Digital business blues: Creating success through transitions

Photo: Nancy Bundt / courtesy of Next Step
The Angel Challenge Team (also known as the Oslo House Innovation Leadership Team) is leading digital innovation growth in Oslo.

Jennifer Vessels
Next Step—Silicon Valley & Oslo, Norway

Due to the constantly changing demands of businesses and consumers—combined with the power and ubiquity of technology—business leaders all around the world, from the Nordics and Europe to the Americas, recognize that innovation is crucial for the survival of their organizations. According to Forrester Research, this transition into the digital age is expected to have a greater impact on society than the shift from the farming to the industrial age.

The necessity to evolve, learn, and adopt new ways of working and living can be scary, exciting, or depressing. As history shows, these are natural reactions when people must adapt to new lifestyles.

Transition to a new world requires the abandonment of elements of current (and often comfortable) ways of living and working in exchange for a better future. Ironically, it is during this “blue period” of change when individuals and leadership teams have the greatest opportunity to create future success.

From Silicon Valley icons such as Apple, Facebook, AirBnB, and Tesla to Nordic innovators including Stargate Technology, Rovio, and Tandberg, great companies are often built out of the “blues” of forced transition.

For example, AirBnB, the digital native disrupting the very traditional hotel industry, was born as a result of the financial woes of three young roommates in San Francisco. Facing possible eviction without money to pay their rent, they realized there might be an opportunity to rent a room with an inflatable airbed and offer breakfast to San Francisco visitors not able to find cost-effective hotel options. When their first guests expressed delight with the experience (and allowed the hosts to pay their monthly rent), the idea for AirBnB was born!

Photo courtesy of Next Step
Keys to digital success.

Digital growth will continue at an accelerating pace, so it is no longer possible for businesses to opt out of digitalization. From experience, the organizations that are most successful in transformation are those that adhere to the following objectives:

• Committing to exploring, learning, and adapting to new ways of working and living

• Creating their future by understanding customer and market needs and innovatively applying core competencies to uniquely deliver value

• Collaborating within the global ecosystem to address needs and scale

The first step is a commitment to succeeding in the new age. By developing a thorough understanding of market and customer trends, organizations (and individuals) can identify ways their competencies can be applied to deliver innovative solutions in a digital world. Creativity along with a continued commitment to testing and adapting new skills and approaches to address customer needs is the second step forward. Finally, collaboration with others in the global ecosystem is critical to scalable, long-term success.

Through commitment, creativity, and collaboration, individuals and businesses from Silicon Valley to the Nordic countries and beyond can move through the “digital business blues” into a better future.

This article was provided to The Norwegian American by Jennifer Vessels, CEO of Next Step, Silicon Valley/Oslo based leaders in digitalization for Adobe, AutoDesk, Avinor, Nevion, Precise, ShoreTel, and more. She can be reached at or via phone at (650) 361-1902.

This article originally appeared in the Aug. 25, 2017, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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The Norwegian American is North America's oldest and only Norwegian newspaper, published since May 17, 1889.