Olivier Van Duüren: our IT-TRANS keynote Q&A continues

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Our IT-TRANS keynote speaker Olivier Van Duüren has had a varied and interesting career: executive at Microsoft, inspirational speaker, author and business owner, to name but a few.

In order for our readers to know more about our conference Man of the Moment, we sat down with Olivier for the IT-TRANS edition of our noted Keynote Speaker Q&As.

Read on to find out what the man behind ‘The Dualarity’ has to say in the final part of our interview…

Part Two!

Q: You spent 22 years at Microsoft where you held various positions, with your final role leading the “digital transformation” of the company. How important is an event such as IT-TRANS when it comes to digital transformation?

I learned that to succeed in ‘digital’ transformation we need to put the customer at the heart, value people as the soul and drive digital as the oxygen of the company. Instead of defining a digital strategy, focus should be on defining a business strategy ready for the digital strategy.

Instead of defining a digital strategy, focus should be on defining a business strategy ready for the digital strategy.

It is the ability to stay young, to hit refresh, future proof and re-imagine (iterate, innovate, disrupt) your business strategy and culture, ready for the digital age, by re-balancing existing or adding new investments in products, services, processes and sustainable business models to create enhanced value in the customer, employee and ecosystem experience.

IT-TRANS 2018 'Smart Travellers in Smart Systems' as the leading conference where the sector meets to exchange, discuss, connect and invent new tech solutions can bring the right insights, tech, people and ecosystems together to help answer that challenge on how to enable a new integrated mobility ecosystem.

It will be the power of the ecosystem that will create the ultimate connected and integrated mobile travel experience that is faster, cleaner, more efficient and more personalised.

Q: You must have witnessed a great deal of industry progression and innovation while at Microsoft for over two decades. Where in Europe do you think the next innovative development will come from? From Silicon Valley to Silicon China to Silicon Europe?

The current generation of technology leaders, from Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Apple to market places such as Alibaba, eBay, Airbnb, Uber, to e-commerce platforms like Amazon, JD.com, to enterprises like Slack and Salesforce, are growing faster than any previous generation to date. And they all have an abundance of cash to spend to accelerate their innovation.

Silicon Valley has led the wave of innovation in building a hub of technological prosperity. San Francisco is where good ideas learned to walk. A place in time burst with creative genius. However, San Francisco is starting to show some signs of reduction in genius as too many are showing-off with their money. Most often complacency and arrogance drive the disappearance as the genius cluster matures, with each cluster surviving less than a full century.

Silicon China: China will be the next place of genius as they start showing many signs of positive conditions (rising middle-class, massive government-led tech investments adoption of smartphones, attraction of diverse talent) to impact not only China but beyond their boundaries with Alibaba and Tencent leading the way.

So what about Silicon Europe? Can we replicate international successes like Skype, Booking.com or Spotify? Will the next Google come from Europe?

Many cities are fighting to become the next San Francisco and have innovation hubs, like Rockstart in Amsterdam, Betahaus in Berlin, Numa in Paris, and in Belgium, Ghent, Antwerp and Brussels are fighting for the title in Europe. However, cities inside a country should unify their efforts, like StartupDelta where Amsterdam, Den Haag and Eindhoven have joined forces and became one of the Top 20 global start-up ecosystems.

France has developed Station F to the largest start-up campus in the world supported by its president Macron as ambassador of digital development. Tallinn in Estonia has become a nest of entrepreneurship with Skype as leading example. London is a tech city with an American Silicon mindset, Lisbon is developing strong post the 2008 Eurocrisis and finally there is Stockholm, where society and government have embraced disruption.

To grow even faster Europe will need to drive a 'Yes We Can' mindset and leave the typical 'Yes But', 'Yes No' or Yes,however mentality behind. Europe needs more capital to support scale-ups in their growth. Europe needs to leverage and put innovation at the centre, change the way we teach and learn to change its culture and mindset. It needs to learn to fail and facilitate success.

To grow even faster Europe will need to drive a 'Yes We Can' mindset

Q: What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given? And from whom?

The best piece of advice came from a quote by Maya Angelou, American poet, storyteller, activist, and autobiographer (1928– 2014): "People forget what you said, people forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."

Think about your neighbours, your family, your friends, colleagues, people you haven’t seen for years. We always remember people for how they made us feel, not for what they said or did. Whether we’re a manager, an employee, a partner in a relationship, with our parents or our children, we must think about what we do and say and how it makes others feel, because that’s what makes a connection. This is what makes relationships built to last.

Q: And finally, on a lighter note, can you share with our readers a fun story from the business world, or perhaps a particular fun anecdote that has stayed with you?

When my son had his twenty-first birthday in 2016 he received a very smart letter from the biggest local newspaper. It had sent him a printout of its front page from the day he was born in 1995. The headlines talked about the bomb assault on Oklahoma, the bankruptcy of Sabena, Belgian’s largest aviation group that had failed as it didn’t transfer faster into a modern aviation company, and youngsters being aggrieved at school. Sounds familiar? The funny part is that every generation thinks that the next generation is doomed, but so far they all have been wrong. I believe that humans, society, will continue to exhibit an amazing ability to course correct when the need is there.

We need to create a world where humanity, science, innovation and progress will lead to happiness for all

We need to create a world where humanity, science, innovation and progress will lead to happiness for all, and this includes those who are left behind. We are who we protect AND what we protect. A future worth fighting for!

"We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light", Plato.

Check in with the first part of the interview here!

Don't forget to register for IT-TRANS from 6-8 March 2018 in Karlsruhe, Germany, where Olivier Van Duüren will be the keynote speaker in an international event dedicated to digital and innovative technologies in public transport.


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