Smart Enterprise: The Next Wave

The Australian tech and startup blog, From Little Things, has an interesting post on Why enterprise startups are the place to be.

It includes some quotes from me on why I see this to be an interesting area:

The next big technology wave looks like it will be an extension of the enterprise software market. Leeb-Du Toit thinks Australia is well placed to be at the forefront of smart enterprise: the development of incredibly fast systems which can process large swathes of data, to drive decisions in real time.

“It will be driven beyond cloud through new computer architectures that can achieve greater man-machine symbiosis with computers doing far more heavy lifting, so that knowledge workers can transform data into action in real time,” he says.

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Top Four Factors Driving Innovation: For Sydney From Jerusalem, via Auckland

Professor Sir Peter Gluckman, the Chief Science Advisor to the New Zealand Prime Minister, gave a talk on Monday, 5th December titled Innovation through science: the pathway to economic prosperity–a conversation with Auckland.

Much of what he has to say about Auckland could very easily be transposed and repeated largely and boldly in capital letters about Sydney.

His talk is about innovation, of the science and knowledge and based variety,  and how it can be used to boost the economy of a particular city or region through the creation of a well-developed ecosystem.

He defines innovation as being about using knowledge, research and experimental data to generate a product or service which has impact, generally by way of producing something to sell.

He points out that there are two myths that need to be overcome when discussing and developing a thorough understanding of innovation.

The first myth is that innovation is achieved by individuals working as backyard inventors. He rightly points out that the bulk of innovation emanates from multidisciplinary interactions. The reason for this is that innovation is first and foremost about doing things differently and as such requires a major shift from reductionist linear thinking. Such shifts mostly take place when disciplinary boundaries are crossed.

He points out that one of the attractions of big science projects is that they can become the nucleus and focal point for disparate disciplines to work together, leading to great new ideas. He uses the World Wide Web and wireless broadband as examples of incredible innovations that came out of such big science projects.

The second myth is that innovation takes place within a linear process moving in an orderly fashion from basic research to applied research to development to sales that is predictable in direction and time and readily divisible into these four categories. He very correctly points out that in science-based innovation, at least half the products that are developed and sold originate in research in an area of activity well away from that that started it.

He points out that science-based innovation requires at least two major components–firstly a sufficiency of ideas flow and secondly an ecosystem that’s allows the market and scientist to get close together. Statistically, he states that the Israelis believe that they need to evaluate at least 100 ideas that are thought to be of value in order to see one that actually justifies investment. As he says, this gives you an idea of the ecosystem we have to build.

And this is where we can start transposing because he points out that the Israelis don’t have any more researchers than New Zealand, just a better linked up system. The same can be said about Australia.

There are, of course, other components required to create a complete innovation ecosystem, as he points out these include access to capital, to professional expertise in capital raising, in IP management, experts in dealing with regulatory affairs and skills in managing an innovation company–as these are markedly different to the skills required to run a property investment company or, equally relevant to the Australian context, a mining, professional services or agricultural company.

He pauses for a moment to reflect on how New Zealand came to be in the position that it is in. He feels that their failure to move as far as other small countries in developing a knowledge economy is  partly a function of their cultural history. Australia has been called the lucky country and he could very well have been speaking directly about this country, as opposed to New Zealand, when he states: we have been a lucky country, able to live off of farming. Of course, in Australia we would add mining to this picture.

He feels that the lack of a sense of crisis and urgency led to an undervaluation of the role of intellectual activity and science, and contrasts this to countries like Israel and Singapore where a real sense of crisis led them to invest heavily in knowledge and science and science-based innovation. They had to use the only natural resource they really had–the combined intellectual horsepower of their well-educated populations.

We do not yet have a sense of acute crisis but things are starting to change. We cannot get rich by carrying on doing what we do now, and yet there are enormous demands for a better social system, for higher wages, for a cleaner environment. Clearly we have to be richer to achieve these things. And what is our unexploited asset–the very asset other small countries have recognised–we have a good education system and we have clever people, we have a stable society, we are corruption free–we are good place from which to make new knowledge, protect it, exploit it and export it. Even if we were in better shape than we are, there is another reason to invest more in the knowledge economy–we need to diversify, since diversified economies are more robust.

Ditto Australia.

He repeatedly used the term ecosystem in his talk. He did this intentionally. In Australia, as in his country, they have a habit of believing in single interventions rather than integrated systemwide approaches.  He notes that in every country that they looked at as a potential comparator and which has done well, that country has both recognised and acted on multiple points across the whole system simultaneously.

This is a point I have repeatedly made about Australia as well. We have had some great programs over the years but these have been provided from the stance of a single intervention strategy rather than viewing the ecosystem as the complex system that it is.

MULTI-LAYERED INNOVATION ECOSYSTEMS

This part of his talk is music to my ears:

Key to all of what I have been saying is a need to have a multi-layered innovation ecosystem. It has many components. It has to have local government committed to promoting, encouraging and if necessary, part-financing an “innovation city”. It needs the development of technology parks clustering academia and entrepreneurs along with support services. It needs institutions–hospitals, universities, technical institutes–to cooperate rather than compete. It needs venture capital. It needs a commitment to work together and to attract the best and brightest to want to live in Auckland (transpose SYDNEY). We cannot leave it all to central government even though their role is critical–the evidence is clear, local government must play a role.

 We have several academic precincts and we need to work out how to integrate and use each to maximal advantage without destroying their individuality.

WHAT WILL DRIVE MORE INNOVATION?

Four things matter, according to the Israeli experts he has spoken to, in driving more innovation. These are education, basic research, a holistic approach and a risk-taking attitude.

He goes on to talk about the Israeli model for incubators that are owned jointly between investors and the local authority or between the local authority and the local university. He points out that this model is based on a high ideas flow, and aggressive culling, high levels of investment and international management and technology input from the start. New ventures are supported with loans, not grants, to encourage entrepreneurial activity – written off if the product does not make it. Auckland has to work as “Auckland Inc.” to attract more risk capital to Auckland. It is uniquely placed to create an environment for this type of innovation.

Again, ditto Sydney.

KEEPING IT LOCAL

Much like Sydney, and the rest of Australia for that matter,  Auckland suffers from a major brain drain. All too often  we/they lose great entrepreneurs and scientists to other parts of the world. Recognizing this he highlights that while it’s one thing to build knowledge-based businesses, it’s quite another to keep them locally. Essential to doing that is to create an environment that keeps the R&D function in our city.

We have to build a city and a country that really values knowledge and science and entrepreneurship. We need technology parks, we need an intertwining of researchers, in the public and private sector, we need a world-class university and a vibrant knowledge-based ecosystem.

Spot on, and ditto Sydney.

The investment needed is partly fiscal, but so much more of it is psychological and motivational. Let us do the things that enable Auckland to brand itself as a city of innovation; a smart city in a smart nation.

Well said, Sir Peter!

At one point Sydney seemed to be heading in the right direction. We had a focus on brand Sydney, but I think we’ve lost the way – let’s focus laser-like on Sydney Inc or we will soon be shown up by our southerly neighbours!

 

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Globalizing Game Mechanics, Foursquare At A Time

At Seggr, we are both huge fans of game mechanics and the way in which Foursquare has embraced  their uncanny ability to tap into our deepest human needs and grow community. As the Foursquare user community explodes globally, so too are we finding that brands are starting to recognize Foursquare as a thought leader in bringing them deeper engagement via the use of funware.

Jennifer Van Grove has captured the essence of the way in which Foursquare is leading the charge in this arena. Her Mashable post is titled 5 Ways Foursquare is Changing the World, and in it she sets out how this location-based service is playing out in the real world.

The five key points that she makes are:

1. Social Media as Currency -  customer loyalty, as she points out, is stuck ina pre-digital plastic quagmire of cards and anachronistic point tallying. However, Forsquare’s check-in model is leading to social media being treated as a currency and we predict a major shake up of loyalty systems.

2.  Gaming social activity -  thanks to Foursquare, Twitters initial “what are you doing” has morphed into “who has the most interesting life“.  Foursquare mandates that you check into physical places, which means that your friends can be notified not only what you are doing, but also where you are doing it. Exponentially,  this maps out into significant benefits for those who participate as well as the economy as a whole and for individual businesses.

3.  Localized brand loyalty –  Jennifer points out that Foursquare is redefining what it means to be a regular:

…mayor-only rewards are cropping up everywhere Foursquare is played (which is now nearly everywhere) and they’re creating customer loyalty battles that are good for regulars and great for businesses…. Foursquare has found a way to make being a regular at your favorite pizza joint mean something tangible.

4. Personalizing place –  businesses are able to engage with their ” socially-active customers” at a much deeper level through services like Foursquare, while also using this engagement as a way to market themselves more widely. As Jennifer points out this two-way street builds community “on a whole new level”. Expect to see a healthy growth curve over the next 18 months in the number of people who can be defined as being socially-active. Consider as a benchmark where we were at in this respect circa mid 2007 and you’ll see how more social, more transparent people have already become.

5.   Verticalized game mechanics –  universities should all see themselves as ” more than classrooms and buildings…(as) an interconnected community of people, ideas and experiences, and (and should) actively (pursue) ways to enhance those connections.”

Jennifer is quoting (above) Perry Hewitt, Harvard University’s Director of Digital Communications. They have pulled a campus-based game based on Foursquare as a way to build connections between students, staff and other members of the broader Harvard community.

It looks like 2010 will be the year that game mechanics  is elevated beyond being seen as purely consumer-based gimmickry.

Novell Pulse: An Instantiation of Google Wave

Novell Pulse

Novell has begun marketing Pulse, an instantiation of Google Wave, with access to enterprise contacts and additional security. It should be available in Q1, ’10.

You can get more commentary over at ReadWriteEnterprise, and TheNextWeb.

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Social business design: Humanizing the company at every turn

Kara Swisher has done a fun interview with Ford’s social go to guy, Scott Monty, in which he does his impersonation of Bill Cosby’s cocaine skit:

Cosby: I said to a guy, “Tell me, what is it about cocaine that makes it so wonderful,” and he said, “Because it intensifies your personality.” I said, “Yes, but what if you’re an asshole?”

Scott’s message is that “social media is the cocaine of the communications industry“. If you have crappy products, if your company behaves like an ahole…people are going to find out about it way quicker through social media. The glass half full stance does point to the same holding true for great products and companies too.

It’s a memorable analogy, but the key take out for me from this interview is Scott’s comment that for Ford, “social media is absolutely key to everything we are doing“.

Take advertising, for example, Ford has moved to using 15 second spots with real people telling their stories. “Advertising is social mediaesque“.

Scott also essentially defined social business design: Its about humanizing the company at every turn, whether in HR, product development, customer service, PR or other areas.

Designing for social business: game mechanics as catalyst

The Deloitte Tribalization of Business Study, which I discussed in my previous post, identified that “the biggest obstacles to creating successful communities are getting people to engage and participate, and getting people to keep coming back.”

I’m a big believer that incorporating game mechanics into the design of social business systems can have a significant catalytic effect.

Making business fun, makes for better business.

Ultimately, if designed right such systems can achieve the required inflection points – critical mass, etc to overcome the obstacles noted in the Deloitte study.

Let’s play a game. I’d like you to watch the following video. While you do think of an analogy and follow a linear narrative.

The stairs at the start of the video represent a business before it’s been optimized for social business: functional, static, requires effort. People grudgingly use them.

The escalators are installed. They’re shiny, they move fast and require little effort. Everyone jumps on board. But after a while they lose their soul, they’re just as boring as the stairs were. No-one smiles.

This represents a business that has had social media tools installed without following a systematic design process. At first it seems awesome that you can have a wiki, “Hey look, I’m talking to my other colleagues in sales”.

“It’s amazing. I set up not just one blog, but one for every day of the week!

The company sees the light. They decide to go back to their core business functions – the stairs – and design them right. They integrate game mechanics into their social business systems.

Everyone loves them. People leave work with a smile on their faces. They don’t mind a bit of effort, because they are loving doing it. The system (stairs) now allow people to express themselves creatively.

The business has got its soul back!