Archive | Innovation on Organization RSS for this section

The age of the re-emergent technologies

Re-emergence of technologies

Ryan Raffaelli, of Harvard Business School, has examined examples of “re-emergent technologies” in detail. The most striking example is the Swiss mechanical-watch industry. In the 1970s it was almost washed away by a tide of cheaper and more accurate digital watches. Today the industry is more successful than ever, providing the country’s largest source of exports after pharmaceuticals and machinery, and the engine of its revival is the old-fashioned wind-up watch.

There are plenty of other examples of re-emergent technologies. Sales of fountain pens collapsed in the 1950s with the arrival of cheap ballpoints; since the mid-1970s they have enjoyed a steady revival. Trams looked destined to become nothing more than tourist attractions in proudly quaint cities such as San Francisco and Paris. But hundreds of cities in the world have either installed new tram systems or have plans to do so. Sales of vinyl LPs in the world have increased from almost nothing in 1993 to more than some millions in 2013. The number of independent bookshops is rising for the first time in decades.

How do businesses go about reviving old technologies in the face of so much innovation? Mr Raffaelli argues that the key to success lies in redefining the product’s value and meaning. Swiss watchmakers redefined their products as status goods rather than a means of telling the time. That they are so much harder to make than digital watches added immeasurably to their desirability. Independent booksellers are redefining themselves as communities where people who care about books meet and socialise. Trams are re-emerging as a green solution to both pollution and urban sprawl: a striking number of the cities that are adopting them are formless sunbelt cities.

This redefinition demands a careful balance between tradition and change. Revival businesses often need to cultivate a close relationship with their craftsmen and customers, who may see themselves as guardians of a great tradition rather than mere employees or consumers. The Swiss watch industry arguably survived only because collectors kept paying record prices for watches at auctions and skilled craftsmen refused to abandon the old ways: when Zenith decided to throw away its mechanical watchmaking moulds at the height of what Swiss refer to as “the quartz crisis”, one old-timer decided to store them in a shed instead, wheeling them out once again when the luxury market took off. Revival businesses need to peddle their back-story remorselessly.

However, while peddling their traditions and reassuring customers and craftsmen that they are holding true to them, revival businesses also need to be willing to change. Nicolas Hayek and Ernst Thomke saved the Swiss watch industry from impending death by applying a succession of electric shocks. In a series of deals they brought together a bunch of ailing businesses into the mighty Swatch Group, whose sales last year reached SFr8.8 billion ($9.5 billion). They fought back against cheap digital watches by first redefining Swiss watches as fashion items, with Swatches, and then redefining them as luxury items, with brands such as Breguet, Blancpain and Omega which sell watches for six-figure sums.

Revival industries need to be willing to take tough decisions: for example, sacrificing market share to new entrants while holding firm on price. They also have to be ready to reorientate themselves to new markets: the Chinese have proved enthusiastic buyers of Western heritage goods.

Hamburg: smart connected city


We have smart cellphones, smart televisions, smart cars, and even smart baby monitors, but most of us don’t live in a “smart city.” At least, not yet. As the Internet of Things grows into the Internet of Everything, it seems many processes that make a city tick—from first responders and law enforcement to hospitals, traffic and street lights, and beyond—would benefit from the actionable data M2M technology could help collect.

Hamburg is one of the highest-ranking cities in Europe in terms of economy and quality of life. Technical innovations, the networking of business and science, and the balance between economy and ecology will all continue to play an extremely important role in the future development of the city. Like in most major cities worldwide, the population in Hamburg is growing. This results in a high level of social responsibility for these cities. A smart city, i.e. one that is well connected and well designed, improves quality of life through intelligent, innovative infrastructures that help to make mobility more efficient, protect resources, and reduce negative environmental impact. As such, sensor and information technologies will continue to play an ever-greater role in the future.

Partners interested in pilot projects

As part of these efforts, the City of Hamburg and Cisco concluded a Smart City Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on April 30, 2014, at Hamburg City Hall. The MoU follows on from the Smart City Summit in December 2013, where representatives from public administration, research, academia, and development, as well as local and international industry, met to define the initial approach to creating a smart city. The MoU now envisages the creation of pilot projects focusing on the areas of transport, intelligent streetlight control, citizen services, the port, and the HafenCity urban development project. A whole host of technology partners have declared their interest in taking part in the first pilot projects, including AGT International, avodaq, InnoTec DATA, Philips, Streetline, T-Systems, and Worldsensing. Other partners can also get involved with projects that have already been defined.

Overview of Planned Pilot Projects

Thanks to intelligent network solutions provided by Cisco, these are just some of the smart port and smart city projects that are in the pipeline:

  • Intelligent streetlight and traffic light control
  • Optimized registration and management of traffic flows
  • Virtual citizen kiosk—an intelligent citizen service with a video link
  • Port of Hamburg as smartPORT


Amazon Innovates With Its Business Model, Not Drones

amazon prime air

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos created quite the stir when he announced plans for drone package delivery on 60 Minutes. However, as exciting as commercial applications for drone technology might be, the true innovation lies in Amazon once again reinventing its business model and finding new ways to create value, conduct business and get paid for it.

The essence of business model innovation (BMI) is not a new concept. Indeed, creating disruptive new business models is at the heart of many entrepreneurial start-ups. However, in most large companies and corporations, business models take a back seat to brands. BMI should command more attention as business models, above products, services or brands, are the basis of competitive advantage in the 21st Century.

The implications to this are significant. Over time, the companies that fail to reinvent their business models to challenge outmoded assumptions about their businesses, renew their customer value propositions and change the competitive dynamics of their industries in their favor can quickly become vulnerable to commoditization, obsolescence or business failure.

The trends towards business model-driven strategy are encouraging. According to the Economist, over 50 percent of executives believe that business model innovation will be even more important than product or service innovation. Yet, the American Management Association determined that no more than 10 percent of innovation investment at global companies is focused on developing new business models.

Finding the business model sweet spot can help companies generate both incremental growth from optimizing existing businesses and transformational growth from generating entirely new sources of revenue and value creation. Rather than simply figuring out more efficient ways to operate in existing markets, the components of business models can, individually or collectively, be reinvented to create entirely new markets, new opportunities and structural competitive advantages.

Amazon’s business model innovation certainly allows it to deliver a diverse portfolio of customer value propositions that serves as its main competitive advantage. Culturally, a continuous focus on business model innovation keeps the company connected to its entrepreneurial roots — an advantage that should be coveted by even the largest of companies.

At the end of the day, “It’s all about customers.” As Amazon demonstrates, even when customers have many choices, with business model innovation, it is possible for revenue and growth opportunities to flow from the basic way a business is put together — even without the use of drones.

Happy New Year 2014


I wish you many innovations for 2014.

We will have to think out of the box and go beyond appearance.

I wish you to think different and to have new ideas.

Microsoft purchased Nokia’s devices for 5,5 billion


Microsoft has purchased Nokia’s devices and services unit, bringing the Lumia lineup under the Redmond roof. The move unites Windows Phone 8 with its biggest hardware supporter, giving the company the integrated mobile offering it’s been looking for with Surface and other devices. When the deal closes in the first quarter of 2014, Microsoft will pay €3.79 billion for Nokia’s business, plus another €1.65 billion to license its portfolio of patents. 32,000 people are expected to transfer from Nokia to Microsoft, including 18,300 that are “directly involved in manufacturing.”

The purchase comes on the heels of what appeared to be a failed acquisition in June, at which point it seemed conversations had broken off entirely. Now the two come together, in what outgoing Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer called “a bold step into the future.”

A driving force behind the sale seems to be Nokia’s low-end Asha brand, which Microsoft has acquired outright. Asha gives Microsoft a far larger footprint for Windows Phone, and access to millions of customers in developing countries that it plans to use as an “on-ramp to Windows Phone.” The emphasis also lends some credibility to the notion that Nokia’s high-end strategy isn’t working — analysts predicted a horrific Q3 for the company, and its struggles to find a foothold are well-documented. In fact, Microsoft’s licensing deal for the Nokia brand doesn’t include future Lumias — Nokia as a smartphone brand is effectively dead, as Microsoft takes the lineup in-house.

Though Nokia was by leaps and bounds Microsoft’s best hardware partner for Windows Phone 8, EVP of operating systems Terry Myerson was careful to note that Microsoft’s purchase doesn’t come with nepotism. As Google has with Motorola, Myerson promised every partner would be treated the same, even quoting a song by The Killers to make his point. And from Huawei to HTC, there are still other partners — Nokia’s coming in-house, but Windows Phone 8 isn’t being walled off.

Mobile Phones Q2 2013

6 reasons why Microsoft could buy BlackBerry


One of the best ways for Microsoft to jump-start its lagging mobile business is to buy struggling BlackBerry. Why buy a mobile company quickly going south? There are plenty of reasons — here are the top six why Microsoft should pay up and take over BlackBerry.

Reason 1: Microsoft’s enterprise focus

Microsoft’s core business is in the enterprise — Windows, Office, servers and tools, Exchange, and more. BlackBerry’s core business is in the enterprise as well. But Microsoft has been hurt by the BYOD movement, because it allows iOS and Android devices to make their way into enterprises. BlackBerry is valued by enterprises for its secure networks and servers. The New York Times reports that “In its most recent quarterly report, BlackBerry reported having roughly 72 million users worldwide, most of whom were still generating monthly services fees by sending data over the company’s special closed network.” There’s clearly great synergy here for Microsoft.

Reason 2: increase market share

The latest figures from IDC show Windows Phone with a 3.7% worldwide market share, up from 3.1% a year ago. BlackBerry has 2.9% market share. Buying BlackBerry would give Microsoft a 6.6% market share. Given that it took Windows Phone a year to grow by only .6%, this would be a big increase. Over time, Microsoft would switch users from the BlackBerry to the Windows Phone platform, and grow Windows Phone that way, especially in enterprises.

Reason 3: hardware engineers

Steve Ballmer’s vision for Microsoft is to turn it into a devices-and-services company. Microsoft has not primarily been a hardware company up until now, and so it is not rich in hardware engineers. It takes a long time to recruit and hire them. Buying BlackBerry would immediately bring to Microsoft a sizable core of experienced mobile engineers and designers, who could work not just on smartphones but on other Microsoft devices.

Reason 4: increase intellectual property

The Times notes that “Analysts generally suggested that BlackBerry’s most attractive asset is its intellectual property, including some of its software and its various cellphone patents.” In today’s litigious tech world, patents can be used to harm competitors and get very serious licensing revenue from them. Microsoft uses its patent to extract licensing fees from many Android device makers. It’s not clear that BlackBerry has any patents that could be used in this way. But it’s certainly possible, and growing your patent war chest is always a good thing.

Reason 5: Smartcar strategy

One massive mobile market is currently up for grabs: Automobiles. There’s no doubt that all cars will soon become rolling networks and smart devices. No one dominates that market yet. Buying BlackBerry would give Microsoft a headstart on owning it. BlackBerry owns QNX Software Systems, which built the operating system that powers the BlackBerry 10. More important, though, is that the same operating system is being used by GE, Cisco, and notably General Motors. General Motors uses it for its OnStar service, as well as for its Audi and BMW lines.

The Times says that BlackBerry has plans to “use QNX’s automotive ties and its unique global data network to allow car companies to update vehicle software through wireless networks and to monitor vehicles’ mechanical state.” Microsoft could do that and go beyond it, looking to make Windows Phone or Windows the smartcar operating system.

Reason 6: cheapest cost

It’s clear that by itself, BlackBerry has no future. So the company can likely be bought at a bargain price, rather than at a premium. Microsoft is cash rich. It’s time to put that cash to good use, and BlackBerry would be a very good mobile investment at a reasonable cost.

iA as a Strategic Training Approach

Very interesting article that gives all basic information about data management & information architecture. To increase the flexibility, the data management is key for a company.


These are slides and speaking notes from a presentation I made recently to a corporate training group.

Slide1 I passionately believe…

1) That any information architecture(iA)needs to span more than one insular organization or it, in and of itself, just becomes one more stand-alone methodology…

2) That structure paradoxically engenders freedom by eliminating useless redundancy of content and effort…

3) That lifting the burden of imposing structure off the backs of information creators not only defines a strategic direction, but also provides a tactical method…

4) That the unchecked proliferation of information is one of the most challenging issues for the 21st century…

Defining an Information Architecture

Slide3 The solutions to most significantly complex problems are as much art as they are science. There is that about them that requires inspiration and often times a leap of faith… and a ball of string so we can back-track when we get…

View original post 1,842 more words

Creativity: to ask the right questions

This post about creativity, how to organize brainstorming and how to ask questions for catalyzing creativity is absolutely right. To be read urgently.

Spark Insights - Strategy facilitator, ideation, and brainstorming

The power of asking the right questions

One of the most powerful ways of getting the best ideas from brainstorming  and sparking creativity is to start with the right question.

The opposite is also true – you can spin your wheels, and kill ideation by asking the wrong question.

Too often, brainstorming meetings get stuck in a rut. They either cycling over the same ideas, go off on a tangent that ends up miles from your business, or is simply uninspired and flat. Most often, it’s because we started with the wrong question – one that is either closed-ended, suggests a solution, or is too wide open.

A common myth about creativity

One of the most persistent fallacies of creativity is that to be creative, we need to remove the boundaries and that brainstorming needs to be wide-open. The reality is that we need some boundaries and direction to have…

View original post 838 more words

Is Innovation overrated?


Innovation over-highlighted in companies?

On the web, we can read articles saying that companies & people overrated Innovation. Arguments are clear: consumers that would like some products do not especially want innovative products. These consumers need very good products, with the right price – depending on level of life of consumers & at the right moment – accessible during the seasons, the locations, the time and so on… It seems to be absolutely true, isn’t it?

We are not buying a car because there is tablet inside but because the design of the car is what’s we expected, the fiability and global quality is very good and the car bought is in relation with what’s we would like to do with it: driving in cities, driving in the nature or allowing us to drive with 4 children.

Does it means that cars produced do not require important innovations to build the best car for the smallest price?

What is innovation?

Wikipedia answers to this question: “Innovation is the development of new values through solutions that meet new requirements, inarticulate needs, or old customer and market needs in value adding new ways. This is accomplished through more effective products, processes, services, technologies, or ideas that are readily available to markets, governments, and society.”

It means that reducing company’s innovation to innovative products is really viewing it as a small piece of what can be innovation. Innovation concept is larger.

Culture of innovation

The standard structures of the company are managing the recurrent operations. We do not have to reduce the importance of these structures: financial results made with them, allow companies to have an innovation structure.

But innovation cannot be processed as in standard structures: there is no recurrent action in its management. Innovation needs its own organization with dedicated managers and experts. Innovation does not have to be separated from the rest of the company: people in the standard structure needs to participate to innovations.

Innovation structures need their own budget with dedicated KPIs, radically different from other budgets. Another key point is the sponsorship. It must clearly be sponsored by executive board members. Steering committees, less structured, must be put in place.

At the end, all collaborators of the company, employees, directors, board members and CEO must contribute to innovation process. Putting a culture of innovation is a key element in a company.

Is Innovation really overrated?

For a company, innovation is larger than having innovative products. Having a process reducing time to proceed operations, having new product with new services more adapted to the market or using new technologies for selling or for having better products is innovation!

I have already heard that coming back to the root of project management is probably more important than having innovation focus. I have to say that there is no link between project management and innovation. Both are required in different steps in any company.

Since 5 years, innovation is entered in all companies, the small ones as the big ones, companies from every countries and from all sectors. It is not a fashion way that will disappear within 5 years. Innovation is a key element that companies have right now to integrate in their strategy for a long time.

Related articles


Shifting to a more efficient business model


It is really simple to think in terms of innovation as a “closed” activity where the company owns the information by different means. Research is performed, new ideas come up, and new businesses are developed. This linear analysis however is missing several advantages than can be obtained by shifting the process to an open innovation model. Some of those advantages are:

  • More amount of ideas: it sounds obvious, but it’s necessary to comment that the more people involved in the innovation process, the more ideas one can get to select from
  • Wider reach: it’s related with the previous advantage. When more people and with more different backgrounds are implicated, ideas tend to be more diverse and rich. Having people with backgrounds in art or architecture, for designing computers, for example, can be necessary, and provide with experience that computer designers may not have.
  • More focused target: Involving customers, final users, and suppliers, will ensure that targets are reached. Their opinion is of great importance. Many ideas are developed, and then rejected because of final user tastes, or supplier’s impossibility of achieving expected results. Having them making suggestions in the beginning of the process will ensure that ideas that are being developed are on the right track.
  • Resources efficiency: the amount of infrastructure necessary in a “closed innovation” business model to achieve the same results as an open innovation one is prohibitive. Companies can’t afford that amount of money. If they want those results, they should use an open model.

But, which are the steps to follow? It’s rather simple to think about them but not executing:

  1. Change the mind model of people in the company. This is the most difficult part, and yet, the most necessary.
  2. Select your partners. Thinking wider is better in this stage. Who can bring more ideas? Making a diagram on how the business model is, can be good for leaving no one behind.
  3. Make the rules: make a contract setting what can and can’t be done. Is necessary to reduce risks.
  4. Execute the process. Work platforms are necessary. Think on their impact in the process.
  5. Monitor and improve. As in every process, things can (and must) be improved.

Who is doing this now? What are their results?

Media related companies, such as movie making, or advertising, and fashion, have been doing it for a while, but also Oil&Gas companies and Automotive companies, specially in relation with their suppliers, or B2B customers.

Results are cheaper and more focused ideas. For example, wider approaches lead to the use of medicine images technology for oil fields exploration.

Why now?

People can access internet from anywhere in the world. Right now, companies can take profit from the ideas that a potential customer comes out while travelling in the metro.

To wrap up, open your mind, open your company process to the rest of the world, and the results you will find, are greater than you can imagine.

Related articles