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Peter Hinssen NLO
Article 16 Mar 2017

Radical innovation for the day after tomorrow

Peter Hinssen is already addressing what he calls 'the day after tomorrow', the apparently distant and radically different future which is nevertheless approaching faster than we think. He helps his audience get to grips with that uncertain future.

As a contractor, he set up nexxworks that stimulates clients’ ability to embark on 'radical innovation'. As a tutor at international business schools and a popular speaker, he inspires people worldwide to prepare today for the day after tomorrow.

As author of 'The network always wins', he wrote 'a survival guide for anyone who wants to control the future.’ We talked to Peter Hinssen about his vision for radical innovation, and how companies can be successful therein. “When the world around you is changing so fast, flexibility seems to be the most important criterion for success. That’s what companies are looking for."

These are all forms of networks, cooperation between start-ups, parent companies, clients and other partners. What role do IP rights play in this approach to open innovation?

"That’s a very difficult issue. You see branches of innovation, for example mobile telecommunications, where IP is very important and where big companies can build up huge portfolios of IP rights, just to defend themselves. On the other hand, you see new players who say that it’s about speed and market share. If they develop something revolutionary, particularly in the field of software where IP is always very difficult, for these players it’s a question of 'winner takes all'. Look at Airbnb, Netflix or Uber: who are the numbers 2 and 3 in those markets? I wouldn’t know. Such players have no time to get involved in IP. They don’t safeguard their position with IP rights, but just by wanting to be undefeatable. Google is a good example. Google earns 70 billion dollars a year with its search engine, and the algorithm behind it is in the public domain. In principle, everyone should be able to implement it. Google’s best kept secret is how they organise their infrastructure and their data centres so that they can operate on a hyperscale. Look at WhatsApp, the most used messaging app in the world. It has no protection; it’s about scale. That’s how the new players reason."

‘Take Google and WhatsApp, they have no IP protection; it’s about scale’
Peter Hinssen -

With the emergence of these new players, do you also foresee disruption in the world of IP?

"You can question the complexity which we’ve built in around IP. Look at the incredible difficulties and delays you sometimes come across to get something done. There’s huge potential here to rediscover that technologically. Think about the blockchain concept which offers a totally new way to organise trust, agreements and contracts, not via an independent third party, but in a peer-to-peer network. When we talk about a blockchain, many people think about bitcoins or other virtual currencies, but it’s much broader. I recently spoke at the 125th anniversary of the Royal Federation of Belgian Lawyers. We go to a lawyer to make a will because we trust that he will execute the testament as agreed. But these days, I can also make a 'smart contract' which resides in a blockchain. Such a will consists totally of logics, code, software: IF 'Peter Hinssen deceased' THEN etc. And if the government puts a tick against 'Peter Hinssen deceased', then all the transactions required to execute the will will automatically be performed. Everyone was suddenly quiet in the room. But if you manage rights, agreements about who is the owner of what or who is entitled to what, the entire legal profession will have to start thinking. That means that organisations which are concerned with these issues not only have to be legal experts, but technology experts too, data scientists, blockchain specialists."

Read the full article in Fortify