Thursday, December 31, 2009

Alcatel-Lucent Seeks Wireless Innovation

Sarfraz Haroon passes along Alcatel-Lucent's foray into the global invention network - "As part of a program called TechQuest, Alcatel-Lucent is seeking applications from wireless / mobile technology experts for applications in the areas of public safety, entertainment, eHealthcare and eLearning".  See details here.  Just don't call it Open Innovation!

The "New" Old Market - Muslim Consumer

Having developed the focus on the Muslim Consumer at P&G at the highest level, it is interesting to see mainstream marketing and communication companies exploring new revenue streams in this consumer sector.  Astute P&G colleague Amer Almomen passes along WPP's thinking around the 1.6 billion consumer awaiting marketing messages, see article here.

Overall, the article shows the early approach to be exploratory while unburdened from cliches about Islam.  Yet, categorization (essential for agencies to develop processes) is nascent - to "touch" the "life" of the "boss" through messaging in the Islamic environment requires minds that have grown up in the environment, or development of large knowledge bases on behaviors created through engagement and intelligence extracted from them.  One such organization is Maktoob Research, recently acquired by Yahoo, see details here.

The Muslim Consumer's diversity from ethnic to economic to geographic is an exciting realm to delve into!  Good luck to all entrants!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

American Express - Consumer Analytics and Insights

A little bit old news, yet for consumer research and even quants in the the consumer research and insights field, this is exceptional news:

"American Express is unleashing a powerful weapon: a new unit that will harness transaction data for its 90 million cardholders to inform both marketing decisions and larger strategic issues."

This is transactional data on committed to using their credit card consumers and American Express has always been brilliant at understanding their consumer.  I believe the value here will be exceptional.

See the cached article off Google cache here or search for it on AdAge here.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

New Currency on the Horizon for the Gulf

The Dubai concerns and continued global economic fluctuations are resulting in pushing forward the single Gulf Cooperative Council's (GCC) plans for a single currency among the 6 Gulf nations of Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman.  Read details here.

Interesting to note from the manufacturer and buyers of consumer goods perspective is the fact that the single currency has not been pegged yet.  Dollar? Euro? Gold? Basket?

Will Design Thinking Deliver to the Consumer?

A new mantra among the corporations of the world is emerging for the teen years of the 21st century - Design Thinking.  Just like the concept of Innovation rose in the early 2000s, Design Thinking as an idea is finally on the rise.

The leaders in this space have existed for a while, couple of examples being IDEO and Procter & Gamble (with its Innovation Centers).  The level of understanding, misunderstanding or not understanding this space are clear from the Business Week article "Inside the Design Thinking Process", here.  The author, Helen Walters, discusses the Aspen Design Summit where multiple design driven sessions were conducted to solve hard problems.

I give credit to Ms. Walters on stating about the Design Thinking process as implemented at the Aspen Design Summit, "... the strongest takeaway was that those looking for a prescribed way to implement design thinking are destined to be disappointed. It's a messy, opaque process that depends as much on group dynamics as intellect or insight."

Preparation of such sessions requires experience and insights into human behavior.  Someone I personally know to be exceptionally talented at this is the Marketing Consulting Services of Copenhagen, see information here.

Yet, the one reason I suggest giving this article serious consideration is because the author highlights the key to the success of all Design Thinking processes, having the end user or consumer of the product or service engaged, which apparently was missing from all the sessions conducted at the Aspen Design Summit.  The author termed the results being developed out of the sessions to "seem like entirely inappropriate bunk" for the end user or consumer.

Perhaps all this is becoming news due to Roger Martin causing an uproar with his open challenge to the research driven, heavily analytical product and service development organizations and management consultancies, see my blog "Roger Martin - On Designing the Future", here.

I believe that exciting times are ahead as the left and right brained individuals realize that to truly deliver a breakthrough to their consumer, they must work collaboratively, break down the silo and unburden themselves from the past to really "create".

China Update

Good friend Mr. Tony Tsai, CEO – BHG Retail Innovation Institute and EVP Operations – The BJ Hualian Hypermarket Co. forwards valuable insights on China's approach and management of its ownership of USA debt and foreign exchange reserves, and how it is perceived globally.

Do we have a new leader that now begins to manage the economics of the globe?  Perhaps China has been one for a long while!

A horse may look like it is pulling the cart... but the one who holds the reins, reigns.

"How does China deal with the risk of holding US Treasury bonds?
"Convertible bonds" are not a solution for China in hedging the risk of holding US Treasury bonds. This could make things worse for China. Given the huge amount of foreign exchange reserves, what China should do is commit to adjusting its structure for economic growth, purchase strategic materials at the right time and persist in renminbi internationalization so as to ensure the security of China's investment in US Treasury bonds.

"World Bank believes China understands the risks of an asset-price bubble
Juan Jose Daboub, managing director of the World Bank, points out on Dec. 14 that the World Bank believes that Chinese authorities understand the risks of an asset-price bubble and will take the measures that they believe are more appropriate. They have done so in the past.

Growing Entrepreneurism - "Start-up Visa" to Dubai?

Interesting piece on offering visas to individuals who plan to start new businesses in a location that is not their native country.  The concept is discussed in the Abu Dhabi newspaper, The National, in an article "Making Dubai the global hub of start-up success", here.

The article provides comparisons to major start-up centers of the world such as San Francisco with an evaluation of infrastructure, tax consideration, etc.

Monday, December 14, 2009

The State of Business Process Management (BPM)

Good friend Rashid Khan, the inventor of the term BPM (Business Process Management) continues his educational blog on the industry, see here.  From one of his entries I found valuable:

"So what is the state of the BPM industry today? Here are some revealing facts:

  • No pure-play BPM vendor is big enough or strong enough financially to go public, though several continue to threaten for several years now that they will soon. It does not happen, even while every year the analysts continue to forecast rapid growth in the industry and among the leaders.
  • We keep hearing every other year that the big players such Oracle, Microsoft and SAP will make major inroads in to the BPM market, but that also has not happened.
  • Gartner, after having pushed BPM, simulations, “round-tripping”, and SOA, is now on to a new gig called “Pattern Based Strategies” to further confuse their already confused customers, which is always good for their business. (see )
  • All this while Gartner admits that the most important “hot questions” their clients ask are basic BPM 101 questions such as “1. What are the benefits of BPM?” and “2. How should I get started?” (see ) Makes one wonder why companies are paying Gartner money for answering such basic questions, unless they are totally confused!
  • There is no slowdown in the number of new entrants to the BPM market, which indicates that the market is still largely open with no strong leaders, and no sign of consolidation, contrary to all predictions. "

Friday, December 11, 2009

Breakthrough Innovation in 30 Hours?

Mr. Aaron Turcott, one of the top graduate students at Georgia Institute of Technology I had the opportunity to instruct sends a link to CapGemini's Accelerated Solutions Environment, here.  Interesting... 

I would direct anyone interested in the above to give serious consideration to my previous business partner Ms. Frederikke Kroon's breakthrough method of innovation conducted in 30 hours or less, see details and media on Frederikke's work and company Marketing Consulting Services in Copenhagen here.  Though the method requires intense preparation ranging anywhere from four to ten weeks, yet the execution occurs in 30 hours, creating tangible value that engages the client, carefully mixes in adjacencies, from anthropology to theology, scientists to artists, etc.  The results Frederikke's organization produced for multinational clients such as Arla, Vovlo and Carlsberg speak for themselves!

Roger Martin - On Designing the Future

My astute friend from McKinsey, Samvit Kanoria forwards "What's Thwarting American Innovation? Too Much Science, Says Roger Martin", in Fast Company, see here.  The article highlights Mr. Martin's focus on creativity in innovation being a combination of science and design aspects of product or service development working together.

For the scientist, he states - "The future has no legitimacy for analytical thinkers."

Mr. Martin thrashes the large management consulting companies and lays the blame of innovation bottle neck on a corporate structure mired in research and analysis of the past - "But what they analyze is the past.  And if the future is not exactly like the past, or there are things happening that are hard to measure scientifically, they get ignored."

Mr. Martin is asked - "Are you saying that the regression analysis jockeys and Six Sigma black belts have got it all wrong?" and he states - "Well, yes."

Interestingly, my tenure at P&G was during the time Roger Martin was advising A.G. Lafley and I was a part of the substantial changes brought within P&G's approach to business.  See information on some my work related to Virtual Shopper here on my friend Franz Dill's blog, who also was one of the founders of the P&G Innovation Centers.

Though Mr. Martin speaks candidly, yet the change he suggests carries pain to the corporate as a whole and the machinery of suppliers supporting it.  Corporate innovation remains more perception than reality, with incremental results seen in their markets from licensing, buyouts, etc.  Breakthrough innovation remains the domain of the entrepreneur, one who can imagine a future unburdened by the past!