Blockchains and the 6 D’s of Technological Disruption: Maastricht School of Management’s New Academic Year Opens with Timely Focus on Key Business Challenges

5 October 2017

We are all aware of the ever-expanding role that technology is playing in our lives and businesses. The world is said in fact to be in an 4th Industrial Revolution. How can businesses, governments, workers and entrepreneurs adapt to these? Who will be the losers and the winners? Can these technologies accumulate, exponentially to approach a singularity point in which human problems relating to energy and food are solved?

Or will we see a proliferation of digital terrorism, cyber-warfare and crime, and invasions of privacy? Will robots and AI eventually take over? These questions are, and will, confront every manager, and every decision-maker. At MSM we have endeavored to make the management of high tech and innovation a central point of departure in our educational programs and research.

With these words Maastricht School of Management’s Dean Professor Wim Naudé opened the New Academic Year on MSM’s Maastricht Campus on 2 October 2017. Present were a full hall of about 210 students plus staff, faculty and guests.

As part of MSM’s 65th anniversary celebrations and in keeping with the School’s ambition to stay at the edge of business innovation and technological development, the opening ceremony featured two special expert speakers on the theme of disruptive technologies.

Dr. Carlo van de Weijer from the Technical University (TU) Eindhoven and SingularityU gave a lively talk on disruptive technologies and the future of mobility, looking more specifically at the automotive industry.

Computer technology has experienced an exponential growth for the past decades and the future is harder to predict than ever before,” Dr. Van de Weijer said. “A kid in the USA has access to more information now than the President 20 years ago, and the breakthrough of tomorrow is the stupid idea of yesterday.”

Discussing the six Ds of technological disruption – Digitalization, Deception, Disruption, Demonetization, Dematerialization, and Democratization – Dr. van de Weijer said that the key skill for managers was to stay “flexible and agile” in order to keep up with change: “There is no innovation inside the lines,” he argued. “It will be your task as future managers to figure out how to institutionalize coloring outside the lines. That’s where the potential for innovation lies.”

Prof. Nicola Dimitri delivered the second speech of the opening ceremony. Professor Dimitri holds the Corvers Chair in Innovation Procurement at MSM. He is also affiliated to Sienna University and Cambridge University. He gave an introduction on the blockchain technology and shared insights on why and in which contexts it can be interesting for economists. “The novelty of the blockchain technology lies in the fact that it is based on a smart contract commitment between two parties, without the need for a trusted third party,” he explained. “It is based on distributed consensus and that the system is validated within the community”.

Dr. Dimitri gave several examples of possible applications of the blockchain technology, beyond crypto-currencies, such as smart contracts, property rights, health, privacy, validated attestations, to name but a few.

Both speeches provided a lot of food for thought and triggered engaging questions from the receptive audience. It was clear to all that the new academic year had started at high level.

We wish all our new students a successful study time in Maastricht!

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