I was discussing a few weeks ago how Alibaba is swiftly becoming the default operating system of retail stores in China. Reframing your perception from what was an e-commerce platform 10 years ago, to something with much deeper and global strategic intent is challenging. It is very interesting to see that Microsoft (as a traditional PC operating system and cloud platform) is moving in the same direction in the US.Continue reading “Microsoft understands what being an OS in 2020 means (maybe)”
It is now obvious (in hindsight’s what’s not?) that the iPhone both reached a plateau in term of units penetration, but also price point. Don’t expect to see in 2019 +30% growth in iPhone penetration in US or EU compounded by unit’s price reaching 2,000 USD / EUR.Continue reading “Apple is Doomed (Again!)”
Innovation is taking responsibility for the fact that your company will still be there in 2022. Not everyone might be concerned right now, but you have to make sure that it’s not handed away to a small team without political power that will work « as a startup » or « learn by doing ». If it doesn’t make sense to handle your financial or manufacturing process, it’s probably unreasonable for future-proofing your company.
In a video called « The End of the Beginning », Benedict EVANS talks on the shifting point we are living as a global connected society and how to understand the future of your market.
A few take aways that you might want to consider:
- You market always was a part of a more global value chain from which you won’t be insulated anymore;
- The speed and volume of China now formally predates everything else, this is not « if » or « when », it’s « from now on »;
- The new tools provided by the Amazons and the Baidus of the world are now fully in play and force us to compete to a next level: not new solutions, but unbundling and new full-stacks;
- New values brought to the market will be massive and yet difficult to frame (the difference between the value of being cured from an hearth attack vs. the value of avoiding it).
But also, a word of caution. Even us, that are in the full-time business of understanding these changes, cannot avoid but falling in the very same traps we try to flag:
Understanding the future of your market is not only about seeing Amazon as a super-powered platform (« I sell whatever I want ») or a global tech leader with a space program.
It’s getting beyond this obvious point, and understanding that like Alibaba they will be the unique layer between you and what you decide to consume. They will be the unique prism that arbitrate what you want and decide to buy… An operating system to consumer life and reality.
These are the changes that shape the future of your own market, and we ended up understanding after 10 years of struggle with mobile and the internet is now not accelerating, but going to the next level.
Not many incumbents will survive this. Even if they got good at this internet thing in the end…
I try to avoid talking mathematics when I address innovation strategy. As soon as I do it I’m victim of a very personal impostor syndrome (I’m not a mathematician) while realizing I’m going down deep, deep rabbit holes. As a matter of fact, when writing about Monthy Hall’s problems — which are key to understand uncertainty and innovation — I know I’m getting probably too technical.
Now I’m no mathematician, but I’m still a formally trained scientist. And one of the early mental model you integrate as such is to be deeply cautious about the difference in correlation and causation.
For all these reasons, I always find refreshing when others try to painstakingly try to reinject mathematical common sense for business executives. And, recently I read a delightful discussion on the McRib Effect:
If you’re trying to understand how retail tries to adapt to an always-on, always connected customer base, US department stores are fantastic case studies. Macy’s, the largest of them, went probably through all the cycles of digital trends you can imagine. Specially when advertising was concerned.
In a dramatic recent turn of events, Macy’s started to strategically disengage from influencers campaigns, where high-profile Youtubers or Instagrammers would be paid to feature Macy’s products to their audience.
When we arrived in the Netherlands two years ago, we adjusted our mode of life immediately. The key thing was to get rid of our cars. Who needs one if you live in Amsterdam? But this mobility paradise didn’t happen just because « Dutch love bikes ». There were actually many factors that were involved in the seventies to turn the country away from a car-centric future.
These lessons should be learned. As I am in an event on the southeastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula today, to discuss new mobility business models, it seems appropriate to remind us of a few things:
I’ve seen and read lately a lot of non-sense on how China is building a global surveillance network of its citizens through social scoring. Truth be told, it is not a simple issue and I was glad to get myself a better perspective on what it means through Rogier CREEMERS summarizing his social research on the subject at SMC050 conference in July 2018. If you’re a global company with retail business there or an investment firm, these are 36 minutes worth your time.
We idealize startups as fast young (start-) fast-growing companies (-up) that innovate with new technology.
In real life, most of the startup you meet don’t grow fast. Fast could mean for any professional investor (not your garden variety of business angels) reaching for a first million euro in sales within two to three years. Such speed would require a team with startup experience entering the market in different cities in Europe, with a plan.
Mature teams. A plan. Aggressive soft landing strategies. Well, I’ve already wiped off the broad 90% of the startups you meet in incubators, acceleration programs, corporate incubators, technology transfer platforms, etc.
Two weeks ago I had to rent a car from Hertz. It was one of the blandest experience I’ve had with a customer desk in a very long time. This is not a rant on Hertz or this particular team. I could guess that my customer experience by all their standards had been amazing. The process was smooth and I’m sure it checked all the quality control boxes, or customer satisfaction KPIs they had. I just tend to have an obsessive frame of mind in regard to building added value as a brand… or not.
But there was one thing that was absolutely baffling to me. Let me explain…
Most of innovation programs that I encounter are still organized as R&D programs. We often call that the innovation pipeline fallacy. It’s mostly due to the fact that most organizations don’t get that innovation is not R&D, and that consecutively innovation doesn’t fit in a pipeline.
Imagine your company has one of the most advanced big data platform you can think of in your market. Imagine you have access to an unparalleled level of insights and forecasts about who your customers are, what they want, and how they think.
Here comes the question I’d like you to ponder for five minutes and really think about: What would you do with this analytical power?
Don’t settle for general non-opposable answers such as « Improving the value we deliver in key segments » or any other BS. Give me something real. A real breakthrough you would be able to implement because you’d have enough data to convince your board and unlock the biggest investment your company will make next fiscal year.
What. Would. That. Be?
Most senior managers I ask this question to are not able to give a convincing answer on how they would use « big data ».
That makes sense. Most of the time this dream of technology is a magical pony you think you should chase for fear on missing out on the next revolution. It is also a way to convince yourself and your team that you’re not responsible for where you are right now. That there is a something to blame that is beyond your reach.
Alas, for good or bad technology is a neutral agent. It has no purpose by itself. Even if you become the best at « big data » it doesn’t mean you’ll be the next Amazon or Google. These companies had plans before tech.
What’s your plan?