Creating Generational Legacies

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Four Key Innovation Takeaways from the 2017 Lean Startup Conference

Great takeouts from Dr Jeffrey Tobias from the Strategy Group

What’s changing in leading edge innovation thinking?

For the fourth year running we attended the Lean Startup Conference in San Francisco, hosted by Eric Ries, the founder of the Lean Startup movement.

The Lean Startup methodology has changed the way both small and large organisations work, developing businesses and products quickly and iteratively based on tests and insights from customers. The approach is now evolving to focus on empathy as a starting point for understanding customer’s needs; part of a broader shift of focus towards the customer.

Here are my four key takeaways from the conference:

1. Design Thinking and the Lean Startup are moving closer together.There was a decided focus on empathy as the starting point to getting closer to your customer. While rapid experimentation is a given, the common view was that empathy was the way to uncover customers’ needs, pains and gains. This is somewhat of a change from past conferences, where there was little to no mention of empathy or Design Thinking. Empathy, and empathic interviewing and observations, is necessary to uncover not what customers want (because they don’t know) but what they need, to address their gains and their pains. Once these have been uncovered, the real problem to be solved can be uncovered – and it might not be the problem that appeared obvious at the beginning. After ideating around solutions to the problem, then the Lean Startup process of Build-Measure-Learn can be used to validate, and invalidate, the underlying assumptions of the solutions.

2. It’s all about the Experience. Chip Heath talked about his new book The Power of Moments – how we all have defining moments in our lives – meaningful experiences that stand out in our memory. Many of them we owe to a great deal of chance: A lucky encounter with someone who becomes the love of your life. A new teacher who spots a talent you did not know you had. A realisation that you don’t want to spend one more day in your job. The question Chip posed at the conference was: Can we shape these moments and control them? Through research, Chip maintains that defining moments are created from one or more of the following four elements:

  • ELEVATION: Defining moments rise above the everyday. Moments of elevation transcend the normal course of events; they are extraordinary
  • INSIGHT: In a few seconds or minutes, we have the “ah ha” moments in which we realise the importance of the moment and have a sudden flash of insight into something that was obscure until now
  • PRIDE: Defining moments capture us at our best – moments of achievement, moments of courage
  • CONNECTIONS: These are moments we share with others such as weddings, graduations, vacations and the like

3. The Business Portfolio Map. Alex Osterwalder (pictured above in conversation with me) ran an excellent workshop about the need to manage a portfolio of innovation that leads on from the Business Model Canvas. Most of us are familiar with the concept of Explore and Exploit when it comes to mapping our strategic priorities, but few of us really understand how to map activities against a framework that makes strategic sense. Alex presented an excellent process to not only map out the Explore and Exploit opportunities, but also to link them in a manner that makes their management almost obvious. What is really nice about his model is that he regards the Explore and Exploit opportunities as a collection of business models (i.e. business model canvasses) so his thinking is a logical extension of the previous work on the various canvasses he has developed in the past. Further, through the use of his processes, one can not only uncover new business model opportunities, but also evaluate the effectiveness of the business models in play.

The final question posed at the workshop was: Do you have a balanced portfolio that makes you invincible?

4. Artificial Intelligence will create jobs for tasks we have not yet imagined. Tim O’Reilly from spoke about the buzz that artificial intelligence will put hundreds of thousands of people out of work. He pointed out that when Amazon added 45,000 robots, they added 250,000 human workers. His message is that we have to draw a new map of the world, not be blinkered by what we know today, and we need to realise that, as the world increasingly becomes digital, and as artificial intelligence and algorithmic systems pervade all that we do, we are actually creating new kinds of partnerships between machines and humans. He emphasises that we should not just recreate what went before – we need to rethink business models, workflows and processes. For example, Henry Ford didn’t just rethink the automobile and the factory, he rethought the work week, and the reasons why people might want to drive.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Big Thinks take on life in 2027

Some extracts from the transcript...

Vivek Wadhwa Appointments at Duke and Stanford. Writes for Washington Post, LinkedIn Influencers, Huffington Post, ASEE Prism

Ray Kurzweil says that as any technology becomes information it starts advancing exponentially. It seems that everything is being digitized now and every technology I look at seems to be entering this exponential curve. And what happens is that when technology is advancing on an exponential curve they do amazing things, but when technologies converge, when exponential technologies converge that’s when you get industry disruptions.

Look at Ehang and what they’re doing in Dubai. That’s really a drone on steroids that’s being used to transport human beings.

Imagine being able to learn science by doing virtual experiments, anatomy by seeing your human body inside and out. Imagine learning mathematics by going into ancient Egypt and building pyramids. Imagine learning language by going into another country and talking to the natives in their local languages. Imagine learning Latin by going back in time and talking to people in Latin. I mean this is all becoming possible, and this is within five years we’ll have that. 

Imagine that a Fruit of the Loom tag in your underwear, which is monitoring you 24/7, monitoring your activity levels, which is monitoring your EKGs—all these different symptoms that can be captured from the skin, imagine it being gathered 24/7, being uploaded to the cloud, and having an AI now analyzing the data and say, “Look you’re about to get sick, you need to get some exercise,” and then having all of these cameras and sensors which watch what we’re eating and what we’re doing and saying, “All right Vivek, you don’t need that extra piece of pie. Stop. Abort. Abort. Abort.”

there was a study published in Nature magazine about a year and a half ago in which they took the feces—if I can say this on Big Think, feces means shit. They took the feces of a fat mouse and gave it to a thin mouse, and the thin mouse gained weight. They took that feces from a thin mouse and gave it to a fat mouse, and the fat mouse lost weight.[...]So forget all these diets we’ve been obsessed with; could it simply be a matter of taking the feces of a thin person and giving it to a fat person and the fat person loses weight? [...]there have been studies that show that Crohn’s disease, which is a debilitating disease that children get, they took the feces of a healthy child and gave it to an unhealthy child, and it appears that this unhealthy child was cured.You’re curing disease by transplanting bacteria?! It doesn’t make sense.

This is a crazy prediction, but I really believe this is going to happen: that within 10 or 15 years we will come to the conclusion that antibiotics were destroying our health.

when I read these studies everyday, that is the conclusion that I’m getting—that the entire Western medical system is about to be upended through the microbiome.

So move forward to the 2020s: we have all of these diagnostic data, we have all of this data about our genome and our microbiome, we have data on not thousands of people but hundreds of millions of people, and we have AI that analyzes all of this information. That app on your smart phone that’s monitoring you 24/7 may be the best doctor you’ve ever had. It’s your friend, it’s your advisor, it guides you on how to maintain optimal health, and it guides you on how you get healed if you do get sick.

I mean maybe there were some people who saw it coming, but the vast majority of experts in this field didn’t think that AI would progress at the rate it’s progressed just over the last few weeks.

When you walk into your supermarket, when you walk into any retail store you note that there are cameras over there. In the last two years or so the ability for computers to recognize faces exceeded the ability of human beings to recognize faces. So those cameras now have the ability to know who you are, and they have the ability now to interface with the registers where you buy things—and to keep track of what you bought.

Let me switch gears now and talk about saving the world.[...]Eighty-eight percent of the infectious disease in the developing world is caused by water borne viruses. [...]Now, all it takes to have 100 percent clean water—to boil the oceans and have all the water we need—is energy. The trouble is that energy has been so expensive. Well guess what? That’s changing. We’re headed into an era of unlimited clean and almost free energy.

the cost of solar has dropped 99 percent since 1976, and what happens is that as the price drops, the installations double. As installations double, the price drops.

We’re in a vicious cycle over here of exponential technology advances.

At the pace we’re going we’re only about six doublings away from having the capability of generating 100 percent of the earth’s energy needs through solar. This sounds crazy. And the doublings are happening less than every two years from now. So what I’m saying is that by 2030 or so we could have unlimited clean energy on this planet from sunlight, and the cost will be a fraction of what it is today. Imagine 1/16 of what it is today, 1/30 of what it is today. In less than 15 years from now!

What happens when the work disappears? Even if you have all the energy you want, all the food you want, you have perfect health, you have all the things you need, you’re able to 3-D print your food and clothing and all that, if you have all of those things taken care of you have nothing to do. You feel depressed.

If we don’t now start educating and uplifting everyone we’re going to have Mad Max.

Can we make sure that everyone benefits from the technology so that we don’t have people being left out and we don’t have anger brewing?[...]do the rewards outweigh the risks? [...]does the technology create autonomy or dependence? ]what I sincerely believe is that if we get these right that if we now benefits everyone and we do things in a sensible way we can create the amazing future of Star Trek, that we really can get to this world in which we’re now sharing prosperity, we’re seeking enlightenment and knowledge, we’re working to uplift humanity and we can do this 300 years ahead of schedule.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Wearable Tech is the Bomb

A new chapter of Meaning & Substance in this Digital Age of Reason has begun and transforming the world of Immersive & Experiential Innovation. Technology is getting increasingly more pervasive and hyper-personal. The IoT/IoE/Web3.0 revolution has indeed sparked smart/connected Living at the intersection of multiple industries from smart homes, industrial internet (with GE dubbing the term IIoT) to autonomous vehicles (which are rapidly maturing as I personally experienced couple of weeks ago test driving the new Tesla in the heart of Si Valley).

Coming to the topic of this conversation, the smart wearables and devices ecosystem is undergoing major paradigm shifts with recent advances in sensor technologies. Developments are bringing about radically new benefits and disruptions in the Safety/Security, Health/Wellness, Education/Learning & Fin-tech domains. On top of that embedding Gamification as a horizontal theme adds to the value proposition bringing about several new use-cases.

IoT or IoE (as Cisco like to calls it) is rapidly making a bigger dent in our daily lives. The numbers are up for grabs (from 50bn connected devices from the likes of Ericsson to 7 trillion according to Amdocs). A major touch point for IoT that is bringing a new meaning to personalised convergence is the space of ‘Wearables’. In layman’s terms it is actually a broader area from ‘Inneables’ (that includes Implants, Ingestibles i.e. in the body), to ‘Wearables’ (as we generally use the term i.e. Wrist-worn, Eye-worn, Smart clothing which is on the body) and then finally ‘Outables’ (around the body). Other sub-terms gaining traction are ‘hearables’ which opens up more convergent opportunities leading to ‘disappearables’ in the not to distant future! We can see that IoT is headed to become the ‘Intelligence of Things’.

There is enough real-estate/surface-area for Wearables to work on which can be used more wisely. Tech has rapidly been evolving in Flexible screens (from rollable, bendable and foldable) to alternative natural energy harnessing from the likes of kinetic, body heat, etc. which opens up several new possibilities. We are seeing the application of nano-technology with materials such as Graphene making a substantial difference here. And then in terms of maturity of natural user interfaces (NUI) we again see disruptive developments in areas such as hand-gesture control (e.g. Google’s project Soli).

We are witnessing an exponential growth in Wearables as they ‘cross the chasm’ from early adaptors to early majority who want actual solutions (to real pain points and problems) and convenience rather than just cool tech.

In the next wave of sensors precision, accuracy and quality formulate a strong foundation to build compelling solutions around. With continuous measurements of parameters such as HRV (Heart-Rate-Variability) we can gauge detailed metrics like physiological stress. And when we collate other valuable & variable data such as EEG (brain-waves), galvanic skin response the proposition becomes significant for deep analytics that can be utilized for proactive / predictive means to influence behavioural change. Big Data, after all is only useful if actionable insights can be promptly derived from it.

The ability to rightly digest that big data is another art or should I say science, immersive/interactive visualisation is probably the most formidable tool to that effect. HMDs/eye-worn wearables are transcending story-telling to a new level with applications around AR/VR – really a more potent combination called MR (Mixed or Mediated Reality). This space is gaining swift traction across many sectors from Edutainment to Enterprise Mobility. Along with 360deg video and holography the proposition to provide a ‘better way to see’ becomes quite powerful.

We see new enablement and increasing empowerment for individuals to take greater charge in their own hands as ‘prosumers’. A holistic perspective is required to integrate relevant elements of the above to build a compelling and highly customisable proposition. We see immense need for both ends of the spectrum – from the young minds of tomorrow (children) with areas to address such as obesity, attention spans, mental health/stress management, balance between digital (screen time) and physical play through to the golden agers / elderly where there is a sizeable growth in ageing population and increase in chronic conditions - Heart diseases, Dementia, Alzheimer’s and so on.

There is a need to micro-segment and setup a strong foundation i.e. a smart platform that can address various vertical needs. This will speed up the penetration to meaningful independence for the wearer whilst bring peace of mind and transparency to the carer.

It is not just about creating ecosystems, rather curating appropriate ones along with orchestration of smart platforms to bring about this transformation. Fast-tracking opportunities from ‘Sketch-to-Scale’ (as Flex like to dub it) is an engaging approach to bring mind-to-market or ideas-to-impact in this era of ‘Connected Intelligence’.

Amongst the clutter of connected devices we are living with and that are constantly flooding the market there has been dilution of purpose e.g. just look at number of fitness tracker bands/smart-watches flooding the market. This poses a colossal opportunity to provide hyper-contextual solutions of substance with clear/meaningful benefits. We are subsequently witnessing an emerging mass movement to de-clutter from the un-necessary and put our focus towards the essence of what’s important in our lives.

As Peter Diamandis (Exec chairman of SingularityU) says to stay ahead of the curve in these extraordinary times we need to reason exponentially not incrementally, thinking big to impact the billions and not just millions. With the mass democratization mega-trend across industries it has never been more exciting times for the individual to take on relevant tech & its benefits by its horns.

It is the power of connected simplicity (or ‘Simplexity’) through smart, simple and effective integration of robust technologies that will hide the complexity in the back-end whilst flourishing the benefits in the front-end.

As part of the holistic ‘health in your hands’ approach referring also to Eric Topol’s ‘The Patient will See you Now’ we are talking of the hyper-empowered individual who is ready to take full charge. This synergizes well with the ‘flipped classroom’ old school transformation in the education domain where the ‘teacher’ is ‘no longer a sage on the stage anymore but a guide on the side’. This mega-trend is a key change agent to bring about innovative/more meaningful solutions to the market addressing some of the major problems that face us today.

The ultimate focus needs to revolve around providing a delightful User Experience (UX which is really a function of the Hardware, Software, Content/Apps & Services). Human centred design thinking with context adaptive tech will be integral to providing the most relevant solution.

Consumers are playing an increasingly role in co-creating the value from the new-age products and services. An interesting blend of function and fashion are leading the next generation of devices. An essential ingredient to the conception of novel solutions will be to address the WHY with a strong enough Purpose that in turn through deep Passion will trigger the right stimuli.

Taking a holistic approach into transforming information to valuable knowledge and into subsequent wisdom will lead to the next wave of disruptions. With this age of reason & meaning we are noting an interesting inter-play of EQ over IQ (mind & spirit over matter), form with function which is leading to brands leveraging more equity with ESP (Emotional Selling Propositions) rather than simply USP (Unique Selling Points). We need to build a lot more empathetic solutions applying innovation techniques such as ethnography, nano-segmentation and culture immersion. To that effect a great initiative I have been fortunate to support is a movement on Global Empathy called ‘Stand in My Shoes’. I represent this as part of a principal shift from ‘mindset to heartset’ as we need to advance into a foresight driven approach.

A dream and a vision that I was privileged to share with H.H. Dalai Lama several years ago is coming closer to reality where intelligent machines get more spiritual and technology deeply embedded in holistic wellness and life management. This is a substantial topic and calls for separate discussion.

Let's embrace this dawn of the new Digital Era where we can play an impactful role (‘get into the zone’, ‘collabovate’ and create some magic) to shape a more meaningful super-connected future.

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Thursday, November 16, 2017

100 years of America’s Top Companies

Prize goes to the person who predicts the top 3 in 2050!

“Gatesville” - a smart city in Arizona

Bill Gates just purchased 25,000 acres of land in Arizona to begin construction on a new ‘smart city’ dubbed “Belmont” which is named after one of Gates’ investment firms, Belmont Partners.
He has invested $80m into the 25,000 acre space -- and when it’s complete, it will contain 80,000 residential units and a population of around 182,000 people, one would suspect, mostly nerds.  I think I will apply instantly for the Coca-Cola and Crisps franchise.
This property is just 45 minutes outside of Phoenix, already the fastest growing city in the US with a growth of over 1000 people a week.  On that basis alone it looks like a great investment.

The smart city will be designed to feature high-speed networks, data centers, autonomous cars and vehicles, new manufacturing technologies, congestion minimizing traffic lights and automated logistics hubs. Comparable in square miles and projected population to Tempe, Arizona, Belmont will transform a raw, blank slate into a purpose-built edge city built around a flexible infrastructure model.
The concept of smart cities is something that’s steadily gained pace over the past few years. Last month, Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs struck a deal to turn an area of Toronto into an “internet city,” where 800 acres of land will be equipped with modern technology like self-driving cars, smart street lights, and public Wi-Fi. The project included a $50 million commitment from Sidewalk Labs to install and test the company’s smart city technology. The company is also aiming to transform an additional 16 cities s into tech-friendly “laboratories.”
Gates plans to populate the city with around 3,800 acres of offices, stores, and homes while keeping around 470 acres for public schools.  The city will transform a raw, blank slate into a purpose-built city built with a flexible infrastructure model.
While this plan is ambitious it isn’t exactly new. Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has plans to build a new $500 billion metropolis spanning three countries, and India plans to build 100 other smart cities.
But with the UN predicting that 2.5 billion people will migrate into cities by 2050, they all seem to have the same goals in mind: to bring a new, progressive focus into city living by improving infrastructure for the people who wish to live there

Australia is punching above its weight when it comes to fintech

 Australia has a record ten companies in this year’s Fintech100 report by KPMG and H2 Ventures. Second only to the US. The report is available here:

(Insight by Simeon Duncan from Amcham’s 2017 Innovation Mission)

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Mining Big Data - the worlds most valuable resource

Inspired by the economist - 

A century ago, the precious commodity was oil.... now it is DATA  - the oil of the digital era.

FAGAM, (Facebook,Apple, Goole, Amazon and Microsoft) are the five most valuable listed firms in the world, collectively making $25bn in net profit in the first quarter of 2017. 

Amazon captures half of all dollars spent online in America. Google and Facebook accounted for almost all the revenue growth in digital advertising in America last year.

The giants’ success has benefited consumers. Google’s search engine, Amazon’s one-day delivery and Facebook’s newsfeed - all free (users pay by hanging over data )

Smartphones and the internet, information gleaned from self driving cars and face recognition have made data abundant and ubiquitous. Being able to mine this Data will make this commodity far more valuable. 

Whether you are going for a run (with your fit bit) , watching TV (what you watch is analysed by Netflix) surfing the internet ( data being more motored by Apple and Google) , walking in the road or even just sitting in traffic ( activity being caught by self driving cars (Tesla)  -   virtually every activity creates a digital trace—more raw material for the data distilleries. 

And then there is Equifax , sitting with most of America’s key data, including social security numbers , mortgage details and financial position (which has just been hacked). To say nothing of information collected from various Census data .

It is the data scientists, using artificial-intelligence (AI) and machine learning that will extract relevant information from this data , using algorithms that  can predict patterns that will make this data turn to Gold. 

Who are these people? Where can they be found? 

These algorithms will tell you when a customer is ready to buy, a jet-engine needs servicing or a person is at risk of a disease. 

Industrial giants such as GE and Siemens are looking to reinvent themselves as data firms so that they can compete with the likes of startups such as Data Robotics and Box Inc and Tech giants such as CISCO and FAGAM .

This abundance of data and the ability to mine and analyse it is a game changer.The difference between oil and data ...... data is not scarce! 

By collecting more data, a firm has more scope to improve its products, which attracts more users, and generating even more data.   

FAGAM’s surveillance systems span the entire economy - With there “God’s eye view” of the economy , they can see when a new product or service gains traction, allowing them to copy it or simply buy the upstart before it becomes too great a threat. Facebook’s $22bn purchase in 2014 of WhatsApp, a messaging app with fewer than 60 employees is a case in point . 

And then there is China - with Wechat’s Tencent - who has just taken a big chunk of Snapchat , and with other Chinese companies focussing on self driving cars, China’ answer to Jeff Bezos’s Amazon - Jack Ma’s Alibaba  and Telecommunications such as Hauwei, ZTE and Chinamobile 

Interesting times!