As an author, entrepreneur and futurist/strategist Mark helps global companies to build data-driven and information-centric organisations that can tackle some of the world’s biggest challenges. He is also a speaker on artificial intelligence, blockchain and big data analytics and how these emerging technologies change organisations. Telling stories is his speciality, which makes him the perfect candidate to communicate the top tech challenges of 2019 and demonstrate how companies can best utilise blockchain to help grow their business…
Please could you give a brief summary of your career journey that led you to become the Founder of Datafloq…
After obtaining my Master’s degree in marketing management I worked at ING for a few years, but after going on a big adventure, I decided to start my own company. After several failed attempts, I decided to focus on the big data space and develop a content platform for the big data industry. That is how Datafloq got started six years ago.
How did the idea for Datafloq originate and what was the key to your success?
The idea of Datafloq originated on a Sunday and I launched the platform the very next day! Datafloq.com is a high-quality content platform, focused on the technology industry. The platform has over 400 authors from around the globe, sharing their insights on emerging technology. We also allow companies to create a profile and connect with potential employees as well as customers. The key to its success is offering high-quality content that is actually useful to organisations, executives and developers.
Please can you tell our readers more about Datafloq: your structure, how you operate as a company, plus how your business model differs to other tech companies…
Datafloq is a very traditional company, although we are currently in the process of pivoting and moving towards a blockchain-based enterprise. Our current business model is advertising, predominantly through content marketing, but in the near future that will change to a subscription-based business model.
You’re the author of the best-selling book Think Bigger – Developing a Successful Big Data Strategy for Your Business and co-author of the book Blockchain: Transforming Your Business and Our World. Why should our readers purchase these books?
Think Bigger was first published in 2014 and by now is likely to be a bit outdated, but it provides the reader with insights how to develop a big data strategy. My new book – called Blockchain: Transforming Your Business and Our World – discusses how blockchain can be used for social good and it is the first book that goes beyond cryptocurrencies and the financial services industry. In the book, we discuss how blockchain can contribute to solving some of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and solve wicked problems such as identity fraud, poverty, climate change, fraud, censorship, democracy and fair trade. I co-authored it with Dr Philippa Ryan and the book provides an educational snapshot into what a more decentralised future could look like.
My third book will be published soon and it is based on my PhD that I have nearly completed at the University of Technology Sydney. The book The Organisation of Tomorrow discusses how organisations are facing highly challenging times, with new technologies and startups disrupting traditional business models. In this book, I offer a way forward for organisations to benefit from technologies such as analytics, blockchain and AI and to transform their business into a data organisation. This book is highly relevant for every leader that wants to know how to prepare their organisation for the future.
As an expert on blockchain, please could you give a quick breakdown of what this involves and why companies should be looking to utilise it…
A blockchain is a shared and decentralised public or private ledger that describes a single version of the truth of ownership. It is a distributed ledger that uses database technology to record and indefinitely maintain an ever-growing list of data records, which are immutable, verifiable and traceable. At first, these data records were bitcoin transactions.
Today, applications have moved to any type of online transaction across any industry. Blockchain not only offers us a chance to fix many of the problems that exist due to the centralisation of the web but also enables us to take over where the internet has fallen short.
The opportunities of blockchain are endless and it can significantly change and improve how organisations collaborate, creating trustless transactions and enabling transparency and provenance of data, products and services. It is a fundamental technology that will have a major impact on society in the coming decade.
What are your thoughts on artificial intelligence and how it will affect people’s careers going forward?
Artificial Intelligence is here to stay. The development of AI is speeding up on a daily basis and only recently, Google’s DeepMind created the AI AlphaStar that secured a decisive victory against two grandmaster players of the game of StarCraft II. In a series of test matches they played, the algorithm won 5-0. With AI being developed at such speed, it is difficult to keep up with all the changes. However, having at least a basic understanding of what AI is and what it is capable of, becomes more and more required in today’s society. Especially because AI will affect organisation design, strategic management and corporate governance. Every aspect will be affected by AI. Of course, many jobs will disappear, but many new jobs will also be created (jobs we cannot yet envision). These are exciting times and organisations have to be open to drastically change their business!
What do you feel will be the top trending tech topic of 2019?
Every year, I offer my two cents of the trends that I think will be relevant for the next year. This year, my top 7 trends for 2019, included blockchain improving industry collaboration, a decoupling of bitcoin and altcoins, quantum computing that will put pressure on encryption and new machine learning techniques that will improve AI. As we approach the end of the second decade of this new millennium, technology is evolving faster than ever before. These exponential times will have a profound effect on what it means to be human and how we manage organisations and societies. 2019 will be a year in which technology will improve its grip on society and where competition among countries over AI and quantum supremacy will increase. That is why I would like to call 2019 the Year of Truth.
Finally, are there any upcoming projects you’d like to share with our readers?
We are currently expanding the Datafloq platform with a new project called Imagjn. With Imagjn, we are targeting the academic world. The reason why we are building Imagjn is because during my PhD, I experienced a lot of problems related to academic publishing. Writing, citing, reviewing and publishing articles is cumbersome, slow and getting into a journal is difficult, resulting in a lot of research being published late and radical ideas being ignored. Above all, universities pay hefty licensing fees for access to papers or to make them publicly available (Open Access), while the research was paid by universities in the first place. We think it is time for change, which is why we are developing Imagjn.
About the author: Mark van Rijmenam is Founder of Datafloq. He is a highly sought-after international public speaker, a big data and blockchain strategist and best-selling author. He is named a global top 10 Big Data influencer and one of the most influential Blockchain people. As well as a faculty member of the Blockchain Research Institute in Canada, he is also a strategic advisor to several blockchain startups and publisher of the ‘f(x) = ex‘ newsletter read by thousands of executives.