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.

Bengate

Bendgate

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

More Data, More Problems. More Solutions?

More Data More Problems More Solutions

With the rise of new usage and the arrival of IoT, security services need to evolve smartly, that is with the pace companie are taking to secure data in the cloud. While this may look a very complex challenge, software developers and security services providers have sensed the opportunity. As in all good gangster story, in the end, the customers win. There’s a whole transformation to go, first. But remember, “cloud” is “more”. In all kinds of sense.

 

Threats are growing with usage

It’s not just the cloud, it’s also people, behaviour, usage. Of course the intensive use of networks is leading to opening new doors for hackers to reach sensitive data. But they’re not the only risk as today everyone carries data with them (and we just made these data wearables). Just as innovation and technologies have become close friends of our daily lives, security tools and services want to do the same. Too intrusive? You draw the limit. Having multiple devices containing sensitive information goes with risks. This article from Explore B2B have been published more than a year ago, but even though technologies grew greatly since then, comments are still valid. They are even more valid now that the Internet Of Things starts to generate even more data-based usage, for end-users and enterprises. This is why Gartner calls for CISO to create an infrastructure flexible enough to support Internet-Connect objects. Forbes remind in following article that “The problem is compounded because mobile operating systems tend not to be updated in the same way as other computing platforms. It’s not as bad as industrial control systems, but almost.”This is a volume based question leading to flexibility. But it’s not the only one.

 

Threats are getting more complex

As well as technology again, cyber-attacks whether from the inside or the outside have developed new tools to threat us. Cloud has given technology a wide space to develop innovation, and this is also turning in hacker’s favor. If we don’t invest enough time and efforts to anticipate their attacks, we let them win the race. As IBM warns, “Approximately one in 500 PCs around the world is infected by banking malware. Using these networks of compromised PCs means that professional cyber criminals do not need to run “spear-phishing” campaigns in order to acquire login credentials for organisations that they are targeting.” The banking trojan malware has evolved over years and are now able to look for more user credentials. The rise of data also marks the rise of “dark data”, which is unlabelled data leaving companies at threat for security, reputation, opportunity costs, intelligence, legal and regulatory level. If data inventory isn’t properly done, together with ubiquitous encryption and retention policies, there is a risk internal data can convey more internal or external threats to security, as NetworkWorld explains. Learning to manage dark data can also lead to creating better information systems and security systems, and that’s the dynamic and learning attitude just needed to anticipate more threats.

 

A well identified opportunity

With the rise of network and applications that enable flexible use of data, providers have started to develop new flexible security tools, and these are clearly going mainstream. First because last year, Gartner already predicted that the Cyber Security Market would weigh $3.1 billion in 2015. Back at that time (cloud was only just taking off), (are is it still just taking off?), “A survey conducted by IDG Enterprise for Cloud Research 2013 shows that 49 percent of executive-level managers are still skeptical to move on to the cloud due to various reasons, the top 3 reasons being Security, Losing Control and Data Protection”, as explained in this article. So providers focused on top priorities for their customers. They developed flexible, scalable, dynamic cloud-enabled security services to enable top companies to move safely their data to the cloud (which they own as well, of course). The Security-As-A-Service era has begun, and providers are all very serious about it. First, because they have to. As ExploreB2B explains, security creates major concerns and myths which as a result prevents the cloud to properly develop, as some companies are still scared to lose control over security. Truth is, they might have even more control. Truth is, they might even have more security. They’re working with experts, aren’t they?

 

Transferring security expertise to the cloud

In the following video, Accenture explains how they answer flexibility, scalability and dynamism with intelligent cloud security platforms that adapt to all.

As they comment in this other article, “This kind of agility is more valuable than ever, given the rapid evolution of financial crime and the ever-increasing stringency of regulatory requirements.” Also, as Cisco points out, many companies still live with legacy-based infrastructure and security applications, certainly because migrating to new platforms and creating new security policies takes time and costs, as any transformation. So they in turn focus on “providing multi-layered protection with full visibility, contextual awareness, and dynamic controls to automatically assess threats, correlate intelligence, and optimize defenses to protect all networks against a comprehensive range of attacks”.

 

Creating More Solutions

And it’s not just Cisco and Accenture. Many providers are working to develop Next Generation Firewalls which have application awareness and deep packet inspection features that are needed to secure IoT type of new ecosystems. “By implementing clear, sound policies, using management platforms to manage employee devices and having a NGFW an organisation get the balance right between locking down systems and making employees miserable and unproductive, and allowing them to do their job using the latest tools without compromising the network.” The appeal of security needs also reached companies like CyberArk who is developing security applications for different layers of customers’ platforms so they can secure data more efficiently, as The Street reports.

 

Security has been a major concern for providers for years, and they are dedicating resources and knowledge to work on it, as Explore B2B mentions. In this other article, experts explains that basic safety procedures, such as checking terms and agreements with customers, reviewing security procedures of companies, talking directly with employees and encrypting files remain highly recommended in this new wave of opportunities brought by cloud security services. On top of this, dynamic and intelligent analytics over security data which is enabled by cloud will help security services to serve customers interest. Because usage will continue to evolve, data to raise, and security threats with them, as NFC  and mobile payment spread shows.

 

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Posted in Market Roadmap

Questioning innovation

Questioning innovation
Questioning innovation

Questioning innovation

As a mother of a 2-year-old little daughter, I have to answer very basic questions about every 5-10 minutes, challenging and developing my personal ability to give quick and understandable answers to a lovely face who wants to know. “What this?” “What that?”, and I can already sense the Whys and Hows coming along in the next few months… I thought I’d get prepared to answer her future questions and try and answer it simply.

 

What is innovation?

Sometimes people create things and discover there’s a better way to create or better things to create. Innovation is when you decide to go “better”.

 

What does better mean?

Well, it depends who you’re talking about. Some will find “better” in “more money”, others in “more comfort”, others in “more time”, others in “more equality”, “more peace”… It simply means you realise something is missing and you want to create it.

 

Can we make a better world with innovation?

As said, it depends what you want to do with innovation and what “better” world means. Creating a single definition of “better world” that suits everyone on earth would actually be a innovation in itself, and I’m sure a lot of people are working on it. I actually try to work on it myself so you can be proud of your mum one day and maybe follow me creating a better world.

 

Can children be innovative as well?

I think children innovate every day, like when you learn how to walk and then run and then jump, you improve your own movements that get you where you want to go (and grab chocolate on the table, for example). I think adults should go back to being child and learning the importance of what they know, what they don’t know, so they can change their way of being, living, and relearn basic values like sharing and caring for others that we tend to forget when… we think “better world” means “more money for me”.

 

So I am innovation as well?

Yes, we are all innovation. But you’re by far my favorite one.

 

On that funny note, I’ll go and paint my daughter’s future room, and will get her back home to answer her oh so many questions. I love that job.


Have a nice week-end!

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All eyes on them: the Chinese kaleidoscope

The Chinese Kaleidoscope

InnoMetrics puts all innovation numbers in one page

Alibaba IPO and the World Economic Forum holding World Champion Meeting 2014 in China made all Western eye suddenly turning to the East. There’s a lot to expect from this promising horizon, but one needs to look with careful eyes. Providing in-depth analysis and contrasted view on China’s markets and economy, experts have built a lively game of lights and shadows that reflect Beijing’s upcoming growth and myriad challenges in such a widespread country. WAI is delighted to take you through this Chinese kaleidoscope.

The shiny promises ahead…

The shiny promises ahead

The shiny promises ahead

Enthusiasm: Indeed. We’ll start with an example. In this article from Les Echos: Didier Saint Georges, a member of Carmignac Investment Committee comments on the RFQII license that his company has recently been granted by the Chinese government. He is affirmative: China is in charge, and dealing “quite good” with the economic growth the country is seeing. From his point of view, the level of growth (which most developed economies can hardly challenge at the moment) still enables the government to roll-out social and economical reforms undertaken. Results are already here: investment are made faster and easier with the new license Carmignac obtained together with BNP Paribas. On following report, Deloitte also noticed that almost half of the GDP increase was due to fixed asset management which grew by 17.3%, as a positive sign of government attempts to spur investments.

More business: And yes, progress is being made. As Deloitte points out, China GDP per capita (PPP) in 2010 was $577 and has grow in 2013 to $9,214. Poverty in 1980 (% of population with daily income below $2) stood at 98% and decreased to 27% in 2009. Those numbers have turned China into the second largest global economy, “thoroughly enmeshed in global trade, logistics, investments and production streams”. This is for history and now. For tomorrow, L’Usine Nouvelle says that in a new report published by Norton Rose Fulblright on transports sector, 30% of interviewees see China as the biggest opportunity in 2014, (against 40% in 2010), with construction market specifically focused on China. Beijing, according to Les Echos, has also signed 34 contracts with Bamako to roll out infrastructures (mainly railways) in Mali. Furthermore, China overseas buying by private firms have reached a record high of $23bn last year, as reported The Wall Street Journal. Among them, SmithFieldFood, bought by ShuangHui International Holdings for $4.87bn, Motorola Mobility Holdings bought by Lenovo Groups, $2.94bn, as well as IBM server x86 business by Lenovo again for $2.31bn.

Continued attraction: Foreign investments keep coming in. According to Reuters China attracts new U.S. tech firms despite tight control of Internet, even firm reportedly know for being pro-freedom. It is the case of CloudFare who aims at entering the Chinese market by 2015 and is looking for a Chinese partner. China is Cloudfare’s secong largest market by user traffic. They follow unsuccessful firms like Yahoo, eBay, Google and Facebook to enter the largest internet market by population. A managing director at Accenture says “you have to play a slightly long game if you are a multinational company in China”.

Giant Alibaba: Concerning Alibaba, China deploys the strength of numbers. Jack Ma, Alibaba’s CEO, indicated in a recent report that he wanted to spread his business aggressively in the US and in Europe , with sales that increased by 46% in the second quarter to $2.54bn, and net income tripled to $1.99bn from previous year, as Forbes mentions. In mobile, where Alibaba shows growth despite fierce competition from Tencent, revenues reached $400 million for the quarter, up from $190 million the previous quarter. So Jack Ma went on to launch “the biggest flotation of all times”, as writes The Telegraph on September 22nd. So far, the NYSE has raised $40.5bn for the U.S., and Alibaba might add more than half of this total. A superlative shortage has shaken commentators in the press, so just like Mr Ma, they’ve let numbers talk. $25bn raised by Alibaba, “a record smashing IPO”, comments The Telegraph. It’s only just a start, the online shopping market in China has grown from 74bn in 2010 to 295bn in 2013, and is likely to grow up to 713bn in 2017. And the results are here, as mentions The New York Times: American investors, politicians and consumers are paying great attention to the Chinese giant, and might consider Alibaba’s IPO as a way to buy into the growth of Chinese middle class and markets. The Street says “the pipeline of companies set to list on the NYSE in the coming months is robust, and securing a deal of this magnitude stands to help the exchange as it pitches listings to additional companies in the future”.

Global economy impact: WEF goes further: “the balance of power in the technology world is shifting from the US towards China, the stock-market launch of Alibaba offers irrefutable evidence”. With this IPO, Alibaba is about to become “the world’s fifth-most-valuable TMT (Technology, Media and Telecom) company behind Apple ($614 billion), Google ($387 billion), Microsoft ($382 billion) and China Mobile ($259 billion)”. WEF has analysed that “the top fifty TMT companies, after Alibaba’s IPO, will have a combined market value of about $6.1 trillion”. The shift of power also uses numbers to speak: “Thirty years ago US companies accounted for the vast majority of this number. Today the US share has fallen to about 66%. The Chinese share has climbed to 10%”. China has imposed 15 of the world’s 50 most valuable internet companies. The author concludes: “It will be far easier for them to expand in the US – organically and through acquisition or investments – than for their American counterparts to do the same in China”.

 

… Are hiding behind a few clouds

Hiding behind clouds

Hiding behind clouds

Debt and growth deceleration: As Les Echos explains, foreign investors still invest in China but they tend to do so in a lesser aggressive way than previous years. While it might not be worrying for now, the looming risk of debt is putting pressure on the economy, and anything can become worrying in our connected economies. Deloitte raises questions about government spending policy in the long-term and its impact on debt. They noted that “the stimulus has also impacted expansion of credit which is a risk exposure.” Oxford Economists forecasts growth rate to be as low as 6.6% per year 2015-2018, far below 10% when China entered WTO in 2010. The economy has been partly slowed down by government in order to retain social and financial crisis. Beijing has launched several antitrust investigations that might damage relationships with key partners, as Les Echos reports.

The bubble threat: Deloitte also points at the over-supply of housing which “leaves the sector exposed to a potential house-price crash, with repercussions for the wider financial system, households and the public sector”. They found that trust loans and loan products offered by non-bank financial sector have grown by more than 70% over the past three years, bringing credit to GDP ratio at more than 200%, with a rising level of non-performing loans (+$4.7bn as reported by Bloomberg in February).  Output prices are slowing growth (6.9% compared to 8.8% expected by OGJ)  and producer price inflation as remained negative since 2012. Debt has swelled to $3 trillion due to the shutdown of excess capacities in industry. Builders are under pressure to sell excess inventory, which tends to decrease price. China currently has more than 4 years of housing supply under construction.

Demographic challenge: “As demographic dynamics puts pressure on wages, it will be difficult for China to sustain its low charges policy to compete against lesser-developed economies such as textile and leather goods”, analyses Deloitte. China manufacturing unit labor cost vs. US has tripled since 2000. China’s population is ageing quickly but not getting richer at the same pace (old aged dependency rate in 2030 forecasted at 28%), creating a burden to provide healthcare services to families that only have one child (labor population ration in 2030 forecasted at 21%). Although the government has recognised the need to move from investment led to consumption led economy, consumption is not moving fast enough to offset slowdown in investments. China remains a relatively poor country with 1.3bn inhabitants, with income disparities that have grown with urbanization and wholesale privatisation of real-estate. Deloitte points out that “the working age population is starting to plateau, and will decline in the foreseeable future”. At the same time, productivity of working capital is continuing to decline and nation’s debt to GDP continues to climb.

Remaining local hurdles: The different urban areas and provinces also have their own rules and specificities, making it difficult for foreign manufacturers and investors to act locally without local partners. In the automobiles industry, Strategy & Business explains how foreigners have to JV with Chinese manufacturers and launch a Chinese brand to address the market. Due to pollution and congestion, local governments create their own rules, assuring short term impact for local automakers first, and not foreign companies.

Governance and volatility questions: Alibaba’s IPO is also launched a few shadows. First, history. As The Telegraph explains, “share in the four of the five largest companies to list on US exchanges, with the exception of Visa, fell considerably in the year after floating”. For example, GM share lost -38% a year after launch, FaceBook lost -31% over similar period. What’s more worrying is that for internet stocks, shares tend to fall just after few days of trading (Zynga -70% after 180 days of trading, FB -25%). As TIME mentions, “their best days as innovators and creators tend to be before they go public, rather than after”. The reason for that being that quarterly reported financials focused on short term doesn’t help to create long term strategies. TIME also mentions the fact that Alibaba will lack other index funds to “hold all stocks in their perspective benchmarks”, such as Nasdaq 100. Also, the NY Times also reminds that the shares bought won’t provide substantial impact on company’s governance. That’s because the Chinese government restricts foreign ownership of key strategic assets. Alibaba is seen as “a big player in what is still a developing marketplace in China for online sales. Alibaba has to figure out the nuances of American consumers and tastes before it can even try to conquer this market. Alibaba’s goal at this point is limited to (…) establishing a foothold in the U.S. so it can start selling more American-made goods to its Chinese customers”. Alibaba’s foreign success will ultimately be reserved to Alibaba’s Chinese Board, and limited for insiders. The article explains that  the central board will have the exclusive authority to nominate candidates so that its chosen directors always have a majority of board seats. “With an absolute lock on control and a limited fraction of the equity capital, the Alibaba insiders will have substantial incentives to divert value from Alibaba to other entities in which they own a substantial percentage of the equity”. The conclusive comment is clear enough: “Alibaba’s structure does not provide adequate protections to public investors.”

Inflexion point: Gary Coleman, Managing Director of Global Industries at Deloitte, explained to CNBC Africa China needs to shift investments towards global growing sectors such as IT software, Marketing and Logistics. Implementing reforms takes time, effort and investments. Among them, education is seen as a priority, as “by 2025 there will be 40mn job openings that the labor pool is simply unable to supply because the skillset of the unemployed don’t match the skillset that are required”. He proposes that China government and private sector work together to define skill set needed and build a curriculum, before he mentions transparency as another reform to encourage. The Economist warning for developing economies might be relevant here: “Slower growth will mean fractured political coalitions and geopolitical tension. Disappointment among the citizenry will create strong incentive to politicians to identify scapegoats of the usual sort: ethnic minorities and foreigners. It is in everyone’s interest to manage this downturn sensibly and cooperatively; governments should be working together to secure financial stability and find new ways to expand trade. But just at this moment, flipping through the daily headlines, sense is not necessarily in great supply”.

 

Blowing clouds away

Blowing clouds away

Blowing clouds away

Targeted public investment:  The government is targeting investments in SMEs and social housing, as reports Les Echos. The People’s Bank of China (PBC, the central bank) will inject US$81.4bn into the country’s top five banks via standard lending facility (SLF, source: The Economist)). The objective is two-fold: reduce borrowing costs by easing interbank market conditions, but also confirm China government is in charge.

Emerging local strategies: The Economist argues that China has already developed very localised innovation strategies and capabilities, which is a crucial point to understand the country’s attractiveness and risks. They have their own innovation style, sometimes launching more than 100 products per quarter and generate customer feedback. They are also creative when it comes to create a whole ecosystem from scracth, like Hi Di lao, a hotpot restaurant chains which struggled for recruiting and retaining, who now offers education and trips abroad for employees and their children. The innovation centre established by Pepsico in Shanghai in 2012 has been granted authorization to increase number of product testing.

Developing new opportunities: To support these trends, China total households income is set to triple between 2012 and 2030, as explains WEF. Hence the idea of using existing examples of eco-city, eco-parks and advanced industrial symbiosis practices, to develop a circular economy where “refurbished products could be sold in parallel to new products without noticeable cannibalization, and could even potentially dampen the extent of the counterfeit market in China.”  Deloitte’s survey shows 77% of manufacturers agree that building smart manufacturing capabilities is important in the near future, 49% have not yet started. 88% expect more from the government to sustain innovation. 45% of respondents think R&D spending is a priority.

Focus on education: As Deloitte report shows, China is also giving birth to highly talented scientists, who develop their own innovation style and entrepreneurship, although “central planning could stymie innovation and market opening reforms may be required”. China today accounts for the second largest R&D spending in the world (15% of global spending), which exceeds R&D spending of each nation of the EU (20% of global spending as a whole). With such a huge population, the country provides the largest supply of graduates with degrees in science and engineering (1.1mn vs. 200k in the US). Le Monde shares results of HSBC report showing that 80% of Chinese parents are ready to pay for their children’s to study, against 36% for France, 75% for US, 77% for Brazil. 78% of Chinese parents are saving money for college/university studies of their children, 73% UK, 67% Brazil. The rapid growth of middle class generates new needs for innovation, mobile internet gaming and chat. There are even business friendly regional clusters to help create new type of start-ups.

Learning adaptation: There are enterprise stories that relate how Chinese companies have adapted to globalisation. One of them is Lenovo, as reported by Strategy & Business. As an offshoot of a Chinese government research institute, the company lacked leaders who “had operated outside Chinese-speaking Asia”. Yet they had to face challenging cultural differences when dealing with executives from IBM, “a sophisticated multinational active in 160 markets”. As the article explains, “Gina Qiao, who was a member of the Lenovo team representing human resources, recalls that she was completely baffled by IBM’s compensation and pension system. Nothing like it existed in China”. Management style of two cultures had to find a way to work together, with behaviours like challenging authority that were simply inexistant in China. Another example is one of Lenovo’s CEO complaint about the company’s “yes, yes, yes” culture when stepping down after global financial struggles that also hit Lenovo. Chinese had to learn the capabilities needed within a multinational company. “They came to the United States ready to learn and absorb expertise,” and they learnt.

 

 

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Posted in InnoMetrics

Travelling, Body and Soul

On The Go

WAI “On The Go” is your Friday innovation story inspired from elsewhere.

 

I recently came across a beautiful article about Yoga from the monthly printed version of Books magazine (in France). In this translated version of her article, Rebecca Mead takes us through times and landscapes of Yoga, this oriental practise that has become so trendy in the Western world. In her intent to contrast the physical and mental exercises that ancestral yoga traditions have carried for centuries in the poorest part of India and the new business generated nowadays in the U.S., now supported by stars living in the rich world, she takes us through colourful cultural variations that have inspired this article, showing yoga and innovation have some unexpected links.

 

Yoga is not just for the body, it’s also for the spirit

Innovation is not only for strategy, it’s also for organisation. It requires a good grasp of transformation, and the use of this word is not accidental. Transforming means knowing your base shape and taking it to a more suitable one that enables you to get through what you have to get through. Transforming means you can “see” the changes, you can sense them, you can live them. Transforming means you know what the end shape is and all of your organisation follows. Innovation is not only a strategy, it is also a mindset.

 

Yoga has different levels which lead to different benefits

Innovation spread differently in groups and organisations lead to different results. If only at start, then don’t expect massive changes. Innovation takes time to learn, create, sustain. If it is a core part of your strategy, innovation should generate higher benefits and more flexible processes. If it is both an engine and a commitment towards your customers and partners, innovation is opening new ways of working, new business models, new markets where you navigate with ease (at least more easily than if you are only starting innovating).

 

Yoga is perceived as a “fashionable” spiritual activity

Innovation is often (too often) treated as a necessary business bullet point that needs to show up every two slides of a presentation. This is the “SEO effect” you do not want to find in your strategy, meaning you speak innovation hence you think you make innovation. Are you employees saying they like change? Are you considering markets as numbers or as a group of evolutive individuals with different goals and cultural background that you want to learn from? Are you partnering for financial reasons or for a more “globalised” value to be shared with others? Innovation is no fashion. It is supposed to start individually and spread differently according to a group needs and objectives, then carry changing and challenging habits so we get used to adapting them, along with our values.

 

Yoga ultimately leads to a state of extreme connection with nature

Innovation ultimately makes you see how you have to behave and change according to the entire environment you live in, opening strategies to uncertainty, creating flexible plans and tools that navigate from the known to the unknown. It is enabled by diversity, co-creation, co-development, teamwork, inspiration from elsewhere. It leads to connecting organisation with the world they serve.

 

As well as yoga, innovation requires confidence and beliefs, intangible work that happens in individual minds and tangible changes that show in team work. A practise that has survived several millenniums and is still giving birth to businesses today certainly has a lot to teach us. With an open-minded reading and such a great insight on this very particular world, it certainly does. I encourage you to read Rebecca Mead’s article in The New-Yorker, August 15th 2000 issue for the English version, Books n°57, September issue for the French translation.

 

 

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Posted in On the go

Innovation voices, who says what?

InnoTrends

Innovation is being defined at all time by anyone on any point of this globe. The very singularity of innovation is that it is a concept which is always under construction and challenges status quo to build a path to improvement. It can concern products, processes, practices. It drives investments, brand value, shareholders benefits. It creates jobs, transforms economy, links societies together. It encourages knowledge sharing, overseas meetings, unlimited creativity with the power of collaboration and open innovation. Voices and points of view differ invariably, but divergence and diversity are good: they provide different stand points and methodologies to understand a picture in multiple dimensions. WAI has been looking at many facets of today’s innovation voice. Here is what it sounds like through a high level segmentation of online innovation information providers.

 

Financial analysts & Investors:

Financial Analysts & Investors

Financial Analysts & Investors

What they do: They measure innovation through a series of business indicators which measure markets reaction to innovation strategies. They also comment on organisational efficiency, leadership styles and sales results. They obviously help understand companies’ financial health from short to longer terms. Many of them will also comment trends with economic background and company history, which adds another dimension to innovation analysis.

What they provide: they help building an economic context to innovation.

 

Customers & Influencers:

Customers and Influencers

Customers and Influencers

What they do: They provide a tangible view of innovation results, verifying at the end of the value chain the direct impact of innovation on sales and brand image. Although under marketing, cultural, social and psychological influence, a customer will validate the end-to-end and global efficiency of innovation and provide feedback. Influencers are early adopters commenting and reviewing products to go through a technical validation of innovation. They help understand the importance of innovation, often highlighting competition and portfolio strategies.

What they provide: They bring a clearer evaluation of innovation.

 

Companies

Companies

Companies

What they say: They develop innovation strategies, processes, products, and face them all with the reality of the market. They are a living example of organisation that fail and succeed in implementing change, and drive markets in an ever changing world: new entrants, increasing competition and cost pressure. They show how we can embrace business challenges by rolling-out sets of solutions which are increasingly developed with customers, third parties, creating new business models. Companies are key trends setters in innovation by testing to markets strategies inspired and influenced both by markets and value chain stake holders.

What they provide: Companies provide innovation stories with an end to end point of view, as for marketing and financial reasons they are engaged and transparent in their objectives.

 

C-Level & Leaders

C-Level and Leaders

C-Level and Leaders

What they say: They provide a more personal approach to business innovation, as when interviewed they tend to correlate their business experience with personal experience and personal drives. They also help voicing their company’s objectives in light of specific events and challenges, for example when launching a new product or announcing new partnerships and acquisitions. C-Level leaders showcase the innovation attitude of their companies, as another way to convince partners, customers and investors that their innovation strategy will reach its objectives.

What they provide: they help shaping the innovation story of their companies by embodying it in the face of experts, markets, competitors. They streamline strategic goals and confront them with reality.

 

Innovation Experts

Innovation Experts

Innovation Experts

What they say: they explain and define innovation methodologies, tools and techniques that shape today’s and tomorrow’s innovation, looking at all of past, current and upcoming events, innovation stories, and personal expertise. They have their own views and style, and seek to inspire all other innovation voices with practical, sociological or even business aspect of their knowledge.

What they provide: They bring a personal voice and touch to innovation, with stories that have enough background and knowledge to justify their enthusiasm. They help shaping the innovation message by linking different horizons and approaches into their leadership thoughts.

 

Schools & Institutes

Schools and Institutes

Schools and Institutes

What they say: many top leading business schools and strategies teach innovation as to future engineers, business men and women, future builders of this world. Over time they have developed different approaches to common goals, and offer a deep understanding into their researches and key findings. Their scholar approach provides an end-to-end view of theories and practices, which helps understanding innovation on a timeline dimensions. The close links between innovation, anthropology, economics, computer engineering, politics and many other education and upper research topics that an endless information is available on how to best drive innovation to global success (instead of individual ones).

What they provide: they help formatting innovation in a shape that is understandable, practical, meaningful and appealing to learn more.

 

Research & Consulting firms

Research and Consulting Firms

Research and Consulting Firms

What they say: through their on-going work for and with customers, research and consulting firms help shaping innovation through real-life case studies and in-depth analysis on innovation market and strategies. They provide comments using their detailed knowledge database and expert analysis to understand the background of a specific innovation trend, describe what should be done to roll-out strategies in line with existing infrastructures and organisations, and give a precise view of results they have helped develop.

What they provide: they help understand innovation from the inside with an external loop on key trends and strategies. They also provide valuable data and forecasts to support their analysis and have a direct influence on customers’ strategies and organisations, hence a direct impact on innovation.

 

Press & Medias

Press and Medias

Press and Medias

What they say: through their highlights of political, economics, strategic and business events, they help understand the direct and indirect drivers for innovation today. They link together all of the business issues that can explain a trend and provide expert comments on specific strategies. They also are the main media companies, experts, C-Level leaders and all innovation stakeholders would use to showcase and understand innovation strategies. Because they are many and have dedicated area of expertise, they help shaping innovation through different points of view with the necessary step-back to have a wider picture of what’s happening on a global basis.

What they bring: they help shaping complete stories around innovation, from its infancy in companies’ ideas, to roll-out through comments on key activities, and even results when reporting regularly insights and figures as shared by stakeholders.

 

Science & Technology experts

Science and Technology Experts

Science and Technology Experts

What they say: they are at the heart of innovation, and share with us the key advances they make and how it’s going to impact us in the future. They have very specific areas of expertise which they develop in-depth and have a direct impact on the whole innovation value-chain. They make breakthrough discoveries which show how innovation is running on the scientific and technological sides. They help us understand what will be future trends, future usage, what the world will look like tomorrow if we support their discoveries.

What they provide: scientists and technology experts give a pragmatic view of what can be done today and tomorrow, creating and showcasing a wide range of advances they develop through their dedicated work. They are the ones who make innovation work from a technical point of view.

 

Politics and Public Organisations

Politics and Public Institutions

Politics and Public Institutions

What they say: they help understand what’s happening from a country, regional point of view and highlight the political advances and struggles of innovation. They also help understanding the external impact of policies, public investments and wider public support to strategies and technological advances that are made by all the other groups. They are the “real-life” framework in which we all work and live, and enable innovation to sustain and grow on large scales with political impact.

What they bring: they develop the legal and political framework around innovation, they help understand what are countries and regions needs and priorities, they have a direct impact on knowledge, political cross-pollination and perspectives.

 

Each person and each group are moved, impacted, challenging innovation as it stands today to improve it for tomorrow. The stories, experiences and comments are different from expert to expert, and can be combined to shape a wider picture of innovation. In our networked world, innovation is developed and influenced by many, using different business and knowledge model. WAI is carefully listening to each of these voices, understanding the background of where they’re from, what they intend to do and where they lead us, to help building innovation through one voice that can accelerate change.

 

 

 

 

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Posted in InnoTrends
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