Sunday 24 July 2016

Democracy innovation and the return of social led engagement

Over the last few years, we’ve seen new and exciting experiments in direct democracy emerge: the Open Ministry – Crowdsourcing legislation site in the Finish Parliament; the Icelandic e-democracy and participatory budgeting website Better Reykjavik; Podemos, the new decentralised Spanish political movement and the municipal citizen-led coalitions Barcelona en Comu and Ahora Madrid.
You could also include Italy’s Five Star Movement in the range of options springing up that use technology to engage directly with people. Since the Brexit decision in the UK the world of politics has got a little potty and if the craziness continues you can expect a further proliferation of options.
Clandestine political meetings
I was introduced to one such option in clandestine circumstances this week, under the guise of hearing Paddy Ashdown’s post Brexit views on the tech sector.  Imagine my surprise when we were given an early introduction to More United.  This being a new platform that aims to influence politics without being a political party. The concept being that the world of politics needs to innovate to bring everyman back into the centre, rather than the extremist or populist end of the spectrum. A key aim is to enable people like to participate in and change politics in a way that has never been possible before. One of the principals of More United is for A United Kingdom that welcomes immigration, international co-operation and a close relationship with the EU.
A crowded space in the new world of politics
One aspect I did find interesting was how More United (if it’s not a political party) positions itself next to and Steve Hilton’s Crowdpac, a Silicon Valley political tech start-up.  He was formerly a visiting professor at Stanford University and the senior advisor to David Cameron and played a leading role in the modernisation of the Conservative Party and the implementation of its government reform programme.  
Hilton also recently wrote More Human, in which he argued that the frustrations people feel with government, politics, their economic circumstances and their daily lives are caused by deep structural problems with the systems that dominate our world – systems that have become too big, bureaucratic and distant from human scale.  He was also a prominent supporter for the leave team in the referendum.
Decentralised Citizen Engagement Technology
These could both be part of Francesca Bria’s Europe-wide project D-CENT. The project investigates opportunities for technology to re-energise democracy and politics. D-CENT gathers citizen-led organisations that are transforming democracy and looks to help them develop the next generation of open source, distributed and privacy-aware tools for direct democracy.  These tools, innovative in both the commercial and public sector domains, are spreading across the political spectrum, governments, parliaments and the public shaping the new political institutions of the 21st Century.
Do good. Make Money
Whilst I’ve been unpacking the rise of new open social democratic platforms this trend cross pollinates into the rise of the mission-driven business, where purpose and something of meaning is part of the powerful draw to start and create innovative solutions across the world to deliver change.

Sunday 12 June 2016

Innovation and entrepreneurship in the age of the100 year life

Over a quarter of century ago Charles Handy introduced the concept of portfolio work and career. This being where a portfolio is defined by diversity of industry and role. Careers don’t follow traditional paths of rank progression in a particular function or company. Portfolio careers may contain more part-time, contract or temporary positions and are commonly used to ensure a more sustainable work-life balance. In many instances some individuals may also have more than one job at a time.

We are all portfolio careerist now
Portfolio careers have become more popular in recent years as achieving a better work-life balance has become more of a mainstream goal.  Various forecasters believe that by 2020 almost 50% of individuals who work for commercial organisations will work for three employers at any one time. Some might argue today that the zero hour contract is the employer’s modern day extension of this concept. For the record, I’m not so sure, as whilst I believe the concept of will become more prevalent the original vision was one where the individual had more power over their work and the zero hour contract seems to be one where the terms are accepted out of necessity.

Careers in the networked age
A more recent interpretation of the portfolio career comes from Reid Hoffman, the network philosopher, and Ben Casnocha, The Start up of You. They again tackle the challenge that the job for life and company loyalty are very much things of the past.  At this time of challenging slower growth and austerity we are not guaranteed a smooth career progression, particularly if the analysts are correct when the say, by 2025 the majority of commercial organisations’ will only directly employ 15% of their current workforce. The authors views are very much to think and act like entrepreneurs.  Be nimble, self-reliant, innovative, network effectively and stand out from the crowd.  No easy task, but the behaviours and core competencies that can underpin the use of 21st century piecework, such as YunoJuno, Freelancer and TaskRabbit.

Working in an Age of Longevity
When you now consider that a baby born in the west today will more likely than not live to 105, as called out by Lynda Gratton and Andrew Scott in their new book, The 100-Year Life. They offer up a scenario when a fundamental redesign of life is required.  In their analysis, if I wished to retire on a liveable pension (which I do) then I’ll need to work till about when I’m 80. This could be a scary concept but opens many more transformations. I could have fourth, fifth and even a sixth act.

Age of entrepreneurial retirement
In the past, the innovator often hit their career peak at about the age of 40. Previous research by Vivek Wadhwa studied 549 successful entrepreneurs in 12 high-growth industries found that the average and median age at which they started their company was 40.  However if we recognise the challenge that we are all living longer and that 60 is the new 40.  This legitimately presents a view that entrepreneurialism and start-ups will not solely be a young person’s game.  If you disconnect age from stage of life, suddenly you could be at university when you’re 70.  You could be doing a portfolio when you’re 20. You could be creating a start-up when you’re 60 or when you are 30.

Changes are happening at every level of individual, we will see lots of experimentation as people, individually and collectively begin to build lives that are sustainable for the long term.  Exciting times are here to stay.

Sunday 5 June 2016

Innovation is dead, long live innovation (Part Two) The story for bravehearts, rebels, new kids, pioneers and renegades.

A quick recap for those on part one – Innovation’s death was questioned and challenged we put a view out there that people needed to look elsewhere for results. In unpacking the challenge we felt the noise was more about the trendy catch-phrases, excuses and fluffy titles had distracted people from the reality of the hard yards of Innovation to bring the idea to life and making it happen.
The lens is different, long live Innovation  
For the bravehearts and renegades. I paraphrase it’s not a matter of doing the same stuff it’s a matter of doing it differently, it is about seeing things through different vision through another lens. Like all industries the innovation development space has changed and will continue to change. New themes are emerging, learnings are being applied and crowded industry landscapes are being consolidated. The focus of corporate innovation is moving towards nimbleness, partnering with unlikely disruptors and practical back-end implementation, amongst other things.
According to a recent research publication released by Gartner, “The Practises that Deliver the Biggest Bang for your Bimodal Buck” - 5 key practises are consistently delivering the highest improvement in digital performance.  They are also, interestingly, the least adopted. It’s by no means a new message and according to Gartner signifies the pervasive ability of organisations to factor in and execute it. In other words, to make it work. This 2016 CIO survey found that the highest correlation to improved digital performance are driven by the key practices of:
·         Crowdsourcing
·         Differentiated funding
·         Differentiated metrics
·         Working with start-ups and
·         Innovation management
Each of these is not new in themselves, but they are not commonly used across organisations and most probably will be new to you.  The practices have certainly provided business benefits to their champions. The opportunity for Innovation remains on the field with everything to play for.
The big guns are calling it out, then and now.
Back in 1997 American business writer Tom Peter coined the famous phase Innovate or die. It was true then and rings even more true now.  Adam Trisk, Co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer of Skylabs calls this out in his article published by Inc, a premier print publication for entrepreneurs, pioneers and business owners, what happens when companies stop thinking about the future.  Being a follower is a perfectly good strategy and one that makes a lot of sense when disruption is forcing an organisation to focus on keeping a sinking boat afloat. But sooner or later it will beg the question for change, for bravery and thinking about the future.  These aren't isolated cases as Steven Denning backs this up, in his Forbes article Why U.S. Firms Are Dying: Failure To Innovate, he writes about a looming innovation crisis at organisations. The message is clear, “in a world in which power in the marketplace has shifted to customers and customers insist on “better, cheaper, faster, smaller, more convenient and more personalized,” failure to give priority to innovation is an organisational death warrant”.
Innovation the reality check – those hard yards and making it happen.
We can continue with the “innovational smoke and mirrors”, proclaiming innovation to be about glamour, glitz and unattainable new technologies and advancements only stumbled upon by the few. Organisations, individuals and consultants alike can act and market as if they were endowed with a special ability to do magic, to predict the future and manage it, doing nothing more but talk and pay marketing bills. Truth is, smoke has a tendency to lift, mirrors are known to reflect reality. We should all be prepared to face the truth when it happens, to answer and take responsibility.  Innovation is not to blame, it is not the root cause of the lack of apparent results.
We can call it innovation or not, remove it from our business language, job titles and processes and remember it as a fad, - or not. We can also decide to blame it on our own inactions and lack of leadership, citing the “worlds dumbest idea” – maximisation of shareholder value as reason. We can point at people, infrastructure, metrics, technology, budgets and other stuff too if we want.
The kingdom and the fairy tale is for us to create
The future is for us to create. For us to do something courageous to get there and to drive it to deliver results. To take responsibility for victory, but it is not about putting innovation on trial.

So coming back to our story in part one, in the end the warrior poets and soldiers found a new way to manufacture even cooler, more effective weapons and Innovation won the day. 

Jointly written with Henra Mayer 

Thursday 5 May 2016

Innovation is dead, long live innovation (Part One) A story for bravehearts, rebels, new kids, pioneers and renegades

There once was a management fad called Innovation. It was beautiful and popular and had a certain mystique, maybe magic about it. It attributed certain revolutionary businessmen and women with the Midas touch and was the reason some pretty cool, new baby starlets were born. It certainly got a lot of dinosaurs out of their dark caves of irrelevance and ignited new fire into some old, weary dragons. It was almost like a warrior poet, called upon to save those in danger.
Then one day Innovation went too far. Expected too much. Innovation wanted people to create their own stories too.  It became more and more difficult to sustain the happily ever afters - because according to the Kingdom, that was not the deal. The dinosaurs longed for their familiar caves, the knights blamed innovation for their injuries at war as their new weaponry were not delivering its promised deadly blows and the people of the Kingdom, well they eventually grew tired of the rock stars’ same old, noisy hits accompanied by the usual marketing gimmicks and smoke and mirrors. And so the story became endangered. It received a price on its head. Accusations were thrown. Innovation was blamed, gossiped about and eventually captured. The kingdom arranged a huge fest to give it a fitting farewell. Eulogies were recited, the “Eureka” moments remembered and many soldiers gathered around the round table were huge battle losses were mourned. All agreed, the magic was gone, the battlefield littered and the reality of survival far too pressing to waste any more time on Innovation.
Logic, experience and sanity needed to prevail. The musketeers were sent with word to gather the legal wizards and formulate a defence against the die-hard mutineers. Innovation was put on trial once again.
Get to the heart of it
So here we are – trying to make sense of the arguments by industry experts and respected research publications that we came to trust on the matter. Are we for or against innovation as the industry that we are passionate about, believe in and spent countless hours on building and supporting, is professed to be dying? It has become littered with corpses and phrases that we cannot stomach anymore – like endless write-ups on the “over-use “of the word and deliberate efforts to ban any term innovation related from general business language. It accuses of the fuzziness of innovation output, the strategic difficulty of its execution, the inherent risk, the ever increasing almost spinning speed of change and the sheer hopeless, uncontrollable reality of it all.
Soldiers take responsibility for victory
As a team that has dedicated more than 20 passionate years to the subject matter we feel like warriors. We fight with weaponry that has not delivered the deadly blow, but we know winning is worth fighting for and that it requires taking responsibility for the victory sought. This may make us biased on the topic, as you cannot work in an industry for this amount of time if you do not passionately believe in its ability to deliver.
As soldiers in the industry, this is part one of our observation of the innovation battlefield as we run to the frontline, ready to take responsibility for creating the future of economic growth, sustainability and business longevity, alongside other like-minded bravehearts. 
Innovation is dead
Much has been said about innovation as a management discipline lying on its death bed. Strong opinions and lauded experts are taking turns to point out the challenges with innovation and advise people to look elsewhere for results. One such opinion piece was recently published by one of our learned friends.  One cannot be in the industry and not view many of the arguments made as valid. We have lived it, seen it and have been frustrated by it. There is truth in many statements. About organisations talking the talk but not walking the walk, damage done by me-too, unimaginative fly-by-nights and (respected large consulting houses) – proclaiming expertise and weaving innovation magic wands while making unrealistic promises. Add to this overworked and uninterested employees who cannot handle another item on the to-do list and the throwing around of trendy terms and job titles by managers who hope they can turn a blind eye and don’t have to take responsibility for owning it. Luckily, through it all leadership is busy with more pressing issues, like organisational survival.
The battle in making it happen
Innovation is not about trendy catch-phrases or excuses, it’s about making it happen. Committing to the hard yards, and making sure that you have left nothing on the field. We believe - and judging from what we have seen from renegade entrepreneurs - that it is about 3 things that cannot be separated. The elements of the new, implementation and delivering value – whatever that value means in your context. Innovation is not only about creativity or the process in isolation. It’s about a lot more, like teams and ROI and business cases, about supportive software and results. Steve Jobs defined it once as creativity that ships.
Some have described Innovation Management Systems (IMS’s) as being a systematic gatherer of silly ideas that still gets ignored by management. Maybe we are not brave enough, courageous enough or maybe stability in economic downturns trumps planning for the future. Maybe we became irrelevant to the innovation industry. Can it be that short term gains are still the only lens justifying our work output and that we are too risk averse, reputation proud and overall, too scared to live a life that holds more promise by being part of something great? Or is this perhaps the other challenge with innovation. We talk too much. We are doing it wrong. Are we over complicating innovation instead of just getting on with it?
Innovation Live

All the great stories of history have many chapters and for the bravehearts and renegades amongst you look out for Innovation’s rebirth in the next post, Part 2 of the story, Innovation is dead, long live innovation. We have a view on that!  

Jointly written with Henra Mayer

Thursday 17 March 2016

The genie is out of the bottle

The Blockchain is already a reality.  One of the truly disruptive aspects of the innovation created in 2008 is the fact that it took a number of well proven mathematical and computing techniques and drew them into one value proposition. 

The technology is not limited to supporting basic transaction validation and ledger management. The ability for complex secure processing, in response to transactions and messages, can enable automated activities.  This leads us to the world of Smart Contracts and Smart Property allowing transfer of ownership of any physical or intangible assets.  When we make this shift the ideal use case for this technology may not be payments, value transfer and banking. 

Those starting out with a blank piece of paper, the likes of Number 26 and Atom, could very well make use of the Blockchain, however traditional firms have much invested in existing systems and ecosystem arrangements. This is a new set of technologies and companies with active VC investor interest. Most firms are very small, loss making and very young but make no mistake the technology genie is out of the bottle.

Tuesday 16 February 2016

We are all API remixers now

The dawn of the thin enterprise
In my role I get involved in lots of client discussions. People look at me to bring ideas to life that help tackle the disruptive challenges on their horizons. In supporting this we’ve created ‘The Future Enterprise’ a view of what an enterprise, city or government department will look like in five to ten years’ time. This explores the business drivers, technology enablers and the things to think about to prepare for the future.
One of the themes called out is the Dawn of the Thin enterprise.  This effectively represents the movement of an organisation to focus on the core value proposition or sticking to your knitting.  It explores what an organisation will look like if it outsources, crowdsources, open sources and digitises all of its non-core activities.
In this world digital will be the primary transaction channel, leading to more automation and targeted business process outsourcing. A place where robotic process automation will be widely used to replace repetitive tasks performed by humans and where many enterprises move their non-differentiated development to Open Source.
Going back to your youth
But how do you actually do this and what do you need to be in place? A component for this is the socket to which these blocks can be plugged. It’s very much like the digital equivalent of the Lego blocks we all used to play with. In the digital domain these are known as APIs or Application Program Interfaces.  A set of routines, protocols, and tools for building software applications. Once common API standards are in place there is huge potential for the development of useful apps.
Thinking about the skills necessary to take advantage of this transformative power I’m inspired by the likes of Calvin Harris and Avicii, DJs who can mix and blend numerous channels simultaneously, monitor music via a laptop dashboard, and respond to audience (customer) requests on the fly. They crowdsource energy and channel it leaving fans wanting more.
Reinvention versus invention
Top DJs can take home more than the musicians whose content they are reinventing. The ability to take the available digital building blocks or APIs and quickly plug them together in a mix and match manner is powerful and highly valuable.
Add this capability, to the impact of Ray Kurzwell’s Singularity Theory and Moore’s Law and you have an incredibly powerful transformative moment.  We have a scenario that applications and products that a year ago weren’t economically feasible are now perfectly doable.  
APIs are everywhere. They are physical and virtual, hardware and software. We can wear them, implant them and plug into them. They are fuelled by data.  See my recent Big Bang Data Post.

APIs are the path to digital transformation and the thin enterprise. How are you remixing them?

Tuesday 2 February 2016

Bring to life your virtual workforce… extreme automation and the Arsenal

Last week our Tomorrow, Today campaign kicked off. This involved a day out at the Emirates to talk about one of my emerging technology focus areas.  The whole new world of software robots and process automation.

Those in the know will appreciate my close affinity with Arsenal. In a couple of their games you could say that they’ve played like robots.  Arsene is an original thinker but automating the players maybe a step to far for now. For those of us in less creative and active roles extreme automation and connectivity will soon have an impact.

Biggest technology disruptor over next few years
Workforce automation and the use of software robotics is forecast to be one of the biggest technology disruptors over the next decade.  According to some recent work from Mckinsey, almost half the activities that an individual is paid to perform can be automated by currently demonstrated technology.  

At the recent World Economic Forum, the rise of the machines and fourth industrial revolution were hotly debated. The UBS report presents a very interesting framework to consider the potential impact of the technology.

The road ahead will be bumpy…but automated
The road ahead to run a new virtual workforce is less about automating individual jobs, and more about automating activities and redefining roles and processes.  No doubt managing and leading increasingly automated organisations will becomes a competitive differentiator.

A key takeaway for me was how the various emerging technologies we are dialling down into are becoming more integrated and will enable the smarter organisations to create a multiplier effect for true transformation.  Knitting technologies such as Blockchain 2.0 and software robotics together won’t be easy but the size of the prize is significant. 

More and more I'm seeing people explore new technology as pilots but the real value will come in the multiplier effect when we begin to think in combinations and integrated moves.   So maybe not that far away from Arsene and his thinking after all. 

Tuesday 5 January 2016

Back with a ‘big data’ bang

It’s good to be back, I’ve certainly been away for too long. In keeping with many I’m sure the early part of January is filled with folks kick-starting their commentaries and blogs as they are spurred on by the influx of resolutions. 
I hope the holidays treated you well, which for me was spent with family, getting the compulsory James Bond movie fill and introducing my mum to the world of Fitbit and the concept of the quantified self.  This is the phenomena that has arisen from the access to the deluge of data and the need to record everything we do, to measure obsessively analysing our ‘quantified selves’.

With her new flex she can monitor the distance she walks and the calories burned. At night it monitors your sleep cycle, as well as waking you in the morning. This new generation of devices allows you to compare your progress in relation to objectives and others so that you are really living your life as a quantified being.  What fascinated me was how quickly someone arguably of a non tech generation, became engaged with her metrics.

Big bang data
Over the holiday break I also had the opportunity to go to Somerset House in London to see the UK’s first major exhibition Big Bang Data exploring the big data explosion that’s radically transforming our society, culture and politics.
The exhibition was an awesome, refreshing insight on many of the issues datafication of our world through the work of artists, designers, journalists and visionaries.  As the data explosion accelerates, it asks if we really understand our relationship with data, and explores the meaning and implication of data for our future.  Don’t be surprised if I refer back to this investigation in the future.
We are all Nicholas Felton now - the Personal Information Economy.

So how does this relate to Mum and her Fitbit? At the exhibition you learn about Nicholas Felton, who every year since 2005 has produced a report on himself and his life. The various bits of information are gathered together to form a database of his personality, habits and relationships. When this data is combined and visualised, what may seem like inconsequential details aggregate into a discernible narrative.  Back in 2005, it be fair to say his sanity was questioned, but looking at one of his visualisations now we can see the DNA of many a customer dashboard. 

Technology has become so prevalent in our lives that it now has a profound affect on our sense of wellbeing and ‘self’.  The Wellbeing Revolution is about empowering people to learn about themselves, for the benefit of their looks, their health and their general wellbeing.  It’s about the increasing use of science and technology to create confidence through knowledge facilitating the emergence of the Personal Information Economy.  As with equivalent new sectors, this journey has not created a one size fits all offering but as created sub categories along the way, where healthy living has become a manifestation of our self-identity with all its accompanying offerings.
Who are the players that can help digest this daily influx of data into something tangible, actionable an intrinsically linked to your world? I’m fairly confident we’ll see quantified self spinouts as the likes of my and her community are more personally catered for.

Tuesday 7 April 2015

Signals, noises, elections and technologies of engagement

The views contained in this blog and all of my blogs are very much my own. For those in the UK it can’t have escaped anyone’s attention that we have a forth coming election on the horizon. My polling card arrived in my mailbox and it got me thinking how old fashioned the process of elections is.  I recently attended Nesta’s showcase event Future Fest. At this year’s event you could make a case for Edward Snowden to be the headliner with his session on the challenges and implications of his experiences.

Crowdsourcing democracy
One of the main themes of the event was future democracy and through a range of talks and presentations we explored the rise of new parties. The majority are pretty traditional in their methods, but one or two are radically reinventing how parties should work.  Could we have an internet led and based political party in the UK. This idea isn't new as these Open network parties are appearing across Europe with parties such as Five Star and various Pirate Parties. Further afield Democracy OS in Argentina has designed an impressive way for people to propose ideas and shape them online. When you describe it like that you could find yourself using an Innovation Management System such as Wazoku’s idea spotlight.

Signals and noises
At one of the sessions we heard from Matthew Falla, co-founder of Signal Noise who are mapping our digital cities with data and it reminded me of Nate Silver, American statistician and writer, and his stellar performance in 2008.  He’s known for his successful baseball analysis, think pre Opta and the world of data based training, and his work on elections. He is currently the lead editor of the FiveThirtyEight blog.

For the November 2008 presidential election predictions he correctly predicted the winner of 49 of the 50 states. He also correctly predicted the winner of all 35 U.S. Senate races that year. So some reasonable credentials and bring this closer to home.  I recently say the picture below

When you get behind the numbers makes for a very interesting race and if this picture turns out to be right, they’ll be changes on the horizon.
For those who want to find out more checkout the blog and Silver's book, The Signal and the Noise, was published in September 2012, not the most riveting read but if you are interested in the power of data definitely worthwhile. I’m sure they’ll be all manner of analysts out there taking note.

Wednesday 1 April 2015

Beyond the hype : Delivering on the Blockchain’s Potential.

I attended the techUK Financial Services & Payments Programme and a seminar on exploring the Blockchain’s potential and demystifying the hype. The positioning of this session was very much along the lines of Blockchain has the potential to revolutionise the delivery of financial services and payments.  From disintermediating banks from the payments process by way of a decentralised system of exchange to facilitating the development of ‘smart contract’ applications the distributed consensus ledger (DCL) technology has in some parts been described as the enabler of the internet of value.

The session with an exceptional panel of Keith Saxton, Simon Bailey Director of Payments and Transaction Banking at CGI, Dave Birch, Director of Consult Hyperion and author of Identity is the New Money and Richard Brown ‘on the blockchain nobody knows you are a fridge’ the leading authority on cryptocurrencies in IBM covered how the technology industry can support, what are the implications and is there a direction of travel.

For me, as someone who has come late to this world but sees the incredible disruptive potential, the takeaways were the Blockchain isn’t a magic unicorn. That ability to make the make the virtual world more like the real world is its transformative effective and the usecase challenge hasn’t been solved. 
When it comes to choosing these I’m with the panelist in that the way forward is to do as is often prescribed, have a go and explore. The base technology you choose will have much depend on your objectives and whether this is an individual or organisational ask.  Whether you go for a Bitcoin or Ripple like offering is up for grabs as they offer different things and come with points of view and how much you see the world changing, with one working within the context of current financial structures and one looking to work outside it.

Disruptive journey ahead of us.

I also related to the idea that the disruption of the Blockchain is more likely to come from a solution for dishwasher warranties rather than an attempt to overthrow governments.  The real strength of its disruption is the ability to offer a vehicle to protect and reward the digital and creative industries.  Whilst we started in the world of payments and financial services, the thought of applying a blockchain concept coupled with a Kobalt type offering really does have incredible potential to disrupt the Music and Media content ecosystems. Just the start of the art of the possible, the journey will be bumpy, take longer and be more costly but the genie is out of the bottle. All this and we were supposed to be beyond the hype.

Wednesday 11 March 2015

BIC goes large

Last evening, I went along to the Big Innovtaion Centre scale up party.  BIC launched in September 2011, exists to make the UK a global open innovation hub, to build a world-class innovation ecosystem, and re-balance and grow the UK economy.  Not small challenge by anyone’s marker.
It’s gathered together some of our great companies added in key institutions from across the policy landscape to carry out business-oriented research, taking emerging ideas and backing  it up with evidence.
Support across the board
The party was to celebrate and call out the work they’ve been up too across thought leadership, innovation promotion and their co-creation platforms.  It was also an opportunity to remind all the political parties the importance of its mission.  With speeches from Vince Cable, Chuka Umunna, and David Willets the support was flowing. Understandable really as it has the sense of kissing babies for any politician.
We also heard from Ashok Vaswani at Barclays as he compared the industrial revolution to the digital revolution, as well as Pradeep Sindhu, founder of Juniper Networks on the opportunity and challenges of the new age innovation.  He had offered a useful slant on the implications and ethics of artificial intelligence.

My challenge is that I would love to greater diversity and representation from across the commercial sectors. Where are the awesome SME’s that are disrupting these major players and leading the charge for the UK? I’ll be looking to champion them as it’ll be these companies that showcase the UK as a global innovation hub. 

Wednesday 16 July 2014

The downloadable bank

I recently spent the day at WIRED Money, where the ideas design business and technology media entity brought together the people and businesses disrupting the world of finance. The event offered a range of sessions covering themes and technologies changing the face of money.

With Brett King from Moven saying that the traditional banking model involving branches, ATMs and application forms is redundant in a digital age and when you consider that the most powerful smartphone of 2014 has more computing power than RBS or HSBC had in 1985 then we are very much in a new world.

Another of the speakers Matthias Kroner from Fidor, an internet community bank, challenged the attendees by saying "to revolutionise banking in a truly global way, financial services need to be open – to their customers, to change and to innovation". He called out a powerful learning that process won over price citing same-day lenders with their ease and convenience as evidence.

The rise of the digital bank
The session amplified the takeaways from a recent Mckinsey paper.  A digital transformation will put upward of 30 percent of the revenues of a typical European bank in play.  Add this to the view that banks can take out 20 to 25 percent of their cost base by leveraging this digital shift to transform how they process and service. You then have an incredibly strong position.

Competing on Digital: the rise of digital banking services
In engaging with start-ups and entrepreneurs one can easily get lost in the analysis they call out as justification for change.  The BBA’s report provides an excellent state of the nation to back up most of the claims.
Finding that digital usage by the British public continues to rise. 14.7 Billion banking apps have been downloaded so far this year and GBP 6.4 Billion is being transferred via the Internet every week (up from GBP5.8 Billion last year).  6.6 million clients use Lloyds banking apps every week in 2014 so far. That compares to 4.7 million for the whole of 2013. 750,000 people have signed up to the new Paym service remitting a total transaction volume of GBP520 million.
Some serious numbers on the move to digital and with the use of branches continuing to fall and in the case of RBS/Nat West, branch usage has fallen from 25% of transactions in 2010 to only 10% today.

The world is changing
Digitization is changing the traditional financial services business model, in some cases radically. The good news is that there are substantial prizes to be had to those willing to embrace it. The bad news is that change is coming whether or not they are ready. 

Friday 3 January 2014

The increasing value of going digital

More than accounting
Last July Mckinsey published a useful little paper on the changing relationship of intangible and tangible assets of digital capital and how what was once a small minority of business activity are becoming the rule in the digital economy.
The view being, we can see the rising importance of this shift in the recent copyright battles between Internet and consumer-electronics companies and in the major spending on patent portfolios.  Measuring the full impact of digital capital requires a new set of management and financial lenses that incorporates your intangible assets such as your designs, business models and brands.

This is echoed by the work that BCG have done and called out in my Digital Diamond Hunting post, digital capital has become a major contributing factor in global economic growth. In some economies such as the UK, Sweden and Japan spending on intangibles represents two-thirds of digital capital’s total value.
According to BCG the digital economy is being driven, too, by small – medium-sized businesses’ fast adoption of online commerce. These companies are the backbone of the UK and they've taken to the internet economy, creating a virtuous circle: more choice for consumers, more cash in the marketplace and more promotion of the internet as the way to reach and engage.

Not all rosy
UK startups, have blazed a trail, but for the larger FTSE 100 enterprises things aren’t as rosy. With a market cap of over £1tn and employing an estimated 6.5m people and only four chief technology officers sitting on their boards, an indication of the low priority attached to digital strategy.
With FTSE 100 companies far behind the public, small businesses, startups and even governments in the digital race, there is growing demand for them to be held to account. With various stakeholders considering some form of Digital Performance ranking indicator to showcase this as a key business metric, where companies with at least ten percent of revenues online will be championed. 

Want a playbook and fresh approach?
For the laggards a useful methodology to consider is Max Kreijn’s Open Activation work on how to evolve from enterprise to startup?"  He’s done some fresh work and introduces 7 of the many findings from the research that consolidates the method of Open Activation. Collectively they provide an initial guide to how a large enterprise can begin thinking, acting, and succeeding like a digital startup.
Check it out, as the importance of digital intangibles continues to grow, we are increasingly going to see the need for these types of fresh approaches where the Digital Davids transform the Enterprise Goliaths.