Most industrial market have endured their own Copernican revolution lately. Whether it was because of mobile, sheer customers discontent or the future threat of artificial intelligence, is of no real importance at this point. What is clear is that the old innovation playbook involving trickling down military technology to B2B and then to B2C doesn’t work anymore. Facing startups with seemingly random hit-and-miss business models that nonetheless aggressively push in the market and eventually succeed, what are the options?
While the first wave of the digital revolution is now well over, most corporations are victims of some level of rude awakening. Surprisingly enough for me, the sovereign cure for their lack of strategic vision has been isolated: startups. As it seems, six-month-old post-internet companies without cash-flow are deemed better than multi-billion global businesses are figuring out the market. Even if you might be very lucid about this foolishness, some of your executive committee is already victim of such startup fever. Let me offer one of the many ways to deal with that issue. And then maybe, you’ll find realreasons to work with startups.
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My last keynote with the FabMob program, during a private event involving selected startups and industrials at Autonomy 2016 in Paris today. The idea was to discuss how corporate incubation end-of-party is coming quickly to Europe and illustrate the five most prevalent impediments that corporations have to overcome to engage further partnerships with startups.
Startups have become a cheap excuse for corporations in lack of innovation strategy. It’s not even breaking news; if you’ve been in the business of guiding companies through the innovation minefield for a while, you’ve already endured several trends coming and going every three or four years. Open innovation, intrapreneurship, design thinking, now startup incubation programs.
These trends pretty much rely on the same narrative:
To follow up on our last article on your corporate incubation playbook, we’ll explore further the ROI architecture of such a program, starting with the “business” revenue.
After years of strain and pressure from new digital opportunities that passed by, multinational corporations seem to have found their innovation mojo back. Their idea has been incredibly simple after all: let’s embrace the strategies that created Uber-like challengers out of nowhere. By creating your own disruption engine — and keep it under control — you will finally outrun all these puny startups, and find new business models of your own. And after that, ramping up new businesses should be simple enough given your scale: even unicorns in the billion-dollar valuation club can’t really beat you at that game.
For anyone seriously involved in innovation, it’s stunning to realize that the industry learned nothing from early 2000’s Nokia. Regarding the car industry, people still think of it as a hardware business. It’s all about the car, the engine, the brakes, the dashboard, the performance, the security, the comfort. We barely register that vehicles are now being hacked into, that accidents happen because of dozens of millions of lines of code that make a modern suburban vehicle today, or that mapping, geolocalization, and communications are now indispensable.
Not many corporations believe that someone will just “walk in”, and steal their market away from them overnight. Playing at getting scared hits a weird, but clear, pleasure zone in our brain. Once the horror movie is finished playing, we consider our boring everyday life with a kind of new appreciation. Except that, many of these corporations don’t get what kind of trouble they are facing. And I can mostly agree that no, there’s no Uber-like bogeyman in the cards for them. If they fail, it won’t be under the attacks of a small, psychotic killer rabbit. They’ll die because they suck.
Tomorrow, I’ll be presenting a keynote titled “Trading Risk, the Most Valuable Currency Between Startups and the Industry” for the CEA at the LETI Days event. The main points of this discussion will be on the positive nature of risk for businesses, the cultural gap that French (and Europeans) have regarding dealing with risks, and on how to strategically game the innovation rules.
Article publié dans le cahier Ecofutur de Libération du 13 octobre, en suivi de mon dernier article sur l’incubation interne.