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  • feedwordpress 22:56:39 on 2016/03/22 Permalink
    Tags: , competitive advantage, competitive benchmarking, competitors, decision making, , disruption innovation, , , hybrid electric vehicle market, , Innovation (general), innovation exercisees, innovation labs, McDonald's, non-competitors, , reverse reasoning, reverse thinking, Toyota, wining   

    How Could (X) Do (Y) and Win? 


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    How Could (X) Do (Y) and Win?

    In business, it isn’t easy to compete with industry leaders. It’s hard to anticipate your direct competitors’ next moves. Given the increasing occurrence of disruptive innovation, it can seem nearly impossible to predict the completely unpredictable — such as a non-competitor entering your market or niche and crushing you.

    Competition from non-competitors entering your industry, market, or niche can and does happen. Want to improve your company’s ability to predict unexpected competition (and even fortify your performance against current competitors)? Challenge your team with creative reverse thinking exercises.

    One of the reverse thinking exercises RE:INVENTION uses in our Innovation Labs and Workshops is called “How Could (X) Do (Y) and Win?”

    HERE’S HOW IT WORKS…

    Divide your team into small groups and then ask them to chart the path, process, and activities a non-competitor could take to proactively enter one of your sectors or markets and usurp your current competitive advantage. The more disparate the non-competitor the better. An example: how could McDonald’s enter the hybrid electric vehicle market and beat the hybrid engineering team at Toyota?

    WHY IT WORKS…

    How Could (X) Do (Y) and Win” changes the normal/logical direction of competitive benchmarking and shifts the focus from whether something might happen to HOW it might happen, thereby encouraging creative thinking and problem solving. It not only enhances your ability to predict unpredictable actions from non-competitors; it helps you hone your positioning and strategic advantage against known competitors. You’ll also reveal hidden assets, potential weaknesses, and profitable opportunities.

    Decision making involves both forward and reverse thinking. Improve your team’s reverse thinking capabilities and you’ll boost your company’s ability to innovate.

    ********

    Kirsten Osolind is a brand and business reinvention strategist with executive team transition and M&A due diligence / brand integration experience. A former Fortune 100 executive, she has worked for four of the world’s most innovative companies according to Fortune Magazine™ as well as advised numerous middle market and venture-backed growth stage companies.

     
  • feedwordpress 22:06:56 on 2015/12/30 Permalink
    Tags: agile, , business strategy, change agents, , , corporate change, , , Innovation (general), lean innovation, lean startup, prosci, stage-gate   

    CHANGE MANAGEMENT: PROSCI IS DEAD 


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    CHANGE MANAGEMENT: PROSCI IS DEAD

    PROSCI change methodology has been widely used in both private and public sectors to manage “the people side of change.” The methodology is based on three phases: (1) PREPARING FOR CHANGE READINESS, (2) MANAGING CHANGE, and (3) REINFORCING CHANGE. But PROSCI is fast becoming a relic – a dogmatic, outdated methodology based on old school management and business strategy perspectives that should be deemed obsolete.

    HERE’S WHY…

    Change has become much more multi-faceted. In today’s fast-paced, fiercely competitive world — a volatile world where ambiguity and fluctuation abound with an ever-accelerating rate of technology adoption — change is inevitable and constant. All organizations change, regardless of whether employees are “prepared and ready.”

    Executives and HR managers can no longer prod or coax people to change — and they can’t afford to wait until employees are “prepared and ready” for change. Neither can they merely be content to “manage” change; they need to be ahead of it. Implementing a three-phase change management control process, project workstream, and checklist will leave you the equivalent of three (or more) phases behind in the dust, struggling to recover pace.

    IF PROSCI’S DEAD, WHAT’S NEXT?

    Beyond communicating a clear vision, allocating the right resources, and aligning performance management systems, the key to successful organizational change is removing barriers and creating circumstances in which employees’ inherent motivation and drive is freed and channeled toward achievable goals. Every single day. Doing so requires a shift in perspective; where employees are not merely informed about change or trained to manage/handle change but rather deemed to be an integral active component of the entire change equation.

    Instead of managing change, you need to lead through change and create it. “Change management” has shifted to “change leadership.” You need to recognize that in today’s brave new world, every employee — top to bottom in your organization — is a change agent and a valued member of your “continuous change team.” As are your customers.

    MORE STRATEGIC METHODOLOGY OBSOLESCENCE

    When it comes to strategic methodology obsolescence, ANYONE who professes to have the silver bullet solution in today’s volatile, uncertain world is selling you a half-sighted, flawed manifesto. For instance: practicing lean startup without acknowledging/integrating aspects of design thinking, agile, stage gate, and other “best practice” methodologies will only impede your company’s capacity to innovate and create what’s next.

    An organization’s ability to adapt and integrate MULTIPLE strategic methodologies — or better yet customize their own approach based on their company’s unique capabilities, current environment, and future market potential — will define its’ ultimate competitive advantage.

     
  • feedwordpress 17:43:38 on 2015/12/09 Permalink
    Tags: , , , eddie lou, employees, employers, employment, employment website, , freelancers, hourly workers, Innovation (general), job postings, jobs, labor, minimum wage, networking, oca ventures, private equity, shiftgig, startup, Startup Innovation, , , VC,   

    Innovation Expert Series: Shiftgig 


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    Innovation Expert Series: Shiftgig

    In this week’s Innovation Expert Series interview, we’re speaking with the CEO of ShiftGig, a professional networking and employment website platform that makes it easy for restaurants, hotels and retailers to post short-term hourly gigs and equally as easy for qualified and skilled workers to claim them. Shiftgig is changing the way people work.

    Every other week, RE:INVENTION’s Innovation Expert Series features interviews with key executives at small to middle market companies that are transforming and innovating their respective industries or markets.

    Shiftgig Company LogoLet’s set the stage for our interview with disruptive Chicago startup Shiftgig. The U.S. economy has dramatically changed. The majority of workers in the U.S. are hourly workers rather than full-time employees or independent freelancers. Shiftgig is leading this trend, connecting employers with locally available and previously vetted hourly workers.

    In November, Chicago-based startup Shiftgig successfully raised $22 million in venture capital bringing the company’s total capital raised to date to $35 million. Shiftgig venture and private equity investors include: Chicago Ventures, DRW Venture Capital, GGV Capital, Garland Capital Group, KGC Capital, Pritzker Group, Wicklow Capital, Renren Inc. and numerous individual investors. Shiftgig CEO, Eddie Lou, is a former OCA Ventures venture capitalist who advised numerous technology startups prior to co-founding industry disruptor Shiftgig.

    ************************************************************************

    RE: For those folks who aren’t yet aware of your startup company, can you give us a brief background about yourself and Shiftgig?

    Lou: My name is Eddie Lou. I am a co-founder and the CEO of Shiftgig. At Shiftgig, we connect people to business shifts on their mobile devices, and provide them with the flexibility to work where, when and for which businesses they like. For businesses, our platform solves the challenges of filling and managing short term job assignments, which traditionally has been expensive and difficult to manage.

    RE: Where did you get the original inspiration for your idea? Do you recall the initial idea spark™?

    Lou: In Q3 2013, we decided to begin monetizing our business. Prior to that, our business was completely free. We talked to about 20 business customers about what they would spend money on. Many of them asked for two things: 1) qualified, vetted workers and 2) workers for short term gigs ranging from a day to 90 days. At the same time, we email surveyed our members, who were applying for full-time and part-time jobs on our site. Many of them expressed interest in making money via additional gigs. We decided to take this feedback and allow the connection on a mobile device.

    RE: It’s tough to get from initial idea spark to implementable idea™. Did you utilize any specific “lean startup” techniques to develop/test/launch Wrapify? If yes, how? If not, why not?

    Lou: Yes, MVP and continuous deployment; both allow us to test and iterate quickly
    We felt our best strategy was to test our idea in one market. We opened in Chicago in early 2014 and within a few months we knew we were on to something. By December of that year, we opened our second location in New York City. In 2015, we really got on a roll. We launched in Dallas in March, Atlanta in July, Houston in September, Memphis in October, and Miami in November.

    RE: Did you utilize any “design thinking” techniques? If yes, how? If not, why not?

    Lou: While our founders believe in design thinking, web/mobile design and usability, we are not experts in design thinking. We think it is important and hired our Creative Director, who heads up UX, beginning of Q2 2015.

    Shiftgig's Team in Action

    Shiftgig’s Team in Action

    RE: Describe your company’s biggest challenge to date. How did you deal with it? What did you learn from it?

    Lou: Our biggest challenge to date has been learning how to scale quickly. We have been very successful, but it took a few bumps and bruises on the way to get there. It is very important for entrepreneurs to know when to get out of their own way. We did this by making several critical hires of experienced managers who had successfully scaled other startups in the past and knew what they were doing. We’ve got a great team right now, and we’re still growing.

    RE: How does your team promote internal and external innovation?

    Lou: First and foremost, we are a technology company. Many of the businesses we compete with to provide short-term labor are not technology companies. This distinction is why so many businesses give us a try and ultimately stay Shiftgig clients. Everyone from our systems infrastructure developers to our front line sales reps know this and communicate about Shiftgig in this way.

    RE: Have you found yourself having to pivot or reinvent aspects of your business since you started? How have you done so — and managed change?

    Lou: We re-invented the business at the end of 2013. Shiftgig began as a web based social network and job board focused on providing full-time and part-time job opportunities to the hospitality vertical. Today, we are a mobile marketplace that provides short-term gigs in the hospitality, marketing and retail verticals.

    RE: If you were forced to choose, which do you think is MOST important for a company’s long run success in your industry: great product, great people, or great execution?

    Lou: Great people — with great people, the company will launch great products and execute!

    RE: What do you think is most important for your company to do in order to keep up with the rapid changes in technology?

    Lou: Our plan is to stay on the forefront of the gig economy. We are the leaders in our space and have every intention of staying there by listening, adapting, and bringing in the best talent we can to keep our company moving forward.

    RE: So…what’s next for Shiftgig?

    Lou: Millions of shifts for millions of people!

    Shifting forward, that concludes RE:INVENTION’s Innovation Expert Series interview with Shiftgig. Many thanks to Shiftgig CEO Eddie Lou for sharing his insights. Look for our next Expert interview in two weeks time, right here on RE:INVENTION’s Everyday Inventive Blog.

     
  • feedwordpress 20:07:33 on 2014/03/03 Permalink
    Tags: , , business success, , , executional excellence, implemention, , Innovation (general), , lego, , ,   

    How LEGO Learned How to Winch 


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    How LEGO Learned How to Winch
    Image credit: www.atvcourse.com

    Business experts will tell you that inertia — “paralysis or passive resistance” — kills companies. Other thought leaders suggest that active inertia — “relentless pursuit of the tried and true” — causes business failure. Neither is correct.

    What does inertia have to do with LEGO and winching, you might be asking. Bear with me, I will get there. But I need to make a simple point first….

    INERTIA DOESN’T CRIPPLE COMPANIES, CRUMMY IMPLEMENTATION DOES

    Few companies, if any, suffer from inertia. There is little to no evidence of companies being too paralyzed to take any action at all. Executives and employees are always busy doing something, even if only to justify their job. Alas, they are often accelerating the wrong activities and they aren’t doing the right activities well. They spin their wheels like a car stuck in mud.

    And active inertia (“relentless pursuit of the tried and true”) is rarely a company’s problem. Faced with mounting competitive pressure, most companies get desperate and unleash a flurry of new, oft ill-conceived initiatives to try to stop the bleeding. By doing so, they spin their wheels even faster and dig an even deeper hole.

    What causes companies to fail nearly every time is crummy (or sloppy) execution — akin to spinning wheels in mud. Crummy implementation cripples companies, not inertia. The biggest barrier to innovation is EXECUTIONAL EXCELLENCE. The world is littered with great ideas, poorly implemented.

    WINCHING IMPROVES IMPLEMENTATION AND EXECUTION

    My family hails from Michigan and South Carolina, a state that boasts its own Mud Run Guide. Here’s what I know: when your car gets stuck in mud, you are almost always better off if you stop digging your wheels into the ground. Leave the wheel-spinning to half-wits. To get out of a mudhole, you need to add traction or use a winch.

    A winch is a handy hand- or motor-powered machine used for hoisting and hauling. Winching improves traction and power….implementation….and executional excellence.

    LEGO LEARNED TO WINCH

    Today LEGO is the world’s #1 toy company. Sales are up despite a sluggish global toy market. Profits have grown 40%. But that wasn’t always the case.

    Faced with declining margins and value in the 80s and 90s, LEGO did what most ailing companies do. They got desperate and unleashed a flurry of new, oft ill-conceived initiatives to try to stop the bleeding. They binged on unbridled innovation – launching theme parks, clothing, jewelry, TV programs, electronics, video games, learning labs, publications, and ill-conceived strategic alliances.

    By 2003, LEGO was on the brink of bankruptcy. The company was virtually out of cash with annual losses mounting upwards of $300 million and a $400 million loss projected for 2004.

    How did LEGO recover from a 10-year period of declining performance? Company leadership stopped spinning their wheels and focused on improving execution.

    They shortened go-to-market product development time, organized to increase accountability and decision-making, shed unrelated businesses, built “change-readiness,” established global in-region manufacturing facilities, improved their safety record, and dedicated themselves to smarter 12 C’s of Commercialization performance. Instead of desperately pursuing uncontrolled innovation — spinning their wheels — they focused on improving their innovation success rates. In other words: they found a winch and added traction.

    ANOTHER EXAMPLE OF THIS PHENOMENON

    Another example of the “wheel-spinning without a winch” phenomenon: Kodak.

    Contrary to media reports, Kodak didn’t suffer from inertia (“paralysis”) OR active inertia (“relentless pursuit of the tried and true”). The company was never short on new ideas. Kodak developed countless technology innovations over the years including the digital camera in 1975 but they failed to successfully commercialize it. They held $3 billion worth of patents, valued at more than five times the company itself. They suffered from numerous reorganization efforts, making it incredibly difficult to implement smart long-term strategy. Their eager and rash M&A and alliance deals — from Scitex to Imation to Verizon and Creo — lacked strategic due diligence and led to integration headaches. Kodak was undeniably IN MOTION, spinning its wheels like a car stuck in mud.

    Alas, Kodak never fully understood that their problem was crummy execution. They never sought or found a winch. They never improved implementation to gain better traction.

    RESEARCH STUDIES AGREE

    A 2013 Accenture study found that only 18% of CEOs have seen their investments in “innovation” pay off — fewer than one in five. And according to research conducted by the Doblin Group, a startling 96% of all innovations fail to return their cost of capital.

    The key to increasing innovation ROI lies in improving innovation success rates. A 2005 study by Boston Consulting Group concluded that companies that concentrate on IMPROVING THEIR INNOVATION SUCCESS RATES achieve the greatest gains. Instead of spinning your wheels, you need to learn how to winch and add traction.

    SPINNING YOUR WHEELS? LEARN HOW TO WINCH.

    Are you in an innovation rut? Instead of spinning your wheels and digging a deeper hole, get better at business execution. Create sound action plans but remember that execution and making strategy work is more difficult than the task of strategic planning (developing the strategy is never more important than the results). Hold people accountable, involve the right people in decisions, build “change readiness”, practice the 12 C’s of Commercializing Innovation. In other words: figure out a way to add traction. Learn how to winch.

    It’s basic physics. Winching can lessen the strain on any rig and increase torque. Winching can help companies that overestimate their capabilities. Winching can help your company overcome the most difficult of situations. Learn how to winch and you will always recover. Return on innovation depends on it.

     
  • feedwordpress 20:48:04 on 2014/02/26 Permalink
    Tags: actionable benchmarking, actionable results, audits, , brands, , , Coke, , General Mills, , Innovation (general), ,   

    The #1 Secret of Successful Benchmarking 


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    The #1 Secret of Successful Benchmarking

    Benchmarking can be a company eye-opener. Internal, competitive, and outside industry benchmarking all have merits. Internal benchmarking can foster best practices. Assessing performance versus competitors can reveal your shortcomings and tell you where to focus. Looking at other industries can generate creative ideas for growth.

    During my days leading marketing and innovation initiatives at Coke, General Mills, and Whole Foods, I participated in numerous company benchmarking exercises. We benchmarked quality measures, workload, product development, pricing, channel management, market information management, packaging design, and marketing implementation. Each company had its own unique approach to benchmarking — from searching publicly available data to primary research using IT-supported software tools.

    Here’s what I learned: the secret of successful benchmarking isn’t about HOW or WHERE YOU DIG. In other words, it isn’t about how you conduct your audit (there are no “right” or “wrong” rules). Or whether you benchmark performance inside the four walls of your company, against competitors within your industry, or outside your industry…

    The #1 Secret of Successful Benchmarking

    The #1 secret of successful benchmarking is knowing what to do with the information you discover — taking the results and making them actionable.

    Knowing where you stand provides a point of reference for what could be and reveals uncommon, oft surprising insights — but it’s only half of the equation. Discovery is not enough. Benchmarking data needs to support action to have any significant meaning or effect. And this holds true for companies of all sizes — from startups to global Fortune 100 corporations.

    How to Make Benchmarking Data Actionable

    Actionable data is always better than big data. The most important part of any benchmarking process is creating a plan of action that will improve organization performance. You need to leverage your new knowledge and implement changes.

    Some tips to get you started:

    1. Start with a Goal
      Before you launch any benchmarking initiative, define what you want to accomplish. Clear objectives. How will you use the data to create value? At Coke, our benchmarking exercise goal was to justify shifting from glass to plastic packaging in the Non-Carbonated Beverages Division.
    2. Schedule Collaborative Sessions To Review Benchmark Findings
      Facilitate internal discussion and interaction to identify ways that you can use results to improve business performance. After conducting retail industry benchmarking activities at Whole Foods, we held numerous cross-functional team member workshops to assess and plan store design and product merchandising changes.
    3. Improve Your Enterprise Asset Management Systems
      Despite IT asset management systems being at the bottom of the trough of disillusionment in Gartner’s 2012 Hype Cycle, a good asset management system can make actionable benchmarking less formidable. Sharing knowledge assets across your company can improve data utilization and performance. With nearly 40,000 employees worldwide, General Mills used benchmarking results to build a massive standardized system for managing enterprise learning. The result? Stronger total employee engagement across the organization. Early stage companies can do this too, simply by storing and sharing data between founders and future team members.
    4. Integrate Benchmarks Into Sales and Operations Planning Cycles and Day-to-Day Planning
      Help the front line. Ensure that benchmarking data is available to employees every time they make a decision about the future. This single act can boost innovation in your company from the bottom up.
    5. Reallocate Resources
      Consider realigning resources — tear down silo walls — to activate your company’s plan of action after benchmarking. Concentrate resources on realistic targets.

    Hungry for more benchmarking best practices? Check out this oldie but goodie from Harvard’s Working Knowledge titled, “Best Practices for Benchmarking,” originally published in 2003. Ahh, memories! That was the year I officially incorporated RE:INVENTION, inc..

     
  • feedwordpress 11:38:19 on 2014/02/11 Permalink
    Tags: , , business failure, , , change managment, , donald sull, , , , , , Innovation (general), innovation barriers, innovation management, , london business school, Michigan, , mudhole, passive resistence, South Carolina,   

    Crummy Implementation Cripples Companies, Not Inertia 


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    Crummy Implementation Cripples Companies, Not Inertia
    Image credit: www.atvcourse.com

    Many business experts will tell you that inertia kills companies. That the biggest barrier to innovation is inertia – paralysis or passive resistance prevents innovation from getting started.

    IN REALITY….

    Few companies, if any, suffer from inertia. Executives, managers, and employees rarely are too paralyzed to take any action. They are always doing *SOMETHING* even if only to justify their job. Alas, they are often accelerating the wrong activities and they aren’t doing the right activities well. They spin their wheels like a car stuck in mud.

    My family hails from Michigan and South Carolina, a state that boasts its own Mud Run Guide. Here’s what I know: when your car gets stuck in mud, you are almost always better off if you stop digging your wheels into the ground and turn off your engine. To get out of a mudhole, you need to add traction or use a winch.

    In 1999, London Business School Professor Donald Sull also questioned the incidence of paralyzing business inertia and coined the alternative term “active inertia.” Sull suggested that active inertia — responding to market shifts by accelerating activities that succeeded in the past rather than ceasing activity altogether — causes business failure.

    Sull is partially but not completely correct.

    Inertia doesn’t kill companies; there is little to no evidence of companies being too paralyzed to take any action at all. And active inertia is rarely a company’s problem; faced with mounting competitive pressure, most companies get desperate and unleash a flurry of new, oft ill-conceived initiatives to try to stop the bleeding. What causes companies to fail nearly every time is crummy (or sloppy) execution.

    CRUMMY IMPLEMENTATION CRIPPLES COMPANIES, NOT INERTIA

    In my humble opinion, the biggest barrier to innovation is EXECUTIONAL EXCELLENCE.  The world is littered with great ideas, poorly implemented.

    Take for instance, Kodak. Contrary to media reports, Kodak didn’t suffer from inertia (“paralysis”) OR active inertia (“relentless pursuit of the tried and true”). The company was never short on new ideas. Kodak developed countless technology innovations over the years including the digital camera in 1975 but they failed to successfully commercialize it. They held $3 billion worth of patents, valued at more than five times the company itself. They suffered from numerous reorganization efforts — CEO after CEO — making it incredibly difficult to implement smart long-term strategy. Their eager and rash M&A and alliance deals — from Scitex to Imation to Verizon and Creo — lacked strategic due diligence and led to integration headaches. Kodak was undeniably IN MOTION, spinning its wheels like a car stuck in mud.

    ARE YOU SPINNING YOUR WHEELS?

    Are you in an innovation rut? Instead of spinning your wheels and digging a deeper hole, get better at business execution. Create sound action plans but remember that execution and making strategy work is more difficult than the task of strategic planning (developing the strategy is never more important than the results). Hold people accountable, involve the right people in decisions, build “change readiness”, practice the 12 C’s of Commercializing Innovation. In other words: figure out a way to add traction or find a winch. It starts with analyzing and improving your internal innovation processes and your go-to-market strategies.

    Editor’s Post Script: No intended offense to Dr. Sull. He’d be an excellent thesis adviser were I ever to pursue a PhD.

     
  • feedwordpress 02:44:19 on 2014/02/08 Permalink
    Tags: , , , bluetooth, Bluetooth LE, digital strategy, Digital wallets, GPS, iBeacon, , industry disruption, Innovation (general), , Interactive design, Macrumors, Major League Baseball, MLB, Paypal, qualcomm, retail 2.0, retail strategy, , WIFI, WIRED   

    5×5: Will Apple’s iBeacon Win the Beacon Wars? 


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    5×5: Will Apple’s iBeacon Win the Beacon Wars?

    It’s Friday – time for RE:INVENTION’s 5×5. Every Friday RE:INVENTION’s leadership team explores a news topic or research report in depth, sharing our unique perspectives.

    UP THIS WEEK: Beacon Technology, Apple’s iBeacon, and Innovation

    What is a beacon? A beacon is a small, low cost sensor that uses BlueTooth to track your location inside buildings and push information to your phone. It’s more precise than GPS or WiFI and consumes less power. The technology has the potential to bridge physical locations and digital experiences, transforming how retailers, event organizers, transit systems, enterprises, and educational institutions communicate with people indoors.

    To date, iBeacon (Apple’s brand for low energy BlueTooth) appears to be leading the pack in advancing this new technology. But the beacon wars have just begun. Paypal, Qualcomm, and a variety of smaller vendors are entering the market with their own beacon hardware.

    This Week’s Reference Articles

    THIS WEEK’S QUESTION

    Will Apple’s iBeacon emerge as the leader in beacon technology? Or will another company win the beacon wars?

    OUR TEAM’S RESPONSES

    Kirsten Osolind (“President and COO”)

    Beacon technology will improve the way consumers use smart phones and transform numerous industries by solving the indoor geo-location challenge. It has great potential to facilitate better mobile payments thereby disrupting the whole credit card ecosystem because of its range. But there will be hurdles with regard to beacon technology commercialization. Beacon technology already has privacy advocates and legal experts buzzing about the implications. The key to beacon technology success will be winning over consumers and heightening their user experience.

    At first blush, the company that seems best positioned to achieve competitive advantage is Apple. Apple is exceptionally good at function and interactive design. Apple excels at branding and educating consumers about new product categories. According to TechCrunch, Apple appears to have a secret leg up on the competition since “every compatible iPad currently deployed in a retail store is already capable of being configured as an iBeacon transmitter — and the iPad is already dominant in the retail space.”

    But here’s the rub. Android can discover beacons that aren’t your own, while Apple restricts this ability. Open ecosystems typically win when it comes to consumers embracing new technologies.

    And since Apple doesn’t have patents on the technology involved with iBeacon, competitors will increasingly come forward with low cost beacons of their own.

    Regardless of who wins the wars, Apple will relentlessly improve and expand the system going forward. And that’s a good thing. When it comes to beacon technology, this is just the first wave of innovation. There’s much more to come.

    Joe Barrus (“The Technologist”)

    iBeacon is Apple’s brand for low energy BlueTooth.  What makes BlueTooth LE special is that it requires very little power to run and won’t be a drain on your device’s battery.  This will finally allow independent communication between devices and other objects that have not previously been thought of as being communication enabled.

    Technologists have long been predicting the arrival of The Internet of Things which is a future state rapidly coming where everyday household items (or things) are hooked up to the Internet allowing for remote control or two way communication.  Examples might be your oven signaling you when the food is cooked or your refrigerator doing your monthly shopping without you.  BlueTooth LE will take this concept one step further by enabling local point-to-point communication between devices and “things.” but only within a short range proximity to each other.

    The use cases are boundless and, in my opinion, fairly exciting to think about.   Many are thinking about consumer oriented uses, however, use cases can span across many different environments from driving revenue for a company to providing social good.  What it will really drive is extreme personalizition of experience and increased inefficiencies.  Imagine going into Starbucks and having the coffee maker automatically start brewing your favorite drink without having to get into line.  The coffee-maker communicates with your phone to start the order and the cash register automatically debits your account.  This can leave the baristas free to focus on making coffee and customer service.  BlueTooth LE can also further enable augmented reality use cases for your smartphone or tablet.  Imagine walking through your favorite tourist city and as you come across various landmarks, etc. with embedded BlueTooth LE devices, your device could overlay imagery or text to provide additional information on that landmark, etc.

    Apple is very good at branding and driving adoption of new technologies by connecting well with the consumer.  However, the technology is not exclusive to Apple.  So, while Apple may perhaps be first to market with some innovative usage of this technology, other vendors will quickly fall in behind to fully take advantage.  I am looking forward to it.

    Dennis Jarvis (“The Marketeer”)

    While perhaps not befitting the label of disruptive, Beacon Technology represents yet another evolution in our daily digital lives. iBeacon leads the way and my money is on Apple capturing the lion’s share while competitors seek their own point-of-difference.

    Let’s consider the dynamics of this evolution, those that are good, maybe great, as well as the possible pitfall? On the one hand, Beacon brings with it the potential for significantly adding value to our experiences, be they entertainment events, retail, transit, education, etc. And, consumers will be drawn to the siren, with all of its conveniences and efficiencies. The availability of a seamless stream of real-time information at any leisure venue – ballgames, museums, concerts, etc. – will enable unencumbered access to tickets, seating locations, insights about the event, and concession bargains. Add to that the ease of navigation afforded to us at retail, along with specials and deals seemingly more within reach, and the ability for more efficient exchange of currency, means Beacon technology is a sure bet. Yet, I wonder just how many more push notifications we can or want to handle. Still, the real pitfall comes with the realization that the ultimate success of Beacon technology, as with most things digital, resides with our dependence on just how responsible organizations are in managing it, versus exploitation to the point where we say “enough.” Already, we are somewhat skeptical as evidenced by the following: 93% of consumers are concerned with their privacy from digital technologies; 73% don’t want their clicks tracked; 41% distrust businesses who collect data about them online; 40% are uncomfortable about personalized ads pushed to them; 36% have unfriended a brand over privacy concerns (Brandology. May, 2013). So, yes the public most certainly will gravitate to “the” Beacon, but it will be monitoring and voting on organizations and companies who violate their trust.

    Jorge Barba (“The Culture Guy”)

    There’s potential. Beacon technologies will keep driving the big trend of “automation”, where there is less human interaction. This might not work for every person and situation though, as some people will prefer to talk to a human at some point.

    The main topic of conversation will be how this changes the retail experience, but the bigger picture here is that we may end up getting fatigued by all the varied applications that can use these technologies.

    The iPhone might end up pushing this forward, but there are a varied amount of apps that could potentially play here: Square, Google+, Foursquare, Twitter and Facebook, among others. These are all situation aware apps that one way or another have the signals necessary to know where you are.

    We are already inundated with notifications from Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and other apps, in the big picture, how will this sit with people? What happens next?

    This is the short-term issue I’d think about. This is a wave that is just getting started, and people will be forced to adopt this technology because of their phones. Many questions still remain unanswered.

    Kane (“K-9 Intern”)

    I don’t need much guidance to find good products. I rely on my nose. Dogs like me instinctively know how to sniff out opportunities. Hmmm….wonder if I can patent my nose as a tracking device?

    THE FINAL WORD
    Apple’s iBeacon is a strong contender in an exciting emerging category. Beacons can be utilized for a bevy of new purposes from geolocation to shopping analytics to targeted messaging. Many of the new entrants will provide solutions that complement each other. At RE:INVENTION, we’re excited to see where the industry is headed next.

     
  • feedwordpress 00:57:22 on 2013/12/11 Permalink
    Tags: 2013 trends, 2014 forecast, , Albert Cheng, bill clinton, brian burke, , Disney, e-learning, eMarketer, , foursquare, gamification, gartner, gartner's hype cycle, , , , Innovation (general), , IPOs, , macarthur foundation, , , , mozilla, mozilla labs, multi-tasking, NEXT TV Summit, open badges, openbadges.org, recofriendations, Schrage, second screen, the Fed, trend hunter, , VC funds, VCs, , , washington post, youGov   

    A Look Back: Michael Schrage’s Four 2013 Innovation Predictions 


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    A Look Back: Michael Schrage’s Four 2013 Innovation Predictions

    As the business world looks back on this year’s trends and looks forward to 2014, we’re revisiting what experts predicted for this year last December.

    Last week, we reviewed and evaluated Vivek Wadhwa’s five 2013 innovation predictions. On tap today: a review of MIT Sloan School research fellow Michael Schrage’s four 2013 innovation predictions, as featured in his December 2012 Harvard Business Review Guest Post.

    Let’s get started…

    1. Proliferation of Open Badges Online

    According to Schrage, badges would increasingly be used in the online world to earmark valid and verifiable accreditation from companies, academic institutions, and professional associations.

    Scorecard: Miss.

    Open badges have their roots in gamification. Alas, the gamification backlash has begun. Gamification currently is at the very top of the Peak of Inflated Expectations in Gartner’s Hype Cycle, dangerously close to teetering into “the trough of disillusionment.”

    Gamification: Gartner Hype Cycle Position

    The Trough of Disillusionment (A Definition)
    “Technologies and related startups … fail to meet expectations and quickly become unfashionable. The press usually abandons the topic.” (SOURCE: BUSINESS INSIDER)

    According to Gartner research VP Brian Burke, companies/developers that get fixated on points and badges fail. “You just can’t put badges on something and expect it to work,” Burke has said.

    In June 2013, Mozilla Labs, the MacArthur Foundation, and former President Bill Clinton launched the Open Badges Project to promote the use of badges to identify online credentials. Q42013 project momentum has been slow. In fact, the project hasn’t had any press coverage since Schrage’s HBR forecast.

    We suspect that open accreditation badges will face a long uphill battle for three reasons: (1) talent capabilities need to be proven, not asserted (2) the judgment of “capabilities” is subjective and (3) the idea of badges conflicts with America’s “prizes for all” culture and is likely to suffer from gamification’s downslope trend. Without secure signing, open badges are subject to a huge host of other issues.

    We’re doubtful that badges (Mozilla or otherwise) will revolutionize e-learning or disrupt higher education in the near future.

    2. A Big Boom in Second Screen Multi-Tasking

    Multidevice engagement and multi-tasking would be increasingly omnipresent in 2013, predicted Schrage. Content creators worldwide would readjust their business models accordingly.

    Scorecard: Miss.

    Networks, advertisers, and social-media services trying to capitalize on the “second screen phenomenon” have encountered challenges. Twitter is still the only social television app with any critical mass.

    Many noted experts are beginning to declare that you can’t make money with second screen. That second screen equates to “no-income advertising.” The more we drive consumers to the second screen, the harder it becomes to monetize their time and attention.

    According to a new report by eMarketer, roughly half of all Americans look at their social networks while watching TV but only one in six post something about what they’re watching.

    Disney’s Digital EVP, Albert Cheng, especially dislikes second screen. “Second screen apps are not a game that we want to be in,” said Cheng at the Next TV Summit in San Francisco during September. “Second screen is a distraction.”

    If brand and network hesitancy and absence of ROI are not enough to thwart second screen, most viewers DVR shows and watch them later (save for rare “extreme fan” exceptions like the Super Bowl and Breaking Bad’s finale).

    We simply don’t see second screen stealing ad share away from television.

    3. Recofriendations

    According to Schrage, social media recommendations from friends would be taken more seriously in 2013, offering sophisticated reasons and rationales for recommendations. Schrage predicted we’d see feedback loop links between Quora and Outlook/Gmail/Linkedin/Facebook. Links between Expedia/Outlook/and social networks. Links between Powerpoint/Slideshare/and social networks.

    Scorecard: Miss.

    Are we guided by what the Jones’ are doing? In the real world, yes. Via social networks? Surprisingly no. The value of social recommendations is on a steep declining slope. While research has shown that 70 percent of consumers trust social media recommendations from friends more than traditional advertising, people don’t buy what their friends RECOMMEND on social media platforms.

    Is Facebook’s search technology failing marketers? A growing number of companies believe that Facebook ads don’t work. New research from YouGov reveals that 83% of shoppers will ignore friends’ social media recommendations this holiday season. Social recommendations increase discovery and trust, but not sales (particularly among males). Keller-Fay, the word of mouth specialist, reports that 90% of brand conversations still take place offline.

    As for the extensive recofriendation feedback loop links across all social networks? Didn’t really happen.

    4. Easy Capital

    Schrage believed the Fed’s policies would make it easier for innovative entrepreneurs to raise capital in 2013. He expected entrepreneurship to be perceived as an “alternative investment” with huge appeal to institutional investors seeking diversification options. “There may never be a better time to be a charismatic entrepreneur with a scalable prototype,” Schrage wrote.

    Scorecard: Miss.

    Though the final tally is not yet in, year-end 2013 venture capital investments are expected to be lower than 2012.  VCs are taking smaller stakes and structuring fewer deals with liquidation preferences. Most VC funds are small. IPOS are still unlikely to be a rich exit (even Twitter stock is proving volatile). And the series A crunch continues. Overall seed stage investment in startups has decreased from a year ago.

    Medical devices startups, in particular, continue to face a VC funding freeze. Medtech investments are at their lowest point in 9 years. The 2.3 percent medical device tax is contributing to the gloomy fundraising outlook.

    The cold hard facts: ninety percent of all businesses in the US have 0-5 employees. They are small and most will stay small.

    MY OVERALL EVALUATION OF MICHAEL SCHRAGE’S 2013 INNOVATION PREDICTIONS
    Optimistic. The Year That COULD Have Been. Predictions are just educated guesses. Optimism can be a good thing but it can impair your forward-thinking vision. Without realism, unbridled optimism can lead to real-world disaster.

    So, how would you score Michael Schrage’s 2013 predictions? Which trend surprised you most this year? What was YOUR favorite 2013 innovation or technology prediction? Did it come to fruition?

    Up next week: Trend Hunter Jeremy Gutsche”s 20 predictions for 2013 predictions, revealed IN THIS VIDEO. Due to space, we’ll recap five of our favorites and assess whether his predictions came true.

     
  • feedwordpress 18:42:11 on 2013/12/09 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , , , Innovation (general), , Kindle, Mayday, , , transformation, XBOX One   

    Looking Ahead to 2014 


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    Looking Ahead to 2014

    There are more than enough posts about predictions and trends for 2014 out there to entertain your mind. I’m not one to make predictions. I prefer to set the agenda. Two things I will talk about in this post to look forward to the next year: connected experiences and how we think about innovation.

    Let’s Talk About Connected Experiences

    While most of the discussion in 2014 will still be around the hot topics of Big Data, The Internet of Things, 3D Printing, and other buzzworthy topics; what holds these things together and can’t be easily replicated is an overall connected experience.  Organizations will still look at all of the hot topics as separate pieces, to see how they can integrate them, and this is usually how it starts: you starting testing in isolation until you figure out if works for you.

    But experiences are more fluid and connected than ever. The recent advances in sync technology that the XBOX One brings to the table is a leading indicator on how devices are connected experiences. You can bring them with you anywhere. And, while tablets and smartphones will become pervasive touch points in those experiences, the human element will not be replaced. People still want to have contact with people, if it makes sense.

    Amazon shows that they understand this better than ever with their Mayday feature that comes with the newest breed of Kindles. Whether they got it right or wrong isn’t the point. What they are saying is that they want to have contact with customers, and will be available with one click when the customer needs them. This is thinking ahead of the game, and just comes to show how they are “retail”.

    The Key Takeway Here

    The conversation about emerging technologies should be around the connected experience and outcomes for customers, not the benefits for an organization. Your point of view should define what to do and what not to do.

    To look back is to look forward. The saddest thing about 2013 is that the word “innovation” keeps getting diluted. It is now a marketing ploy. Before the end of the year, and every day after that, companies who are serious about innovation should ask themselves this question: how can we be the only ones who do what we do?

    The answer to that question isn’t about Big Data, or any other “hot topic”, it is about what are you enabling customers to do. How are you transforming them?

    People don’t remember specific features, they remember the experience had. Companies are confusing a product upgrade with innovation, and to believe that changing one thing is enough to make a splash is short-term-ism at its finest. A recent post on the Wall Street Journal has pretty much put it in perspective how executives are looking at innovation: “something that is innovative to them”.

    The Right Way to Think About Innovation

    The right way to think about innovation is this: how are we transforming customers? How are we helping them be innovative?

    This is a different way of thinking about value proposition; it’s about developing human capital. Not simply delivering a product or service “because that is what companies do”. Companies that believe that out-featuring competitors is the way to innovation riches are kidding themselves. You might feel that way in the short term, but you are simply adding more wood to the fire that creates a thick screen of smoke that distracts and annoys people.

    Customers, people, users, are experiencing more chaos than ever. Too many choices are creating noise in their lives. This is a huge opportunity for both startups and established companies to make an impact in people’s lives. The sooner you rethink how you look at innovation, the faster you will orient your efforts towards really thinking about how you might transform them.

    To finish, I’ll leave you with this last thought: the more you say you are innovative, the less innovative you are.

     

     
  • feedwordpress 22:43:56 on 2013/12/05 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , , Innovation (general),   

    Expert Series: Sperry Van Ness 


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    Expert Series: Sperry Van Ness

    RE:INVENTION’s Expert Series presents an interview with a major player at a company that is notable as progressive, transformative and/or innovative within its industry.

    In an industry primarily dominated by traditional approaches to business operations, innovative practices and thinking outside of the box can make all the difference. Sperry Van Ness International Corporation, a transformative commercial real estate brokerage and property management franchisor, was recently awarded as one of the most recognizable brands in commercial real estate in 2013 by the Lipsey Survey.

    This week’s Expert Series features five questions with Diane Danielson, the Chief Platform Officer of Sperry Van Ness.

    ************************************************************************

    RE: First, can you give us a brief background of yourself and of Sperry Van Ness as a company?

    Diane: Sperry Van Ness International Corporation is a franchisor. Our day job is selling franchises to commercial real estate firms. They brought me in as the Chief Platform Officer, which is kind of a weird title, but I like to say it’s a combination of COO, marketing, technology and sales, with a focus on growing the bottom line. We have 175 franchise offices in 38 states across the United States and we’re expanding into Canada and Europe.

    As for me, I have been in and out of commercial real estate for past 20 years. I started out as a real estate attorney but then joined real estate companies and worked as the vice-president of business development and marketing at various large commercial real estate firms in the Boston area. Then I took some time off from the commercial real estate industry and got involved in a career where I built a company called the Downtown Women’s Club, which was a national women’s network that launched the first social network for businesswomen in the United States back in 2005. After that I ended up consulting with companies on technology and how to use technology most efficiently to meet your marketing and business development goals. And that led to Sperry Van Ness calling me and saying they had a perfect job for me, because I had all of the different categories, including commercial real estate and a legal degree, and everything they were looking for on the marketing and technology side.

    RE: What has been your biggest challenge for you at Sperry Van Ness and how did you deal with it? What did you learn from it?

    Diane: One of the biggest challenges we have is an innovative business model in a very traditional industry. Commercial real estate is very resistant to change… and 80% male, with the average age of a commercial real estate broker these days around 57 years old. Trying to change an industry is very tough; but the company I’ve been with has been doing things differently for about 35 years. We actually believe in the open sharing and co-listing of our sales properties; we’ve been doing that for years but it is very in-tune with the direction all industries are going these days. And also, we’re very big on technology. We’ve developed and partnered with software platforms so that our franchisees are not tied to their desks. They can use the cloud platform for all our tools, and they can work anywhere because sales are done on the road a lot of the time.

    RE: How did your team start building a culture of innovation or transformation?

    Diane: Well, it helps to have a CEO and President who is in his early 40s, who’s very visionary. Kevin Maggiacomo is a big believer in not doing business in the same way, because if you do, eventually somebody’s going to put you out of business. So, following his vision, it’s from the top-down. He has brought on people, others and myself, who are rewarded for trying different solutions. With a franchise business model, while some people may think it’s a very old-fashioned model, I find it very innovative, as it’s a way to have a smaller independent team that can use the tools and resources of a large shop. We’re able to be more nimble, because we’re smaller in a sense as a franchisor, and having local franchises allows us to test with them on a small scale. Collaboration is also something that we really stress in the Core Covenants of our company.

    RE: Have you found yourself having to transform your business methodology since you started? How have you done so?

    Diane: We had a series of changes that started before I got there, one of which was back in 2007 when we started moving towards a franchise business model. That was a big change and it helped us survive the economic downturn in 2009, and we actually came through that profitably, which was extremely rare for our industry.

    About two or three years ago, we signed on with Google apps. Taking everything into the cloud was a big transformation because it allowed us to work virtually and our franchisees were able to do the same. Then we helped customize another tool that our brokers use for marketing properties and listings. And since it’s cloud based, they’re able to access that virtually. So they’re able to streamline their overhead costs. The next phase, what we’re doing now and in 2014, is focused on increasing our franchisees’ productivity. It’s not just handing them tools and resources, it’s delivering training and helping them focus on their business so that they can increase productivity. That’s where we’re testing out some innovative tools. We are also bringing out and dusting off old resources that worked in past years and are still applicable today.

    It’s also learning from outside the industry. We are looking at what tech companies are doing, what other B2B businesses are doing and what franchises are doing. We were on the Inc. 5000 list this year so we went down there to learn from other companies that were not in our industry. I even hired somebody to lead our marketing team from the retail industry.

    RE: What do you think is most important for your company to do in order to keep up with the rapid changes in technology?

    Diane: Looking outside the industry. We need to learn from other industries; see what’s working for them and figure out how to apply it to our industry. We can’t just sit here and say nobody else is doing this in commercial real estate so we won’t either; we need to be proactive about thinking of new ways to change the way we do business and keep up with technological changes.

    We also have something called the “SVN Difference”. For me, that’s whenever we put the right people with the right process and the right platform. That together creates a system that allows people to maximize productivity.

    Many thanks to Diane Danielson for sharing insights during this week’s Expert Series. Look for our next Expert in two weeks time, right here on RE:INVENTION’s Everyday Inventive Blog.

     
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