Happy New Year

Last year’s words belong to last year’s language. And this year’s words await another voice.

In 2020 Danes learned to say ‘samfundssind’ that as such do not have a English translation yet it speaks to how we are supposed to behave in ‘the spirit of the greater good’.

Now ‘Greater good’ was defined by Aristotle in terms of a communally shared happiness, whose key constituents were wisdom, virtue and pleasure. Unfortunately 2020 was the year where wisdom was replaced by politics and pleasure and virtue was all about promoting the individual greatness of our politicians.

A new year is a powerful occasion where we can reflect on our learnings from the past and our hopes for the future.

Let us in 2021 listen to the wisdom of our health care workers repeating that the root course of a stretched health care system is weak management, poor political prioritization and lack of willingness to listen to the front line for decades. Not Covid-19.

And I hope for all in the travel and hospitality industry that wisdow will prove that; it is not who we are or where we are – it is how we behave where we are. This will also benefit our climate.

Let 2021 be the year where we hear the voice of wisdom that provides facts – not the voice of politicians that spread fear.

At Lanell & Stenfeldt Capital 2020 was a very good year with a record result and a strong development in the portfolio companies.

And in 2021 we will prove that wisdom is far better than politics.

‘Schrems II’ to put a rocket on the data protection software market

When the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) invalidated the EU-U.S. Safe Harbor framework in 2015 we could hear there was a clear path for organizations to take to maintain transborder data flows. Safe Harbor was gone, and it was time to use standard contractual clauses (SCCs).

Here five years later, the CJEU made another landmark decision when it invalidated the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield agreement with its “Schrems II” ruling. The SCCs remained legally valid, but additional safeguards would be needed for them to still be used.

While the sense of shock isn’t as striking as it was compared to the initial “Schrems” ruling, reality is that privacy professionals have faced a far murkier path following the court’s determination this past summer.

Sure, there are actions in terms of assessing your transfers when you then come and look at the safeguards that might be appropriate, it is now even harder to implement those. It is also less certain what to do. If you are looking at contractual safeguards, for example, organizations only want to negotiate once. The added transaction cost in doing it now and then as one discovers that the standards have changed slightly will be high.

The confusion over the lack of guidance in the days after the court struck down Privacy Shield was a concern for privacy professionals. At Lanell we are monitoring the level of uncertainty that assuaged when the European Data Protection Board published its recommendations for post-“Schrems” data transfers in November. The road ahead may be tenuous for a large number of entities; however, there are steps organizations can take to avoid legal issues down the line.

Consequently, we are at Lanell Equity evaluating companies in the data security industry as organizations will need to look at encryption and pseudonymization as tactics to implement for certain data transfers. For those organizations with a heavier volume of global data flows, it may require a far deeper dive.

Especially organizations that are very dependent on data transfers, now have to look at what it would take to alter things in the next steps, because this is not something that you can change overnight. As companies will begin to realize that this might take them to actually rearchitect their solutions, looking at the impact on services and looking at whether there are actually alternative service providers for them to move to are all things the market will be looking for.

Part of the reexamination will be vetting cloud service providers that act as data processors. The simple advice is for companies to avoid cloud services providers that need to access data in plain text. Providers that need to interact with data in a meaningful way will ultimately need plain text data but finding an infrastructure-as-a-service cloud is one way to comply with the decision. The plain text issue was noteworthy enough for the European Data Protection Board (EDPB) to include a section on the topic in its recommendations.

One of the points the EDPB mentioned in its recommendations is that when an organization needs access to the data in plain text, it is very difficult to have effective safeguards. In fact, if there is an ability for national security agencies or law enforcement agencies to access that data and the organization has the data in plain text, it is very difficult to preclude that.

The “Schrems II” case may have focused primarily on U.S. surveillance laws, but it doesn’t mean everyone else should assure they are not affected: Any entity importing or exporting data to a country where law enforcement has the ability to access exported European data must adhere to the ruling. The EDPB notes it is not just the initial data transfer that needs attention, but also every single transfer afterward. It is also why vetting cloud service providers have become an even more vital practice.

A company might transfer data to a parent organization for administrative purposes and that parent organization might not be subject to these particular laws. However, it is worth noticing that if that parent organization uses a service provider, who in turn uses another service provider, who in turn ends up using a cloud service provider then the decision is suddenly relevant for that company too. And because almost all processing of data, at some stage, ends up with a cloud service provider and therefore the decision is almost universally relevant.

Niels Stenfeldt have already brought this forward to the Danish “EU Business and Regulatory Forum” where he is a special appointed member in the by the Danish Minister for Industry, Business and Financial Affairs in Denmark, Simon Kollerup.

But the goes beyond Europe as another problem may be the legislative chasm between the EU and U.S. Due to the gap between U.S. surveillance laws and the standards in the EU it is hard to hard to imagine an agreement standing up to another legal challenge: There’s a lot of work that need to be done to bring those surveillance laws to the EU standard.

While the future of a Privacy Shield successor may be in doubt, we will see a new iteration thanks to the European Commission’s draft implementation decision that came out in November.

However, the final SCCs will likely not be a one-to-one match of what is currently in the draft decision. If an organization can wait until the final SCCs are unveiled, they are going to be in good shape. But for those data transfers that relied on Privacy Shield, the current SCCs must be used even though they will be reworked once again in short order.

Until then, privacy professionals will have to wait for the day when the revised SCCs come to town. But since the EDPB and EDPS will have to issue their own opinions on the commission’s draft, it is highly unlikely the revamped SCCs will be ready by the conclusion of 2020.

And regardless of when they come, the reworked clauses represent a paradigm shift in transborder data flow, and it will be imperative for organizations in the EU, U.S. and around the world to take notice.

We cannot go back to the situation before ‘Schrems II’ where companies signed SCCs, whether they are the old ones or the new ones, and not think about the broader context of the data flows. And the additional due diligence that is required by the ‘Schrems II’ decision is still going to be necessary for these new SCCs and will grow the underlying data security market substiantially in 2021 and forward.

Boyum IT Solutions today announced that UK-based Volpi Capital has acquired a majority stake in the company and will become lead investor to power the next phase of the company’s growth

As part of the transaction, Boyum IT Solutions’ management team will remain in the company with a significant ownership share and will continue to execute the existing strategy, while current investor GRO Capital, who in 2016 acquired 49,9% of the shares, is exiting.

Mikael Boyum, founder and CEO of Boyum IT Solutions looks forward to the collaboration with Volpi Capital and to creating an exciting future for the company, employees and partners”: “GRO Capital saw the strength and potential of Boyum IT Solutions’ business model and organization four years ago. We have highly appreciated their trust in us, and our cooperation has been fantastic. Now, we look forward to continuing to grow even further the business and we’re thrilled to be partnering with Volpi Capital which will strengthen our continued growth plans and business potential”.

Boyum IT Solutions has been on an impressive organic and inorganic growth path, doubling revenues from 2016 to 2020. Today, the company, with 100 employees in 7 global offices, is one of the key players in the global market for manufacturing and logistics software solutions for SAP Business One and is recognized as a strong partner in the SAP ecosystem.

We have established ourselves as the leading supplier of manufacturing and logistics software to those customers who use SAP Business One as an ERP platform globally. With the acquisition of Beas Manufacturing in 2016 and Produmex in 2018, we have scaled further our company across products and geographies. As a Tech focused PE firm and with their international platform with a Pan EU and North American team, Volpi can contribute to realizing our ambitious growth plans, including improving our software solutions, as well as strengthening our global presence,” continues Mikael Boyum.

Volpi has great faith in the macro factors in the ERP market and in Boyum IT Solutions’ strong market position, which is expected to support continued high growth in the company: “Boyum IT Solutions has shown how to create growth through a strong partner focus, technological expertise and a unique way to enable their partner channel. The potential is great for Boyum IT Solutions globally, and we look forward to accelerating their successful business model,” says Marco Sodi, partner at Volpi Capital.

We are very pleased to partner with Mikael and the management team to further build this high growth platform. The company’s’ market-leading position in the industry is based on a customer-oriented corporate culture with highly skilled and dedicated employees who have established strong relationships with partners and end-users. The competent organization combined with a robust and scalable business model, based on unique competencies in product development, high technical standards and efficient routines, are all factors that make Boyum IT Solutions an attractive partner”.

GRO Capital has been very pleased with the journey the past 4 years together with the Boyum team: “Boyum has been an exciting journey for us as well as a very good investment. We have achieved a lot together, and the company is now ready and well positioned for the next stage in its development. Boyum has an outstanding management team and it has been a true pleasure working with them and the rest of the board driving the strategic direction through successful M&A, targeted enablement of the partner network and development of a unique data platform supporting the day-to-day operational decisions”, says Lars Lunde, partner in GRO Capital.

The Chairman and owner of Lanell and Stenfeldt Capital Group, Niels Stenfeldt, will continue as chairman in the new structures.

Why the name Lanell?

I have often been asked, “Why Lanell?”.

When Lanell Innovation was founded back in 2001 we looked for a word that could be used to describe the who we were.

In Denmark, we have always had a very fine tradition in the production of coating paper. In the post-war period, the large Danish publishing house Gyldendal used hand-painted sticky marble paper for its classic writings (J. P. Jacobsen – Martin A. Hansen – Johannes V. Jensen and several others). This marble paper was distinguished by a calm beauty, beautiful colors and a fine fabric effect.

But it was a goal for us in Denmark to reach as far as the industry had come in England and in the USA, Germany and Switzerland, where the vast majority of books were sold in hardcover.

It was new that bookbinders, made of canvas and coating paper, had begun to fall in the audience’s tastes. But it was not so easy to manufacture these by mechanical means. The foreign full volumes were in this respect much easier to deal with, and they were also more solid, we refrained for a long time from producing fiction in full volumes.

However, there were a number of subject and handbooks and many school and textbooks where durability was at least as important. And in addition to canvas, there were excellent materials for such whole bindings, which were both durable and easy to decorate, such as Linson, which is a pure canvas imitation, and a material with the Danish word “Lanell”.

Of these materials, Lanell in particular was interesting because it paved the way for a whole new decoration of bookbinding. You could print everything possible on this material: patterns, photographs, drawings, etc. completely as one can on plain paper or cardboard.

Many associate Mr. Jørgen Jokum Smith with “Lanell”. Together with Otto B. Lindhardt and Ole Wivel, they formed from 1954 the triumvirate that both economically and literary rebuilt Denmark’s largest publisher: Gyldendal. Jokum Smith had as its main areas under him the publisher’s technical departments (book printing and bookbinding), the accounting department, the solid school and textbook department and a children’s book editorial office. To qoute Mr. Wivel: “Everything he touched gained renewed strength. He bought new machines, new fonts, created new, more appealing school-book equipment, and expanded as a children’s book publisher“.

In summary the old Danish word “Lanell” are associated with; solid, renewing strength, innovation, growth, durability, regenerative, powerful and with great coherence.

And those are exactly the same values ​​that this company is built on. Hence Lanell.

One of the most used books in Denmark had Lanell as its binding material in its first published version that still are found in most kitchens today proving its durability.

Gyldendals Store Kogebog – The big Cookbook

Lanell partnering with Wikifactory

Wikifactory is the fastest place on the web to get a physical product made with just a laptop and an internet connection. Zero training and zero configuration required. Wikifactory has a global community of nearly 50,000 engineers, designers, makers and over 100 hardware startups across 190 countries. They’ve made over 2500 products across industries: drones for reforestation, electric vehicles and future tech (hyperloop pods and flying cars), agri-tech solutions, smart furniture and IoT devices, robotics, biotech lab equipment, and most recently medical devices and PPE during Covid-19. Our mission is to reshape the global supply chain.

The idea for Wikifactory came about when the founders worked together on Wikihouse, one of the first ever open source hardware projects. Why stop at a house? Anyone should be able to make anything anywhere. Wikifactory is rethinking manufacturing for the digital age. Building an Internet of Production to match the internet of knowledge. With offices in Madrid and Shenzhen, its team is truly global with four founders from international backgrounds.

The platform includes a 3D Viewer that can visualise more than 30 file formats, a version control drive to manage changes, a documentation system and even social functionalities including comments, views, shares, likes, issues tracking for feedback, and forums for debate. It also has a built-in publishing tool for blogs by users into which our community can not only publish A/V content but also CAD files. Wikifactory was founded in 2018 by Tom Salfield, Christina Rebel, Maximilian Kampik and Nicolai Pietersen.

Lanell and Niels Stenfeldt is proud to add Wikifactory to its holdings portfolio and look forward to jointly grow together. www.wikifactory.com

BitPeople A/S have acquired Acomi

As of 1 July 2020, BitPeople A/S has taken over Acomi and their SAP Business One business as part of the company’s growth strategy, thereby strengthening its position as the Nordic region’s leading SAP Business One house.

The acquisition of Acomi and the merger with BitPeople both strengthens and expands the overall position in the Danish market.
BitPeople, has grown significantly in recent years, and with Acomi can now offer additional services and expertise locally on Zealand to support customers’ future development.

Acomi has many years of experience in offering ERP solutions to small and medium-sized companies and Benny Mastrup has been at the forefront since 2005. Benny looks forward to the future and talks about the new joint activities:

“I’m looking forward to Acomi becoming part of something bigger and I see BitPeople as a perfect match compared to our original strategy. With the larger company, both parties get a greater critical mass on solutions, customers and employees. In other words, we get more competent pieces that we can bring into play to become the ERP partner that gives the customer the best experience. Thus, the change of ownership will not lead to significant changes for our customers ”.

In concrete terms, this means that BitPeople will add 5 new colleagues to the Danish department as of 1 July, and can now say that it is nationwide with an office in Vallensbæk close to Copenhagen.

The combined business will make BitPeople the absolute largest SAP Business One reseller in Denmark and signals the next step in making BitPeople the next DKK 100 M business in the Boyum IT group. And as we expand our coverage, we can also grow with our customers and continue with perpetual improvement efforts for the benefit of our customers and colleagues. We still want to be close to our customers – but more customers and more consultants provide the opportunity to specialize further in the industries we cover today – and the industries we want to cover in the coming years.

You can read the full press release here (in Danish).

Building a bridge to somewhere?

An open letter on living in a world with COVID-19: Where is the end state? (Part 4 of a serie)

Dear world
At a time when people everywhere are using smartphones to conduct virtual meetings, run business and keep up the flow of everyday conveniences that are quickly delivered to their doorsteps – all connected via a seamless global network run by seemingly nobody in particular – it can be hard to imagine that, not that long ago, building a bridge over a previously insurmountable open span of water or geographic divide constituted the world’s most amazing engineering marvel.

For some reason, the coronavirus pandemic has made me think a good bit about bridges. They seem like a good metaphor for where things stand. You see, like most people, I guess I often took them for granted. They were simply there; large, inanimate structures of concrete and steel, ready to take you from where you are now to where you wish to be. That is, until suddenly, the bridges were closed, victims of increasing chaos and equally chaotic decision making.

Earlier this week, I spoke with a journalist about how the current situation reminds me of building a bridge. Except that in this case, while we know where we are starting, our destination is still unclear. Since we don’t know where the other coast lies, or how far away it is, we need to continuously make small adjustments to ensure our bridge is well-positioned once we do reach the other side. This is essential, because when we get there, we need to hit the ground running like our lives still depend on it.

Finding equilibrium in uncertainty
It should not be this hard to figure out where our bridge will touch down. While the world may have never encountered anything quite like COVID-19, we humans have a pretty good track record for intelligent and innovative technological and scientific problem solving. As well as a knack for planning for, and figuring our way out of, crisis situations. I’d even say that, until just recently, we were getting better at it over time.

As the CEO of a sophisticated, foundationally-held data management software company with roots tracing back to 1794, and founder of Lanell, I am confident in my own organization’s plan, and in the data we are monitoring to keep us on course. You don’t stick around for as long as we have without a history of both physical and digital transformation in your blood.

Likewise, I am confident in our team’s ability to help our customers leverage the power of their data to execute their own plans. Our specialty is, after all, empowering organizations to manage and deliver value from their enterprise master data assets. To bring that data together from disparate sources and systems, make sure it is accurate and up-to-date. And then to leverage it to drive innovation and insight and enable transparency that builds better businesses that help build a better world.

Unfortunately, the answer to our current problems is not in our hands – which, due to current restrictions are in many ways tied. Nor is it in our customers’ hands. While I wish I could say it is in government’s hands, I think as it stands, this answer isn’t in anybody’s hands. And without anyone taking responsibility for helping everyone to achieve at least some semblance of equilibrium, amidst so much uncertainty, I’m concerned we may never get this bridge to touch down on the other side.

Crossing chasms, climbing mountains
As if building this bridge to an at present uncharted end state is not difficult enough, it will also need to scale an economic peak the likes of which the world has never seen. The latest data from the US Dept. of Labor paints a portrait of imminent disaster. And this is just for the US alone.

Of course, those on the receiving end of the relief package will see this as a lifeline that saves them from individual financial ruin and communities from short-term financial collapse. But the long-term consequences are at present impossible to fathom. This is going to have to be one incredible bridge.

Envisioning an end state to COVID-19
If I haven’t made it clear in my ongoing analysis, I am not a fan of addressing a global crisis through provincial thinkingand inactivity. While I recognize the impact social distancing has had on flattening the curve, I have difficulty understanding how we got here in the first place. We are smarter than that. In a world where people can manipulate data to make a pair of shoes literally follow your every move across your personalized digital experience, it just doesn’t make sense that we can’t see an end to this madness.

I personally don’t buy it. And to my fellow citizens around the world – regardless of what nation you call home – I’d like to suggest you shouldn’t buy it either. If I was to summarize our collective request, it would be straightforward. We ask for more transparency into how we got into this, and more importantly, what leaders around the world are planning to get us out of it.

As I have said many times already, I am neither a politician or a scientist. I speak as a business manager and father, confident in the knowledge that working together, there is nothing we can’t solve. As long as you start with a plan.

With that as our baseline, I’d like to direct the rest of my thoughts to a select group of key constituencies.

Dear world leaders
Around the world people and their families and businesses are looking to you, to tell us where we are heading, and when, where and how this can and will end. Crisis situations call for honesty, integrity and decisive, selfless decisions. The end state must be defined as part of the plan to get us across the chasm. The problem is, we are not sure these are part of your plans. That scares us. We realize nobody intended for us to be here, that nobody is infallible and that we all make mistakes. In fact, we must all take some part of the responsibility for failing to prepare our countries, cities and towns for a pandemic virus outbreak.

Right now, the world plays a protracted game of whack-a-mole with the virus, stamping out outbreaks here and there until a vaccine can be produced. Several articles have recently listed a couple of alternative directions for where we are heading.

Clearly the dream scenario would have been that every nation manages to simultaneously bring the virus to heel, as with the original SARS in 2003. Given the current status of the pandemic, it is highly unlikely that we will come to worldwide synchronous control. So, let’s stop looking in this direction.

That leaves us with the option that the virus burns through the world and leaves behind enough immune survivors and build “herd immunity.” But as COVID-19 is more transmissible and fatal than a flu, it could leave a trail of millions of victims and fatally devastated health systems.

I doubt many of you will choose this quick but deadly “heard immunity strategy,” making it likely that we continue to pursue a whack-a-mole strategy that is the longest and most complicated. But that means we have to live with the virus. Because we cannot stay inactive for too long.

And you are making it harder by not being transparent with regard to when and how we can all become active again. Time is the critical factor. A crisis cannot be fully solved through inactiveness or provincial thinking. But right now, we are at an economic standstill that risks sending our children on into a world where the next plague is long-term debt and unemployment that will leave us unprepared to support the weak and sick in the years to come. So, we ask you to tell us, where is your end state? How are you preparing us for the next wave of COVID-19? How are you preparing us for a new outbreak? Where will our bridge hit land and how will you prepare us to get across?

Dear fellow citizens and consumers
Over the last decade most of us have increased our personal consumption. Not simply in how much we spend, but also as a percentage of our income. Never before have we purchased and consumed so many different products and experiences. Digital technology put the power in our hands and we gladly took control.

But now, many of us have gone into retreat and we are limiting consumption to essential, non-discretionary things. It’s an understandable reaction. We’re unsure about the future, about our jobs and about the world we have created for our children. But let us remember, that the restaurant visit yesterday that didn’t happen, the hotel room we didn’t stay in, the hair cut we didn’t get – these things will never be sold. Their value – and the value they enable for many of our fellow citizens – is gone forever. So are the revenues to those who supplied these industries. This is the ripple effect of long-term inactivity that makes so many others wonder if they will have a job or a future tomorrow. Remember to do what you can to help each other so that when we do emerge from our current shelters, we emerge stronger together.

Dear customers and partners – present and future
I am proud to serve you. Like you, we are constantly evaluating our contingency plans. We are all affected in unique and different ways. We are looking at the same curves that lie ahead. We know your customers, employees and business partners are concerned. We are all holding back because we want to protect the jobs and the future of our companies. We are all cautiously waiting to see light at the end of the tunnel. We are all in the same boat.

In truth, depending on the exact nature of our businesses, some of us are struggling to keep our boats moving fast enough, while others might be following instructions to sail around in circles. In either case, we know everyone’s tank can run empty at a certain time. A hotel without guests will not be renovated, a restaurant without diners will not stay lit, a factory without raw materials or demand will not stay online. But through it all, we are ready to support you. Our ownership means we will stand strong, ready to help you manage your business to keep your suppliers, customers, partners and vendors updated and informed, and empowering you to make the right decisions based on trustworthy, transparent data.

Dear friends and colleagues
Thank you for your dedication in difficult times. Remember, no matter what happens, we do not leave customers or our people behind. Working from home can be tough, so be sure to take breaks and consider vacation to rest your mind. If you feel isolated, or if you are single or a parent who needs to balance a day with kids not in school, we will work with you together to find ways to navigate. Wherever you live, whatever you believe in, whoever you are voting for, remember, we will come through this by working together as one global company across borders. We know provincial thinking will not solve this. We have contingency plans to address this, and we keep updating them as we serve our customers. Together we will not be inactive. We will persevere and succeed because it is my personal purpose to make transparency a catalyst for a better world. And that is what I am continuing to do.

Keep building; “somewhere” lies just ahead
There are no easy answers to the questions or problems I’ve posed. But there are answers and we will find them.

To all those with the ability to influence action and change, we ask you to step up and take on the challenge, because silence and inactivity will not get us there.

To everyone else, be brave and dedicated and flexible as we all adapt to whatever “the new normal” brings next. As I have noted, managing through the pandemic feels like we’re building a bridge without knowing exactly where it will hit land. Finding our way to our unseen destination requires everyone to remain strong and agile and to keep building.

If we can all do that, I’m confident we’ll be stronger together for the experience when we reach the other side.


The danger of chaotic decision making in a time that demands something more

Managing in the age of Coronavirus demands greater data transparency; the future of our children depends on it. Part 3 in a series.

One of the things I learned studying chaos theory years ago was that if you drop a leaf two feet from the ground it is impossible to accurately predict where it will land. There are too many variables. 

What one can do is focus on the variables and denominators that do make a difference. If a breeze is blowing west… well… Likewise, if the leaf is wet, it will drop faster than when dry. This way of thinking can inform your direction. 

The Coronavirus pandemic is now evolving at a pace where all possible variables are in play, making it difficult to predict. But what I see happening is that, despite authorities’ best efforts, they are not necessarily taking into consideration all of the best possible variables and denominators to ensure the best possible outcome for all. And this has me concerned. 

COVID-19 does not mandate the world to be in chaos

Over the past week I’ve shared my thoughts on COVID-19 in a series of posts focused first on the challenges of managing a global organization through a global pandemic, but in a world of regional and often provincial governmental authority responses. And then later on the problems that can occur when those authorities react too quickly to what might be incomplete data, vs. on making more informed decisions, and on making the right data – what may previously have been “shadow data” – available, and to avoid reactionary, chaotic choices. 

Since that time, we’ve seen a series of decisions being made in all corners of the world designed to stem the spread of the outbreak. While they were made based on good intentions, many seem to have been made with the same parochial approach, using data that is not necessarily complete. The result of which, I fear, will create economic repercussions that we will live with for decades to come. Repercussions that could be avoided if everyone, everywhere made better decisions based on better and more transparent access to the best possible information. 

I hope I’m wrong, but I think we in Europe and the US right now are making decisions based on missing data. 

Looking to South Korea for more transparent answers 

The major problem I see is that by locking down the citizens of the world without understanding who has the virus now, we risk creating what is an otherwise avoidable economic collapse. 

In South Korea, unlike China, Europe and the United States, authorities did not set an indiscriminate curb on the internal movement of their people. Instead, tests were made available to hundreds of thousands of people everywhere from clinics to drive-through testing centers. At the same time, authorities enabled transparency into all available information so that those who were infected or otherwise vulnerable, including the elderly, could be better protected. While those who were not, could pursue their lives with some semblance of normalcy. And more limited damage to everyone’s economic prosperity. 

Here in Denmark, and in a number of other parts of the world, it seems we have now chosen another path; one informed by far less transparency. 

As a citizen – of Denmark, Europe and the world – and as a father, this has me gravely concerned. I believe we have chosen a path that one might consider to be reactionary at best, in an attempt to do something that can help protect everyone. But in doing so, pursuing a path that is not fully-informed, we are setting ourselves up for a potentially even greater overall catastrophe.  

Our children deserve more than chaotic decision making 

As often happens with a crisis that begins and evolves at a distance, no one wanted to approach this evolving virus in advance. The resulting inaction, and lack of coordination and regional reactions by leaders around the world, left only one point of equilibrium: financial inaction until the risk became tremendously exaggerated.  

As a business leader, time is one of the most important variables in any scenario that we can and do plan for. This is why we make multiple plans with multiple time frames, to address a wide number of possible outcomes and variables. 

When you don’t plan adequately, as can happen in government, where any suggestion of incremental spending to address what can seem like a far-fetched, “what-if” scenario, the only choice left can be to throw money at the problem. This seems to be happening now as governments worldwide pump money into the system. And it seems the chaotic spend will go on until the virus threat is over. 

The longer it goes, the greater the risk of economic meltdown. The domino effect will kick in from there. The result will be more initiatives needed to mitigate the social consequences of an expected rapidly rising unemployment rate that will affect all income groups as we see a wave of bankruptcies and other long-lasting societal problems.  

That’s why I don’t share the optimism of those who believe that chaotic decisions, like shutting down life as all know it, and the tidal wave of challenges that will come with it, hold the answer to our future. For the sake of an entire generation of Danes, and people all over the world, I hope I’m wrong. If only the data was available, we might be able to prove it, or even reverse course before it is too late. 

Data shows a treatments/cures may not be too far off 

Scientific and pharmaceutical company leaders around the world are moving quickly to find potential therapies and/or a cure. While public reports indicate a vaccine could be six months to a year out, potentially faster interim solutions may be available sooner. The data is still new but appears hopeful; it might just require a bit more time. Scientists in China, Korea and the United States are experimenting with existing drugs.  

Preliminary data on these tests is starting to be made available. The results could provide tremendous hope. While it may not seem like we have the luxury of time, the ramifications of decisions being made that are also informed by incomplete data – without having done widespread rapid testing – could make the wait more justified.  

It is not too late for increased transparency

I do realize that this is a time where strong controls are mandated. There is data from numerous sources – most recently from Italy – that shows the devastating potential results of inaction.  

But, as both a business leader, and as a father, I ask, at what cost?  

Nobody in government ever wants to preside over these sorts of decisions. Regardless of what direction an elected official takes, in this day and age, they will be considered by one party or another to have done the wrong thing.

It doesn’t need to be that way.  

We live in a world where data is being used in more astounding and beneficial ways every single day. While people often point out the negative aspects of living in a data-driven world – loss of privacy, cybercrime, etc. – the upside is tremendous. We as a global business and social community, we have the potential to use data for good, to benefit everyone. Or to identify sources of new data and use it to solve the world’s biggest problems.  

COVID-19 is that kind of problem. With more data, and data transparency, we can take it on without the potential backdrop of economic collapse. While I do not mean to sound insensitive or crass, doing what might be seen as shutting down the economy in order to potentially save what could be a small percent of our most vulnerable, while crushing the hope, dreams and prosperity of an entire younger generation, does not seem like the only possible answer.  

I hope I am wrong about that. In the meantime, I suggest we continue to learn from the data and act accordingly.