New perspectives on digitization at this year's Automation Summit

Article · 2018-08-30

How do digitization and modern automation affect the development of the industry and society of tomorrow? The Automation Summit conference will bring together decision-makers to discuss how we can best invest in Sweden's future. October 9th is the big day.

The fifth annual Automation Summit will be conducted in Gothenburg on October 9, in connection with the trade fairs Scanautomatic and ProcessTeknik. As in previous years, the conference is organized by Automation Region, the Swedish Exhibition and Congress Centre, and IVA.

Entrepreneur Ashkan Fardost, former music producer and artist and Doctor of Organic Chemistry. Under the heading “Everyone has misunderstood digitalisation,” he offers his views on the situation. Photo: Mikael Sjöberg.

One of the conference's invited speakers is Ashkan Fardost, a former music producer and artist, and a Doctor of Organic Chemistry. Today he works as a collaborator at Hyper Island and runs the investment firm Oddball Ventures. Under the heading “Everyone has misunderstood digitalisation,” he offers his views on the situation.

“Technically speaking, we are starting to reach a high degree of maturity and I think that we’ve passed the “wow stage” when it comes to innovations such as self-driving cars and artificial intelligence,” says Ashkan Fardost. “Companies are now beginning to implement new solutions at a rapid pace.”

Risk of overconfidence in new technologies

However, according to Ashkan Fardost, many people are somewhat overeager to provide their equip their existing products and services with new technologies. There seems to be an excess of confidence that new features, such as internet access for an electric kettle or a customer service chatbot, can revolutionize and enhance an existing concept.

“Instead, take a step back and think about where the real value lies,” advises Ashkan Fardost. “Is the physical product important to the customer, or does the importance lie in resolving an underlying need? Analyse and question the business idea from the bottom up. Only then should you start incorporating technology.”

For organizations looking to increase their innovative ability, attracting talent is a crucial challenge. Ashkan Fardost believes that the companies that enjoy the greatest success in this area have one thing in common – they offer an alternative to traditional People’s Home ideals such as safe employment and a good pension.

“Tesla is an interesting example. Their overall goal is to free humanity from fossil fuels, and selling electric cars is a way to achieve that goal. Similarly idealistic companies attract talents who seek a deeper meaning in their professional lives, something they don’t feel the nation-state can give them.”

Automation Summit strengthens the meeting place

The conference is based on three thematic areas – “New Technologies – Solutions for Your Company”, “Smart Industry – The Opportunities of Digitization” and “Leadership – How to Grow Wisely”. Each block begins with a lecture, and examples of actual implementation are then provided in shorter case studies. Participants include ABB, Siemens, Microsoft, BLB Industries and Lundkvist Trävaru AB (this year's winner of IVA’s Smart Industry competition). The speakers also include two startups from Ignite Sweden.

Focus on three areas

New Technology – Solutions for Your Company.How do we evaluate what is useful, and how do we implement new technologies? We are provided with examples of how new solutions benefit industry.

Smart Industry – the Opportunities of Digitization.The collection and analysis of large data sets enables new products and services. With the help of concrete examples, we become more familiar with smart industry.

Leadership – How to Grow Wisely.How do we develop sustainable companies and business ideas? We discuss the role of humans in the industry of the future, and find inspiration in the success stories of others.

For the Swedish Exhibition and Congress Centre, the Automation Summit is an important complement to the established meeting places Scanautomatic and Processteknik. Among other things, these events are about attracting new target groups – such as higher-level decision-makers – but also have to do with a generally increasing demand for knowledge content.

Ola Lundqvist is a business manager at the Swedish Exhibition and Congress Centre and also participates as a member of the programme committee for the Automation Summit. Photo: Niklas Maupoix.

“We feel that the development of knowledge, for example in the form of seminars and workshops, is becoming increasingly important for our visitors,” says Ola Lundqvist, business manager at the Swedish Exhibition and Congress Centre. “The conference participants can take part in lectures and participate in discussions about the development of the industry and then go out on the exhibition floor and meet the suppliers that make everything possible.”

With only a few weeks left until both the fair and conference, Ola Lundqvist, who is also a member of the programme committee for Automation Summit, has high expectations.

“When we organized the trade fair two years ago, a large part of the discussions revolved around the possibilities that digitization might entail in the future. Now, just two years later, we can showcase amazing examples of digital solutions that are already of great benefit to the industry.”