New digital upstarts are threatening the bottom lines, growth prospects, and even business models of traditional service providers. It’s time for incumbents to innovate... or be left behind.
Business models that emerge today outline a world of hyper-competition: in the digital economy, it's always possible to find both better and cheaper elsewhere. Now, this tendency is spreading beyond the borders of the Net. How can a company survive in this ruthless world? How can it possibly stand out from others? New trends are emerging, new value proposals that could become the cornerstone of tomorrow's economy.
Yes, it is possible to rationalize the innovation effort, moving on from managing equilibrium to handling a constant imbalance. No, this is no easy matter. It requires that we revise - and fairly extensively - our natural reflexes and current tools, without slipping into fashionable fads. The good news is that research in management has now identified the principles needed to manage innovation. Here are eight of these principles.
In China just like everywhere else, the tertiary sector has long been deemed as an affiliation or an attachment to primary and secondary industries with a certain amount of contribution to employment, but never as a driver of the economy. The game is changing. Industries such as finance and retail are facing a technological reinvention, and great changes are also reshaping HR services.
Uber and Airbnb have undergone regulatory setbacks lately. But as regulators continue to crack the whip, there is little sign they will be able to stem the tide of popularity for these sharing services. Should the very idea of regulation evolve? It should not, at least, exist to protect entrenched industries and shut out competition. But companies like Uber, who have very strong Libertarian streaks, may have to make a move too. Will both sides learn to play together?
Compared to the evolution of the Maker Movement in Western countries, China has already formed a much larger bottom-up ecosystem, manifesting the ultimate goal of the Maker Movement - democratizing innovation. We call it the New Shanzhai, after the Chinese word for copycat. The question is, what will happen when these two worlds meet together?
Communication is at the forefront of a world of weak ties that form and break up uninterruptedly. By showing their ability to respond to instability and paradoxes, specialists may convert a threatening progress into an opportunity to give a full meaning to their activity: integrate the company into a narrative of common good. But communication of the future will have to reinvent itself.
3D printer manufacturing technologies are not new, but what is new is increasing accessibility that follows suit to marketing of small printers at affordable prices. This democratization both fascinates and worries creators and designers as well as decision makers. Often described as the vector for a 3rd industrial revolution, 3D printing, however, does raise questions when it comes to intellectual property rights that the technology may undermine. Certain already existing technical and legal solutions could accompany more extensive use. Nonetheless, there will necessarily be a change in paradigm.
Undercover ops, one of the darker sides of life, occasionally suffers from sudden exposure in the media, witness how the Concorde’s specification blueprints ended up in Russia or when US secret services used massive listening Big Ears (Echelon) to monitor official, supposedly privy phone exchanges. Yet, far from limiting its activities to the covert manoeuvers to access and analyse State secrets, the spy business today has refocused for some time now on industrial targets. The challenges and techniques used evolve constantly. In an open world, where information systems play an increasingly structuring role, the issue of how to protect sensitive data and technologies has now become a priority question.
What would it take for algorithms to take over the C-suite? And what will be senior leaders' most important contributions if they do? The advances of brilliant machines will astound us, but they will transform the lives of senior executives only if managerial advances enable them to. There's still a great deal of work to be done to create data sets worthy of the most intelligent machines and their burgeoning decision-making potential. On top of that, there's a need for senior leaders to let go in ways that run counter to a century of organizational development.
The world market for service robots will represent 25 billion euros in 2015 and could well be 100 billion euros by 2018 and 200 billion in 2023, according to the International Federation of Robotics. If we can assert that this entire high growth sector is emerging, there are, nonetheless, variations to be considered: some robots are close to industrial maturity, while others are still in experimental assessment phases. But the growth trend is now well established. It may not necessarily be spectacular but will affect considerably both developed societies and their economies.
Come year 2030, what will business enterprises look like? Almost every qualified answer points in the same direction, or at least provides a foreseeable trend: if as predicted instability becomes the rule and not the exception, and in a context of an entirely new ecosystem stemming from pervasive digital technologies, business enterprises will have to evolve quite considerably if they wish to remain efficient, sustainable and resilient. What factors come to bear here?
To stay competitive, companies must stop experimenting with digital and commit to transforming themselves into full digital businesses. Here are seven traits that successful digital enterprises share.
Electronic devices have become pervasive in our household equipment, our cars, our communication tools and indeed in almost every object that surrounds us in our private and professional spheres. Not only do they multiply, but they continue to decrease in size, to use less energy and cost less. To assemble such devices, the semi-conductor industries have perfected silicon-based technologies. However, they will soon be approaching the physical limits of solid state physics. To go beyond this barrier, they are already working on new approaches for nanometric level electronics.
Mathematical skills have become strategic for the business world and the most advanced companies hire high level scientists who tackle the underlying, fundamental, theoretical questions. However, this increasingly vital role of the boffins dedicated maths specialists often brings with it new demands and unforeseen responsibilities.
Artificial intelligence (AI) and expert systems are less trendy in 2014 than they were back in 1974 but since that time they have never ceased developing and the processing power of today's computers opens ever wider prospects. In the same way that robots have changed factories, the rapid advent of expert systems has changed numerous skilled office workers' jobs. Some have been transformed, others destroyed. What is at stake is the very existence of our middle-classes, the core of modern economies. But the final word here is not written on the wall yet, inasmuch as the concept of expertise is also changing very rapidly.
In countries that have based their wealth on production, every discovery and innovation that potentially lower production costs attract very strong attention. Since 2007, the discovery and exploitation of shale gas and oil have put the USA energy industry back on the track to competitive procurement faced with competing nations who have been low costs champions for decades. The new question on the table is to ascertain whether 3D printing can have a comparable impact.
Since its humble beginnings in 2002, the London technology scene has become a vibrant centre of innovation and entrepreneurship. With its legacy of international industry and diverse population, London is not only an international economic capital, it is also a jumping point to the rest of Europe, Africa and Asia. As a relatively newcomer to the industry, the London tech scene is still eager to prove itself. Its close-knit community attracts start-ups from all over the world, and as recent news indicates, thousands of entrepreneurs, many from the US, are launching their businesses in the British capital.
A growing segment of the workplace is no longer tied to a single, full-time employer. In the US, as many as 30% of those in today's job market are either self-employed or part-time, and the largest companies report that 30% of their procurement dollars are spent on contingent or fractional workers. While raising concerns, the forces reshaping the nature of work can result in more productive, happier, and sustainable lives.
Further fueling the ongoing debate over the future of the news media and independent journalism, eBay founder and billionaire Pierre Omidyar last month committed $250 million to a news site co-founded by journalist and author Glenn Greenwald. Omidyar’s investment followed the announcement over the summer that Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos had purchased The Washington Post, also a $250 million investment. The late Steve Jobs’s wife, Lauren Powell, and 29-year-old Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes are also pouring money into old and new media ventures. Could this new band of news media owners shape a technology-led business model that will be profitable and protect the integrity of impartial, ideology-free journalism? Ultimately the ball will rest with the consumer.