Photo: Paddy Cosgrave, CEO and co-founder of Web Summit
Recently, Web Summit took place in Lisbon. “Web-what”? Web Summit is indeed a relative newcomer on the event scene, but you should take notice. At its core, Web Summit is all about connecting larger enterprises and investors to smaller tech companies. On a human level, Web Summit’s goal is to bring together youngish and enthusiastic technology entrepreneurs with experienced investors and leading managers of technology vendors. The result is a fresh and dynamic exchange of ideas and opinions as well as the mutual mentoring of the involved participants.
Web Summit started only in 2009 with a few dozen bloggers, journalists, and technologists in a hotel on the outskirts of Dublin. Web Summit’s rise to become one of the most important global technology conferences is remarkable. In 2016, the event already attracted 53,000 visitors from 166 countries and 15,000 companies, with 65% of visitors being senior managers, including 7,000 CEOs.
While uncertainty continues, focusing on innovation is your best chance of success. British Prime Minister Theresa May has repeatedly said, "Brexit means Brexit." This statement ensures that every business operating in the UK will experience an uncertain and volatile market environment for some time. In our conversations with CIOs and chief technology officers (CTOs) since the Brexit vote, Forrester has retained its view that only if companies retain a focus on customers will they ensure growth and innovation, especially in times of uncertainty. All CIOs and CTOs at businesses operating in the UK should:
Make the business case that innovation can help their firms deal with uncertainty. Top management will be distracted by many short- term tactical considerations relating to Brexit. Make the case that innovation will move you closer to your customers and help to deal with underlying uncertainty.
Partner with their risk managers. Developing innovations that rely on customer and machine data will expose businesses to regulatory and compliance risks. Plan your business technology and innovation strategies with the risk manager on your side.
The age of the customer demands that businesses drive innovation at ever faster speeds and with limited budgets. More than ever, innovation is of the essence, and innovation must be cost-effective. Frugal innovation offers an alternative approach to driving innovation as it is based on the tenet to do “more with less” in contrast to the widespread practice to increase the R&D budget. Frugal innovation:
Opens opportunities to cater to people “at the bottom of the pyramid.” Traditional R&D often ignores those customers with lower purchasing power. Frugal innovation specifically targets this customer segment, opening up opportunities for new revenue streams.
Is complimentary to traditional R&D, not a substitute. Frugal innovation will not replace traditional innovation, but it will add a new approach to drive innovation.
Requires a change of mindset and a different approach to innovation. The frugal innovator’s mindset sees constraints not as a disadvantage, but an opportunity. Frugal innovation supports and furthers a mindset for global innovative collaboration.
In a report, Forrester discussed arguments made by Microsoft regarding the potential benefits of the tie-up. There are some additional aspects that I also consider important when discussing the implications of the tie-up:
LinkedIn's status of trusted independent platform for professional information exchange could be undermined. Although the deal, should it go through, would help Microsoft to strengthen its social networking services and professional content, there will be LinkedIn users that are not keen to become sucked into the Microsoft ecosystem as part of their social collaboration activities and abandon LinkedIn as active users.
Microsoft must be much faster to decide on LinkedIn's strategy than it did with Skype. It took Microsoft several years to define its strategy for Skype, and Yammer for that matter. This slow response to sort out Skype's place in the Microsoft family slowed down Skype's momentum significantly. By the time the new Skype strategy was announced, most of the hardcore Skype users had migrated away towards other social collaboration platforms like WhatsApp, Facetime, or WeChat.
Microsoft must redouble its mobile efforts. A large part of LinkedIn users’ activities are mobile based. Microsoft's weak position in mobile ecosystems could dramatically undermine LinkedIn's longer-term opportunities. If Microsoft underestimates the mobile dimension for LinkedIn, the future for LinkedIn could be very questionable. Users are fickle and there is no loyalty to outdated social media platforms.
Talk about interesting times in the business of insurance. The year 2015 saw the attention-getting launch of Google Compare and its hibernation about 12 months later. Traditional insurers like Mass Mutual and Shelter Mutual got busy and launched their own direct-to-consumer digital quoting and sales businesses. State Farm was busy filing patents for by-the-trip car insurance and the means to measure just how stressed drivers were behind the wheel and rate their insurance accordingly. Prudential recognized that previously scary diseases were now chronic conditions that could be medically managed, launching life insurance coverage for HIV positive customers. AOL saw an opportunity and is now selling insurance to its members. And we at Forrester have been busy keeping track of over 700 disrupters across FinTech that have been capturing market attention and venture capital. Some of these firms like Lemonade are returning to the social roots of insurance. Lemonade's founders also appreciate that consumers are irrational economic animals and decided to hire a behavioral scientist to help them anticipate the crazy actions of homo sapiens. And yet some people out there still call insurance a boring industry!
Source: The Forrester Wave™: Innovation Management Solutions, Q2 2016
Innovation that only creates change is just that — change. When we asked firms about their major business objectives, 37% claim that product and service innovation is central to their business transformation.
But old-style innovation will be very tough to maintain. To exploit business value from digital technologies, innovation managers need to increasingly think in open ecosystems, open standards, open platforms, and open source software. Digital innovation equals service innovation, which in turn requires a willingness to experiment and engage in minimal-viable-product thinking, because:
As customers’ demand changes more quickly, innovation cycles must get shorter. Fast software innovation will “eat” slow hardware innovation given the ever greater role that software plays for today’s business value creation. An innovation management solution supports decision sessions and real-time voting and collaboration to quickly validate or gauge the interest of organizational priorities in short sessions. Organizations need to be willing to fail fast, be able to work iteratively on product and service improvements, run idea experiments based on soft-launches, and get feedback on innovation efforts via external feedback loops quickly.
We’re now only a week away from the Mobile World Congress 2016 to be held again in Barcelona. As the excitement builds and we plan our schedules, it serves us to reflect back on last year’s event and to explore what we expect this year.
Mobile World Congress remains the pre-eminent event of the mobile industry and now one of the largest global events across all industries – a fact which illustrates an ambiguity in the meaning itself of “mobile industry.” Last year, over 94,000 people attended the event – a 10% increase from the 2014 event but a 30% increase over the 2013 event. Interest in “mobile” continues to grow – for now. But the most interesting stat about past attendees is diversification. Yes, the event continues to draw representatives from mobile operators, device manufacturers, network equipment providers, software vendors, and other usual suspects. But representation from other industries is growing. Last year almost ¼ of attendees came from industries other than telecom and technology, including 4% from finance, 3% from government and others from automotive, pharmaceutical, retail, education, and entertainment. I expect even more diversity this year.
Finovate came to London again this week and I was lucky enough to attend. Here are my thoughts from the two days:
This year’s big theme was robo-advice. Every Finovate seems to have an unofficial, accidental theme with a large group of start-ups clustered around the same disruption, like PFM, mobile payments, small business banking or digital wallets. This year it was robo-advice.
Robo advice is starting to look crowded. Each of the new digital investment managers has a distinct story. Scalable Capital offers a sophisticated quantitative, value-at-risk strategy. MeetInvest helps investors mimic the strategies of famous investors like Benjamin Graham or Peter Lynch.* Investify lets investors choose themes that feel right. DriveWealth offers fractional share investing to allow low-cost access to the US markets. SwipeStox makes it easy to follow other investors through an app. Capitali.se converts ideas into trading rules. Europe has many countries and investors are diverse. Even so, the market is starting to seem crowded. Clearly the cost of managing investment portfolios is falling, which should enable firms to break even with fewer assets under management, but the costs of regulatory compliance and marketing to achieve growth have not diminished. Investment performance will sort the unicorns from the donkeys.
You have all heard the success stories of Uber and Airbnb as they leverage technology to disrupt existing business norms in the taxi and hotel businesses. Digital business successes such as these are pressuring traditional enterprises to focus on differentiation in business models, customer intimacy and velocity as they look to not only preserve market share, but – more importantly – to grow it! This is what Forrester calls the business technology (BT) agenda – technology investments that help your business win, serve, and retain customers.
Additionally, as an I&O professional you cannot ignore the investments, and success, with public cloud. For instance, public cloud providers like Amazon Web Services drive and deliver systems of innovation to create velocity both in new business ventures and traditional enterprises, especially in fueling mobility and web services. The investments to date are supporting the ability of the Public Cloud to support and drive innovation. Additionally, these solutions now raise the possibility of the cloud’s suitability for the next phase, transition of systems of record. This is one of the predictions in our Forrester “Predictions 2016: The Cloud Accelerates” which articulates 11 key developments for Cloud and what I&O professionals should do about them.
The “low hanging fruit” is gone – now it’s time to reach higher