Episode 34: Rethinking Industry, Business and Jobs…By 2030

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In the next decade, technology will transform many of the fundamentals of commerce and production. On this episode, Aongus Hegarty, President of Dell Technologies, explains what he believes will be the key to leading through this change successfully.

Listen In To Learn

  • What jobs of the future will look like
  • The importance of STEM and diversity in developing digital skills
  • How to approach security risks in a multi-cloud environment
  • Innovation emerging from developing countries creating new industries and job growth
  • Leading your business through digital transformation
  • How diversity in your workforce differentiates you from your competition

Technology Will Eliminate The Historical Friction of Transactions and Processes We’ve Been Accustomed to in Our World

The world as we know it, is changing. As humans increasingly partner with machines to transform the way we do business, research suggests that emerging technologies will open up new ways of creating value and the advent of new industries and business growth.

How can you prepare your business for these shifts? According to Aongus Hegarty, President Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), Dell Technologies, we need to focus on the skills and requirements of the future, because the future is bright. Innovation is abundant in developing countries, setting the example of how an investment in digital literacy and diversity and inclusion will unlock the next generation of digital leaders.

On this episode, Aongus explains how he sees the increasing use of emerging technologies shifting the economy over the next 10 years and what he believes will be the key to leading through this change successfully.

Featured Luminary: Aongus Hegarty, President EMEA, Dell Technologies

Aongus Hegarty serves as President of Dell Technologies for EMEA. Responsible for business and strategy across the region, he leads a team of 25,000 sales, solutions and services professionals serving customers across 120 countries.

Aongus is a respected commentator on diverse and inclusive workforces and was recognised as a Top 10 Diversity Champion in The Economist Global Diversity List. He was invited by the Irish Government to recommend how more women can be involved in top level decision making. Internally Aongus co-leads the Global Women’s Network and is a member of the Global Diversity Council, chaired by Michael Dell.

Aongus is Chairman of the Executive Council for the American Chamber of Commerce to the European Union as well as a member of the Special Olympics Ireland Council of Patrons. He is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) and was presented with the Alumni Award for Outstanding Achievement in 2013 from the University of Limerick.

“Over two-thirds of the jobs that will be there in 2030 aren’t even created today…it’s really important that we as companies, educators and organisations are thinking about what those skills of the future are.”

— Aongus Hegarty, President, EMEA, Dell Technologies

Luminaries Hosts

  • Mark Schaefer Author, Consultant, College Educator. Mark is a leading authority on marketing strategy, consultant, blogger, podcaster, and the author of six best-selling books, including "KNOWN." He has two advanced degrees and studied under Peter Drucker in graduate school. Some of his clients include Microsoft, GE, Johnson & Johnson and the US Air Force
  • Douglas Karr Technologist, Author, Speaker. Pre-Internet, Douglas started his career as a Naval electrician before going to work for the newspaper industry. His ability to translate business needs into technology during the advent of the Internet paved the way for his digital career. Douglas owns an Indianapolis agency, runs a MarTech publication, is a book author, and speaks internationally on digital marketing, technology, and media.

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NARRATOR (VOICEOVER): Luminaries. Talking to the brightest minds in tech.

MICHAEL DELL: We are technologists. And we share an awesome responsibility. The next three decades will hold even more progress, coming more quickly than ever before.

A new age of miracles is literally just around the corner.

NARRATOR (VOICEOVER): Your hosts are Mark Schaefer and Douglas Karr.

MARK SCHAEFER: Hey, everyone. Welcome to another episode of Luminaries, where we talk to the brightest minds in tech. And this is Mark Schaefer. As always, with my co-host Douglas Karr.

Doug, we got an amazing show today.

DOUGLAS KARR: Yes. Absolutely.

MARK SCHAEFER: We’re going to be peering into the future, and explore some new research into how technology is changing the economy of the future. So this is going to be really, really wonderful.

And today we’re with Aongus Haggerty. He’s the president for Dell Technologies in Europe, Middle East, and Africa. And in addition to his focus on delivering essential technology infrastructure, to this part of the world, he also co-leads Dell’s global women’s network, and is a member of Dell’s global diversity council. He’s chairman of the executive council for the American Chamber of Commerce to the European Union. And he is very passionate about using technology for social good.

Now, if that wasn’t enough–

DOUGLAS KARR: That’s a long business card.

MARK SCHAEFER: Yeah. I mean, if you’re not excited already, we’re going to be focusing on a newly released research report forecasting how technology will enable the global economy. It’s an amazing report. It’s called The Future of the Economy.

And this report will be available in the show notes. So be sure to visit the Luminaries page to see this wonderful report.

Aongus, welcome to the show.

AONGUS HAGERTY: Thank you, Mark. Thank you, Doug. Delighted to be here. And thank you for the introduction. That was fantastic.

MARK SCHAEFER: Yeah. Well, we’ve heard so much about you. And I’ve been looking forward to meeting you all week. We’ve got the pleasure of actually doing this podcast live and in person.

And so let’s just get into this report. Because this is really an eye opening report. I’m a futurist sort of geek.

AONGUS HAGERTY: Fantastic.

MARK SCHAEFER: I mean, I love seeing how trends come together. So one of the themes, if I’m reading this report correctly, is the keyword friction. Friction.

So “Technology will eliminate the historical friction of transactions and processes we’ve been accustomed to in our world.” Is that accurate?

AONGUS HAGERTY: Yeah. I mean, let me tell you a little bit about the report. So first of all, it’s, as you said, The Future of the Economy. It’s actually our second report.

MARK SCHAEFER: Mhm.

AONGUS HAGERTY: And on this occasion, working with the Institute of the Future, we looked at looking out to 2030. What does the economies and the jobs of the future look like?

There’s a lot of discussion, I’m sure you’ve heard around, oh, all the machines are going to replace all the jobs. Therefore we won’t have– anyone will have jobs. It’ll all be done by machines.

This report clearly articulates that there’s a big word between those two words, which is “and.” It’s machines and humans working together. Yes. Jobs are going to change. But if you go look back at history, and you look at all the changes occurred over the decades, it’s always been changing and evolving. All I think the technology’s doing is accelerating that change. And it’s clearly having a bigger impact.

And what we like about this looking forward is we’re thinking about the future. We’re thinking what those are going to be. There’s one massive positive theme I draw from the report, massive job creation. There is going to be a plethora of new jobs created. Over 2/3 of the jobs that will be there in 2030 aren’t even created today.

So it’s really important that we as companies, educators, and organizations are thinking about what those skills of the future are, and thinking about how we can ensure that we’re retraining teams, we’re bringing true education in schools and universities the right skills and requirements for the future.

And in those jobs for the future, I think it’s all about continuous learning. There is no longer you do a role, or a job, and it’s a job for life, as it might have been for generations before. It’s very much about learning, continuing to learn, enhancing your skills.

For me and for everybody else in our organization and company. And STEM, or STEAM, including arts, is absolutely critical to the future digital skills that we require.

So for me, very exciting. I like looking out into the future, as you talked about, Mark, and thinking about what are those key requirements. But I would say, very positive, as long as we embrace the change, and we focus on the skills and requirements of the future.

MARK SCHAEFER: So for someone listening out there– maybe we’ve got a young listener. People are thinking, I want to be part of this future. What are some of those skills, specifically, that you would advise maybe your own children to be looking at as we go forward?

AONGUS HAGERTY: So I think that definitely digital will play a significant part. And we’re spending a lot of time as a company working back into primary schools, into secondary education, in helping people think about careers, and choice in careers, thinking about the subjects like maths and engineering, thinking about what they might do as they go on to third level education.

There’s also a big element, by the way. 50%. of the population is female. How do we get more diversity into our students, and those coming into work that are coming with a broader set of diversity from a gender perspective to have a greater pool and mix of those skills?

So encouraging young people. And it’s not for everybody. And arts is important within it, by the way, because innovation is the other key thing coming out here. And how people can work in teams, and communicate, and can innovate around the technology and the digital for the future. But STEM and those STEM skills and subjects I think will be a bedrock of the skills we’ll require in the future.

DOUGLAS KARR: I love that. I think agility, creativity, continuous change, those are all constants now.

AONGUS HAGERTY: Absolutely.

DOUGLAS KARR: Fantastic. I’d like to read a quote from this report that I thought was fascinating. it said, “Machines are not only discovering and purchasing products. Products are becoming software defined, upgrade, and, in that regard, perpetually unfinished. They will increasingly seek out software to improve how they function, given a user’s underlying needs.”

And that’s fascinating. I’ve been doing a lot of work in the robotic process automation industry recently. And I’m just fascinated with machines controlling machines. This is obviously exciting and interesting. But I’m curious about the risks involved. So the vulnerabilities with security, and the gaps there, and what we’re doing to overcome those?

AONGUS HAGERTY: Yeah. No. I think security is definitely a key issue. In talking with our customers, they would highlight one of the biggest risks and elements being around security. And I think, as you look into the multi cloud world, we’re here at Dell Technologies World [2019], and we’ve been making a lot of announcements around Dell Technologies’ capabilities across those multi cloud environments. And how you can move workloads and applications across them, creating that flexibility for our customers.

But security is a key element to it, and is definitely a big barrier to embracing that digital transformation, and embracing that multi cloud opportunity.

For me, I see it as a lot of people think security. Well, that’s got to do with some software and some technology that keeps everything secure. It’s not. It has to do with people. It has to do with process. And it has to do with the technology element.

And so working with our customers, they’re thinking very much about how people are using data, how they’re handling data. Things like GDPR, the regulatory requirements that we now have in Europe, some might say, well, that’s a challenge for businesses. And there’s a bit of work to do that. But it’s helping to shape how our people and the culture and work should use that data and information, whether it’s business data on business customers, or on consumers. And then the right processes to manage that in the right way.

And then finally, as you work into a multi cloud environment, yes, the technology does have vulnerabilities. And you have to make sure there is a layer around that from a security point of view.

Here at Dell Technologies World [2019], we have some big announcements from SecureWorks, for example, and RSA. They’re just two key elements within the security solutions that we do as well for our customers.

MARK SCHAEFER: So, I want to switch gears a little bit here, because there was another part of this report that I thought was absolutely fascinating. And I know this is also a piece that’s close to your heart. Africa.

So this is featured in the report how Africa is going to be leading some of the areas of innovation. And it’s something I’ve been following for years. I really admire the resourcefulness there, because they don’t have a lot of the resources we have at other parts of the world. And so they find ways to get the job done. And there’s an amazing amount of innovation coming out of Africa.

And I can just imagine, as 5G comes to Africa, this is just going to be an amazing area of opportunity. Isn’t it?

AONGUS HAGERTY: Yeah. First of all, Africa is a continent, but in itself it’s diverse in its cultures. It’s diverse in so many ways. We have been investing in Africa for over 25 years, with a very large presence in Johannesburg, in Cape Town, and South Africa. But very significant centers from a skills and competency point of view in Morocco, over 2,000 people in Egypt, in Cairo, and then across the continent of Africa, across all the key markets and areas there.

Very innovative people. If you take just Kenya as an example. I was in Kenya for the first time probably about 15 years ago. And what struck me there was the resourcefulness, and the innovation, and the entrepreneurship of that culture and individuals.

And I’d also highlight, very much led by the females within the leadership, and within that culture as well too. Over 50% of entrepreneurs on the continent of Africa are female.

MARK SCHAEFER: Wow.

AONGUS HAGERTY: A very different dynamic to what you see globally, which is about 20%. So quite a significant difference.

I think what you notice in Africa is they’re skipping through generations of technology. Very strong on mobile. And even some of the more recent developments you see, for example, on banking within mobile was in place in many countries in Africa. It started in Kenya actually with solutions that Vodafone did, where they could move money through payment processes on mobile phones for many, many years before true application based mobile banking came to the fore.

As a continent, it definitely is very young. I would say innovative, as I’ve mentioned before. And we have found it is a great location, not just to serve our businesses in Africa, but actually from a multilingual and from a global and EMEA perspective as well.

So some of those locations I mentioned serve as some of our largest customers, from a services perspective, right across the region. And it’s also a continent in which we have, as a company, and as a team, particularly, focused in around social impact.

And, again, we see the innovations from our teams there. We’ve developed solutions, for example, in remote parts of some of these countries in Africa where we’ve developed solar powered classrooms, for coding and for classrooms.

And I’ve visited many of these as I’ve traveled around the continent. And this is enabling education into remote areas, solving problems like power not always being available at all times, and keeping secure using thin VDI technology we have within the client solutions business. And then bringing education and educating teachers to bring students up to speed on coding, and building some of these STEM subjects and skills that we talked about earlier on as well too.

Lots of exciting continent. Great opportunities. Skipping through technologies.

Ethiopia’s another great example. We have a project there we’re doing with an NGO Chimera and the Ministry of Education where we’re using technology to bring more into education for 1.3 million students across that country, and covering over 2,300 schools, and not just at the secondary level, but right through primary, and through both girls and boys as well too.

MARK SCHAEFER: So Dell’s interest in something like that, is it more than providing technology? Or are you also trying to really just encourage the whole STEM integration in the education system?

AONGUS HAGERTY: I would say all of those? But I would say there’s also an element of focus. Within the UN sustainability goals, goal eight is about creating jobs, and innovation, and employment.

And we believe that by investing in technology and education, and creating opportunities and encouraging entrepreneurship in these countries across Africa, as we do elsewhere, where we have a particular focus here, that will create jobs, growth, and expansion that will create success for these economies, and, in turn, businesses for us to grow and develop over time.

MARK SCHAEFER: Another piece of this report that was so interesting to me is, of course, I’m sort of a tech geek and a trends geek. I can think that a lot of people who read this report are going to go, wow, I’m not sure if I’m ready for this kind of a future. And it occurred to me that there’s almost a psychological element of this, to secure this technological revolution in how it’s going to change the economy.

And I was reading recently how there was actually an attack on autonomous vehicles in Arizona. And it was like, people were pushing back, saying we don’t want this. We’re not ready for this. We don’t want these on our streets. And it was right about when that report came out, I was reading the report from Dell.

And maybe this is sort of a philosophical question. But I’m wondering if digital transformation in the future require expertise in psychology, in the psychology of change as people might be hitting this wall, saying this is enough. I can’t handle this speed.

AONGUS HAGERTY: Well, I think different people have different competencies, and skills, and ability to absorb things like change, for example, and ambiguity of change as well too.

For me, it’s an inevitability. I mean, it’s accelerating. I think that’s probably the big dynamic for people is the speed at which digital is changing industries, businesses, jobs as we talked about. And as we paint the picture and look out into 10 years ahead, a decade ahead, obviously accelerating and significant change.

So what’s critical here, I think, and it’s the same within our company, is we lead from the top. We explain to people, what this change is, what the benefit and value of it is, and how we’ll navigate our way through that. So lay out a vision. Lay out a strategy. Talk to people about how we’re going to support them.

Maybe the past in other industries and companies, it’s been about, this is your skill set. The skill set is gone. We absolutely, in our company and with our customers, map out what those skills are, and what the pool of skills we have today are, and then talk to people about how we’re going to navigate them to these new skills through training and development.

And I would say 95% of the time, people welcome that, because it’s career. It’s development. It’s growth. It’s new skills, new areas. And as a technology company, we’ve been through a lot of change, because of technology change. But now the technology underpins the business strategy of all industries and all companies. The wider industries are feeling that pace of change.

And that’s why when we talk about digital transformation, we clearly talk about the technology. But we also talk about the change that you have to manage within your culture, within your people, within your workforce. That’s probably as big an element, and definitely a critical element to success.

MARK SCHAEFER: One thing I was reminded of as I was listening to you there was, I believe it’s the country of Finland is sponsoring classes for its citizens on artificial intelligence to say, this is coming. And we want you to be comfortable with this. And we want your feedback on how this might be applied to our country, and our lives, and our businesses.

AONGUS HAGERTY: And that’s correct, Mark. That communication and engagement. I think when these things don’t do well is when maybe people ignore at leadership level, the change, don’t build a strategy with a medium to long term lens of how to get there, but most importantly, communicating both ways and engaging with people, and listening as well as sharing, laying out that vision, and explaining why, and what the benefit will be, and what the challenges we have to take on are.

MARK SCHAEFER: Yeah. Just considering that human impact in everything that we do.

AONGUS HAGERTY: Absolutely.

MARK SCHAEFER: Yeah.

DOUGLAS KARR: Well. And it is fascinating just even in this conversation, talking about culturally that in Arizona resistance to autonomous cars, but in Africa an openness to open up their rooms and skip generations of technology.

AONGUS HAGERTY: Absolutely.

DOUGLAS KARR: I mean, that’s really thought provoking.

AONGUS HAGERTY: Absolutely. I [INAUDIBLE] one other thought and [INAUDIBLE] as well too is, technology and changing technology can be all encompassing to our lives. I do think as an individual, and I think about this personally as well too is, I’ll give you an example. So when I go on holidays and I’m not at work, I step away from technology. I don’t have a reader. I read paper based books. I like to do that.

I switch off from work. I try and get the balance right. We talked earlier on about the breadth of my role within EMEA. And I travel a lot. I’m away from home about 80% of the time. So I want to make sure also that I have relationships with my family and friends.

And they’re important. That engagement, engaging with people, talking with people, et cetera. And it should not be about always being on, and always technology. So I think there’s a balance element there. And I think, individually, you have to think a little bit about that. And we’ll certainly have done that. I switch off when I go on holidays. I try and switch off when I get home on the evening times, and just spend time with family and friends, and put the technology to one side. It’s not about being on all the time.

DOUGLAS KARR: Amen. And you’re embedded in this on a daily basis. This is your life. I’m curious, with this report, was there something that just energized you that came through on the report, or reinforced what your beliefs were?

AONGUS HAGERTY: Yeah. Definitely. It would have been a couple points I made earlier on, just underpin again that there is significant change coming. And like all change, it will create challenges. We’ve talked about some of them here today. But it creates a massive opportunity.

DOUGLAS KARR: Yes.

AONGUS HAGERTY: And for individuals, for companies, for countries, for economies to think about that, and to take a medium to long term planning and thinking, right through the education system, through training, there is a massive opportunity for growth, development, career.

And technology will impact so many areas, so much. I mean, we talk about within our social impact one of the key pillars being around technology for good. If you think of the things that technology are now doing within the health care space, for example, and medicine, and medical care, what it’s doing in education that we talked about earlier on in some of the examples there, that’s really, really exciting.

But you have to understand the change, the challenges, and lay out a plan at an individual, as I said, a company, and at an economy and country level.

MARK SCHAEFER: Now, our time is flying by. And this is so interesting. And I wish we could just keep on going on the report. And, again, I want to encourage everyone to take a look at this report. Go to the Luminaries page and download this thing.

But I also want to use this opportunity to talk about your day job a little bit too. I imagine it must be really challenging for you to oversee such a diverse region. Is selling across Europe, the Middle East, and Africa as complicated as I imagine this is? Or are there sort of general standards and requirements that are emerging to make some aspects at least of technology universal today?

AONGUS HAGERTY: Yeah. It’s a very diverse region in EMEA, as I mentioned. I travel extensively, spending about 80% of my time out there in the region. I try and invest a significant portion when I go somewhere with our customers, with our partners, with influencers, understanding the economies, understanding the businesses, and spending time with our teams that we are investing, and growing, and developing, and how we can support them in being successful.

I really love the diversity of the different cultures. And as a family we travel. We’ve traveled a lot around Africa and South America on holidays. And it’s always fascinating to see new foods, new cultures, new languages, music. I really, really enjoy that.

We work across so many different industries. So the industry diversity is very, very interesting. And we work with everyone from consumers, where technology is impacting their day to day lives, all the way up through to the largest companies in the world, and how they’re working and navigating through that change.

And as you visit some of these cities, you see also how technology is making these cities safer, making them smarter, making them more efficient as well too with a lot of services and capability. And there’s that constant impact that technology is having.

I would say, though, that there is a huge amount of consistency right across all of those countries, industries, customer types around what we call this digital transformation. And we have this thing called the digital transformation index, where we measure in each of these countries. We look at it by the different verticals and areas. And it’s very, very consistent. On average, across all of these countries and regions, across EMEA, about 4% of customers are what we call digital leaders, where they’ve moved through that transformation and are really using technology to enable their business, to transform their business, and from an application and transformation point of view, they’re using technology at the workforce end of things as well too.

And there are some leaders within that. So there are some differences. If you think of countries like Portugal, Switzerland, for example, and South Africa, and Italy, almost 10% are digital leaders.

So you do see pace of change.

DOUGLAS KARR: That’s higher than America, if I remember correctly.

AONGUS HAGERTY: Yeah. Yes. It is.

DOUGLAS KARR: I think America’s around 5%.

AONGUS HAGERTY: 5%. Correct. And it’s interesting to see how some economies, and some countries, and businesses within those, have embraced it, and driven a lot of leadership around that change and adjustment as well too.

So a lot of consistency. But also some elements of uniqueness within some of the geos as well.

MARK SCHAEFER: One thing that we touched on a few times in the conversation was diversity. And gender diversity is one of those things that I know is important to you. You actually co-lead Dell’s global women’s network. So here we are, three white male businessmen talking about this. But Mark and I both have daughters that are in the business world right now. What would your charge be to us as leaders within our industry to be good allies, and to really push for diversity and inclusivity?

AONGUS HAGERTY: So first of all, I think about it exactly the way you think about it as well. But I actually prioritize it much more from a business perspective, and as a business imperative. I think to be a successful team, organization, and company, or business, you have to have a strong breadth of diversity. But you also need to adopt within your team and organizations an inclusivity of how you harness that diversity of thought, experience, competency, et cetera.

And gender is one aspect. And most definitely, as we talked about around STEM, and access to those skills, et cetera, making sure that you’re accessing the full pool of talent is really, really important to address those growing needs and requirements we have from a digital and STEM point of view as well.

For me, the light bulb moment was when we brought our region together here in EMEA, and I took the leadership position, I guess almost eight years ago now, or just over eight years ago, and I formed the leadership team. And I found that I had one female across the leadership organization.

At the time I hadn’t really noticed that I also hadn’t as much cultural diversity. And that came later. When I did other programs, I realized I actually needed to look at this across many lenses of diversity to make sure we were achieving that.

Now, I’m glad to say that 50% of our GMs and senior vice presidents of our businesses in the region are female, and 50% are men.

DOUGLAS KARR: Wow.

AONGUS HAGERTY: And that balance of representation is really important. A little later, as I mentioned, I realized that I had too many English speaking and not enough diversity of cultural representation, particularly across the Middle East and Africa.

And now we have leaders on our team who are from Morocco, from Egypt, and much more cultural diversity across Eastern Europe as well too on the leadership teams.

But it’s a constant journey around supporting the organization, attracting talent in, and building the organization, and creating that engagement and engagement from the employees within the organization as well too.

But for me, it’s a business imperative. It absolutely differentiates you from your competition, from other companies. And when there is such as challenge on talent, and retaining talent, and accessing talent, and bringing talent, that’s why this, for me, is a really, really business critical area to focus on and continuously be looking to improve on.

DOUGLAS KARR: As I’m listening to you from a leadership perspective, I’m imagining, it also takes more patience.

AONGUS HAGERTY: Yes. And time. Absolutely.

DOUGLAS KARR: That really needs to be a core leadership skill, I think, if you really want to really enact diversity in your team.

AONGUS HAGERTY: And it has to start at the very top of the company. Michael is passionate about this, Michael chairs our diversity inclusion counsel and team. And, again, it’s across all those lenses of diversity. And that has cascaded down through the organization. It has to be led from the top. You have to walk the talk.

And I absolutely agree with you on patience and investing time, and listening and understanding why, and asking lots of questions, and then using that to change and drive initiatives and programs that over time you grow and develop your talent and diversity of talent.

But really critical is creating an inclusive environment to unlock that diversity. There’s no point in having it if it’s not being used, listened, and applied to driving better decisions, better outcomes, better products and services that you’re creating for your customers.

MARK SCHAEFER: Well, Aongus, we sure have been really inspired by your visit with us today. Thank you so much. I just feel like we’re just scratching the surface.

And I hope you’ll come back and visit us again.

AONGUS HAGERTY: I would be delighted to do that.

MARK SCHAEFER: Because there’s just so much you can offer to our listeners, and your unique perspectives on the world, and all the things you’re involved in. So Aongus Hagerty, be sure to look at this future of the economy report.

And we sure appreciate you. Thank you so much for listening to our show. We never take you for granted. This is Mark Schaefer and, of course, Doug Karr. We’ll see you next time on Luminaries.

NARRATOR: Luminaries. Talking to the brightest minds in tech. A podcast series from Dell Technologies.