Monday, December 22, 2008

Manufacturing Excellence Awards

With a focus on British manufacturing industry, the MX Awards (website here), provide a an insight on what are the key evaluation criteria in manufacturing in this early part of the 21st century. I am confident there will be change and in short order when economics may trump "ease of use" in favor of "fulfillment of need", or vice versa when the health of the global financial markets returns and credits begins to flow again.

The Manufacturing Awards magazine 2008 is an excellent read here.

The list of the award categories are:
  • PricewaterhouseCoopers Award for Customer Focus
  • Autodesk Award for Product Innovation
  • Institution of Mechanical Engineers Award for Process Innovation
  • WMG Award for Logistics and Resource Efficiency
  • DMG Award for Business Development & Change Management
  • Professional Engineering Award for People Effectiveness
  • BP Award for Best Partnership between Business and Education
  • National B2B Centre Award for Integrated e-Business
  • ERIKS Award for Financial Management
  • Arup Award for Sustainable Manufacturing
  • National Skills Academy for Manufacturing Award for Manufacturing Excellence Best Small or Medium Enterprise
  • BERR Manufacturing Advisory Service Award for Manufacturing Excellence Overall Winner

China: Consumerism, Reform and Growth in the Last 30 Years

"I remember when an absolute ludicrous sort of index of how things were progressing was there was a fad in the early eighties for high heeled men’s shoes as... the heels grew higher you knew the reforms were advancing.

States Mr. Orville Schell of the Asia Society in New York in an excellent Economist interview on the last 30 years of economic growth in China below:

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Debunking "Wisdom of Crowds" Myth - Two Examples

Crowds are not wise... crowds are equivalent of herds. Communities formed by choice are ones that constitute anything close to wisdom. To clarify how I look at defining wisdom, please see the diagram below:

Wisdom is the country of gods!

I am providing two examples, and these are not anecdotes.

First example: Did Toyota Prius make economical sense? No! I will let the reader search through the plethora of data out showing how buying a used or a modern car was far more economical than buying a Prius in the short and long term. See graph below of a test conducted by Good Clean Tech.

Yet the crowds thronged to buy the Prius creating an instant back log. As soon as the oil price dropped, the Prius is lined up on Toyota's dealership lots.

USA's oil consumption is nicely creeping back up and steadily climbing, see here from CENIMAR. Now, would a "wise" crowd try to dig themselves into the same hole they just climbed out of?

Second example: Consider the recent case of the investment manager Bernard Madoff. Please read and hear details here on NPR. Unfortunately the financial markets are full of other similar concerns.

I rest my case!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Health Care Consumers - Choices?

By way of Mr. Harish Mamtani, an excellent article in WSJ "Outsourcing Health Care to India" here. This is a consumer service market place that has come to a head in deciding what direction it is going to take.

One of USA's leading companies in this sector is Indus Health (see here) founded by a good friend Mr. Rajesh Rao who currently is its CEO. Rajesh is a visionary entrepreneur with breakthrough successes to his name. While discussing Rajesh's proposition with folks in the USA in the last couple of years, I used to get the distinct impression that the health care service providers considered Rajesh to be ahead and early to market. Yet, I believe Rajesh has shown himself to be a true trail blazer... his perseverance and commitment has resulted in Indus Health perhaps defining the right path to successful implementation.

An article this month on Business World "In Sickness And Recession" here states:

"Rajesh Rao, CEO, of IndUShealth, a North Carolina-based company that facilitates medical travel of American patients to Indian hospitals, estimates that a company with 1,000 employees typically can hope to cut its healthcare costs by half a million dollars every year by outsourcing treatment options for its employees to India. Rao should know because even before the Serigraph announcement made headlines across the US, he has been helping American corporates send employees to India. Today, Rao, has at least 12 mid-sized employers availing his corporate programme (translating into 40,000-50,000 subscribers) and he says he has been tripling his volumes year on year since he started in 2005, when it was just a trickle."

Another article from Smart Money "As Health Costs Soar, More Find Care Overseas" provides an excellent overview of the "what" and "why" of outsourcing of health care, see here.

UPDATE: Upon reading my blog, Rajesh forwarded two excellent articles from the Economist weighing in on outsourcing Health Care.

In the article "Operating Profit" here, the Economist asks: "Why put up with expensive, run-of-the-mill health care at home when you can be treated just as well abroad?" A question every health care consumer is going to start asking if already not doing so. This article especially focuses on the costs associated with various medical procedures.

In any service model with a distributor going out to the end consumer, the consumers continuously strive for better value... just like WalMart did not run the mom and pop stores out of business necessarily - the small store did not have a competitive advantage or distinction that could compete with "Every Day Low Prices" equity and delivery on that equity of WalMart.

Similarly, the article concludes that:

"Medical tourism promises to be what Aetna’s Dr Cutler calls “a disruptive market force that improves cost and quality here in America.” Whether or not it turns out to be all its boosters wish for, it will be a force to be reckoned with."

The secret here is that the multi-nationals are not driven to become international, it is the consumer who will reach out if the corporation does not deliver on the need. It is true with products, it is true with services!

In the Economist article "Importing Competition" here, the Economist declares - "The coming boom in medical travel could help both rich and poor". This article highlights the issues with a health care system (i.e. US) which is not being repaired as the consumer is leaving it as they would a rusted out car for something new... and not improved, but a fundamental shift in how the service is organized and conducted, the anciliary opportunities for the distributor, the provider and finally the customer of it all. Hence, outsourcing health care to corporate while health tourism to the consumer.

In the end the consumer always wins! The one who delivers on the need successfully, is a bigger winner.

Green and Sustainable While Creating and Conducting Business

Learn From Dwellers of Dharavi (Asia's Biggest Slum) Who Know How To

I was involved in innovation related to sustainability in products and services with a hard green focus in Denmark in 2006 and early 2007 with Ms. Frederrike Kroon of MCS. Ms. Kroon's organization has developed fundamental breakthroughs in how to think about sustainability, see examples here. I can say with confidence that the Danish represent the highest level of thinking, acting and living sustainably in comparison to anywhere else in the world. Don't take my word for it, visit Denmark yourself!

Yet, due to the recent barge of the West in asking and trying to teach the East about green and living in harmony with nature, recycling, etc. including many of my friends, MBA students I have lectured, etc. I started to look back through my experiences in South Asia - to discover whether South Asia does or does not know how to recycle, to live while maximizing the value of manufactured products and returning them for reuse in new formats, etc.

Low and behold - the West, specifically the USA has a lot to learn from the East.

I would like to introduce Asia's biggest slum - Dharavi, ~430 acres in the suburbs of Mumbai, India. See details on Wikipedia here.

An article in the Economist "A Soul-Searching Business" here claims "The slum-dwellers of Dharavi are green". A quote from the article:

"Like Hindu souls, disposable plastic cups are many times reborn in Dharavi. In a spiralling continuum, they are discarded and gathered in, melted down to their polypropylene essence, and re-moulded in some new plastic form. Recycling is one of the slum's biggest industries. Thousands of tonnes of scrap plastic, metals, paper, cotton, soap and glass revolve through Dharavi each day."

See a dedicated to Dharavi website - showcasing all the small communities and commercial efforts here.

Dharavi is one example of similar communities spread across the South Asia that are hubs of innovation in business and recycling. See an excellent documentary on business there below.

I have stated before and I truly believe that "Satiated People Do Not Innovate". This has been the experience of my life. See an article from the Economist on the residents of Asia's biggest slum Dharavi thriving and creating new business out of hardship here. The article states:

"At 7am the early shift begins in Dharavi's 15,000 hutment factories. Typically, they consist of one or two jerry-built storeys, stuffed with boys and men sewing cotton, melting plastic, hammering iron and moulding clay. Indeed, it is for its industry, not its size, that Dharavi is most distinctive. The clothes, pots, toys and recycled materials its residents produce earn them millions of dollars in annual exports alone. As the sun climbs over Dharavi, a rising timpani of metal on metal, a whirring of small machinery, indicate that the working-day has begun."

See my previous post on alternate fuel based automotive in Pakistan here.

USA returning to focus on Science and Technology

"Most scientists consider the last eight years a tough era in Washington. But President-elect Barack Obama's reported picks for Secretary of Energy and EPA administrator and the creation of an "energy czar" signal a return to scientific principles in the decision-making process at the federal level."

States the Wired article "Science Born Again in the White House, and Not a Moment Too Soon" here. The new administration coming to the White House has selected a good and balanced set of individuals given their resumes.

Yet one thing should not be over looked that the current administration has pumped (or dumped based on your preference) funding into R&D via the intelligence services. As always the results of these inventions will spring new businesses in years to come when the successful or failed innovations are not a national security concern and can be made public.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Apple Ads

Apple: Our Ads Don't Lie, But You're a Fool if You Believe Them, see Wired article here. A 70 year old Mr. William Gillis, San Diego resident has filed a complaint alleging that Apple falsely advertised the iPhone 3G by calling it "twice as fast for half the price" compared with the original handset.

"Succeeding in a Volatile Market: 2018 The Future Value Chain"

A report brought to me by way of my friend and colleague Mr. Anthony Tsai, who currently is CEO – BHG Retail Innovation Institute and EVP Operations – The BJ Hualian Hypermarket Co., published jointly by Global Commerce Initiative, CapGemini, HP and SAP. Mr. Tsai is currently leading the development of Hualian Innovation Center in Beijing, see Mr. Franz Dill's blog on the subject here.

"Succeeding in a Volatile Market: 2018 The Future Value Chain" is report on global trends and a study developing a ten year vision of consumer goods and retail industry. It has a strong focus on Asian markets. It has been presented at the Global CEO Forum where its approach and outcomes found great reception. The report is not published on the internet yet but a similar report "Future of Supply Chain 2016: Serving Consumers in a Sustainable Way" is available for download here.

The highlight of the report for me is the focus in its recommendations on consumer insights - to learn and to know the latent need and satisfy it and to act on consumers concerns quickly, such as environment and sustainability.

A few conclusions from the study regarding CPG / FMCG market place are (1) given the continued economic volatility and environmental concerns, retailers and manufacturers have growth opportunities when focused on meeting the consumer needs better, (2) cooperation and collaboration among partners, retailers and manufacturers can help them face trends that are bound to hit the Asian markets currently faced in other parts of the world. These conclusions may be called obvious, yet one must note that the report was developed with competing manufacturers and retailers sitting side by side in GCI conducted workshops.

I personally liked the study's focus on the Asian low income consumer and tangible ideas put forth on how best to deliver to them products that fulfill their needs with the highest quality and the lowest cost - here is a challenge indeed. Yet, here is the market for pure growth versus value based returns.

Finally, a trends analysis usually is mired in details of what the future may be - this report goes further and provides an examination of, at times with deep scrutiny, the on-the-ground implications to consumers, retailers and manufacturers of the said trends.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Impact of Economics on Online Advertising

The Economist states in "Not Ye Olde Banners" here:

"Mary Meeker, an internet analyst at Morgan Stanley, ... estimates, if the economy stops growing, ad spending is likely to fall by 4%. If the economy shrinks by 2%, overall ad spending may fall by 10%."

The fantastic thing about online advertising is that with the change in available technology come shifts in the marketing methods... hence, one does not have to wait 25 years to become old school that can happen in 25 weeks.

Here is an example of how online advertising can connect the analogue marketing's serialization of consumer engagement into multi-point choice for the consumer, as stated in the article:

"Mr Rothenberg (Interactive Advertising Bureau) gives the example of a rich-media ad for Kraft, a food company, in which a yummy image raises brand awareness, a click reveals a recipe that increases consideration, another click provides coupons and yet another click initiates a game that can be shared with friends. Marketing managers can therefore defend their online budgets as being both above (awareness or consideration) and below (preference or loyalty) the line."

I believe the economics of today will drive what I have hoped for - innovation leading towards affective online advertising delivering results that can be measured i.e. (and as Ted McConnell puts it) Performance-Based Advertising. The pressure will be on all - the brand manager, the creative/agency, the inventory holder/distributor.

See my previous blog "Social Networks & Advertisement" here.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Consumer Pricing and Service Growth

Many a times high service prices quelch the possibilities of growth that may have tangential ramifications on the consumer market. An example is the cost of text messages dropping substantially and being capped in Europe as discussed in BBC's article "Europe Backs Mobile Roaming Cap" here.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Olfactory Route to the Consumer's Heart

The Economist predicts that in 2009 the world will see the sense of smell integrated into the browsing and buying experiences for consumers. See the article "Led by the Nose" here. The article quotes:

"Simon Harrop, chief executive of BRAND sense agency, reckons the power of scents comes from their close association with emotion and memory. Get the smell right and you can bypass rational thought."

I believe perhaps for the first time purchase the average buyer "may" go for an evaluation that involves obvious or discrete methods of olfactory indulgence (or insurgency) yet the mainstream consumer, for example a mother does not on average have the time for extrapolation or exploration unless it comes in the form of a free trial, coupon, etc. and is usually a repeat buyer of tried and proven products.

The article ends with:

"But retailers and their marketers are treading a path full of pitfalls. What are the ethics, for instance, of enticing obese people to buy snacks by wafting the smell of popcorn at them?"

Social Networks & Advertisement

I recently attended the Internet Summit in Chapel Hill, NC - see details here. Social networks and advertisement / marketing in Web 2.0 world were the main topics of the panels.

Having had the excellent opportunity to lead technology development on the world's first and leading word of mouth / viral marketing brands PG-Tremor and PG-Vocalpoint: I found myself grasping (during the panel on "Marketing in a 2.0 World") at anything that spoke of web marketing delivering anything beyond amplification in their discussion. And so, I asked if the panel could give tangible example, just one, of advocacy i.e. purchase intent converted and realized, from their social network(s) focused program or campaign.

I am sorry to report the excellent panel representing Vitrue, Lenovo, Microsoft and Digitalsmiths had to submit that they mostly have examples of increased awareness.

As such, please see superb insights from my friend and colleague Mr. Ted McConnell, P&G's Leader of Interactive Marketing and Innovation here. To social network sites that leverage media for ads, Ted stated:

""I have a reaction to that as a consumer advocate and an advertiser," he said. "What in heaven's name made you think you could monetize the real estate in which somebody is breaking up with their girlfriend?""

On consumer engaged media generation, Ted stated:

""I think when we call it 'consumer-generated media,' we're being predatory," he said. "Who said this is media? Media is something you can buy and sell [...] We hijack their own conversations, their own thoughts and feelings, and try to monetize it.""

I believe Ted represents leading thought and execution on interactive (media) and advertisement leveraging leading technologies - as such his personal preferences may be something to pay heed to:

"I really don't want to buy any more banner ads on Facebook."

Finally, I am happy to hear Ted predict and see the following in the market place:

""'Spray and pray' is a little harder to do when you're under economic pressure," he said. "So performance-based advertising will gain share over CPM.""

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Ford - An Analysis

A good friend of mine Mr. Rachit Shukla conducted an evaluation of Ford in Nov 2006 while at the Wharton School of University of Pennsylvania. Rachit and his team provide great insights that are validating themselves within a matter of couple years. The report provides a good analysis of Ford's third restructuring effort (in five years) called the "Way Forward".

On Ford's recent history from the report:

(click for larger view)

The above can be stated of the US automotive industry in general. Being close to the performance automotive industry personally, I have been amazed at the most recent Detroit Automotive show... I was terribly curious as to who was planning to purchase most of the new cars and trucks being showcased by Ford and GM?

On the topic of consumer focus, the report states:

"Currently, Ford lacks product differentiation between the three brands sold by the North American division – Ford, Lincoln, and Mercury. As a result, the divisions are cannibalizing each other’s sales. As a Merrill Lynch analyst remarked: “[Mercury and Lincoln] are mostly dressed-up versions of mass-market Fords.” "

Please see the detailed report here.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Country Branding

I just read the "Country Brand Index 2008: Insights, Findings & Country Rankings" - download PDF here, from the FutureBrand folks. I found their study great for taking on such a challenge - I found their methodology exceptional in taking complex topics as culture, environment, destination, etc. and rinsing them through the qualitative parts such as emotions, perceptions, etc.

FutureBrand's Country Brand Platform - Sec 1:1 of the report
(click for a larger view)

The CBI-08 report has snippets of treats for the visualization of data and information - Tufte would be proud.

At the same time I felt a touch of bias simply due to the heavily Western panel of experts (see page 14 & 15 in the report) and the same for the sources (see page 61).

Even though an article on the above report in the Economist states:

"As someone with a non-marketing background, I find the notion of branding an entire country rather reductive. You end up talking in such broad terms (viz. the view of Australia in the first paragraph) that the themes tend towards the stereotypical or even the meaningless."

I believe the buzz, or marketing hype associated with brands does impact consumer decisions that are meaningful to economic development. An example not to be overlooked is UAE, with approximately 12% or less original Emirati populace, massive investment in second and vacation homes from Europeans, South Asians, Australians and South East Asians (Singapore, Honk Kong), it is but one example of what a brand can do.

Two more points from the report that I found insightful:

(1) "Countries in Momentum" (see page 26) provides a clear indication of the developing countries (with two exceptions from developed countries) gaining momentum under the headings of Emerging, In Vogue and Rising while the developed countries with two exceptions falling under the headings of Declining and Maintaining. I believe this provides a glimpse of the future of these countries for the 21st century.

(2) "Country Branded Products" (see page 32) shows the reinforcement received by product brands due to their country's brand. A realization must not be lost here that country brands can cause havoc on product brands - see the Middle East boycott of Arla as a recent example here.

In summary, I found the report with great mechanics while emphasizing and leveraging the positive. For an astute mind, this report offers great data to digest. I caution against the overly optimistic tone of some of the conclusions (see (2) above). Reality on the ground can be a surprise.

Brand "Image" Impacts Consumers - Literally

Marketing laterally, subliminally, subconsciously, through adjacency - just a few of the names to find a way to have the consumer "choose" your product. Results of a recent study regarding TV ads published in the Economist "Watching the watchers" here shows through research and analysis that a brand's image (on screen) can impact choice decisions. It further showed that sound perhaps was not as impactful as the advertisement was being viewed at fast forward speeds on TV.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Talent Warming

I thought I will deliver a new buzzword for the web world to distribute and evolve:

Talent Warming - The unfulfilled and desperate yet growing need for masses of educated and preferably experienced knowledge workers to create value for corporations, governments and non-profits.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Raymond Loewy - Father of 20th Century Design Innovation

If you don't know of Raymond Loewy then he is one of the two or three individuals from the 20th century in America who have made design the impactful reality in products - from maximizing on revenue to the consumer feeling the "need" to "must have" a particular brand.

Wired magazine online profiled Raymond Loewy in November here. Also, I visited an informative exhibition on Raymond Loewy chronicling his design through the decades including family and commercial videos in Bozeman, Montana called "Raymond Loewy:Designs for a Consumer Culture". See details here.

For me there is no getting away from the fact that Raymond Loewy brought together the initial principles of Industrial Design, perhaps not all of them yet the most important ones, including that it begins and ends with the consumer, in delighting the consumer through design and the experience that design imparts for the consumer of the product.

See a photo gallery of Raymond Loewy's designs here on Wired online.

Innovation Index Team on Procter & Gamble's Innovation and Profitability

The Innovation Index folks have published an article sharing some of why they believe are the reasons for continued success of P&G here.The article states:

"Why is P&G doing so well? One answer: Innovation. Innovation driving new business, innovation driving growth, innovative leadership by the CEO of P&G A.G. Lafley."

The IDSA said about the above article in their newsletter called designbytes:

"This report about Procter & Gamble ... borders on the breathless and gushing, but it does contain some solid insight..."

Monday, November 10, 2008

Friday, November 7, 2008

World Perspective / Photo - 4 [Automotive Disruption]

When the above commercial launched in India for theFrench manufactured Peugeot 206 for $19,900 a few years back, I do not think the automotive industry of the world had any idea what was to come from India's domestic automotive manufacturers:

Tata Nano - $2,500

The reader may want to consider that the dollar's value is comparatively less rather than being more since the launch of the Peugeot while the PPP of India has increased.

Dear Businessman: How Do You Get Consumer Insights?

I believe in having the "consumer in the loop" of any new and existing business that delivers a product or a service to a user. The ones who do, mostly/generically do so through focus groups and online/offline surveys. I was engaged in consumer innovation at Procter & Gamble at the company's Innovation Centers where we used immersive and experiential environments to obtain consumer insights. Innovation Centers remain one of the best ways to have "consumer in the loop". My feelings on the subject are echoed in Steve Jobs' statement back in 1998:

"It's really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don't know what they want until you show it to them."

Statistical analysis is driving small to large to massive decisions (with economic and social impact) in all spheres of commerce and government. Below are two examples of caution:

First, I like to share the results of an in-depth study on the threat to human health from mobile phones. The Economist publihed an evaluation of this study conducted by Interphone started in 2000 and ending in 2006 costing $30m with 50 scientists engaged in 13 countries working with 14,000 people. The article "Mobile Madness" here states:

" “LONG-TERM mobile-phone use increases risk of benign tumours!” “Clean bill of health for the mobile!” “Mobile phone-cancer link not proven!” [...] even by the standards of modern news, it is unusual to see such contradictory headlines about the same piece of research."

My goal is to highlight the fact that translating qualitative information to quatitative data for making decisions remains a difficult place.

Second, to make it even more obvious see yet another article from the Economist "Mind Your Phone" here. The article discusses people's "electrosensitivity" or physical response to the electromagnetic fields that surround phones. What is interesting is (as the articles states):

"Dr Landgrebe and Dr Frick used a body scanner called a functional magnetic-resonance imager to see how people’s brains react to two different kinds of stimulus. Thirty participants, half of whom described themselves as electrosensitive, were put in the imager and told that they would undergo a series of trials in which they would be exposed either to an active mobile phone or to a heating device called a thermode, whose temperature would be varied between the trials. The thermode was real. The mobile phone, however, was a dummy."

The article concludes:

"The paradoxical upshot [...] is that mobile phones do indeed inflict real suffering on some unfortunate individuals. It is just that the electromagnetic radiation they emit has nothing whatsoever to do with it."

The above example shows that simple surveys and focus groups would have yielded results that may not provide the correct insights to base decisions on. Yet, an example of impact such evaluations as I stated before is:

"Sweden, has recognised such sensitivity as a disability, and will pay for the dwellings of sufferers to be screened from the world’s electronic smog."

So, how do you choose to make decisions for your business?

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Fundamental Breakthroughs - Fractals

It is a human characteristic to organize chaos of all that life represents. Yet, it is this drive that unfortunately drives us farther away from the true breakthroughs dependent on not following form and structure -  breakthroughs at a fundamental level. The best example of this is Albert Einstein, the famous patent clerk.

A similar case is Benoit Mandelbrot, the inventor of fractal geometry - "a rough or fragmented geometric shape that can be split into parts, each of which is (at least approximately) a reduced-size copy of the whole". See what is a fractal here.

Or further simplified... Fractals are mathematical representations of geometric shapes that are "rough" or "complex".

See an excellent interview with Benoit Mandelbrot here.

See the Public Broadcasting Service's program Nova on fractals called "Hunting the Hidden Dimension" online here.

In our education systems to teach geometry, we have simplified it and described it with clearly defined and recognizable shapes like circle, triangles, etc. With fractals comes understanding existing and development of new shapes both physical and virtual that mimic nature. Rather then my listing the large number of applications of fractals, see this site for fractal use. For a little more in depth mathematical understanding, see here.

What has driven me to write about fractals after having studied them for couple of decades is the application in the form of fractal antennas. See a company solely dedicated to selling fractal antennas here.See a bit more detail here.

I believe, the combination of fractal antennas and the substantial drop in manufacturing prices of RFIDs due to discoveries in cellulose based dielectric, the future is all about any and all objects being tagged, tracked and data based.

As my good friend Mr. Chris Downs of LiveWork (see my blog here) states, "It is all about the new oil called data".

USA: Political Changes Impact Science

Here are a few articles that share the extent of funding cuts on education and scientific research in the US in the past few years:

With the change in the political landscape in the USA, the Science Magazine published an article stating that there is good news for research in science, see here.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

World's Largest Retail Space - Dubai Mall (The Consumer Heaven)

"Of the total indoor floorspace of 5.9 million square feet, a massive 3.77 million square feet is the gross leasable area."

States an article in the Gulf News here regarding the newly opened Dubai Mall. During my evaluation of retail markets of Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Ras Al Khaimah in early 2006, it was obvious that Dubai was redefining how one looks at the concept of "shopping". Again, as I have discussed in my previous posts regarding design and experience (see "It is all about Design and Experience?" here) - the design of these retail spaces are associated with functionality of being able to purchase products / services of choice while enjoying a unique experience whether it is  sking the 1.5 kilometer slope at the Mall of the Emirates (see here) or the aquarium at the new Dubai Mall (see here).

Back in early 2006 during my analysis, it was clear that foot falls were the measure more so than for example adjacency of complimentary sale opportunity, ex: outside a niche, high-end watch shop a cheap children's toy cart was parked. It had not improved tremendously till this past summer when I was there. Many other retail space use and growth principles were missing. Another reason I discovered was the space's owner has to contend with a globally diverse population.

Dubai to me is an ideal place for using immersive and experiential environments to understand the consumer and uniquely deliver to them what they desire. For now, it is big, bigger to huge! In a little rewording per Mr. Abed Bibi a marketing executive and friend of mine - "Please come and Do-Buy".

Monday, November 3, 2008

RFID ubiquity - Around the corner

"Silicon’s other role, when it is pure, is as a dielectric—a material that can be penetrated by an electric field, but not an electric current. It is silicon’s role as a dielectric that Dr Fortunato and Dr Martins propose to replace."

Recent breakthrough in utilizing paper (cellulose) to replace silicon: see the Economist's article "Looks Good on Paper" here. Now, this could see RFID become pervasive... I predict that the RFIDs will make entry through consumer product goods and use by consumers for their daily use. Hand in hand will be the privacy concerns. How have such concerns been resolved in history? Well, we know the answer!

See Franz Dill's compendium of blogs on RFID here.

(we)Blogs are over (per Wired)

"Thinking about launching your own blog? Here's some friendly advice: Don't. And if you've already got one, pull the plug."

A statement from the Wired article "Twitter, Flickr, Facebook Make Blogs Look So 2004" here.

1988... A computer lab at Georgia Institute of Technology... I had just finished typing up a Usenet article on a recent trip (on a Sun station) while a small window scrolled on the side showing what people were doing... what class rocked, what professor was pure pain, where was the Thursday night party going to start, insight on the mid-term coming up and so on... and at the same time I had couple of private chat windows going on.

Fast forward to just about 2008... has anything changed, not really. The only thing that has changed is "hype-cycling"!!! I like Wired, it provides, insight and foresight simultaneously while at times stating the obvious...!

Blogs have a place, like Twitter, Facebook, etc. I believe knowledge rinsed through experience consolidated into blogs will remain the main stay for finding vetted results to one's search for information. Blogs are what Wikipedia can never be... experience added to the product, i.e. Wikipedia is the product for gathering knowledge, everyone loves it and uses it... yet to engage in experiences associated with the "use" of the product, we will go to blogs that challenge, enhance, counter, evaluate, etc. the common wisdom within the product (Wikipedia) through the experiential results of humans.

Twitter has its place... and so do blogs. They will coexist.

Thursday, October 23, 2008



McDonald's is always where you "expect" it. Carrefour is "not" a retailer . . . Trojan Innovation is a term created by my friend Mr. Martin Ertl, CIO of Bombardier Transportation resulting from our in-depth analysis on innovation practices.

The concept is that the innovator chooses a perceived benefit (PB) as the prime (tried and proven) method of business, while capitalising on a real benefit (RB) as the strategic business approach. The two companies mentioned above are real estate plays i.e. RB first and food industry and retail industry leaders i.e. PB second.

Interestingly, McDonald is one of the first companies to use predictive modeling to map population growth and hence the "M" where one wants it.

More details to follow soon ...

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Singapore + China - Free Trade Agreement

"China is Singapore's third-largest trading partner and Singapore is China's eighth-largest trading partner."

The article cited above is here and goes on to discuss the Free Trade Agreement reached after two years of working on it between Singapore and China.

Singapore is a fascinating experiment that has remained ahead of its time in being a successful, let's say a terribly successful, city state when compared to the other current sovereign city states of the World - Monaco, San Marino and Vatican City. Today, Dubai and other Gulf megalopolis are attempting to build their "Singapore". Other close competitors to Singapore (non-sovereign) city states are Hong Kong and Macau, perhaps City of London.

Click here to read about some inspiring quantitative details on Singapore from The World Fact Book, a small place with a population that is less than that of Denmark.

The FTA between Singapore and China will resolve/cover some of the sticking points as cited in the article:

"... the deal covers trade in goods, rules of origin, trade remedies, trade in services, movement of persons, investment, customs procedures, technical barriers to trade, sanitary measures and economic cooperation."

At a population of approximately 4.5 million, $62 billion in trade with China shows that Singapore's strengths cover more than manufacturing. Here is an example of what Singapore was thinking and doing about four years ago - unrestricted research for bioscientists. With such foresight, I believe Singapore will continue to lead all sovereign and non-sovereign city states of the World for at least half if not all of the 21st Century.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Dubai - Financial Health

A good article here (by way of Dharm Kapadia) evaluating the concerns and possible ramifications of Dubai's current financial leverage and the US economic crisis. The article states:

"Dubai's biggest risk is its daring reliance on debt to drive its breath-taking building boom. Last week, Moody's estimated that in 2006, the most recent year for figures, Dubai's government and public sector company debt was at least $47 billion, a staggering 103% of Gross Domestic Product. The investment rating agency said it expected Dubai's debt to continue outpacing GDP for another five years, exposing Dubai to pronounced financing and geopolitical risks."

Yet the article goes to conclude in positive terms providing regional insights and a little bit of history of Dubai and Abu Dhabi's relationship:

"An underlying reason for the relative lack of panic so far is that Dubai real estate remains a financial haven for wealthy individuals from riskier nearby countries like Iran and Pakistan. What's more, Dubai's real estate sector is dominated by a handful of major companies — collectively dubbed "Dubai Inc." — that are directly or indirectly owned and controlled by the government. This means, analysts say, that Dubai authorities could effectively stave off a bubble burst by keeping finished projects off line until market conditions improved. In the event of a systemic threat, Dubai can probably rely on super-rich Abu Dhabi for a bailout. "We consider it highly likely that the authorities will step in at some level to support entities that are strategically important for the economy," Moody's analyst Tristan Cooper tells TIME."

UPDATE: The above article on TIME online has sparked exciting and interesting conversations among my friends in Dubai. The insight is that over 90% of the demographic represented by my friends engaged in the discussion (male-70% and female-30%) (1) South Asians, Middle Easterners and North Africans, (2) Are between the ages of 28 and 44, (3) Married (or about to be), (4) Educated in the West (or equivalent Western University in the region) and lived there prior to moving to Dubai, and (5) Have lived in Dubai for over 2 years - (a) Are not planning to leave Dubai, (b) Are happy to see "small timers", "short timers" leave or "Go Dubizzle" (as one person stated), (c) Are confident in Dubai claiming and taking the place of being "The Financial Center" of "Middle Earth" (as one person put it).

I like to suggest ~10% margin of error to the above qualitative analysis to what the individuals actually do.

Could it be that Dubai "may" have created the method of capturing the Knowledge Worker? See my future post on challenge from Qatar in the from of Qatar Foundation, see here.

Artificial Intelligence

The word "never" does not exist in a scientists vocabulary. Will Wright (see biography here) stated that "Machines will never achieve human intelligence." I believe this to be a strong assumption. Mr. Wright further states, "Intelligence is whatever we can do that computers can't." See the text and video of the interview on Popular Mechanics here.

This has rekindled a long standing discussion with Franz Dill again, see his post "Prophecies about AI" here.

Computing is currently limited, yet moving at exponential speeds (in gaining speed). As soon as the silicon wafers in integrated circuits are replaced with diamond wafers, we will have a factor of 10 increase in the ability to withstand heat in an IC. What does this do to speed? Currently the science has pushed the existing formula (in practice) to roughly state that (in CMOS based technologies) the heat generated by a processor is approximately proportional to its clock rate, see detailed paper here. So Tera-Hertz is not far.

With such speeds more data processing occurs faster. Generically speaking, human brain stores all, applies patterns of learned behavior and hence the decisions - the key to move from one node to the next in the decision tree, or jump, or, etc. With increase in computational speeds, machines could be preloaded with "human" patterns - resulting in human like decision making. Excellent primer on human brain functionality here.

Yet, with Quantum Computing and organic memory storage and processing available one day... I have to go back to the word "never" as stated by Mr. Will Wright... I am tempted to say that there is never such a thing as never!

Virtual Worlds - Second Life

Second Life (SL) is one of the more successful virtual (online) worlds. I met with SL folks at SIGGRAPH when they first handed out T-shirts! I have one of the original green hand shirts...

I experimented with SL and found it lacking as my expectations are to incorporate all the human senses into an experience... hence, I await haptics. See details on Haptic Technology here. Yet, I feel that generation X/Y/Z are perhaps more apt at relinquishing some of the sensical facilities to establish virtual/online communities.

See detailed reviews and discussion on SL from my friend and colleague Franz Dill here. See Second Life virtual world here.

Report Card for U.S.A.'s Infrastructure

America's infrastructure boom occurred roughly with the industrial age and continued till after World War II. Similar activities are taking place today in places like Dubai, Macau, Beijing, Mumbai, Banglore, parts of Africa, etc.

One of the keys to economic development for a region is quality of life and of various lifestyles that attract the top paying knowledge worker and retains them. America's "report card" on this subject here developed by the American Society of Civil Engineers (details here) is indepth and educational.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

World Perspective / Photo - 3 [India Institute of Technology]

Above is the picture of Hijli Dentention Camp at Kharagpur established during the British Colonial Rule in 1930 to accommodate those who were involved in the armed struggle for freedom of the Indian Sub-Continent or the non-cooperation movement.

On the same grounds of the infamous detention camp on the right is the picture of the first Prime Minister of India, Mr. Jawaharlal Nehru (see biography here), laying the foundation stone for the first of India Institute of Technologys (IIT) at Kharagpur.

At the ceremony on April 21st, 1956, Mr. Nehru said:

"Here I stand at this place and my mind inevitably goes back to that infamous institution for which this place became famous not now but 20 to 30 years ago- the Hijli detention camp. Here in the place of that Hijli detention camp stands this fine monument of India (IIT) today representing India's future in the making."

Read historical details of the Hijli Detention Camp and IIT Kharagpur here.

IIT Kharagpur today (see the University website here)  is ranked among the top Universities of the World and continues to gain ground in delivering the best in class talent.

[Below is the renovated detention camp serving as part of IIT]

As I post this blog I find it difficult to imagine the pride that the students and alumni of this institute must feel - to deliver and create knowledge through the passion and persistence of humans from the place of human misery created by humans. At the same time, I am confident that the experiences of these student's grand fathers and great grand fathers must reach deep within their hearts to kindle the desire to be the best that only the results we see in the World today can show. I will attempt to obtain a list of IIT Kharagpur alumni conducting the business of the World to post here in the near future.

The statement I make here is not that India has achieved such. The insight is for the astute - that if this has been achieved in such a short time then what is to come in a shorter time from South Asia?

Monday, October 13, 2008

Japan - International Growth Through Purchases / Acquisitions

"Thanks to conservative managers and years of record profits, Japanese public companies are sitting on cash reserves of more than ¥60 trillion, estimates Nikkei, a financial-news company."

States the article in the Economist "The Japanese are coming (again)" here. The figure below gives a visual insight on how Japanese companies have done this at the end of the last two decades also:

Another good article on the subject here from the International Herald Tribune. An excerpt:

"But aggressive expansion also presents challenges, especially cultural ones. Traditionally, Japanese firms emphasize seniority and stability over individual incentive and profits."

Aren't individual incentives and profits couple of the key ingredients to breakthrough innovation?

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Economist's explanation of market destabilization

Excellent diagnosis and analysis of the current economic downturn by the Economist in their special report "When fortune frowned" here.

Wired: Jagdish Bhagwati - Keep Free Trade Free

I wrote a review here of Mr. Parag Khana's letter to the next President of the USA. Below are some of my thoughts on a similar letter to the next President of the USA from Dr. Jagdish Bhagwati, see here.

In one word "brilliant". Or is it because he shares or states insights that are similar to how I look at the global market place? Here is an excerpt:

"... China may never be as innovative as the US, which has a stable venture-capital model and an entrepreneurial culture that promotes creativity. Globalization helps nations discover their unique strengths."

[Portrait on right of Dr. Bhagwati by Mario Hugo]

Dr. Bhagwati discusses IP in his article in context of constrained free trade, NAFTA being his example where he states:

"Agreements like Nafta are for free trade among members but increased protection against nonmembers."

Economic constraints (or sometimes protectionism) have an interesting quality that for a short period of time they benefit the ones within the boundary(s). If such continues, different models of conducting business emerge outside the boundary(s) that directly compete with the constrained model.

An extreme example of this would be the difficulties Israel faces in bringing its IP and ideas to the global market place, due to the reasons that are. As the US is one of the most open and international business friendly places for new ventures, at times trumping politics when the economic will is stronger, the US has benefited from a plethora of Israeli breakthroughs using it as the global launch pad. I wonder of the economic impacts if this IP had Asian launch pads for success?

I believe "Political will" to be perception and "Economic will" to be reality - both must be leveraged and managed with a balance. An unfortunate example of the imbalance is the Kyoto Protocol (details here).

[Click the figure above to maximize]

Further emphasizing my thoughts on this subject is a current example of yet another unsuccessful attempt to drive towards free trade and economic models of conducting business on agriculture, industry and services - the Doha Round (details here). An excerpt on the Doha Development Round from Wikipedia:

"As of 2008, talks have stalled over a divide on major issues, such as agriculture, industrial tariffs and non-tariff barriers, services, and trade remedies.[1] The most significant differences are between developed nations led by the European Union (EU), the United States (USA) and Japan and the major developing countries led and represented mainly by India, Brazil, China and South Africa. There is also considerable contention against and between the EU and the U.S. over their maintenance of agricultural subsidies—seen to operate effectively as trade barriers."

Dr. Jagdish Bhagwati brings to the forefront the key driver for all decisions that politicians face... economic will. It drives global trade and its leverage can help create better conditions for humanity and development of sustainable products and services.

See Dr. Bhagwati's website here.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Join the Online Debate: "The Value of H20"

The Economist puts forth a proposition for an online discussion:

"Water, as a scarce resource, should be priced according to its market value"

Join the debate here.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008 - VC Evaluation

Are you an entrepreneur? If so, do you know about A decent place to look at evaluations of VCs across the globe and more being added daily.

See details in a Wired article here.

Rashid Khan and Business Process Management

While at Procter & Gamble, I became interested in exploring how to take the company out of Workflow and into something closer to Artificial Intelligence (AI) for business management. Of course, Franz Dill and I joined forces on it who had led multiple efforts in this field at the soap company. See Franz's AI expertise here.

If time allows, I will cover the learning from the research at a later point in time.

AI is still a ways away, yet research led me to the market place of Business Process Management (BPM). I wanted to meet the person who first thought of it and digging through the noise of perceptions and self-proclamantions, I discovered Mr. Rashid Khan who had coined the term "Business Process Management" when he founded Ultimus in 1994 - a BPM software solution company. See here some of Rashid's patents.

Rashid took Ultimus from an idea to I believe now delivering solutions in 80 countries. Rashid also wrote a good primer on BPM called "Business Process Management: A Practical Guide", see here. Franz wrote about the book in a blog, "Good, mostly non-technical overview and easy read... BPM can be seen as a way of modeling processes within a corporation, along with the people who do the work. It has been criticized for too strongly regimenting process steps."

Rashid recently left Ultimus after 14 years to pursue a new venture - a consultancy for senior executives called Leadership BPM. He is also blogging here.

Is it all about Design and Experience?


While conducting a seminar on Design Innovation and a Design Charrette at Savannah College of Art & Design (SCAD), I left the students with the question whether in the final analysis it was all about design and experience of any product before they began their Charrettes?

The deep consumer understandings gleaned at places such as the Innovation Centers at Procter & Gamble enable product companies to capture the sale at the point of purchase - First Moment of Truth (FMOT) as P&G puts it, see definition here. My work at the various Innovation Centers around the world continuously helped me realize that P&G had captured the essence of reaching the consumer - Design enables success at FMOT.

See my friend and colleague Franz Dill's blog here discussing P&G's Innovation Centers and some of the work we did as detailed in Mr. A. G. Lafley's book "The Game Changer". Franz was also the founder of the first Innovation Center there.

While the above is a commercial venture for increasing shareholder value, I was happy to see that in academia SCAD has introduced anthropology and psychology to compliment their excellent curriculum in Industrial Design program, see here.

The quality of experience offered by the product or service may or may not result in repeat business. This is where the product companies of the world are engaging in immersive and experiential environments for learning consumer behavior. See another of Franz's blog here regarding Cargill's Innovation Center.

The SCAD students produced impressive results for the dilemmas I brought to them from UAE and Germany. My friends and faculty at SCAD that is; the Industrial Design Dean - Mr. Victor Ermoli, the Chair - Mr. Tom Gattis and a dedicated Professor - Mr. Robert Fee, should feel proud of their accomplishments as the No. 3 Industrial Design program in the USA.

This Charrette helped me solidify my belief that in the end, yes, it is all about design and experience. Or did Dr. Ivan Pavlov already discover this indirectly in the late 19th century when he developed the concepts of Classical Conditioning?

Company Highlight - live|work


I want to highlight a service design company, live|work, and a friend Mr. Chris Downs, founder of live|work, with whom a conversation began about three years ago whether it is all about the experience? Chris (if I am remembering it right) was of the opinion that it is all about the service as in the end all products have to provide a service. A lesson learned at Procter & Gamble and the result being the concept - Second Moment of Truth i.e. what happens when the consumers try the product after making the purchase decision. Here is an interesting blog providing insights on this.

I have not seen a "Services Design" firm such as Chris's in my international work that has successfully combined all the varied pieces of use and usability, incorporation of the five senses, pre-present-post emotions, and so on and delivered hard ROI. Have a look at few of the case studies of live|work here.

Read more about "Service Design" here.

See an insightful conversation here that Chris had with NextDesign Leadership Institute's (NextD) GK VanPatter.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Wired: Parag Khana - Embrace the Post-American Age

Wired magazine has published fifteen letters to the next President of the USA from fifteen talented individuals. One of the letters is from Mr. Parag Khana here.

I found the overall impression of Mr. Khana's abandonment of historical lessons enjoyable. Here is an excerpt from the article:

"[Mr. Khana] describes a planet dominated by a trio of superpowers: the US, China, and Europe. In this tripolar era, America's fate depends on tough national choices, not lame historical analogies. If the US wises up — by tightening trade and energy ties to the rest of the hemisphere, pursuing economic innovation at home, and establishing a "diplomatic-industrial complex" — it can grow stronger..."

In the long cycles of gains of power by nations and then losing them, USA has a handicap that it is but a child among the ancients. Especially enjoyable above is the term "lame historical analogies", if America does not learn from its successes and failures then... what?

Regarding Mr. Khana's comments on India and China - In my daily international activities, I work and engage with more South Asians across Fortune 500 companies second only to Caucasians in senior executive positions. One of the main winning assets (proven anthropologically) for a society in fast growth is unhindered communication across all spheres of conduction of business. South Asia's language is English and the world does business in English. It is interesting to note that Mr. Khana's background did not ground him in realities of his birth place.

In my opinion, the future economic giants will be the ones who develop and harness Intellectual Property. I disagree with Mr. Khana when he discounts India against China. See this article at WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization) on insights on approach by the two nations. Creativity is not regime-able, at least in my belief. Creativity must have a choice otherwise when an edict (let's say of "thou shall create") is driven upon a society, documented human history does not show positive results... aaa! I forget that Mr. Khana does not believe in "lame historical analogies".

My personal experiences have shown South Asian to be second or on par to Americans and Israelis when it comes to being entrepreneurial and aggressive at business. A comparative analysis of the most recent millionaires and billionaires between China and India will reveal some parallels yet striking differences as the Indian billionaires have literally attacked the global markets when it comes to growing the business, from Mittal Steel acquiring Arcelor (Arcelor Mittal) or Tata acquiring Land Rover / Jaguar and a plethora more of them.

This is unique to India or anyother developing economy. In comparison, China is currently focused internally... it has much to grow with-in than out, hence, that global growth may be a secondary consideration?

As Mr. Khana himself stated, "I think I'm the only person who went to Davos ten times by the age of 30... I'm not sure that's a good thing." A good observation?

I will comment on World Economic Forum in Davos if I go next year.

As to Mr. Khana's comments on Iran - I have to question the assumptive generalization: Does all that the West has to offer is great? In a world rapidly being democratized through commoditization of essentials of life, where the owners of this commoditization are India and China, where the beneficiaries of such democratization forces are mostly in Asia and Africa... this assumption by Mr. Khana is a dangerous one.

Overall, this article is uniquely insightful and entertaining, about and from an educated 31 year old World Economic Forum alumni.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Marketing for "Individualism" vs. Word-of-Mouth for "Mass Production"

I worked on developing IP and technologies for Procter & Gamble's breakthrough and game changing word-of-mouth marketing ventures - Tremor and VocalPoint. See details here and further links.

While browsing my friend and colleague Franz Dill's blog on WOM here, it has occured to me that the viral marketing space is going to find itself at slight odds when the consumer becomes more educated, with more choice and is interested in a product that "fits their" needs. See another blog by Franz here on WOM.

WOM is still playing at the head of the demand curve (Click here to read about the Long Tail). Yet, the world has moved on from mass production to mass customization to the 21st century where indivudalized products / services will come to be. See my related blogs extrapolating this further into the concept I call "Tail Spike" here and here.

Influencers and influenced masses are a key to developing WOM push and pull marketing strategies and tactics. Yet, a new burgeoning class of "choice devisors" is coming into being. Perhaps it has always existed and we are now discovering it. These are the folks who are not influenced, they do not care to influence... yet, they are creating and devising the new / next generation of product / service that will be used by the mutually inclusive class of masses mentioned earlier.

A leading work currently under way that looks at these "choice devisors" is the work of Dr. Eric Von Hippel, Dr. Christoph Hienerth (bio & current) and Dr. Marion Potz around "Lead User" concept.

Lead User work is facinating and I plan to publish more in the near future with Dr. Hienerth's and Dr. Potz's guidance. For now, here is an excerpt from Wikipedia:

"Lead user is a term developed by Eric von Hippel in 1986. His definition for lead user is:

  1. Lead users face needs that will be general in a marketplace – but face them months or years before the bulk of that marketplace encounters them, and
  2. Lead users are positioned to benefit significantly by obtaining a solution to those needs

In other words: Lead users are users of a product that currently experience needs still unknown to the public and who also benefit greatly if they obtain a solution to these needs."

World Perspective / Photo - 2 [Farming Investment]

Global trends are the excitement for the hedge funds, banks and investors. One that has been gaining steam / noise in the past six to twelve months has been farming for food supplies to regions of the world where farming is cost prohibitive and / or not possible at all.

It is interesting to see the investments out of the Gulf into South and South East Asian farms. A great article on the subject from the Economist here. The not so fortunate part is that the agreements / contracts are mostly at a governmental level, which leave a lot to be desired when it comes to the application of the rule of law in those regions. The loser is and will be the uneducated farmer of these nations. See another good article from Asian Times here.

On the other hand lessons can be learned from the USA where the large corporations have caused the small farmer to cease to exist in an economically viable / successful fashion and other difficult issues have emerged. See explanations, insights and further links in an interesting article here from the Food & Water Watch.

For me it is exciting to see a new opportunity for the Frontier Markets such as Pakistan, Vietnam and Thailand. The topic to watch would be that does the "openness" in business practices that are driven when the individual investor come into a market happen? Does healthy regulation gets developed and then executed consistently? I believe it will.

World Perspective / Photo - 1 [Wireless Communication]

A donkey cart in Pakistan with the owner using a cell phone.

Interestingly, Pakistan's cell phone connectivity system will become the leader in Asia, beating the Far East Asian nations around 2010. Couple of examples of investments in this industry in Pakistan are China Mobile and Mobilink.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Breakthrough Innovation in The 3rd World - A Tail Spike Example

In the mid 80s in Pakistan, an idea started that Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) could be used in gasoline engines by doing minor tuning to existing and new gasoline automobiles. The Hydrocarbon Development Institute of Pakistan provided funding to further the cause. Today Pakistan is one of the leading countries that has a plethora of Japanese automotive being built in Pakistan with dual fuel options (petrol and CNG) for retail sales.

What truly and literally started as shade-tree mechanic experiments now is an alternate fuel solution for tens of millions of automobile owners in Pakistan.

Click here for an example Suzuki.

Click here for the large number of dual fuel setup kits that can be purchased and installed in a gasoline car.


It is hard to imagine where mankind would be if Mr. Galilei had been thwarted by the power that was and is. The most reliable accounts place the invention of the telescope by Hans Lippershey. Galileo was the extreme refiner of the telescope that brought the fundamental changes to human understanding as we know it.

Here is a link to a series of very good articles from the Wired on the history of the instrument and where it may yet take us. An excerpt:

"This invention was also the most seditious, blasphemous instrument of all time, shaking the very foundations of society."

Can we learn from our mistakes?

Context Over Dogma

Chris Bangle defines the new concept car GINA as simply - "Context Over Dogma". Chris's talk below has implications across product design holistically... Enjoy!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Science Magazine's Visualization Challenege 2008

Science Magazine and NSF joined together to conduct The International Science & Engineering Visualization Challenge 2008. One of the great achievements of technology in the recent years has been the ability to communicate complex information and ideas through visualization. This effort highlights the progress through the years as you may see in the links to the previous five Visualization Challenges. Here is an excerpt from the site:

"The winners -- in categories including photography, illustration, informational graphics, and multimedia -- captured the crystalline beauty of diatoms, the expanse of the human circulatory system, a fairy tale tea party re-invented, and the dynamic life of a plant cell."

See the visual presentation of the Visualization Challenge 2008 here. I also recommend listening to an interview with Alisa Zapp Machalek here - one of the judges of the Challenge.

Google Patent a Disruption in US Telecommunications Market Place

Google's patent filed in March 2007 and released today can bring real-time bidding to all types of wireless communications use. An excerpt from Wired:

"Google's patent filing describes "devices, systems and methods" that would automatically poll nearby wireless services to find the best price for a voice or a data connection for a "portable communications device." That connection might come via a cellphone carrier, a WiMax provider, or even a Wi-Fi hotspot. According to the patent, users can either manually select the bid they like best or they can allow the device to connect automatically with the lowest-cost provider."

Read the Wired article here.

Read the patent filed here.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


I read about the Emdrive or electromagnetic relativity drive back in 2006 in the New Scientist here. Interestingly, recently Chinese researchers have claimed the confirmation of the theory behind Emdrives and are building a demonstration as we speak. Read details here.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Water thins - Air will be rarer

Brilliant presentation by way of Steve Levin at SlideShare.

Water shortages at a massive scale may arrive before the energy crisis hits home... yet who could have predicted we will be buying water 20 years ago, where today it is approx. $13B industry in the USA.

I believe we will be buying air in the metropolis of the world by mid-century on retail... wonder if air can become a CPG / FMCG product just like water? I am confident it will.


Education Systems

Here is a link to a good TedTalk on Creativity and Education (given by Ken Robinson) forwarded by Aylin Koca. I have seen across the world while lecturing in Universities in North America, Scandinavia, Middle East and South Asia that a large number of students coming out are thoroughly unprepared for the 21st century. From having no concept of what the Global business world is about to not being able to look beyond what they have been taught. I truly see some of these students looking like deer when they look at headlights coming at them at 60 mph.

I believe that just like the consumer has come to realize that they can choose, similarly the students will start to ask why we are still using the same methods of teaching from 100 years ago while the world is moving at 100 times the speed from 100 years ago.

And the students must (as they are the consumers of education), otherwise... the educational bureaucracies (the corporation) must continue to sell and make money from the shortest and easiest paths available to them.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Lessons from History on Breakthrough Innovation

Here is an article from Wired that talks about the concerns of the breakthrough technology innovation artists of the 20th Century. Mr. Gordon Moore (Intel Co-Founder) was awarded the lifetime achievement award by The Marconi Society in 2006. An excerpt from the above article states:

"Silver-haired and graciously unassuming, Moore voiced concern that corporate R&D is moving away from the kind of fundamental research that wins Nobel Prizes and toward a narrow focus on business goals. "That's great for the company," he said, "but somebody has to fill the gap."

I believe the gap is being filled slowly but surely in the emerging and frontier markets. Simply because the desperation for innovation does not seem to exist in the developed world anymore or does it?

Satiated people do not innovate!

Update - See an example from a 3rd world country here.