• SRI International, Building G Conference Center (map)
  • Parking right outside building, enter from Laurel Street (across from Burgess Park)
  • Menlo Park, Ca 94025
  • US



Digital tools and technologies are omnipresent in the lives of consumers and workers, at least in all the OECD countries—but increasingly also in developing countries, which sometimes leapfrog and adopt more advanced digital technologies than are used in more advanced economies. And while most startups and small companies are either “born digital” and/or are flexibly and quickly adopting and adapting to emerging digital technologies, many larger, enterprises are often facing a difficult migration from existing, large legacy technology and systems to more modern digital platforms and tools, increasingly “in the cloud”.

Top management is often not as fully informed about “the digital realities” as we might think, not recognizing that digital developments can quickly change the competitive environment and thus bring significant threats(i.e. disruption). A large survey in Norway recently revealed findings that many found shocking, with news headlines claiming that large number of top industry leaders in Norway are living in their own “bubble”, and not being sufficiently prepared to deal with the future.

This session will address a number of issues, and lay the ground for how the new, digital environment is evolving and how leading players—such as GE, among others—are leveraging these changes and demonstrating how to embrace and benefit from digital transformation. Our panelists are working on the front line of digital transformation and will share their insights and experiences. Issues likely to be addressed include:

  • What are some of the most challenging corporate culture issues that enterprises, and especially senior leaders often face, as they try to implement digital transformation?
  • What organizational changes, and new executive positions, may be required as part of a new digital strategy?
  • What are some key lessons learned from leading enterprises, like GE, when it comes to how to accelerate digital transformation through a large and complex organization?
  • What are some great examples of Silicon Valley companies that have led the way in embracing digital transformation, and what are specific actions they have taken?
  • Most of the Nordic countries have built advanced digital infrastructures, and governments have embraced digital tools and technologies. What might be some reasons for why so many Norwegian corporate leaders seem to be lagging behind, and is Norway different from the other Nodic countries?
  • Estonia is one of the leading nations in terms of fully embracing the Internet as the platform for business and government. What can Estonia teach leaders in the public or private sector in other countries?


  • Sara Roberts, Ernst & Young and Consultant/Speaker. Sara Roberts is a leading authority and “hands-on” expert on shaping innovative cultures, guiding strategic transformation, and building purpose-led companies that are exceptionally agile and customer-focused. She's the author of the highly-acclaimed book Nimble, Focused, Feisty: Organizational Cultures that Win in the New Era and How to Create Them. As an executive consultant, Sara works with Fortune 500 leaders who want to infuse their companies with startup innovation, responsiveness, and agility, and with the founders of startups who are looking to bring their cultures and innovative practices to scale. She’s a sought-after speaker in the areas of leadership, culture, innovation, strategic transformation, and employee and customer engagement. She was the founder of Roberts Golden, a boutique consultancy, where she and her team worked with nearly a quarter of the Fortune 100 to help transform their cultures and approach to leadership.


Jim Spohrer closeup.JPG
  • Jim Spohrer, Director, Understanding Cognitive Systems, IBM Almaden. Jim, who has served as IBM Director, global University Programs and was the Lead of Cognitive Systems Institute at IBM during 2009-2016, recently took over his new role in Understanding Cognitive Systems. Jim—who has been a great panelist at a number of Silicon Vikings events in recent years—has deep and extensive experience with digital systems, not only how current systems can be used and leveraged, but has great insight into what is coming and how emergent technology—such as Intelligent Personal Assistants—will emerge and how they will find use in both consumer tech and in the enterprise. Jim, like Professor Furseth on the panel, has for many years been researching and exploring how advanced, digital technologies are affecting services and companies that create and deliver services. Since the “service economy” today far exceeds the manufacturing sector in terms of either share of GDP or total employment, the future role in the services sector will have a dramatic impact on the economy in the US and most other economies.


  •  Peder Inge Furseth, Associate Professor, BI Norwegian Business School. Peder is a leadership and innovation strategy researcher and Professor with 20 years of experience. Leadership is about producing useful change; innovation is about coming up with something new that has economic or non-economic value. His speciality is to integrate executive education with research, workshops and professional networks. Peter’s main topics in research are service innovation, business models, innovation culture, multi-channel integration, social networks, and value formation. His main teaching area is the master of management program called Innovation & Commercialization (Nyskaping og kommersialisering), a 150 hour course that has modules both in Oslo and in the San Francisco Bay Area.
  • Nicolai Wadstrom, Founder and CEO, Boostrap Labs. Coding since 10 y/o. Founder, CEO, CTO. Advisor, Parallel Entrepreneur, Operator, Angel Investors. Nicolai is the Founder of BootstrapLabs, a leading venture capital firm, based in Silicon Valley and focused on Applied Artificial Intelligence. As a serial entrepreneur turned parallel entrepreneur, Nicolai advises all portfolio startups in their day to day operations, connecting founders with industry experts, advisors and investors to increase their likelihood of success, assisting with product design and development, positioning, go-to-market strategy and implementation, partnerships and fundraising. Multiple time Startup CEO, CTO. Raised capital from Angels, Private Equity, Investment Banks and VC’s. Angel investor and adviser to Internet, Software, Mobile and Digital Media startups in Europe and Silicon Valley, including BootstrapLabs portfolio companies such as Prezi, Zerply, Audiodraft and Witsbits. Nicolai is very focused on product and technology development within the Machine Learning, Big Data, Analytics, Internet, Mobile and Software/Cloud sectors. Nicolai is a frequent guest speaker, mentor and judge at Universities and Conferences in the US and Europe.


  •  Eilif Trondsen. Eilif—a transplanted Norwegian who has spent his whole professional life in Silicon Valley—has led and participated in a number of syndicated research programs and numerous consulting projects during his 35 years at SRI International (formerly Stanford Research Institute) and Strategic Business Insights (a spin-out from SRI, located on the Menlo Park campus of SRI). Eilif has also been Adjunct Professor of Economics at a number of Bay Area universities. Most of his work has focused on eCommerce, Learning, Innovation, and Virtual Technologies, and in recent years much of his work has focused on the Nordic region, especially Finland and Norway, including projects for Tekes and the Norwegian Research Council, and two projects funded by Nordic Innovation. He is currently the project leader of a new Nordic Innovation project awarded to Silicon Vikings, which will build a Nordic EdTech Network. He has been a Board member of Silicon Vikings for the last 5 years, and have been the Chair of the Special Interest Group on Entrepreneurship and Learning since its beginning