What are the most important topics/drivers of the current business?
The most important future project for us is the development of the metaverse; A set of virtual spaces where we can experience things together with other people. Our vision is that the metaverse will replace the internet in the next 10 to 15 years. Europe is at the center of this. In the next 5 years, 10,000 jobs are to be created in the EU for this purpose. We cannot and do not want to build the metaverse alone, so we are cooperating with several companies, organizations, experts, and political stakeholders.
... and what are the biggest challenges?
One of the biggest challenges is certainly the digitalization of the working world. Remote and hybrid working are the future. We have known this since the COVID-19 pandemic. We have seen the advantages that this type of working brings — greater flexibility, more time for hobbies and family and reduced climate impact due to less travel. However, it will also be a challenge for all of us to develop this new flexibility while maintaining personal contact, fostering creativity, and finding the line between private free time and working time. But I am convinced that the more we get used to working with digital tools, the longer lasting the positive effects will be.
Which innovations and tech trends do you find particularly exciting?
I'm fascinated right now by ground-breaking advances in VR technologies to create virtual environments that not only look, but also feel believable. That's why my colleagues at Meta Reality Labs are researching technologies like a haptic glove that will be a basic building block for the next generation of human-computer interaction — with lots of little motors, photorealistic avatars, and three-dimensional reconstructions of real places.
What idea/product/thought leader has excited/inspired you lately?
I've recently been very inspired by Tim Berners-Lee. It has only been 32 years since the World Wide Web was invented by the British physicist. An incredible amount has happened since then. In 32 years, we've seen so many evolutions: from desktop to mobile and social platforms, from text and images to video, emojis, GIFs, and memes — and finally, to augmented and virtual reality. In the last 18 months, we've been forced to evolve digitally, effectively covering 10 years of development in just two. This means that trends that were already emerging over the course of the last decade have been amplified in unique ways.
Why do culture change and digital transformation go together?
Digital transformation means that corporate culture must adapt to the new reality. This is not optional but mandatory if a company wants to stay competitive in the long term. Digitization offers endless opportunities, but also brings with it a certain amount of uncertainty. Therefore, a culture of flexible planning and mutual support must prevail to motivate employees and accompany them during this transition.
In one sentence, what is one topic that we should no longer discuss in five years?
In five years, we shouldn't have to discuss gender discrimination in jobs, and the gender pay gap or use statements like "women in men's jobs."
What makes companies and leadership successful in the long term?
Only those who focus on their employees will be successful as a company in the long term. Companies only become attractive to talent if it is clear what their values are and how authentically these are communicated. This also includes having diverse teams. Diversity and inclusion are no longer an end, but a critical success factor. The focus is on the shift from inspirational to empathetic leadership. We want to enable everyone to show the best version of themselves at work every day.
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