Privacy, sharing 2.0 and synergies that save more than money

The Big Picture

The Big Picture is monthly PESTLE analysis that provides you with an outlook on innovation. Today we look at Legal and Environment. This month articles on Politics and Economics, Society and Technology are also available.

Privacy and sharing, the two antagonisms of Legal2.0

The Internet has thrown us in an virtual environment of virtual freedom, opinion variety and sometimes conflicts. Information and data that can be used either for good or bad purposes. It leaves us with the responsibility of judgement, which is a great, if not the most important one. How do we, as one global community interacting on one global platform, draw the line between good and bad, that is sharing freely and protection our freedom of privacy?

What can we share and how?

Privacy and Sharing

Privacy and Sharing

Sarah Cannon has published an article on HBR where she specifically points at regulation as being a barrier to sharing economy: “However, rather than rolling out the red carpet, city governments have resisted many of these new entrants issuing subpoenas and cease-and-desist orders. Just in the last month, Pennsylvania’s Public Utility Commission issued a cease-and-desist order on Lyft and Uber operations. The companies face fines of $1,000 per day, and 23 drivers face civil and criminal charges. Regulation is often the most significant barrier to future growth for sharing economy firms.” AirBnB and Uber have shown in the recent weeks how difficult it is to develop a sharing economy with regards to local, global, national, regional laws that necessarily affect their business. Raphael Minder from The New York Times reminds the amount of the difficulty for AirBnB to launch in Europe: “In July, the house-sharing start-up received its first fine in Europe, of €30,000, or about $38,500, for violating a 2012 law introduced by the regional government of Catalonia, whose capital is Barcelona, that forbids renting individual rooms for tourism purposes”. Further in his article, he highlights the contrast with cities such as Paris or San Francisco which have enabled AirBnB to operate in their cities and enter local tourism market.

Isn’t it the nerve of the discussion, as Ron Miller asks in his article for Tech Crunch. According to Ron, “The two businesses have obviously hit a nerve though and that’s likely because they’re starting to be more than an irritant to established businesses in each of their industries. Uber has received $1.5B in funding so far on an otherworldly valuation of $17B. Whether that number is right or not is subject to debate, but if you believe one number tossed out there, the total available worldwide taxi/limo market is valued at $100B. That means that Uber is already at 17 percent of that number in terms of its projected valuation. Airbnb meanwhile has raised in the neighborhood of $795M and reportedly has a valuation of around $10B, not quite as hot as Uber, but consider that according to a Fast Company article from earlier this year, the company “boasts 550,000 listings in 192 countries, and will soon surpass the InterContinental Hotels Group and Hilton Worldwide as the world’s largest hotel chain.”

A crowded discussion

Privacy and Sharing

Privacy and Sharing

One way to lower this barrier to market is to proactively go ahead of regulators and have a transparent and clear definition of what a business aims to do, with identified and validated benefits for all stakeholders, as Sarah Cannon suggests. DigitalEurope, a group representing major IT’s in Europe, has followed this advice and went on a meeting with Council of the EU to discuss the reforms needed to protect and reinforce EU data protection law. According to Peter Sayer from Computer World, “The current Data Protection Directive dates back to 1995, and the reform is aimed at reinforcing consumer confidence in online services, updating the rules to take account of new technologies, and potentially saving businesses €2.3 billion (US$2.9 billion) a year through reduced administrative burdens.” Members of DigitalEurope, which include companies such as Apple, HP and SAP, criticise the new proposed laws as being complex (and therefore costly).

These efforts to drive relations prove difficult, but that may be because EU and other regulations have a lot on their plate. As Menno Weij explains for Big Data Startups, in The Netherlands, “governmental plans for SyRI (System Risk Indication) caused some panic, since this system is meant to enable governmental institutions to detect fraud easier by using, amongst others, data mining and profiling.” In the UK, William Thomson explains in Power Admin that “The legal framework regulating the big data business model is based on existing principles of intellectual property, confidentiality, contract and data protection law.” He argues that a better model would be the one as posed by the Association for Computing Machinery Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct: “prohibiting use of computing technology in ways that result in harm to any of the following: users, the general public, employees, and employers. Harmful actions include intentional destruction or modification of files and programs leading to serious loss of resources or unnecessary expenditure of human resources such as the time and effort required to purge systems of “computer viruses.”

A crowded priority list

Privacy and Sharing

Privacy and Sharing

At the same time, Tara Terregino from The Street reminds that “the European Union’s competition authority is opening a formal investigation of Amazon’s European corporate income tax practices”, showing blurring limits of legal and economic difficulties. Other urgencies: Dave Lee from BBC News reports on Internet giants attending EU anti-extremist meeting to discuss the challenges posed by terrorists’ use of the internet and possible responses, internet-related security challenges in the context of wider relations with major companies, and ways of building trust and more transparency. Last but not least, BBC News mentions Europole’s difficulty to track cybercriminals, with the borderless activities and globalised actions required to track international experts, time and efforts needed. “We can still cope but the criminals have more resources and they do not have obstacles. They are driven by greed and profit and they produce malware at a speed that we have difficulties catching up with”, quotes BBC News.


Let the crowd decide

Privacy and Sharing

Privacy and Sharing

Who’s to decide? Jonathan Brandon, from Business Cloud News, mentions a survey from CSA that “suggests increasingly strong support is starting to emerge for harmonising privacy laws towards a universal set of principles as well as facilitating a global consumer bill of rights that builds on themes regarding data sovereignty and other principles set out in the OECD guidelines. Many respondents felt the United Nations could play a pivotal role in fostering some sort of global consumer bill of rights for data privacy”. Should we expect such a political change to happen or should we define a “bill of rights 2.0” ( ourselves, as some already did according to Les Echos?


Synergies that could save more than money

AirBnB and Uber get one thing right: sharing means less costs and greater reach, even though complex difficulties. Same goes for environment. Sharing resources, knowledge, findings and enabling technology to find its right place in overall efforts leads to result. As a proof, the ozone layer is starting to recover, mentions Live Science: “an evaluation, conducted by 282 scientists from 36 countries, credits much of this recovery to international action that phased out the production and use of ozone-depleting chemicals”.

Getting the right picture of climate change

Saving More than Money

Saving More than Money

Scientists need the right tools and data to analyse climate change and recommend actions that can continue lowering our negative impact on environment. In some areas, data inacurracy remains a challenge. As Anne M Starck found out for R&D Magazine, the level of temperature in Southern hemisphere has been underestimated, as the set of data used until now is largely outdated. The underestimation has impact on budget and policies rolled-out to protect oceans. This is the reason why the EU Commission had launched the COMBINE project, in order to provide accurate modelling to better estimate climate change and results are being shared with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The good news is they can count in technology support, but they’ll have to wait a little. As a way to better measure the amount of carbon contained in forests, a Lidar-based satellite from NASA called GEDI (Global Ecosystem Dynamics Investigation) will be ready in 2018, as Michael Franco from CNET reports. GEDI will be able to scan tropical and temperate forests with a bouncing laser technology that has a fine enough scale to estimate carbon content in canopies both horizontally and vertically. This accurate picture will enable to understand how deforestation is devastating environment. Other projects to monitor ocean temperature, clouds and hurricanes are also under development or will be starting soon.

Learning from others

Saving More than Money

Saving More than Money

Sharing also means witnessing change and perhaps bringing our own brick to the wall. Emerging economies, as business strategist and author Navi Radjou explained to Mark Hillsdon from The Guardian, “There is a growing awareness that there needs to be a new model for both producing and consuming that focuses on doing better with less,” he explains. Brazilians call it jeitinho, the Chinese zizhu chuangxin, the Kenyans jua kai. Tellingly, there’s no such word in English. The closest we get is “make do and mend”, which doesn’t quite have the same kick.” Companies like Microsoft and their Digital Green initiative, the MIT and Tata Center for Technology and Design have become involved to deploy new innovation that would learn from and help emerging economies develop “frugal innovation”.

Some argue we critically need to look elsewhere. Clive Hamilton, professor of public ethics at Australia’s Charles Sturt University and a prominent critic of geoengineering, argues in an interview by Olivia Boyd for Innovation Policy that “in a way the greatest risk is human hubris, our penchant for persuading ourselves that we know the answers and we have all the necessary information, we can intervene and take control of the earth. Another nightmare scenario might be one where an attempt by one major power to engineer the globe’s climate system attracts a hostile response from another major power, who doesn’t take kindly to competing for control over their weather and it escalates into a military confrontation.” With the clear need of democratical move to include people in discussions and projects, he hopes “the nascent environmental movement in China would take an interest in geoengineering because I think it’s going to be a dominant political question in China in several years time. I’m sure if China did go down the geoengineering path it would try to present its actions as motivated by the need to protect the interests of vulnerable people across the developing world.” Jenna Nicholas from Stanford Social Innovation Review mentions how foundations also help understand the divest-invest impact needed for sustainable projects. “At the UN during Climate Week late last month, more than 70 foundations in collaboration with individuals, universities, faith-based groups, schools, hospitals and cities from around the world—representing $50 billion—announced that they would divest from fossil fuels and invest in new energy solutions.”, he reports. From his point of view, “To slow climate change, according to a recent Ceres report, we need to close the clean investment gap with a “clean trillion” dollars invested every year, from now through 2050. If all philanthropic institutions deploy a portion of their assets toward renewable and clean tech, and other sustainable options, we can participate in closing that investment gap and help scale industries.”

The positive impact on economies

Saving More than Money

Saving More than Money

Cost efficiency, job growth and research excellence, these are the outcomes for all. Bloomberg quoted the latest report from the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate to explain how “Countries can expand their economies through emissions reductions in cities, land use and energy”. They explain that several countries including the U.K. could save over $3 trillion by investing in better connected cities, restore world’s degraded land to feed 200 million people and raise farmers’ income by $40 billion a year, and phase out $600 billion of fossil fuel subsidies while investing 0.1 percent of GDP in research and development in low carbon technologies. The PlantingSeedsBlog refers to a report that details how “the biobased economy is, in fact, growing and it offers great potential for increased job creation in numerous sectors across the U.S”. After mentioning a new contract with USDA BioPrerred to further investigate the impact of bio-based products on the economy, they explain that “The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) has estimated that U.S.-based jobs for the renewable chemicals sector will rise from approximately 40,000 jobs in 2011, which represents 3%-4% of all chemical sales, to over 237,000 jobs by 2025. This employment level would represent approximately 20% of total chemical sales.” On the energy side, Vincent Champain from Le Monde explains in following article that the Long Term Observatory (Observatoire du Long Terme) is favoring a German-French energy space. They argue that by exchanging sustainable projects (for example sun energy in South of France and wind energy in other German regions), energy would be more cost-efficient.

What about us?

Saving More than Money

Saving More than Money

Put together, all this knowledge could enable us to adapt to climate change. On R&D Mag, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory takes us through the ACME project that involves 8 US national laboratories, academic institutions and private sector into “accelerating our progress towards actionable climate projections to help the nation anticipate, adapt to, and ultimately mitigate the potential risks of global climate change”.

Innovation is also about global food security. Joanna Roberts from the Horizon magazine EU reports on the EU-Funded YIELD project that which uses “groundbreaking applications of modern genomics to stabilise and increase the yield of processing tomato hybrids, which are used to make ketchup and sauces”. She quotes Dr Julia Cooper from the University of Newcastle who explains how “The high yields we now achieve in crop production are beneficial because they’re feeding the world’s growing population but it’s coming with this decline in efficiency. That means that all of the nutrients that the crops aren’t taking up and using to produce yields are causing damage to the environment.’ Dr Cooper said the project’s work is important in working towards global food security.”

Green innovation may just be about living. As Ben Schiller from Fast Co-Exist explains, the health co-benefits of cutting greenhouse gas emissions could save 3,500 American lives a year. He mentions a new paper from researchers at Harvard, Syracuse and Boston universities that explains how Ohio, Texas and Pennsylvania would mostly benefit from deploying emissions reduction measures.


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Posted in The Big Picture

“Big Innovation Now”? A parallel reading exercise

Big Innovation

On the Go is your weekly innovation inspired by elsewhere.


Sometimes “elsewhere” is not very far. Today, it’s just next door. Because of the critical economic, technological, social, cultural and systemic impact of Big Data, it is important to understand what mechanics lay behind, and actually, also beyond. There are free resources to get started with Big Data analytics and tools, the one I’ve chosen to explore is O’Reilly “Big Data Now”, available for download on the iBook Store. After going through a few lines, you can start reading a parallel discourse describing an inspiring world of innovation. Because it’s parallel, it looks very close. At hand. Could it be called… Big Innovation?


What is Big Innovation ?

Big Innovation

Big Innovation

Big Data is the concept of exceeding data from existing infrastructures and systems that need to be analysed in a new way

Big Innovation is innovation that is too complex or too new to be analysed and rolled-out with existing strategies. It requires a new approach. It requires “No-SQL”, Non-Standard. It is Meta-Consumer, Meta-Markets, Meta-Needs led, and it has a language that changes as the world, environment, cultures evolves. It has Meta-Impact. And it requires Meta-Changes.


Big Data requires agility, acceptance of experiments and failures, will and entrepreneurship

Big Innovation requires agility, acceptance of experiments and failures, will and entrepreneurship shared as a team. As much as Big Data requires specific skills and scientist background to be managed and optimised for success, Big Innovation requires new set of capabilities and organisation to spur. Big innovation enables you to take part of the discussion, and it enables you to learn how to take it forward.


« In an agile, exploratory environment, the results of computations will evolve with the detection and extraction of more signals. »

In an agile, exploratory environment, the results of  Big Innovation will evolve with the detection and extractions of more market signals. It enables you to build strategies based on changing needs, it enables you to adapt.


” Big Data is messy because of the high cost of data acquisition and cleaning, it’s worth considering what you actually need to source yourself.”

Big Innovation is messy because of the high costs of transformation, it’s worth considering what you actually need to meet customer needs. It’s worth knowing who you are, what you want and can achieve based on your unique values to market before you create your own Big Innovation.


How does Big Innovation work ?

Big Innovation

Big Innovation

« Data must be broken out of silos in order to be mined, and the organization must learn how to communicate and interpret the results of analysis”

Innovation must be broken out of silos in order to be successful, and organisation must learn how to communicate and execute Big Innovation strategies to market. The skills will encompass statistical analytics and computer science, but also storytelling, vision setting, value communicating down to end-user. There are no big math behind that. It mainly is your heart talking.


« Driven by social, mobile, and cloud technology, there is an important transition taking place, leading us all to the data-enabled world that those companies inhabit today. »

Driven by social, technological and economical changes, there is an important transition taking place, leading us to Big Innovation. How will technology, retail, communication, banking, education, science and markets co-create the future?


« The key trait is to make an organization’s feedback loop entirely digital. That is, a direct connection from sensing and monitoring inputs through to product outputs.  »

The key trait is to share innovation feedback loop instantaneously. A direct connection from sensing and managing customer needs through to product ideas. Instantaneous changes, universal customisation that makes sense.


It obviously isn’t just about Big Data, nor is it just about Big Innovation. These stories are so closely linked, it looks natural and instinctive to mix them. There may be other parallel stories. There may even be a parallel story that is only yours. I encourage you to try and play parallel reading of this book.


Have a nice week end.

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Posted in On the go

We Are Innovation, because we rethink creatively

We Are Innovation

Innovation starts with creativity. Throwing ideas in and learning to select those which go to market. Learning to create the selection path. Learning to teach it to others. Learning to learn. Creativity is boundless, innovation draws its boundaries: technical, financial, market and trends, resources. Creativity helps pushing those boundaries further.


Throwing ideas in

Throw ideas in

Throw ideas in

It goes beyond brainstorming sessions, as Lisa Bodell from Strategy & Business suggests. There are tools and ideas that can take the debate further, what you need is the right skills and people to find the right type of questions, the right type of answers. They are not closed, definitive answers and plans. They participate to the debate on how to best drive to best results, they are part of a whole culture of productivity, as reminds KC EFEANYI from FastCompany. Throw yourself in as well, don’t hold back, engage a culture of innovation as suggests Soren Kaplan in following article: become intentional, give up control, allow yourself to step back, define your own meaning, informally recognize efforts (on top of formally) and talk with symbols. “Those who intentionally curate the innovation symbols of their companies essentially curate their innovation cultures”, the writer says.


Learning to select ideas to go to market

Tell your story

Tell your story

Creativity reflects in your story to market. So make it a good story. It starts with you, your belief, your confidence, as Tim McDonald explains in the Huffington Post: “We can start to become more productive and more creative through embracing ourselves for who we are”. If you are engaged in the strategy you roll out, your teams, your organisation, your customers will hear the full story and validate its sense. Or not. If not, then adapt your story, allow customers and partners in, work together on identifying the gaps. They may just as well be the sweet spot, the opportunity gap that will lead to breakthrough innovation as defined by Nate Hirshberg on Explore B2B. “Companies need to be set up to encourage, recognize, support, and implement great ideas if they want them to succeed in the market”, comments Annabel Kalmar from Business & Strategy.


Learning to create the selection path

Rethink Your Models

Rethink Your Models

Why should we assume all processes are always OK for everything forever and ever? Be honest, a lot can be improved to deliver a better story and product to your customers. After asking questions, re-assess known answers. As Norbert Haenhel from Business Model Innovation explains, rethink your business model by learning from others, competitors, partners, other industries. He suggests for example that you imagine your organisation led by another leader. How would processes, teamwork, organisation be different? Would they be better for you? Robert B Tucker from Innovation Excellence remarks, “winning firms are those that don’t get trapped into conventional wisdom. Their leaders make it job one to challenge assumptions. They take time regularly to rethink”.


Learning to teach it to others

Share your story

Share your story

“To sell your idea to executives, buyers, and users, you have to change not only what they think, but how they think. Without the right mental model, they won’t see the problem, understand the benefits, or make the change” writes Mark Bonchek on HBR Blog. He explains how understanding today’s picture to better answer tomorrow’s need by using transitioning plan can help shift mentalities to they accept change. Once the transition plan is defined, again, pitch the right story, become a “culture maker” and not a “culture breaker” as Mary Marshall explains for Project Eve. Focus on positive, don’t hide negative, but learn to turn downsides into constructive objectives, as Glenn Brooke suggests on ASmithBlog. Let people ask questions and answer them openly, using experience and knowledge sharing, as did Rundall Munroe in following article from The Economist. As a former NASA roboticist, he took on to answer his student’s question, whichever they may be, using his knowledge and the Internet, having fun, transmitting knowledge and fun.


Learning to learn

Learn to relearn

Learn to relearn

You will have to. First because technological changes will go faster, also because market conditions will affect the way we work, finally because your future job may even not exist yet. Contently talks about the “Hyphenates” when describing freelancers that need to learn five jobs at a time to thrive in business. Either we’ll end up all being freelancers, either we’ll need to create new organisations and business models. So “hyphenates” skills will be useful to all. Learning can also be favored by working environment, so people see, talk to each other, or take time to be at home and think in a quiet, familiar space. Greg Lindsay has listed a series of flexible working places that are being used to spur innovation and creativity as well as productivity. The list can be found here. Think of practising your passion, as M. McMillin explains in this article from Rebecca Greenfield. Find inspiration elsewhere and look at problems differently. Learn that even when doing uncreative and boring tasks, you develop your creativity as your spirit will fight to stimulate new ideas after he’s being asked to stand still and repetitive, as suggests David Burkus on HBR.


Many experts align on the idea that creativity can be taught. I’d argue it doesn’t have to be so complicated. Maybe it’s just about giving people the freedom to be and act like who they really are, not just like what we’d expect them to be. If organisations worked this way, no one would ever be surprised by how creative other people are. We’d all be creative. In fact, we all are.

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Posted in Why we are innovation

People Centricity In The Age of Robots

People Centricity in The Age of Robots

The Big Picture is a monthly PESTLE analysis to give you an overview of innovation over last month. Today we look at Society and Technology.

People centricity

People Centricity

People Centricity

Defining who we are and our identity evolves with time. As complex as it may be for individuals, it also proves to be a challenge on a nation wide basis, as the recent events in Hong Kong have shown. This “identity crisis” as Zwen Wang names it for the TIME is different from interest crisis, people cannot be forced or bribed to change who they are. People themselves are defining it. And we should encourage them to do so. As Alan Iny from BCG explains, we need to teach children to test and experience their ideas, learn to go through failures and build sustainable victories, manage doubt and uncertainties. In following article, he explains “the intellectual starting place to create and evaluate multiple scenarios is doubt”. In following article from Forbes, Jordan Shapiro mentions how “Education becomes the structure within which narratives of personal and collective identity are contextualized using the intellectual structures and academic skills that we’ve inherited from preceding generations. But we need to make sure that these tools are also aligned with learning outcomes which prioritize human dignity rather than haste, consumption, and algorithmic metrics”.

This also how we teach them to say “NO” and grow with external feedbacks and remarks that will be seen as constructive building points rather than negative grades. As Dionne Lew mentions on her blog, we need to be “insatiably curious, read constantly including from opposing views, be ready to tolerate discomfort”. Yes, discomfort is also a part of who we are, how we behave, how we make decisions. They arise in tensions and conflicts that can have serious impact on a country level, and they need to be managed on a multi-cultural basis to be better driven.

Why? Because people want to know who they are in the whole wide world. In following article from IESE business school, Carlos Sanchez Runde explains how “in the global context, managers often have to negotiate a delicate balance between following their conscience and following the letter of the law in different countries”. The lack of systematic understanding of cultural values and individual identities too often lead to conflict. The upside is greater value to share together. Follow the example of Ibrahima Sarr, a Senegalese coder, who used his dialect structure to translate Firefox into Fulah, “spoken by 20 million people from Senegal to Nigeria”, as The Economist reports.

After all, our system is calling for change, and we should see this as an opportunity. Dorie Clark from Forbes how “awesome” it is that “job security is dead”, because it provides us with more opportunities to “relearn to learn”, and ask ourselves the right questions. This way, as Mark C Crowley has found out in following article, “traditional beliefs about how best to motivate human beings continue to be the key reason why 70% of the working population is disengaged”. We should instead focus on what they desire as workers, to enable real change in companies, consider fatherhood, diversity and men/women equality, and appreciate difference, as Lynda Gratton from the London Business School remarks.

We should focus on individual needs for another reason: we do not want to go wild. Do we? Several voices are rising to claim the “Capitalism has gone wild”, and they count Julia Kirby from HBR among them. She says that “if we start to think about indicators that society needs, what creates innovation, we can start to spring capitalism out of its excesses”. Alex Nicholls from Saïd Business School is following the same idea, and he claims that “timidity is not the way forward”. From his point of view, we shouldn’t just focus on competition but more on innovation. “Let’s see the social economy re-engage with the ideas, heroes and heroines of its past and set out an alternative vision of society that is values-driven, bottom-up, proud and stroppy” is his conclusive call. With such obvious changes needed, conscious capitalism has emerged as a way to have a better impact on the world. It focuses on cultural values and inspirational leadership to build businesses that care as much for their employees and customers as it does for their impact on the planet, as Susann Cramm from Strategy & Business highlights.


In the Age of Robots

In the Age of Robots

In the Age of Robots

As The Economist points out, annual robot shipments has risen from 50 million in 1992 to 175 million in 2013. Where are they going? Automotive is the first choice, with around 70,000 sales in 2013, followed by Electronics with around 40,000 sales. The vast majority of robots are heading to China, around 35,000 of them. No surprise until then. Here it comes: “for every robot deployed, there’s 3.6 jobs created to install them. As there will be 200 million shipments around the world in 2014, that’s 720 million new jobs” created by robots, for humans. Really? Well, there is a disagreement. When asked, 42% of experts said yes, and 58% said no.

Here’s someone who says yes. In following article, Abel Fernandez argues that when a society makes a technical innovation, which leads to industrial innovation, it has always and will always find a way to improve its own wealth, by creating and innovating in new services and products that could have never existed before. As the writer concludes, we are in the second half of Moore’s law, and from now everything is possible.

For example, decision making might be programmable in the near future. As Michael C Mankins explains for HBR, “Advanced analytic models can incorporate the experience of an organization’s best decision makers, helping to eliminate alternatives that are less viable than others and focusing the evaluation on the most promising courses of action.” This would allow (or force?) enterprises models to change and develop new skills, which in the long term will transform society. Why wouldn’t it be towards a positive future?

As we move the second half of the famous rice chessboard that relates to Moore’s law on exponential growth, computers can now also learn exponentially developed skills. As The Economist explains, “The next phase, many are predicting, will be defined by computers that no longer need to be explicitly programmed but instead learn what it is they need to do by interacting with humans and data”. Experts and scientists are currently developing neuromorphic chips that work by mimicking neurons and synapses in the brain. “Stanford University, Handerberg University, University of Manchester, ETH Zurich lead the field. But companies like IBM and Qualcomm also have very promising neuromorphic chips in R&D”.

Does it mean that computers will be able to think? Hard to say, or more precisely, hard to prove, as Antonio Regalado from the MIT explains. He interviewed M. Koch, chief scientific officer of the Allen Institute for Brain Science in Seattle, on the possibility that computer may eventually become conscious. Koch answers in this analogy: “you can make pretty good weather predictions these days. You can predict the inside of a storm. But it’s never wet inside the computer. You can simulate a black hole in a computer, but space-time will not be bent. Simulating something is not the real thing. Consciousness is always supervening onto the physical. But it takes a particular type of hardware to instantiate it”. As we are still far from understanding where how human intelligence is built from a biological point of view, there is no point in wondering how we could code it.

What if we would? There are slightly more pessimistic approaches developed in cybernetics. One of them is called “singularity”. “In terms of the technological singularity, it is the point where technological advances are happening at such a fast rate that it becomes impossible for contemporary humans to comprehend or understand. Simply put this means that computers will understand the world and its technologies better than humans. At this point we’ll be left behind and the world will become AI-centric”, explains Martin Butters from MarkITWrite Tech. According to him, some scientist fear that machines take control and improve by themselves up to the point they think humans are “redundant”. Maybe because we’ve turned out to actually damage Earth more than we protected it, as the article suggests. That’s of course in the eventuality that machines also learn to judge. Any reason why they couldn’t? Hey, this is Moore’s law.

So now is time to act. As Horizon shared in this article, E.U has granted financial support to projects “developing computer algorithms that harness information to augment human memory”. Jessica Leber, from FastCoExist, explains “IBM scientists announced in a publication in the journal Science last week that it has developed an ultra low-power computer chip, named TrueNorth, that thinks like a human brain, complete with 1 million programmable “neuron” connections”. The Wall Street Journal mentions that according to BCG, “Spending on robots is exploding worldwide and is projected to hit $67 billion a year over the next decade. According to the report, annual spending on robots will reach about $27 billion next year and more than double to nearly $67 billion by 2025.”

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Posted in The Big Picture, Uncategorized

Using memories to develop innovation

On the Go

On the Go is your weekly innovation story inspired from elsewhere


We still don’t know how it works, but we’ve made some good advance. With the development of technology and knowledge sharing, researchers have come to highlight the five types of memories all of us has. Science & Vie, a French magazine, has issued a special issue dedicated to memory. They explain that memories are a combination of five brain areas that print different information which we call back to picture memories. Interactions between neurons and chemical substances reappear in original areas where the initial memory was “printed” the memory. As time and experience changes our perception, we either lose or develop part of this map, to create a new version of the memory. Maybe it fits better with the way we feel or the way we see the world? We don’t know, but we can almost draw pictures of our past in our brain, and the interesting point is all parts are always combined in a very specific way for each memory. Could we do the same with innovation stories?


Working Memory

This is the frontal part of the brain collecting information like the numbers we dial on the phone or indication given by people to find the right path in streets. For innovation, this could be the databases, the numbers, the schemes, the reasoning we learn to get around specific data, the most physical forms of knowledge we know such as colour code (red/amber/green), the formulas we learnt (the 80/20 rule). Everything that can form the sometimes wide library of our content, whether shared on the web or stored in our minds.


Memory of process

That’s the memory of know-how and motricity. Is there know-how and motricity in innovation? Yes there is. The mental queries we use to action cause-effects tools and create a graph, a text, a pie chart, or even just reading content unconsciously understanding each and every word of it… We speak English or French or Spanish, we are scientists, or managers, or students, and the content we read goes through that “innovation grid” of ours, translating information as we learn it.


Perceptive memory

It’s the memory that codes all shapes, colours, objects into our knowledge. This is commonly used by brands to create effective logos and colour codes to communicate with customers, a visual identity. In the innovation analysis world, it’s the patterns we recognise, such as identifying “new” and “old”, identifying “growth” and “decline”, the gut feeling we have when different indicators follow a known logic and we anticipate what’s going to come next.


Semantic memory

It is the set of knowledge that doesn’t reflect lived experiences, such as our name, our address, the name of a movie. We need plenty of it for innovation. It builds our identity as an innovator, our known skills and habits, what we can do, what we can bring, what we can learn. Our biaise. Our individual values for innovation.


Episodic memory

This is the memory of experiences, closely linked to the semantic memory. It can be the birth of a child, our wedding, a birthday. As innovators, it’s our experience, the meetings, the successes, the failures, the presentations, the workshops…

Creating innovation methodologies that align with the way our brain works maybe a good way of democratizing them. Creating our own maps of innovation, the way the brain creates memories maps, can help defining better stories. Better stories have better impact, haven’t they?

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Posted in On the go

The Big Picture: Let there be digital, Uneven risks and Uneven rewards

Politics and Economics

The Big Picture is a monthly PESTLE analysis to give you an overview of innovation environment. Today, we look at politics and economics.


Let there be digital


Politics and Public Institutions

Politics and Public Institutions

Henri Verdier has been nominated Chief Data Officer of France, as reports TechCrunch, as a will to make Open Data a central part of the French Government. He and his team will work with government to handle important and multiple tasks, placing open data as a strategic lever for growth. The Government has opened a $160 million budget to innovate in the public sector “when it makes sense”. Henri Verdier will for sure be of great help to Emmanuel Macron who is about to review the 34 industrial plans France has on the roadmap to streamline and simplify actions. Following article from L’Usine Nouvelle mentions he is ready to spend $3 billion of investments on key projects, including using more digital technologies. This might start new 5P projects in France, a strategy as defined by Boyd Cohen in following article. The Ps stand for Public-Private-Professors-People-Professor partnerships that give smart cities projects a matrix support model where all parties are engaged. Several projects including Amsterdam Smart City show how important it is to include universities in partnerships as a way to create, share and develop innovation.


Uneven risks and uneven rewards


Financial Analysts & Investors

Financial Analysts & Investors

The number of institutional funding sources in EU and US have increased by 85% between 2009-2013, according to TechCrunch. The EU added to over 900 seed-stage deals per year. But the average amount of investment at seed stage has been decreasing in EU between 2010 and 2013, when it has increased in the US, a possible signal of under-capitalization of European companies. As the writer explains, “the reduced time between rounds in Europe unfortunately signals that entrepreneurs are being forced to refocus on fundraising more quickly at the expense of building and scaling a product and the business.” Meantime in the UK, an Office for National Statistics confirms that knowledge intensive industries have driven important job growth between 2012 and 2013, as The Work Foundation explains. Out of 410,000 jobs created between these two years, 360,000 jobs, nearly 90% were in knowledge economy. Scientific and technical group has added 135,000 jobs in the year to 2013. As countries want to spur innovation to sustain (or create) growth, the will need to “focus on innovation through increased investments in high-level skills, science base, research & development, creativity and design.”


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Posted in The Big Picture

We Are Innovation because we have fun

Because we have fun

Here is a guide for innovators wanting to have fun.

Rule 1: You shall be sixteen

Is the expression “sweet sixteen” in correlation with the fact that “we learn the truth at seventeen”? We wonder. In the meantime looking for truth is a inspiring quest for innovation, so let’s be sixteen. Let’s be like Doodle, turning 16 this month as Mashable reminds, full of art and fun, changing every day to commemorate present and past. Let’s also be sixteen like Ciara Judge, Emer Hickey and Sophie Healy-Thow who aim at “combating food crisis” by combining natural nitrogen-fixing bacteria with cereal crop it does not naturally associate with. Let’s also think we can celebrate future.


Rule 2: You shall break some rules

Why would you want a minimalist, sleek and shiny design device that everyone goes after when you can have a mechanical typewriter computer board? This will make you look so romantic. Which relates to rule 3.


Rule 3: You shall be romantic

Oh yes, the world is full of love. At 16. You know, a year before you “learn the truth”. What truth? Well, that world is indeed full of love. Just like the Erasmus programme, a European initiative that has a lengthy experience in supporting students from universities to study a year abroad. According to Le Monde, it gives them a valuable experience, not just for employment, but also because many of them find love abroad. And they make babies. How romantic…


Rule 4: You shall not be Y or X

Let’s not belong to a single generation. Break some rules and get in the middle, that’s where you can actually understand both. Don’t be a single letter, an X or a Y, challenge clichés and become a mixture, a disagreement. Let’s be like Sarah Stankorb, let’s be glad to be Xennials.


Rule 5: You shall bend things to see what happens

This is a dangerous rule.



But it can be fun. Imagine you could wear a device that could bend light. It makes you invisible.


Rule 6: You shall not work all the time

The MEDEF, a French trade union supporting business leaders, has recently advised to reduce the number of bank holidays to support the French economy. Here is Richard Branson’s “NNNNNNee” answer: “you shall have unlimited vacations”. Big vacations, and Big games provided by Big Data. So when you’re back in meetings, you can still hear a bit of music somewhere in your memories and better manage brainstorming sessions. Dream yourself as a comedian-innovator, Explore B2B says it works.


Rule 7: You shall learn from friends and strangers

Who are the strangest strangers? Monsters. They scare you, don’t they? Well they have management lessons for you.

Monsters Management Lessons from Pixar

Monsters Management Lessons from Pixar


Rule 8: You shall make future fun

Yes because fun is useless if unshared. So let’s share fun with the funniest ones, the youngest, and send learn-to-code computer kits, like Kano.


Rule 9: You shall make present fun

And suddenly lights become warmer, filled with colours, bright as the sun. A dancing fire, soft candlelight rising to the air. Times stops its restless race, and the dance begins. A round flight, and you, in the middle, discovering the world again. Smiling. Having fun.


Rule 10: You shall think of past fun

What’s your funniest oldest memory? I remember seeing at a tiny car parked in a slot near our home when I was 6. I told my brother: “Hey, they forgot half of the car!”, and couldn’t stop laughing. I later learnt these were cars for drivers with no license. And then I came across this fully electric car, right here with a license to make us smile.


Innovation is a lot of fun, it has to be. Who wants to do boring innovation? Who wants to buy boring innovation? It’s a bit of an oxymoron, isn’t it. It does not really help when we need change. So go on, have some fun.


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Posted in Why we are innovation

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