, freaks and geeks

Screenshot from CFO magazine featureI recently attended the Finance Indaba as a writer for CFO South Africa. Two of the presentations that I really enjoyed were by so-called futurists – people who study trends and change (and history) in order to make predictions about the future. In this case, those predictions were aimed at a corporate and financial audience, focusing on digital disruption and the global economy.

Here’s an extract of my summary of one of those presentations. For the full article, click here.


Mavericks, freaks and geeks: Martijn Aslander about attitudes for a changing world – #findaba16

We’ll never again have economic growth like we have known before, says Martijn Aslander. And that’s okay…

Speaking at the Finance Indaba Africa on 14 October 2016, Martijn – author and co-founder of Amsterdam-Connected – put forward a thought-provoking view of our future, challenging the attendants of his presentation to rethink all the traditional rules of growth and innovation.

In his address, titled “Forget ownership, attitude is the key to exponential growth in the 21st century”, he posited that the network effect is not only changing the world faster than ever before, but disrupting and decentralising both power and production. That’s why – he argued – what you own or what you know is now of diminishing importance, while your attitude and your ability to adapt will be paramount.

Martijn started off his presentation with a frank assessment of the state of the world – that innovation is leading to economic decline, not growth, and yet we are heading for a world of abundance. Drawing from multiple futurists and commentators, as well as current examples of innovation, Martijn’s near-future is one in which couriers, transport and logistics companies give way to the Ubers of the world; internet access is ubiquitous; electricity and water are free due to DIY installations, which in turn addresses hygiene and health; and no one needs a university degree to get a job. “That’s why it is ridiculous to build a nuclear plant,” he quipped. “The confluence of technology means that the really hard stuff is being solved under our noses.”

Some of the technologies underpinning this include robotics, deep learning, 3D printing, DNA sequencing, open hardware and software, social swarms, and so on. And crucially, all aspects of these technologies and our crowd-sourced knowledge are connected and influencing each other. And very soon, through the internet, five billion people will have access to this knowledge, and be able to tweak and improve it for themselves and for the world. This interconnectedness is the power of the network effect in which every node that you add to a network strengthens the entire network, and speeds up change.

Martijn believes that with knowledge and innovation in the hands of the average person, many of the dominant businesses in the world today will not survive. People will buy less as they are freed up to download, share and create themselves. Instead, we will see the rise of “funtrepreneurs” – people who create products and ideas simply because it is fun. This is a world of the “haves” and the “have not yets”, said Martijn.


As I said, this is just an extract. To keep reading, please visit the original article here.

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