What will business technology look like tomorrow?

13. July 2017

Date: 13-07-2017
Source: The Economist
Subject: A new way to work

Two experts from MIT analyse the business implications of our digital future

Machine, Platform, Crowd: Harnessing our Digital Future. By Andrew McAfee and Erik Brynjolfsson. W.W. Norton; 402 pages; $28.95 and £22.99.

IN 2014 Andrew McAfee and Erik Brynjolfsson of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology published “The Second Machine Age”. The book was a balanced portrait of how new digital technologies were poised to improve society, even as they increased unemployment and depressed wages. In their latest work, “Machine, Platform, Crowd”, the authors seek to explain the business implications behind these developments.

Mr McAfee and Mr Brynjolfsson believe that the latest phase of computers and the internet have created three shifts in how work happens. The first is artificial intelligence (AI): a move from man to machine. In the past people worked with computers and, at the same time, were augmented by them: what the authors call the “standard partnership”. But that model is breaking down as computers improve and take more control.

You need only look at self-driving cars, online language translation and Amazon’s prototype cashierless shops to see that something big is happening. Digital technologies used to be applied to information—first numbers and text, and, later, music and video. Now, the digital technologies are invading the physical world.

For instance, designing a “heat exchanger”, a part in appliances like refrigerators, means balancing many different specifications and constraints. Humans settle for one that works well enough because to find the optimal one is too hard. But new “generative design” means AI-infused software can run zillions of tiny permutations to find the best possible design—one that a human might not come up with. And with 3D printing, those designs might be shared, modified and manufactured anywhere. Read the rest of this entry »

Secrets of the world’s best businesspeople

22. January 2016

Date: 22-01-2016
Source: The Economist
Subject: The Gujarati way: Going global

AS BRITISH imperialists were trudging through African jungles to secure their newly conquered empire, some of the empire’s subjects were also roaming far and wide, under the cover of the Union flag. One was Allidina Visram, from Kutch, in what is now Gujarat state in India. He arrived penniless in Zanzibar (now part of Tanzania) on the east African coast in 1863, aged 12. He opened his first small shop 14 years later, and soon afterwards spotted his great opportunity. He opened a store at every large railway station along the 580 miles of railway track being laid down through Kenya to Uganda in the early 1900s, providing supplies to thousands of railway workers. He then opened more stores at Jinja on Lake Victoria.

Flush with success, Visram was later joined by another Gujarati, Vithaldas Haridas. He arrived in 1893 and was, if anything, even more adventurous than his mentor; he stomped 24 miles through the jungle to the small town of Iganga, where he started his own shop. More followed. These were the beginnings of some of the larger fortunes to be made in colonial Africa. Read the rest of this entry »

Job-Saving Technologies

15. October 2015

Photo of Michael Spence

Michael Spence

Michael Spence, a Nobel laureate in economics, is Professor of Economics at NYU’s Stern School of Business, Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, Academic Board Chairman of the Fung Global Institute in Hong Kong, and Chair of the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on New Growth Models. He was the chairman of the independent Commission on Growth and Development, an international body that from 2006-2010 analyzed opportunities for global economic growth, and is the author of The Next Convergence – The Future of Economic Growth in a Multispeed World.

Photo of James Manyika

James Manyika

James Manyika is the San Francisco-based director of the McKinsey Global Institute.

OCT 15, 2015, Project Syndicate

SAN FRANCISCO – This is an age of anxiety about the job-killing effects of automation, with dire headlines warning that the rise of robots will render entire occupational categories obsolete. But this fatalism assumes that we are powerless to harness what we create to improve our lives – and, indeed, our jobs.

Evidence of technology’s potential to help resolve our job concerns can be found in online talent platforms. Digital platforms already have transformed many parts of the economy. The online marketplaces built by Amazon and Alibaba, for example, have reshaped the retail landscape, partly by changing the local nature of retail markets. Read the rest of this entry »

For Hardware Makers, Sharing Their Secrets Is Now Part of the Business Plan

30. March 2015

Date: 30-03-2015
Source: The New York Times

Facebook has shared designs for data storage, computer servers, and rack designs, among other hardware.

Facebook showed plans last week for drone aircraft that beam lasers conveying high-speed data to remote parts of the world.

As powerful as that sounds, Facebook already has something that could be even more potent: a huge sharing of its once-proprietary information, the kind of thing that would bring a traditional Silicon Valley patent lawyer to tears.

Facebook is not alone. Technology for big computers, electric cars and high-technology microcontrollers to operate things like power tools and engines is now given away.

These ideas used to be valued at hundreds of millions of dollars. To the new generation of technologists, however, moving projects and data fast overrides the value of making everything in secret. Read the rest of this entry »

Business Model Innovation: Ten Lessons from Nonprofits

16. August 2013
 by Zhenya Lindgardt, Wendy Woods, Charles Hendren, and Brenda Thickett July 18, 2013

What keeps business leaders up at night? If it’s not their company’s ability to streamline operations and lower costs, it’s whether their teams have the vision to see future opportunities and the flexibility to pursue those opportunities faster and more profitably than competitors.

Companies aim to improve their performance every day, but in many cases, doing business a little better is not enough. Bold, game-changing moves are risky, however, so many companies wait until their backs are against the wall before they start rethinking their business models. But by then, they may lack the cash flow, capabilities, and customer goodwill to turn things around or optimize the value of a growth opportunity.

The good news is that business model innovation (BMI) is a capability that can be developed. BMI involves changing multiple components of a business with the goal of redefining how it operates or delivers value. (See “Value Proposition + Operating Model = Business Model.”) In many cases, looking beyond one’s own sector can provide new insights and inspiration. Private-sector companies can learn much from the social sector because nonprofits frequently need to reinvent themselves in the face of significant challenges and constraints.

Value Proposition + Operating Model = Business Model

Value Proposition + Operating Model = Business Model

In essence, a business model describes how a company operates and delivers its value proposition to its customers. Reinventing that business model can help companies raise the value bar in intensely competitive markets or respond to regulatory or technological shifts that demand fundamentally new ways of operating. BMI can also help businesses compete more effectively in economic downturns by allowing them to lower prices and win share, for instance, or aggressively compete in game-changing ways.

Business models have six components. (See the exhibit “What Is a Business Model?”) The first three—the company’s product or service offering, the market segments the company is targeting, and how the company will make money—are the company’s overall value proposition. The other three components—the company’s value chain, cost model, and organization—relate to the assets and activities the company will own, which it will rent or outsource, and how the company will be organized. These decisions reflect the company’s operating model. BMI involves changing multiple components simultaneously in a coordinated manner, with the goal of delivering a superior value proposition that redefines the company’s basis of competition. Read the rest of this entry »

Das Dilemma* mit kontinuierlichen Veränderungssystemen

26. November 2012

Serie Realitätsverweigerung #7

von Helmut F. Karner

Es gibt dreierlei Arten von Problemen laut dem höchst originellen “Amt für Arbeit an unlösbaren Problemen und Maßnahmen der hohen Hand” (“Denkerei”: Brock, Sloterdijk & Co.): :

  1. grundsätzlich unlösbare (weil sie z.B. den Naturgesetzen widersprechen)
  2. die „typischen lösbaren Alltagsprobleme“
  3. die epochenbezogen unlösbaren Probleme. „Jede Epoche, jede Gesellschaftsformation erzeugt in sich Probleme, die im Rahmen des Systems nicht lösbar sind”.

Dass die Politik zur Lösung der Probleme #3 nicht fähig ist, verwundert aus ihrer (falsch verstandenen) Not zum Kompromiss nicht. Dann muss halt die “Natur” die Probleme lösen: Finanzcrash, Klimawandel, demografische Veränderungen etc.

Was mich allerdings betrübt ist, dass meiner Schätzung nach die von den Unternehmen in ihrem Dilemma angestrebten Lösungen zu mehr als 90% in der Kategorie #2 stehen bleiben.

Und dann geht es ihnen allerdings  so wie dem Esel im Dilemma (siehe Fussnote*).

Viele der Veränderungen, die uns umgeben/bevorstehen, sind einfach nicht mehr im selben “Betriebssysstem” zu lösen: Read the rest of this entry »

Amazon’s Jeff Bezos: The ultimate disrupter

17. November 2012

Date: 17-11-2012
Source: Fortune
He’s a pro-customer, tightfisted risk-taker who is conditioning Wall Street to embrace his erratic earnings. If you’re running a business with high margins — watch out.

FORTUNE — Jeff Bezos likes to read. That’s a dog-bites-man revelation if ever there was one, considering that Bezos is the cerebral founder and chief executive of a $100 billion empire built on books. More revealing is that the Amazon CEO’s fondness for the written word drives one of his primary, and peculiar, tools for managing his company: Meetings of his “S-team” of senior executives begin with participants quietly absorbing the written word. Specifically, before any discussion begins, members of the team — including Bezos — consume six-page printed memos in total silence for as long as 30 minutes. (Yes, the e-ink purveyor prefers paper. Ironic, no?) They scribble notes in the margins while the authors of the memos wait for Bezos and his minions to finish reading.

Amazon executives call these documents “narratives,” and even Bezos realizes that for the uninitiated — and fans of the PowerPoint presentation — the process is a bit odd. “For new employees, it’s a strange initial experience,” he tells Fortune. “They’re just not accustomed to sitting silently in a room and doing study hall with a bunch of executives.” Bezos says the act of communal reading guarantees the group’s undivided attention. Writing a memo is an even more important skill to master. “Full sentences are harder to write,” he says. “They have verbs. The paragraphs have topic sentences. There is no way to write a six-page, narratively structured memo and not have clear thinking.”

Jeff Bezos has always done things his own way, whether he’s ignoring Wall Street’s pleas for consistent earnings growth or requiring his top people to construct artfully written missives or launching seemingly disparate businesses — all at razor-thin margins. Only there’s nothing random about Bezos’s strategy. Indeed, like the memos he makes his managers write, his moves are driven by clear thinking and a cohesive vision, even if it takes a while for rivals to figure out Amazon’s motives — at which point it may be too late. Read the rest of this entry »

Stimmt denn eigentlich Ihr Business Modell noch?

5. November 2012

Serie Realitätsverweigerung #4

Helmut F. Karner, 5/11

Zeitgemässes Innovationsmanagement ist seit 5 Jahren um eine Dimension erweitert:

  • Produktinnovation: eh klar, wer da nicht dabei ist, gibt seine Gegenwart auf
  • Verfahrensinnovation: eh klar, weil sonst stimmen die Kosten, die Zeiten, die Servicequalität nicht
  • aber: Business Model Innovation ist die neue Dimension, bei den Avantgarden unter den Unternehmen seit 5 Jahren auf dem Radarschirm. Wer da nicht dabei ist, gibt seine Zukunft auf.
    John Kotter nennt es in seinem Artiekle “Accelerate!” in der HBR vom November 2012 auch “Context Change”. “Today any company that isn’t rethinking its direction at least every few years—as well as constantly adjusting to changing contexts—and then quickly making significant operational changes is putting itself at risk. But, as any number of business leaders can attest, the tension between needing to stay ahead of increasingly fierce competition and needing to deliver this year’s results can be overwhelming”.

Was sind die Fragestellungen bei der Business Model Innovation? Read the rest of this entry »

The Future of Work: Automate or Perish

5. July 2012

Date: 05-07-2012
Source: Technology Review

Successful businesses will be those that optimize the mix of humans, robots, and algorithms.

In Automate This, a book due out next month, author and entrepreneur Christopher Steiner tells the story of stockbroker Thomas Peterffy, the creator of the first automated Wall Street trading system. Using a computer to execute trades, without humans entering them manually on a keyboard, was controversial in 1987—so controversial that Nasdaq pressured him to unplug from its network. Then, with a wink, Peterffy built an automated machine that could tap out the trades on a traditional keyboard—technically obeying Nasdaq rules. Peterffy made $25 million in 1987 and is now a billionaire.

Today, automated trading bots account for nearly three-quarters of U.S. equity trading by volume. Trading houses plow millions into fiber optics and microwave dishes so their algorithms can send trades a millisecond faster than the next guys’. And although the first trading robot was built 25 years ago, most of the change on Wall Street has occurred during just the last few years. When it comes to automation, we may be in the elbow of an exponential curve. Read the rest of this entry »

13 reasons why your startup will fail:

29. February 2012

As a co-founder of five startups and a Silicon Valley venture capitalist, David Feinleib has seen both sides of the startup world.

From 2009 to 2011, he was a general partner at Mohr Davidow Ventures, where he got his fair share of terrible pitches.

He’s also an entrepreneur. He’s sold two startups, Consera (to HP) and onDevice (to Keynote Systems), and is still running three others he cofounded: Speechpad, Onepo.st, and Likewise.

Despite his success as an entrepreneur, Feinleib felt like everyone was focusing on all their attention on the startups who made it big like Facebook. The reality is that eight out of 10 business fail in their first three years and venture capitalists only fund the top 1 percent of pitches they see, he said.

In 2008, he wrote a blog post, Why Startups Fail. The post got so much attention that Feinleib decided to turn it into a book called Why Startups Fail: And How Yours Can Succeed, which was published in December.

Feinleib gave us a cheat sheet and told us 13 things startups do that make them fail:

  • There’s no place for your product: “Investors are fond of debating which they care about more: the market or the entrepreneur. The reality is, great entrepreneurs find great markets. Many startups never achieve the elusive product-market fit. Some companies, like Facebook and Zynga, find product-market fit right out of the gate. Or at least they appear to. Others, like Intuit, go along for years until they crack the code.” 
 Read the rest of this entry »