Welcoming Yngvar Ugland

Yngvar Ugland. Photo: Siv Dolmen/Archive
DIG welcomes Yngvar Ugland, who has recently started a part-time affiliation with the research center. Archive Photo: Siv Dolmen
By Ed.

31 January 2024 13:54

Welcoming Yngvar Ugland

We are excited to welcome Yngvar Ugland, who has recently started a part-time affiliation with the DIG research center. As a leading figure in consumer technology at DNB and the Division Director of DNB NewTechLab, Yngvar brings a wealth of expertise to DIG.

Yngvar has already been an active contributor in the DIG community, collaborating with several DIG researchers. His unique position as Norway's first consumer technologist and his leadership at NewTechLab provide him with a diverse range of knowledge, experience, and skills, which will be invaluable across various research areas at DIG.

To acquaint him with the rest of the DIG community, we conducted a rapid online Q&A session, where Yngvar introduced himself and shared his thoughts on the challenges and opportunities of AI and the role of DIG.

Background and Journey

Yngvar’s academic roots in mathematics paved the way for a career in software technologies, where he is a builder by nature and has built products, technologies, cultures, and companies for 25 years.

His professional path started with a career in BigTech at Microsoft in the UK, after which he returned to Norway to enter the dynamic world of startups and scaleups. This phase of his career was characterized by a mix of wonderful successes and spectacular failures.

His approach to thinking and innovation is both solitary and collaborative. Yngvar shares his perspectives on various topics, including AI, technology, and leadership, through public speaking, writing, and his presence on LinkedIn, where he engages with over 22,000 followers.

AI: Challenges and Opportunities

When discussing AI and digital innovation, Yngvar points out the potential of AI in generating profits but cautions against its narrow application in optimizing operations solely for cost reduction.

He stresses the importance of not just refining existing business models but also exploring new changes that AI might bring.

Ugland believes in the power of AI as a catalyst for opportunities beyond the obvious. These opportunities cannot be discovered only by analysis but mostly by experimentation. The kind of experimentation that is exploratory in nature, where you don't only test a hypothesis in an experiment but also experiment to find the right hypothesis. These are unknown unknowns and require an organizational culture that supports a broad spectrum of experimentation. 

AI commersialisation. Illustration from Pixabay

How to best spend one billion on AI

The Norwegian government has allocated one billion Norwegian kroner over five years for research on artificial intelligence (AI). The question is how we can best utilize this potential. Should we research the development of AI, or should we research how to best reap the benefits of AI in businesses?

DIG Research Center's Role

Regarding the DIG research center, Yngvar notes the need to examine the economic aspects of AI, complementing the existing research on AI's foundational and technological applications. Much research is being done on the latter, but more needs to be done on the former.

The DIG research center has a unique position to look at the pure economics of this domain. DIG has shown through research how being perceived as innovative is good for business in the short to mid-term.

DIG can use its insight to guide how new opportunities are necessary for the long term, in a world where AI makes the long term more short term than previously. 

Maximizing Collaboration

To derive the most value from his expertise, Yngvar recommends collaborative discussions, on campus, in auditoriums, in workshops, expeditions, and co-writing initiatives with DIG colleagues and partners. He encourages DIG researchers and partners to engage with his content on LinkedIn and emphasizes the value of intellectual exchange in advancing AI and digital innovation.

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