Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Twelve Days of Holiday Innovations

The Twelve Days of Holiday Innovations - A Tribute to the Season! Make that Six Days!

First, I apologize I have been remiss writing the last few months due to a new book project - just now released with the CEO of Webex, Subrah Iyar, called: Why Buy The Cow, available at This was a year plus research project on leading approaches to Software as a Service (SaaS) and innovations in this market space. A short but good read for the New Year!

In thinking about 2007, and all the innovations in play. I thought given the holiday season twelve reflections would be appropriate. So enjoy the festive thoughts.

Reflection One - “Internet Collaboration Jingles” - the internet, mobile, commerce and media have given us new ways to create new innovation jingles across global boundaries. Today, there are few boundaries left in companies ability to involve their customers, employees, partners, and suppliers in new forms of collaboration experiences. The co-creation opportunity to distribute value through dispersed networks has enabled companies to reduce their time to market, cost structures, and increase their product innovation capabilities. A good example of opportunity is to transform the US Economy (12 percent) of the labor activity into more distributed and networked from of innovation to improve product and services innovation productivity. Let’s get those jingle innovation bells rockin more. They really rock!

Reflection Two - Finding More Talent - Where is Rudolf when you need him? Organizations that strive to find full time talent in traditional ways will continue to be disappointed as the market for hidden talent deepens into the web enterprise. We are now in the ANYwhere Network where sourcing talent is only a google search away. As the workplace continues to go collaborative on steroids, and new communication tools like Octopz continue to arise, companies can decentralize more of their work and drive more economies to their organizations, with even more highly specialized experts than often organizations are able to attract internally. TopCoder is a company that has created a network of software developers that gives organizations access to a diverse talent pool which is more cost effective than hiring full time engineers. We are projecting that the Brand of One talent sourcing will continue as more talent adopts these new forms of working. Also, organizations that source more transparently requirements will achieve more competitive differentiation as they shift to recomposing organizational boundaries and distributing tasks to more specialized and distributed networks of competence.

Reflection # 3 - Customer Interaction Value - “Go Prancer, Dancer and Vicken” - Given the ubiquitous nature of technology and unified communication goals in play, customer interactions are being executed faster and faster. Although speed has improved dramatically, and device utility extended and form factors simplified - the customer interaction experience requires more creative innovation than in any other time in history. Customers are acutely atuned to the extra personal interactions, the relationship creativity, and the unique memorable DNA connections. Customer Experience is now a major Innovation differentiator for customers. West Jet, a major Canadian airline uses humor and wit in their welcoming and departure messages - lightening up passengers buzy travel days with a smile. Apple’s iPOD object of desire experience and branding color have captured the hearts and souls of customer’s world-wide. Now with the iPhone - customer experiences are even better. What is clear is customer innovation requires more customer experience brand differentiation - and anything goes - to stand out and be more memorable in an information overloaded economy.

Reflection # 4 - Interactive Virtual Worlds Shape New Purchasing Experiences - “Addicted Reindeer” - The market for virtual worlds is now over a $1B industry and the growth is accelerating as virtual world and game line experiences start to enter now the enterprise markets. Innovations in recruiting talent in virtual world experiences, employee onboarding in virtual worlds, purchasing virtual goods and services, branding and advertising, to selling real estate property. Companies like: Second Life, and soon to be a major competitor to Second Life: Areta will enter the online virtual world. Life will never be the same as we move from addicted gaming with teenagers to a generation of addicted reindeer of all ages. Who knew StarWars would be so close to reality in 2008.

Reflection #5 - Consumer Innovation - Frosty the Snowman Meets the Grinch! - In today’s super turbo charged web universe, consumers can real time co-create with suppliers. With the evolution of Web 2.0 Technologies and Mashups - new widespread platforms for interaction, communication, interaction and activism are now powerful new ways for customer engagement and innovation for economic advantage. Oh My News, a popular South Korean online newspaper is now South Koreas most influential media outlets with over 700,000 site visits a day - and the reporters are the local citizens. Threadless asks people to submit new ideas for T-shirts and cosnumers propose ideas, designs and the community votes on new products. Every one can be a real journalist like the wiki enclyclopeida as the wisdom of the crowd starts to become more apparent as a new model for innovation.

Reflection #6 - Prediction Intelligence - “Who knew children could leave so many cookies for Santa” - With the information explosion, we have had an increase in ideagoras (eBAY like marketplaces for Ideas) to predictive market models to promote searching for the holy grail as companies like Google mine growing pools of rich data to dervide more intelligence. What is clear is that identifying patterns of opportunities more rapidly than the nearest competitor is becoming a increasing requirement for competitive advantage.

Predictive analytics offers something completely different from standard business reporting and sales forecasting and provides more accurate and insightful actionable predictions for each customer. This special form of business intelligence foresees each customer purchase, response or cancellation, predicting the individual behavior of each existing or prospective customer under certain conditions. Naturally, per-customer predictions are key to allocating marketing and sales resources. For example, by predicting which product features each customer will respond to, you can target each customer accordingly. Leading analyst firm IDC ( predicted that the predictive analytics market sector will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 8 percent during the next five years. Every company striving for innovation strength will need to intensify their depth of expertise in predictive analytics and disruptive innovation detection.

Whew - now I remember why singing the Twelve Days of Xmas I got so tired - same thing happens when writing a blog - so signing off for now.

Wishing all my readers a happy holiday season and commited to updates on a more regular basis in 2008. Safe travels and much growth and happiness in the New Year.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Wikis are a Powerful Knowledge Accelerator

The twenty first century is moving more rapidly than the last century.

Knowledge used to double world-wide in decades; three years ago knowledge doubled every twelve months. Today, we are doubling global knowledge in less than six months and are rapidly approaching a period where knowledge will double world-wide not just in days - but in seconds.

There has never been a period in mankind’s history where the fountain of knowledge has been flowing so rapidly. We continue to invent gadgets such as cell phones, iPods, RIMs, and other portable devices to help keep knowledge on point 24×7. The ubiquitous nature of knowledge transfer although has improved our access to know-how - it has also generated complexity in our ability to source the right knowledge in the right format at the right time. In some ways, imagine pouring a glass of water and the water runs over the top of the glass continually — this is the reality of today’s knowledge environment - there is tremendous knowledge captured - but easily finding it continues to be one of the catastrophe’s in managing intellectual assets.

Another relatively new source of knowledge capture and harvesting capability can be found in the usage of wikis. A wiki (sometimes wiki wiki) is a web application designed to allow multiple authors to add, remove, and edit content. The multiple author capability of wikis makes them effective tools for mass collaborative authoring.

Wikis enable rapid self-organizing and self-correcting knowledge capabilities and enable knowledge to be processed dynamically rather than other more traditional and highly structured sources of content management solutions. Users of wikis are allowed in real-time to agree or disagree in the sharing of content. In addition, this spontaneous flow of creativity and sharing of ideas may spark new insights contributing to innovation capacity development.

In San Diego County, the Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) launched a program called mobile remote workforce innovation to improve services at risk to children and families, while decreasing costs. The economics of wikis supporting health care industries are very attractive, given the low cost of the software, and operating costs. Many of the leading Wiki Solution providers, like Atlassian, also donate the software for not for profit organizations - providing an additional incentive for organizations to take advantage of these types of solutions.

Isaac Jones Blog outlines three solutions for wiki applications which based on our working experience are all valid and accurate perspectives.

The first approach is using wikis for knowledge repositories - alot like an encyclopedia. We are using wikis in our client engagements so all of our client collateral is accessible via a wiki and at the end of our client projects, client can either pay a modest monthly fee for the knowledge to be maintained in our wiki environment, or transfer to their local servers. The opportunity to create these content management structures for ease of integrated collaboration are very powerful and effective communication approaches.

The second approach is for collaborative writing which is a bit like a more elegant version of emailing word documents. The ability to easily track document changes and allow the voice of multiple stakeholders to participate in the creation of a collaborative document we have used in our book publishing projects, and also in our market research projects.

The third approach is Situation awareness, which isn’t so different from the news; it draws from the news as a source, it can also be authored by the eye-witnesses themselves, and each story becomes an integral part of a knowledge repository. I don’t claim that these are an exhaustive, nor are they a partition: Wikis are also used for bug tracking and as web discussion forums, for instance.

In summary, wikis are a powerful knowledge accelerator and the market for these types of tools is exploding. IDC projects worldwide revenue growth of the overall collaboration market of 17% this year and 26% by 2011, with the fastest growth in live conferencing and team collaboration spaces. Forrester notes that Web 2.0-based social computing technologies are experiencing an explosion of innovation and proliferation, with many vendors incorporating blog and wiki technology into their products. A related development, mentioned by both Driver and Levitt, is the ability of newer tools to create mashups-essentially hybrid Web applications that contain content from multiple sources in a single user interface.

While Microsoft and IBM dominate many segments of the collaboration market-promoting one-stop shopping and integration across their products Google needs to be closed watched. The increasing breadth of Google’s productivity software includes email, calendaring, IM, word processing, spreadsheet, and Web site building and will soon add presentation graphics and wikis-all embedded with collaboration features. Google’s latest foray into making affordable messaging, collaboration, and office productivity tools targets business people worldwide and takes dead aim at Microsoft Office. . . . Google is not simply attacking Microsoft’s core email and office productivity applications business-Google is expanding the market for workplace productivity tools to include people who have traditionally been left without them.

One thing is for sure wikis have a strong future in the collaborative applications all aimed to improve knowledge worker productivity - finally some solutions which are firmly in the control of the end user community.
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