Based in Geneva and Boston, Mark is a socio-economic strategist researching MegaTrends, business model innovations and competitiveness. He is the co-author of the bestseller Understanding How the Future Unfolds: Using Drive to Harness the Power of Today’s Megatrends. He has advised and consulted cities, governments and UN agencies at the interface between business, technology and government.
What sparked your interest in AI and lead you to co-found Nexus FrontierTech?
I have always found technology a Pandora’s Box rather than a panacea and most of my own thinking came from my lack of understanding. With the book on Megatrends with Terence Tse, PhD, a whole new world opened up to me and although I am far from being an expert or even a connoisseur, my appreciation for technology has become a common trait in all of my teaching and researching activities, as well as in my work consulting to governments and government leaders.
Where do you see the state of AI at this moment in time? Is it something that’s REALLY being implemented? Is it all talk, no walk?
I think it depends greatly on where we look. I am a macro guy and I’ll provide you with a macro answer. There are still tons of countries that are far from even devising a proper AI strategy, with the exception of the usual few. So I see AI being a crossroad in terms of social and public awareness, with more and more people discussing it, but still uncertain on the steps to follow. I see this as a big awakening without much action still…but without a doubt, the overall compass of the conversation on AI has shifted to a much larger group of stakeholders.
With so many tech companies claiming to work wonders for businesses, both established and startup, what differentiates Nexus from the rest?
I truly think that our culture is our true differentiator. Coders are coders and AI scientists are AI scientists. But what characterises us is this unique blend of cultures and diversity that make working at Nexus the real contribution. Even among the founders, the five of us could not be more diverse from each other. Still, this has not prevented us from creating a culture of respect and cohesion. We are so comfortable being who we really are that we never fear being candid and transparent, so clearly red tape is not something we know about.
Then of course there is the technology and the fact that I think we are advanced and have winning ideas that need to permeate the market, but again, ¨culture eats strategy for breakfast¨ is what Peter Drucker used to say and I can’t agree more.
You have partnerships with various higher education institutions. What value does that bring to Nexus?
The most immediate value is that we can tap on a pool of talent that is high end. From Harvard, Cambridge, IE, Hult, etc. We can truly recruit on a global scale. Second to this, these institutions can always offer leads to us that we may be able to convert into value. It is also an important aspect of reassurance for our investors.
What is a common misconception that business owners/leaders have about AI?
That we can work on any possible project. The truth is that capabilities are factors we can’t ignore and often between what the market may want and what we may be able to do, there must be an organisational alignment effort. Nexus is usually capable of this, but in many people’s heads things happen quicker than in real circumstances and we need to set realistic expectations.
As Chief Learning Officer of Nexus, what is your role in the growth of the business? What is your biggest contribution?
My role is a hybrid of many things, mainly carved and designed around my bread and butter. So there is a bit of lobbying, lots of research through publications that I curate on a very small scale but which has exposed some of the members of our community to larger platforms. And then there is training, a sourcing of applicants, etc. It’s not an easy role to define but hopefully a support role to many others in more operational roles.
What does ¨unlocking the power of AI¨ mean to you?
Working at Nexus is a good way to put this question into context. It rewrites the conversation on work and contribution to society and it provides us with time horizons we had never thought of.
Where do you see Nexus in 10 years time?
It is likely that the company may evolve into a classic exit strategy such as IPO or M/A, and if that ever happens, Nexus will move to its next normal phase of evolution. Regardless of my own thoughts, my hope is that Nexus will still be a guarantor of openness, transparency and care, even if we are a tech company.