We spoke with Are Føllesdal Tjønn, DNV GL, about what he calls the 'paradigm shift' that is happening.
What is the 'paradigm shift' as you see it?
Every so often something happens that changes the fundamentals of businesses, and causes a shakeout. In the past decades we’ve seen the move from mainframe to client-server and from client-server to the web. The previous paradigm shift happened when technology companies like Google and Amazon came into the marketplace. We’re seeing a new paradigm shift now. The way we deliver value is changing, brought on by a revolution in information technology. We are starting to rely on new networks and new ways of working. It’s really inspiring to see how things like the cloud and machine learning, the Internet of Things are turning our whole approach in a completely new direction. There are so many fantastic, new possibilities that have been unthinkable. There has been an exponential increase in the amount of data that important decisions are based upon. The sheer volume of this data, the complexity, fluid nature and the difficulty in extracting the truly significant pieces of data, will be a great challenge. Using the information in the most productive way, in other words becoming data smart, will bring gains in productivity and efficiency. We are just starting to see the contours of this. In order to realize the new possibilities we still have to rely on domain knowledge and expertise. That will always be our strength.
How do the changes affect risk management?
Until recently, risk has been evaluated at certain points: upfront during design stages and at certain intervals during operations. This was a static snapshot for the archives. Now we’re gaining insight that makes us leaner and more able to bring risk levels into day-to-day decision-making. We’re combining insights and data from several sources and applications that have previously been distinct and separate domains. This brings a more dynamic environment into play, giving us an opportunity to optimize operations and manage risk from leveraged real-time information. It’s a holistic view, but also an extremely detailed one.
What are the criteria for succeeding when the digitization of systems and data analytics
fundamentally alter the playing field in so many businesses?
It’s important to always remember that past success is no guarantee of future success. Companies that fail to see that a new direction is needed and keep following conventional wisdom in their industries will not be competitive in the long run. Solutions of the future must be based on a broader view and a vision of better ways of working, combined with the knowledge of how to make them happen. This includes everything from developing algorithms and coding to the massive shifts necessary to lay the foundation for new solutions. My take on this is that you have to deliver unique value, and what constitutes unique value is obviously going to change. We’re always having to transform and innovate. Another point is that our customers are taking the same journey that we’re taking toward digitization. None of them were ‘born digital.’
How do you see the changing role of DNV GL?
At DNV GL we deliver value. Over the last five decades we have gained a solid position as a trusted software vendor solving technical and operational challenges related to industrial assets, researching, developing and providing best practice recommendations – we have a very long list of achievements. We’ve had the same purpose for many years: safeguarding life, property and the environment. Today, it’s obvious that data is also ‘property’. Our customers, who have always been a key part of our development, have new issues to solve, involving how to best gather, secure and analyse their data. It’s along with our customers that we’re building the competence and understanding that will be the basis of new business models and digital work processes. At the same time, we are having to rethink our role in an ever more complex world.
What is the overriding vision?
First and foremost, we embrace the concept of digital excellence. To practice digital excellence is to leverage the power of emerging technologies across organizations, transforming data into actionable insight and ultimately gaining business advantage. We are intent on capitalizing on digital disruption, supporting our customers in leveraging digital technologies and using powerful data analytics to improve business performance, achieve a sustainable and safe workplace and reduce environmental impact. It’s important that we don’t get so attached to what we do and how we’re doing it, that we fail to make the right decisions going forward.