Cut outs #19

Northern Lights by Jonatan Pie on Unsplash

Mood music: Can music listening trends be used to predict economic shifts

Making diversity work: Some good insights into the challenges and rewards of building a diverse workplace

VR & Learning: A great application of VR technology to help children learn about the environment

Why Fail: We hear lots of talk about the importance of failure, but what do we really gain from the experience. Some personal reflections from an entrepreneur with experience

Accelerators & Incubators: Rising in popularity and abundance. Some perspectives on how they work in consumer markets


People don’t change

When I had my first foreign language lessons at school, the first thing everyone did when they got their hands on a dictionary was to look up all the rude words.

Yesterday I was at a party and a friend was telling me about the new Amazon Echo he’d just bought. The first thing he did once he’d got it all set-up was to find out what rude words it could say.

The technology changes, but people don’t.

The more I know, the more I realise how little I know

Horizons: there’s a lot to explore

When I started my MBA in 2014, I had a naïve idea that when the course ended I’d be ‘complete’. I’d graduate with a knowledge of business and enough career experience to make me the ‘finished article’ – ready for anything the business world could throw at me.

Actually, the more experience I gain, the more I realise how little I know and how much more there is to learn.

Now, hardly a day goes by without me talking to someone who gives me a new perspective or insight I hadn’t considered before. They could be a professional with 30+ years of experience, or a student fresh out of school, experts with reams of qualifications and people who’ve learnt their craft on the job. There’s always something to take away from the conversation that I didn’t know or that makes me think differently. So perhaps one of the best lessons I’ve learnt is humility and the value of openness.

And maybe that’s what being ready really means.

Cut outs #18

Some predictions for 2018. In no particular order…

2018: a year of reckoning from Forrester

Five innovations that will change our lives in five years from IBM

Separating hype from reality in marketing, data and technology from Edelman Digital

Predictions for journalism in 2018 from Nieman Lab

Key trends in digital for 2018 from Ogilvy

A future forecast for 2018 on technology, media and design from R/GA

8 ‘overly confident and mostly pessimistic predictions for 2018 from The Atlantic

And finally… some ‘entirely serious’ predictions from Wired


Cut outs #17

Random Network. Courtesy of screenpunk / 

Innovation: The value of Networks vs. Nodes

Automotive: How autonomous vehicles will change the insurance industry and analytics can help automotive firms find profits in the after sale and service markets

With the trend in bank branch closures continuing, how can branch networks be reimagined for the digital era?

Practical uses for Blockchain: Where and how can it be applied?

Taking risks and accepting failure: important ingredients for successful leadership through digital change

YouTube to launch paid music streaming service in 2018?

Market Trends: Early Stage and Seed Investment markets cooling off?

Cut outs #16

Abstract 2014 073

Abstract 2014 073. Courtesy of Andy Saxton / flickr

Digital Manufacturing 4.0: a future made by people

Using AI to bring ‘vision’ to the blind and partially sighted: Aipoly, CES 2018 Honoree for Consumer Technology Innovation

Network Network Network: WeWork buying Meetup

The AI of everything: AI refreshing the parts other technologies cannot reach

The power of disruption: Start-ups that seek to ‘disrupt’ get more funding than those that seek to ‘build’


Creative disruption

BBC’s Ben Thompson hosting Tech London Advocates’ Global Tech conference

Last week I got to attend the Global Tech Advocates World Tour conference in London. It was a great event with a wide range of speakers from a variety of backgrounds, and a fantastic venue in Here London at the Olympic Park in Stratford.

From the discussion and presentations one thing that struck me in particular is the potential to use digital technologies to modernise ‘traditional’ industries like manufacturing.

As you might expect, there was a great deal of conversation focused on growth and opportunity in emerging sectors like fintech and medtech. Both these sectors and others are important to the economy, offer a great deal of potential for innovation and are supporting burgeoning start-up communities. Yet the attention they attract means it can be easy to overlook the potential for growth in established firms and industries – through incremental innovation or radical change.

Another conspicuous theme of the conference was uncertainty in the economy and society emerging from the Brexit decision and the political climate in the US – to name two of the most conspicuous factors discussed.

But, change and disruption can also bring opportunity for businesses willing to adapt. According to research by the World Bank, global growth is firming up. Growth forecasts are projected to strengthen to 2.7 percent in 2017 and 2.9 percent in 2018-19, and in emerging markets improve to 4.1 percent in 2017 and reach an average of 4.6 percent in 2018-19. For core manufacturing and trade industries this indicates potential for growth.

For established firms and industries, grasping the growth opportunity also means developing a capacity to adapt. This is especially important when growth involves adopting a new technology, or collaborating with new partners. According to IBM (my employer), 63 percent of executives in industrial products manufacturers say the competition from new and unexpected sources is beginning to impact their businesses, and 57 percent indicate that the boundaries between their industry and others are blurring. These are patterns I see occurring in other industries too. The key to dealing with them successfully is alignment: in strategy, operations, culture and management style. All four contexts are crucial for the firm to evolve and when the goal is innovation, change must be managed across all of them simultaneously.

The most crucial area – and the one that most commonly gets overlooked – is culture. Adapting or scaling a culture is arguably the hardest challenge for a business striving to grow or innovate. When the culture is not being actively managed and the workforce isn’t sufficiently engaged, then efforts to grow can rapidly unravel, regardless of how robust the strategy or operations plans might be.

Cognitive computing (AI), Virtual and Augmented reality, Blockchain, Cloud and numerous others all offer massive opportunities for traditional industries and established firms to disrupt themselves and harness their scale to great effect. But at the heart of a successful transformation is the coherency of the brand and the culture.