One of my goals for this year was to write a weekly blog post as a means to share my experiences, learnings and insights with a broader community in the hope that my efforts can help accelerate our evolution towards a digitalized, connected future. Although I don’t want to get into a long discussion about the state of the world, I do want to share that my view is that we’re living in the best time in the history of mankind. Life has never been better and there are lots and lots of metrics and facts backing up that viewpoint, including life expectancy, poverty, child death, equality, number of people living free from oppression, etc. Although there are many challenges that we should work on, as a society and as individuals, it is important to do so from an understanding that things are pretty good already and only getting better. And I view technology in general and, during recent decades, information technology specifically as being at the center of this societal progress.
2017 has been an amazing year for me and this article is in part intended to thank all of you that helped make it so. As I have shared in earlier posts, my professional life is divided in three parts: Software Center, a collaboration between, now, 11 companies and 5 universities around accelerating the rate of digitalization in the European software intensive systems industry; a “boutique” consulting business helping companies align their business strategy, architectures, ways of working and organization with the challenges and opportunities of new technologies and trends; angel investor and/or board member in a number of startups.
In Software Center, we added two additional partner companies, Robert Bosch GmbH and Qamcom AB, and launched new research activities around software engineering for AI/ML/DL as well as work around data and business ecosystems. In addition, I managed to publish my book “Speed, Data and Ecosystems”, summarizing the research results from the last years, as well as two shorter books around using data to build better products and doubling your R&D effectiveness (forthcoming). The collaboration with the companies and the researchers in the center is just amazing and I am grateful for the opportunity to act as its director.
In my consulting business, I work with a dozen+ companies and the topics we’ve been working on, ranging from developing and introducing new platforms, adopting continuous integration and deployment, redirecting resource allocation from commodity work to differentiation to reinventing business strategies and business models and creating new business ecosystems has been immensely stimulating and fun. As those of you reading this know who you are, I am not going to drop names, but I want to thank you for a wonderful year and I can’t wait to work with you in 2018!
In the startup space, I left some boards, including Fidesmo and Remente, after having served for several years, but joined the board of Peltarion, a platform company in the deep learning space. Although some people I talk to feel that the whole AI space if vastly over-hyped, I think we are severely underestimating the impact AI technologies in combination with big data will have on our lives. Working with startups and their founders, as board member, angel investor and/or advisor, is reinvigorating and I always feel challenged to set the bar higher for myself too. I have huge respect for the courage the folks at these companies show in taking on enormous challenges and battling really challenging odds. Thank you for allowing me to be part of the journey!
Although I normally keep my private life outside of my posts, 2017 marked the year of a birthday where my age got a “0” at the end (ouch). As I get older, I worry about getting stuck in my comfort zone and want to ensure that I don’t get too comfortable. To me, self actualization and continuing to grow and develop, both personally and professionally, is critically important for a good and fulfilling life. As one tool towards this goal, I committed to having a series of lunches to discuss this challenge with people that have perspectives on this topic.
Although I will leave the details to a later post, these lunches taught me a couple of things. First, everyone wants to make an impact. This is a bit of a cliché, but it really isn’t because at least for the people that I have met so far, this is not about some egocentric desire to stand out. Rather it is a genuine desire to leave mankind in better place thanks to the life energy that you expend. Because, in the end, you can’t stop time, you can’t stop aging and you can’t delay your inevitable demise, but you can decide how to use the time that you have available in the best way possible.
The desire to use your time on this planet in the best way possible then leads to two questions that everyone needs to answer for him or herself. First, what are the things that I care most about? The things that give my life meaning. I think that most people view life as as inherently meaningless and that we need to give meaning to it. Not a generic meaning for everyone, but specific meaning just for our life. And the things that we choose to give our lives meaning don’t have to be the final and permanent choice. Over the course of our life, the things that give our lives meaning can grow and evolve. As a metaphor, our life is an empty bowl and we decide what to pour in it. We don’t have to put anything in it, of course, but then our life stays empty and meaningless.
The second question is about how you position yourself best for optimally contributing to the purpose that you have chosen for your life. This where the comfort zone entered the discussions that I had. Before the comfort zone became the comfort zone, it was an area in which we were growing and developing and aspiring to contribute to the things are we believe give meaning to our life. However, at some point the growth ends and the question is whether you would be able to contribute more if you would make changes to your job or your life in general.
As you can see, I only raise the questions without giving answers. This is intentional as I hope to spend the Christmas break to ponder over these questions. And I invite you to do the same and share you thoughts with me using whatever means you find suitable.
Concluding, 2017 has been another amazing year for me and I am grateful to everyone I have connected with in any form, through work, conferences or online means, and I want thank all of you that I connected with. Have a wonderful Christmas (or holiday season) and a fabulous start of 2018!
This is my last blog post of 2017 as I’ll be taking off for two weeks. I’ll be back early January. Follow me on janbosch.com/blog, LinkedIn (linkedin.com/in/janbosch) or Twitter (@JanBosch)! And you might like www.software-center.se!