Monday, January 28, 2013

In Mobile World, Tech Giants Scramble to Get Up to Speed
Published: October 22, 2012

I believe the internet world is a fabulous laboratory to understand how changing market forces can impact well established companies. True, your markets may not change as quickly, BUT, THEY ARE CHANGING. It is critical to keep the feelers out and have a responsive organization to those changes. There cannot be a more critical role for leadership.

Intel made its fortune on the chips that power personal computers, and Microsoft on the software that goes inside.Google’s secret sauce is that it finds what you are looking for on the Internet. But the ground is shifting beneath these tech titans because of a major force: the rise of mobile devices. 
These and other tech companies are scrambling to reinvent their business models now that the old model — a stationary customer sitting at a stationary desk — no longer applies. These companies once disrupted traditional businesses, from selling books and music to booking hotels. Now they are being upended by the widespread adoption of smartphones and tablets. 
“Companies are having to retool their thinking, saying, ‘What is it that our customers are doing through the mobile channel that is quite distinct from what we are delivering them through our traditional Web channel?’… 
…The industry giants remain highly profitable drivers of the economy. Yet the world’s shift to computing on mobile devices is taking a toll, including disappointing earnings reports last week from Google, Microsoft and Intel, in large measure related to revenue from mobile devices. Investors are in suspense over Facebook’s earnings to be disclosed Tuesday, for much the same reason. Yahoo’s new chief, Marissa Mayer, said on Monday that Yahoo had failed to capitalize on mobile and must become a predominantly mobile company. 
Demand for Intel chips inside computers — which are much more profitable than those inside smartphones — is plummeting. At Microsoft, sales of software for PCs are sharply declining. At Google, the price that advertisers pay when people click on ads has fallen for a year. This is partly because, while mobile ads are exploding, they cost less than Internet ads; advertisers are still figuring out how to make them most effective.
Since its initial public offering, Facebook has lost half its value on Wall Street under pressure to make more money from mobile devices, now that six of 10 Facebook users log in on their phones.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Innovation Is Not the Holy Grail
It is time to move from innovation as an ideology to innovation as a process.
 Christian Seelos & Johanna Mair | 12 | Fall 2012

This is a fascinating but a bit theoretical treatment of innovation. It is really worth going to the site to gain deeper insights.

"It is time to move from innovation as an ideology to innovation as a process—a transition that might be less glamorous but will be more productive. From studying existing research on organizational innovation and from our own research on the subject, we have distilled six recommendations for productive innovation in social sector organizations:
1. Treat innovation as a process, not primarily as an outcome. Efforts to explicitly link the characteristics and dynamics of organizational innovation to its consequences provide valuable evidence for decision making and enable organizations to identify areas for productive support as well as to fine-tune interventions and resource provision strategies.
2. Treat innovation as an independent variable, and reflect on multiple positive and negative outcomes during the innovation process. The focus on innovation within organizations enables an accurate assessment of the internal and external dimension of value created by innovation activities.
3. Recognize that innovation processes integrate different organizational and external factors. These factors include individuals (e.g., idea creation), groups (e.g., idea evaluation), organizations (e.g., resource allocation and formalization of new activities), and contexts (e.g., external power structures or collaboration partners). Evaluating innovation requires consideration of several levels of analysis concurrently
4. Understand the prevailing cognitive, normative, and political dimensions within organizations to determine how they might enable or stifle innovation. This could allow younger organizations to better monitor and suppress emerging negative innovation factors and increase their learning and innovation capacity. And it could allow more mature organizations to develop more focused organizational redesigns, to rejuvenate processes, and to legitimize tough but necessary decisions.
5. Capture insights from successful and unsuccessful innovations in organizations over time. This approach to social innovation trumps prevailing approaches that generalize innovation factors based on static snapshots across organizations or based on single observations of innovation events. It also tests for the presence or absence of an important enabler of innovation: organizational learning.
6. Reflect on the differences in innovation processes, influencing factors, and outcomes across different cultures and geographies rather than on general innovation factors. We know very little about such innovation-related factors as creativity, idea evaluation, and learning in organizations as they apply to non-Western settings."

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Five Ways to Ruin Your Innovation Process
by Rita McGrath  |   2:00 PM June 5, 2012

As always, Rita McGrath offers incredible but yet simple insights into the challenges of innovation. Whatever innovation process you deploy, challenge yourself with these issues.

"Most companies sabotage their own innovation processes without meaning to. I've noticed five tell-tale signs of this syndrome:

1. Innovation is episodic. We've all seen this movie: A few people in the organization have a burning desire to foster more innovation, or a different kind of innovation, so they invent a new process
2. Resources are held hostage by incumbent businesses. If you want to understand the most significant lever for generating change in a large, complex organization, you need to understand the resource allocation process.
3. You're trying to fit innovation into the structure that you have. Brad Anderson, the very wise recent CEO of Best Buy, made an observation that has stuck with me. "Organizations have habits," he said. "And they will stick to their habits even at the risk of their own survival.
4. Too little diversity of thought; too much isolation from customers' experience.
5. Treating assumptions like knowledge. Never, in my entire career of studying innovation, have I observed a project, initiative, or idea that worked out as planned. Moreover, the great ideas that did work often started as something entirely different. And yet, when many companies try to do something innovative, they expect the same reliable, predictable results that they'd get tweaking something minor in the core business"

Monday, January 07, 2013

Many-to-Many Manufacturing
A review of Makers: The New Industrial Revolution, by Chris Anderson.
by Tom Igoe
Makers: The New Industrial Revolution
by Chris Anderson
Crown Business, 2012

This article is intriguing in that it highlights the impact of the digital world on creating new business opportunities. Admittedly, this does not immediately impact the business of most of the folks in our network, but one can envision that this phenomenon is only at the beginning stage of what could happen. For example, some of the classic barriers to market entry you have deployed to protect your profit flow could be threatened.

Anderson describes how inexpensive and increasingly sophisticated digital fabrication tools, a growing culture of do-it-yourself enthusiasts raised on the Internet, and the spread of open intellectual property practices are ushering in a new industrial revolution….
…he argued that although the highly networked digital economy might appear to be dominated by a few large players, a wealth of opportunity exists for small players because such an economy does not require distribution scale to reach the ends of the demand curve. These opportunities are supporting the rise of the “maker” movement and changing the face of manufacturing…..
….What’s different about maker companies, says Anderson, is that they regard their customers as participants in the business. For instance, they publish the plans for their products online, because they know that eager customers will offer improvements. Some companies, such as 3D Robotics, reward or hire these customers for their contributions. Anderson’s description of how his company integrates customers’ work is one of the stronger chapters in the book, and a useful read for any executive who wants to make community more than a buzzword….
…The impact of these developments on manufacturing could be significant. Launching a successful manufacturing company no longer requires reaching a mass market, as long as you can reach the right customers, wherever they are. Crowdfunding, through presales on such sites as and, is making it possible for manufacturing startups to raise their initial capital without selling ownership stakes to venture capitalists. Online marketplaces—for example, and—are giving unknown designers a greater ability to reach their target audiences, and supplier aggregators such as and make it possible for a garage shop to work with vendors around the world.