Society and Technology: how horizontal are we?

As communications over social networks become mainstream, experts intend to analyze their impact on politics and business driven conversations. Within citizens communities, social platforms already generate activities and businesses that highlight a generational difference in our approach to defining solutions, as well as our perception of disruptions and continuity. While globally created links open new horizons for younger generations and workers, countries are left with the need to attract the right intercultural talents for the right intercultural contexts. Technological breakthroughs question our relations with time and space, perhaps building an on-going human-made “invention literacy”. Reading and understanding this global human and technological language could help anticipate and drive a growingly horizontal business future fueled by connected data analysis.

In search of  a “social” value

Citizens see in social media a new opportunity to share ideas and requirements for a better society. There is a question mark though on whether those requirements are being collected or not by governments.

People in the trenches – responding to citizen complaints on Facebook, or live-tweeting public meetings – are optimistic about how social media can influence government-constituent interactions. But some public policy experts within academia are much more sour about social media use by government.

Read more: “Does social media help the government-citizen relationship? Depends on who you ask“, James Toscano, World Economic Forum

In the business area, social communications still remains in its infancy and consultants as well as experts are developing their discourse to emphasize the value of long term creation through social conversations.

In my observation, communication between firm and customer  via social media are still in the early stage in most industries. Value creation through social media platforms shall therefore remain limited until the moment firms and customers start sharing information on a larger scale.

Read more: “Social media: value creation through interaction“, Norbert Bol

Within communities, individuals have come to the conclusion that platforms needed to create new ideas, and businesses. As an example, below platform “offers the opportunity for cooking amateurs and customers to get in touch around home made meals. This proposition is much cheaper than going to the restaurant and healthier than industrially prepared meals”.

Pepeat est une plateforme qui met en relation des cuisiniers amateurs et des consommateurs en quête de petits plats fait maison. Une formule plus économique que le restaurant et plus saine que les traditionnels plats préparés.

Read more: “Pepeat: une plateforme collaborative de petits plats fait maison“, Efficycle

Would there be a generational gap in the way we consume social networks? Our generational approach to time and continuity for sure impacts the approach we have to creating solutions. Below article highlights how older adults and younger adults see themselves in past, present and future.

Perhaps most interestingly, they found that older adults are more likely to view themselves as living in an extended present as opposed to younger adults who tend to live a temporary state suspended between a distant past and an unknown future.

Read more: “How far into the future are you still yourself?“, Tom Fleischman, World Economic Forum

In fact, new generations of workers, including stay-at-home mothers, are left with no other choice but to create their own present, and therefore future. Rules of the past seem to be challenged, and ideas to start home-based businesses through the Internet are spreading.

Following that if you are a stay-at-home mom and are looking for an opportunity for an income stream, you need to get your creative juices flowing. 52% of U.S companies are based on home businesses, and continue to thrive, setting precedents for others to follow.

Read more: “5 best businesses for stay-at-home mothers“, Zyana Morris, The Business Woman Media

Other younger generations choose the entire world as their future playground. In the midst of this talent migration, countries like France need to “develop a coherent strategy, not to retain qualified workers, but to encourage their come back and the arrival of equally qualified workers, targeting quality more than quantity”.

La France a besoin « d’élaborer une stratégie cohérente visant, non pas à retenir les qualifiés, mais à encourager leur retour et les arrivées de personnes qualifiées de niveau équivalent », concluent les auteurs. Il faut « viser la qualité plus que la quantité », souligne Etienne Wasmer.

Read more: “La France a du mal à attirer et garder les talents“, Marie Christine Corbier, Les Echos

French experts wonder: “Have we educated elites just to loose them, contributing to the dynamism of foreign countries, or do we benefit from their links, the experience theyare able to share and other forms of intangible benefits for society? In parallel, do we know how to attract foreign talents?”

Avons-nous formé des élites « à perte », pour contribuer au dynamisme d’autres pays que le nôtre, ou bénéficions-nous de leurs liens, de leurs retours d’expérience et d’autres formes intangibles de bénéfices pour la société ? Parallèlement, savons-nous attirer les talents étrangers ?

Read more: “Préparer la France à la mobilité internationale croissante des talents“, Cecilia Garcia Penalosa, CAE

In the end, it is all about defining the right intercultural competencies needed in the right intercultural context.

As the scholars put it, ‘we know a lot about the personal characteristics of people with high intercultural competence’, but ‘we know much less about what interculturally competent people actually do in specific intercultural job contexts’.

Read more: “What we know and don’t know about intercultural competence“, Sebastian Reiche, IESE Business School

Driving horizontal breakthroughs

Technological developments arouse passionate debates as well as almost philosophical questions with regards to immortality. Would the rise of robots be our chance to get closer to eternity?

Tantôt accusés de « solutionnisme numérique » ou de « techno-libertarianisme », ceux qui travaillent à construire cet « homme nouveau » ont la certitude que la résolution des problèmes de l’humanité passe par l’avancée de l’intelligence artificielle et les nouvelles technologies.

Read more: “Fusion de l’Humain et de la Technique: demain l’immortalité“, Philippe Boyer, La Tribune

We for sure want to go further, and faster. This is what one of the startups selected to develop the Hyperloop project highlights. It recently announced “having paid a license to use a technology called “passive magnetic levitation” in order to propel a prototype”.

Une des deux start-ups les plus engagées dans ce projet fou, Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, a annoncé avoir pris une licence d’une technologie baptisée « lévitation magnétique passive », afin de propulser un prototype.

Read more: “Une technologie peu coûteuse pour propulser Hyperloop“, Olivier, Journal du Geek

Other experts argue this whole cycle of inventions may well define a single grammar and language, shaped as a whole by humanity. 

We have to stop thinking of inventions as some unknown future phantoms to be conjured by alchemy. Inventions, from a clay pot to an iPhone, are simply the human-made part of the world that we live in.

Read more: “Invention Literacy“, Jay Silver, Medium

In the meantime, more and more transactions in the entire world are getting digitalized.

With this growing digital interactions, the amount of data shared enables machines to learn at a steady pace. But is that enough?

The difficulty with learning machines arises because they train themselves on what they see, the “training data,” that cannot completely represent situations the machine will see in the future.

Read more: “How can we control intelligent systems no one fully understands?“, Vasant Dhar, PhD, TechCrunch

Experts come back to human and machines ability to anticipate the future. There are good readers, and there are less good readers. The market sanction for the latter seems to be rather harsh.

Le groupe à la pomme perd une place et n’est plus que le troisième acteur du marché, en volume de ventes, derrière Xiaomi (19%) et Fitbit (24,5%) qui ont respectivement vendu 3,7 millions et 4,8 millions de leurs produits.

While on the other hand, the abundance of data and the connectivity between individuals enable the formers to apprehend strategies in a new approach, breaking away from the usual organizational and structural concepts that relate to past ways of sharing information.

The open data era and our ability to generate patent from globally connected data is questioning the business and organizational models developed by companies and market players as were defined by Handerson and Porter in the late 1960s.

In the end, those who have long ago anticipated this horizontal direction for successful business models appear to be the ones who can claim their markets know no limits. This is the case of companies who conquer the IoT space, for whom “a great part of growth that they see today, as IoT components supplier, was decided very early, at the initial stages of the company, ten years ago. Among those decisions, they chose not to listen to those who remained under the impression that only vertical models could be successful“.

Gran parte del crecimiento que hoy experimenta la compañía tecnológica aragonesa de componentes para el Internet de las Cosas lo han marcado las decisiones iniciales, hace ahora 10 años. Entre ellas, estuvo desoír muchos de los consejos, que apostaban por un modelo de negocio vertical.

Read more: “No hay oportunidades despreciables en nuestro mercado“, Marcos Espanol, Expansion

In order to maximise the use of global connected data and social coversations, innovation requires:

  1. A meaningful approach to social communication platforms so they can generate ideas and projects driven by and for communities
  2. A better understanding of generational approach to change and defining solutions that enable anyone to generate value
  3. Adapted intercultural talent development and recruitment policies for the right intercultural contexts
  4. The ability to read and understand technological developments as part of a common invention grammar and literacy
  5. The ability to better anticipate future changes and know the limits of learning only based on what we see at present
  6. Horizontally driven business models and approaches to strategy

And you, how do you optimize the value of connected data and social communications in your horizontal strategies? now offers a Global Knowledge Library with e-books and toolkits to drive intelligent change. You can also read Our Global Story at it is being shaped by thousands of innovation professionals across the world.



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