This week, NVIDIA’s CEO Jensen Huang hosted a Q&A session to talk about the company’s Computex announcements. At the end, Huang shared his vision for the future of the company and highlighted Omniverse, the firm’s big push to create a digital multi-verse. In its final form, Omniverse could redefine life on the planet as well as showcase something unusual in today’s CEOs: a true vision of the future.
Most CEOs are tactical, spending their time maximizing quarterly returns and responding to external forces rather than driving the market to a place where their firm would have unique advantages. Huang is one of those rare CEOs who is also a visionary. He anticipated the need for autonomous cars long before that technology became viable, recognized that his GPU technology would be ideal for AIs, and drove to that end as well. Perhaps his most significant vision is the Omniverse, a virtual universe that could eventually drive revenues and opportunities beyond what we have in the real world.
Let’s talk about the importance of vision to a company and how it founds NVIDIA’s what will likely drive NVIDIA to an even more impressive future.
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A vision is a goal that the company can get behind. Done right,visions invigorate and focus a company while pushing employees to achieve a future that initially only exists in the visionary’s imagination. I’ve seen this responsibility passed to CTOs in the past, but that rarely works because the CTO is a staff role and doesn’t have either the influence or power to drive to the vision they have created. CTOs also tend to be decoupled from day-to-day operations and often craft visions that their company isn’t structured to execute.
Corning’s 2011 video “A Day Made Of Glass” is an excellent example of a vision not driven by their CEO, so it has underperformed. It is where Corning should be headed, but a decade after it was showcased, the company had made little to no progress and is even less visible than they were ten years ago.
A vision alone becomes a sad tale about what might have been if the person articulating the vision can’t drive the firm’s employees to execute it. Visions don’t necessarily have to originate from the CEO either. The vision of a personal computer began at Xerox, was stolen by Apple initially, then by Microsoft and IBM, and only Microsoft executed it to its highest potential. IBM envisioned the smartphone, but others executed it. While vision sets the goal, without execution, that vision can come back to bite you if someone else borrows and executes it.
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The Promise of Omniverse
One of the most profound visions of late is NVIDIA’s Omnivers — a digital universe that, as it evolves, will change how we plan, interact, and eventually live. The concept of a digital world is hardly new — The Matrix movies explored the concept — but for a company that builds the tools that would create and benefit from this Omniverse, it is a potential gold mine.
Omniverse is virtually unlimited, contains virtualized elements of the natural world, but lacks the physical limits of reality; it could be far more significant. It was initially used for model building, collaboration, and creating training environments for robots and autonomous vehicles, but Omniverse could eventually become populated by the avatars of real people, living or dead, dovetailing with efforts to create digital immortality. In a way, what Huang is conceiving is very much like The Matrix.
Excelling at Visions
A vision coupled with execution has created some of the most influential companies in the world. Tesla was an executed vision; SpaceX, Microsoft, Apple, even IBM were all created due to visionaries who could also execute. Jensen Huang shared his vision of a future virtual world that would initially emulate the world, providing a much safer and cheaper environment for experimentation and exploration. Eventually, it might even replace it as it becomes populated by our digital twins, who will be there for our children and their offspring once the technology matures.
Yogi Berra once said, “if you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.” A vision is that destination. It directs and drives employees to a singular, decisive goal of focused change to create a future that uniquely benefits the company. Yet, few CEOs have articulated visions, and even fewer have executed them. Jenson Huang is the rare exception, and his Omniverse vision may define our ultimate future.
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