The Next Big Thing
Posts about next generation technologies and their effect on business.

Strategy and abundance?

 

business questions.pngMcKinsey had an interesting article titled: What strategists need: A meeting of the minds. In the article, various strategic thinkers expressed their concerns and views on what will affects corporate strategy efforts.

 

Tthe views on strategic frameworks and goals were enlightening, but it felt to me they were too scarcity focused and not embracing the shift in what is abundant around them. It may be that they view those shifts as tactical in nature, or too simple a foundation for strategy – but I see them as low hanging fruit for organizations to consume. It creates options that can be used to advantage quickly.

 

A point made in the article I’ve seen played out over and over:

“while analysis is very important, developing strategies is ultimately a people-centric process fueled by conversation. Each player brings his or her experiences and biases to the table, and the job of crafting a strategy is to navigate those in a way that is productive. The key is the good questions, and any advice on how to improve questions would be really helpful.”

 

It is often better questions, not better answers that makes the difference in strategic efforts, often those questions can be scarce.

 

Hype fatigue

Recently there has been quite a bit of press about over-hyped technologies. Gartner came out with a list of their top 10 back in August. They also included a discussion of frameworks for these technologies:

  • IoT and operational technologies
  • Mobile Infrastructure
  • Enterprise Mobility Management
  • Analytics
  • Big Data
  • Social
  • Cloud

I actually think a few of those overlap but it’s their article. I was also surprised that security didn’t make the list but maybe they view that security needs to permeate the whole environment. Dr. Dobbs also came out with their own post of Overhyped things. Not a new topic, since I did a post on over-hype back in 2007.

 

Now that we’re into the last quarter of the year, we’re going to start seeing more game-changing technology trend articles. Even the IEEE has their own Top Tech Trends for 2014 article.

 

One thing that concerns me is that so many of these trends are just reworked analysis of those same article from the past. Are there no new trends? Or are we just tired of change and it is easier to just repackage stuff. I’ll have to give this some thought before I do my annual trends to look out for in December for 2015 post.

 

I also wonder if we shouldn’t look at the entire life cycle, not just the hype cycle -- even though there never seems to be extinction in this business.

 

entire lifecycle.png

Service centric innovation – does it require a change in thinking?

 

SaaS.pngI was just in a stimulating discussion with a co-worker preparing to be part of a panel (that ISSIP is hosting) and looking at the question:

“Most product companies are making a shift from product-centric business models to more service-centric business models?  How does this impact your innovation ecosystem and how can entrepreneurs leverage this trend?”

 

This question seems to be based on the foundation that companies that may be product centric don’t understand services. I don’t actually see this as true. Almost all companies get a significant amount of value from service activities and innovation, even if it is just servicing and maintaining their products. The day of throwing the product out the door and checking the transaction complete are over.

 

In fact the whole IoT phenomenon is based on adding services to devices, whether it is your TV now being able to download content or your thermostat managing temperature based on how the environment around it is being used – these are all services – and IoT will have significant implications.

 

Now I do think there is a fundamental question about how much the context and culture of the companies has changed and if a company’s (or IT’s) approach to innovation has shifting. Since almost everyone lives in a consumer-oriented lifestyle, service innovation has been creeping into our thoughts and expectations for a very long time.

 

We have all this talk about digital natives and digital companies maybe that is all misplaced and we should be looking at it from a services impact and futures perspective. It is not that companies are becoming digital – it is that they are being more services oriented and in the process, hunger for greater information and action.

 

The use of experience and an organizational error culture

 

opps.pngI recently came across a blog on the error culture of organizations. It was focused on: when it comes to learning from errors, it is how an organization behaves that is important.

 

“…when errors do occur, they aren’t swept under the rug. Instead, they’re treated as valuable learning opportunities that help companies avoid the repetition of similar mistakes in the future.”

 

With all the new technology around us and new business trends the old adage that “if you are making mistakes you’re not learning” in more relevant than ever.

 

On the other hand, we need to benefit from those previous errors. I see lots of discussions about ITIL and ITSM and their role in helping organizations deliver more reliable services. These are not just academic exercises, the learnings (of the users, operations…) need to be reinvested in improved practices, even in these very dynamic new models.

 

All too often, the new flexible techniques view basic operational approaches as constraining or even unnecessary. It makes me ask people how they will understand the ‘normal’ operations of the system and be able to see a pattern where intervention is needed. One thing is clear, you don’t want to learn how to fire a gun in the middle of a firefight. Similarly, you don’t want to diagnose a system for the first time when it is going (or has gone) down. Experience is needed to help talk people through this process, since it is rarely taught and needs to be felt.

 

AI and the CxO

AI.pngA while back I posted on cognitive computing and its implications on middle management. McKinsey recently put out a post on what may happen when Artificial intelligence meets the C-suite.

 

It doesn’t say that those in CxO roles will be replaced, but:

“As machine learning progresses at a rapid pace, top executives will be called on to create the innovative new organizational forms needed to crowdsource the far-flung human talent that’s coming online around the globe. Those executives will have to emphasize their creative abilities, their leadership skills, and their strategic thinking.”

 

These new structures will be critical, since cognitive computing techniques are not good at creative tasks, so the rewards for creative thinking (wherever they may be found) will increase as the more mundane tasks are automated.

 

The article talks about how difficult it is for people to understand exponential growth – it starts out gradually and then suddenly – it’s here. The interview with Andrew McAfee and Erik Brynjolfsson goes through a number of scenarios (taking place today) and what it might mean for the future of organizational executives and the difficult changes that will be required that will likely be undermined by the bias and selection process that got those leaders to that level.

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About the Author(s)
  • Steve Simske is an HP Fellow and Director in the Printing and Content Delivery Lab in Hewlett-Packard Labs, and is the Director and Chief Technologist for the HP Labs Security Printing and Imaging program.
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