Archive for the ‘innovation’ Category

AI and Machine Learning

July 24, 2017

I have been posting quite a bit on LinkedIn and Twitter about artificial intelligence and machine learning, including bots, personal digital assistants and smart home. I have speculated on what the smart phone of the future might look like, especially with advancements in wearables and implants.

I would love to hear the thoughts of readers of this blog or if you would like to share articles you feel strongly about in these topics. I hope you will share your thoughts with me.

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“They change our vision of the world…”

August 3, 2016

A great TED Talk from earlier this year by mathematician,Cédric Villani…  a man who is so far beyond what I can comprehend, yet very clearly done:

 

Enjoy!

“There is a season, and a time to every purpose, under heaven”: How we learn today…

July 20, 2016

So go the lyrics from the Byrd’s classic song “Turn, Turn, Turn”. The group was referring to the fact that there is a time and a place for everything. In my mind, this phrase also applies to the options we all have today to learn what we want to or what we need to.

The opportunity to learn today for those who want to is amazing…in addition to the traditional learning venues, there are so many quality options of online material and classes to digest, with many different delivery methodologies and structures. You can learn virtually anything you want to today, from Quantum Mechanics to web coding to how to fix a shower head.

The Byrds

The Byrds

I am a firm believer in the formalized education process, but I also recognize that there are times when the right levels of skills or knowledge mean more than the experience or even the credentialing. There are situations where timing of the need may be a significant factor in the decision. In a professional setting, the modern “corporation-of-one” economy supports this need, as in many fields, the knowledge base changes rather quickly and the need may well be urgent. As indicated in the Byrd’s lyric above, there may be times (seasons) of our life where some choices make more sense than others.

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Start-up Nation and Michael Porter on Clusters

June 23, 2016

 

drone - innovation

 

It was recently recommended to me that I read Start-up Nation (by Dan Senor and Saul Singer), the book on innovation and how it is executed in the State of Israel. Having been involved with start-ups here in the United States at several points in my career here in the US, it was amazing to me that this book had never broached my consciousness. While I can be oblivious at times, in fairness, I was working marathon weeks in an “intrepreneurial” start up at the time. But still…

There are several reasons why Israel has developed this capacity, but one of the factors brought back some thinking that captured my imagination over a decade ago…the idea of economic clusters. I recognized the value of this concept while in the Direct Mail business and growing up in an area that was an economic cluster for the pharmaceutical industry, I think this was a natural inclination.

This became one of the standards on which I judged potential partnerships or mergers when previously working in the consulting field. And it certainly impacted my thinking on interacting with the internal infrastructure when building and nurturing programs/

This was an idea that was formalized by Michael Porter, whose Competitive Advantage and Competitive Strategy books had formed a great deal of my early career thinking. In his work on clusters, he highlights three points that have impact:

1. Productivity
2. Driving Direction and the Pace of Innovation
3. Stimulate the formation of new businesses

These are all important, but I think the biggest takeaway at the time for me was the first point, productivity. All players in a cluster drive each other to be more productive, a factor that leads to greater innovation and higher business formation. The fact that they are geographically grouped also adds to the productivity. Clusters tend to create an overall environment where the whole ecosystem is greater the sum of the parts.

Clusters are typically intensely competitive, yet this also allows paradoxically for greater cooperation and closer ties to partners within the cluster. This is a reality that is often discounted in the virtual world we live in, however, it is still more comfortable to know that a partner closely tied to your business is an hour away by car as opposed to halfway around the world.

Of course, clusters can have downsides too. Instead of expanding and spawning new businesses, they can attempt to consolidate leading to an actual restriction of trade and innovation. They can fall prey to industry groupthink. This often happens in instances where the cluster turns oligopolistic rather than retaining its innovative roots.

I strongly suggest reading both Start-Up Nation and Michael Porter is you are on the strategy side of innovation.

Photo courtesy of: Pankaj Biswas

“Complexity kills convenience.”

June 12, 2016

“Complexity kills convenience.”

I had the distinct pleasure of seeing Terry B. Jones speak Thursday evening (for more info on Terry, see http://www.tbjones.com/ ) at the NSU Art Museum Auditorium. Terry has started several successful ventures throughout his career. It was yet another fine speaker brought in by the South Florida Interactive Marketing Association (SFIMA – https://www.sfima.com/ ).

T Jones (2)

He made several telling points during his presentation. But the one that stuck with me was the one I used for the headline of this post: “Complexity kills convenience.” I have seen the validity of this statement rear up throughout my career, but today, with the open availability of information and alternative opportunities, it is even more true. People and organizations who can create the simpler experience – one that is more convenient for others to use – will win the day, every day.

From an organizational perspective this approach of making interactions simpler and easier needs to apply to our Customer relationships, our Vendor relationships and also our Employee relationships.

One of the benefits of having some gray hairs is being fortunate to have worked with numerous organizations over a number of years. In many instances, the people in some of these organizations have often expressed the thought that “it takes a great deal of effort to work with us.” While they were most often referring to their customers, it was also reality for vendors, partners and employees who were also expected to “work hard” to maintain their relationship with the organization. This is not an approach that works very often today, as the costs and obstacles of vested parties making a switch away from that organization have been drastically reduced.

Part of this is the shift is due organizations today are leaning toward a more service driven offering. In a product driven world, (most) consumers never liked complexity. But it was often part of the “package” because of a need to buy a product to cover all contingencies, and have a useful life that justified the purchase.

This was particularly true in the B2B world, where we often invested in the more complex, expensive model because we did not know what we would need in 5 years. We had to make an investment that could return a positive ROI. Services, on the other hand, have a shorter shelf life, and purchases can be justified (or terminated) on a more immediate basis.

We see this everyday with cloud computing, subscription software, consulting, marketing services… organizations can often switch rather readily if they feel they are not getting the service (think convenience) they want. And if the service provider seeks to make that switch difficult, their competitor is more than willing to ease the transition.

In closing, I find it sadly ironic that the efforts organizations make to increase customer engagement often make life and the relationship more complex for their customers, not simpler… and simpler is what customers really want. Everyone is busy and in most cases, they want ease of use, not what passes as support from the organization.

Many times this support forces customers to think too much, engage too much and waste more of their time than they are willing to provide. When this happens, we increase the possibility of defection, not reduce it. To steal a phrase from Gerry McGovern (http://www.gerrymcgovern.com/ )…sometimes the customer just ran out of coffee…

Empty Coffee Cup

Empty cup from My Favorite Kind of Crazy –