EMEACon Keynote Tackles the Speed of Change and How It's Affecting IT Departments

The CompTIA EMEA Member and Partner Conference is underway and delegates from across the IT channel have gathered in Bishopsgate, London, for the two-day event.

First up was technology entrepreneur and keynote speaker Chris Van der Kuyl, who took the audience through how technology is disrupting, shaping and changing modern businesses and what we should be thinking about to achieve future success.

Starting Out

Chris Van der Kuyl’s journey to technology entrepreneur started at the age of nine, teaching himself how to code on his father’s Apple Macintosh. Since then, he has completed a degree in computing, set up, run and sold businesses and engaged in video game development.

Van der Kuyl opened by stating that “The importance of technology should not be underplayed, and impacts everyone on the planet. We are currently seeing the fastest changes in human history and in parallel the slowest pace of change that we will ever experience again.”

He cited the recent example of the Samsung which after a huge investment in development and launch of their new Galaxy Note 7, have now scrapped the product due to major challenges, losing billions of dollars on share price alone. “Twenty years ago this wouldn’t have happened,” Van der Kuyl said. “Competition is now so intense that new innovation is rushed to market and this revolution will not slow.”

Changing How IT Works and Thinks

Aside from the speed in which the tech world now creates new products and solutions, Van der Kuyl discussed the paradigm shift in mindset that has also taken place, especially around collaboration and the sharing of information. “Back in 2005, I tried to push open source but people were not open-minded and liked to remain within the confines of what they knew,” he said. “We used to live in an age measured by the old school passing of knowledge and prescriptive qualifications such as city and guilds or focused certifications.”

This has now changed and we live in an era in which we embrace knowledge and skills sharing. The Internet offers up answers to challenges we are seeking to overcome and communities have emerged. People love being engaged and having opinions considered, giving rise to new ideas and businesses.

He also stated that changes are not just limited to the way we think, but also have had a significant impact on the role of the IT department. “The days of IT determining what tools we use in business is ending,” Van der Kuyl said The smartphone revolution has taken us from the BlackBerry to the iPhone and the creation of bring your own device in such a short space of time.

Companies and IT functions have to be careful not to be too prescriptive about how they use technology and need to respond to the desires of a new generation of workers. Otherwise workers can and will find ways to use and work the way they want.

Van der Kuyl also focused on the emergence of cloud and how this has facilitated major changes in business. “The cloud has given us access to a whole new range of tools and ways to consume,” he said. “It is now not unusual for a business to adopt a new application [or] software only to change this month later, when something new or more efficient is discovered.” This is a world away from the past when tools and technology would be left at the discretion of the IT department and consideration of any new software or solution would result in significant procrastination.

Adventures in Gaming

Van der Kuyl has been involved in gaming since his earliest days of coding and programing and took the audience through his involvement in Minecraft. “If you had come to me with Minecraft and asked me whether this would be successful I would have said, ‘No way.’” But Minecraft is shaping up to be the most successful game franchise in history; generating over $3 billion in less than seven years. The success of this was partly down to the technologies available at the time.

Van der Kuyl’s company was engaged to adapt Minecraft for all gaming consoles, which involved completely re-engineering and building the game. This has exceeded all expectations with sales to date reported at over 50 million copies across PC, Xbox and Playstation and a staggering 100 million sold worldwide.

Looking to the Future

The disruption that the new digital world has created means that things are changing at light speed and Van der Kuyl offered advice on what steps businesses need to take. “It all starts with leadership,” he said. “You shouldn’t be scared to fail. You should try doing things in new ways”

He also suggested businesses move away from the traditional model of hiring based on resumes or certificates. “Take risks with hiring,” he said. “Don’t hire on technical excellence achieved on courses but balance this alongside someone’s ability to learn and change. Working in this way, you can overcome challenges and create a better working culture. If you back talent and give it a place to flourish, success will come”

Delegates were also urged to urged to think about their customers and find new ways to add value. Van der Kuyl encouraged businesses to embrace change. “We shouldn’t be scared of change, but be scared if we are not prepared to change,” he said. Business also need to think and be open to working in different ways to attract and nurture the talent who will create and develop the solutions of tomorrow.