“Austria ranks 3rd, improving by one position since 2011. Its strong performance is driven by factors such as tourism infrastructure, in which it ties for 1st place with Italy; a welcoming attitude toward visitors; a very safe and secure environment (7th); and, most importantly, its rich cultural resources. Austria hosts nine World Heritage cultural sites, has excellent creative industries, and attracts many travelers with several fairs and exhibitions organized every year. The country’s tourism industry is also being developed in a sustainable way (10th), with some of the most stringent (4th) and well-enforced (7th) environmental regulations in the world, driving its overall positive performance on environmental sustainability (ranked 6th).”—Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report 2013 - World Economic Forum
Age might be the root cause for writing this post. On the other hand, it might just be the change of weather in Belgium that inspires me. One thing’s for sure, change is all around. Be it the weather, the daily increasing traffic jams, Apple Q3 figures, smartphone penetration rate, work-life balance shift, … it’s all change. Many people dislike the fact that we have no more long-term predictability, which surely is reasonable. But the fact remains that all these changes are happening over and over again.
My personal idea on change in general is that it creates the opportunity to “do different or do new”. ”Different” as in changing the way you do something while ”new” being changing what you do. In each situation which requires us to make a decision, we need to (re)evaluate the way we will try to achieve our goal or in what way we will change the goal itself.
It strikes me that in all Service Delivery, change is very difficult. It seems a lot easier to change a product than to change a service. Whether it be ICT service delivery, travel services, medical services, … they are all still rather static (compared to the rapid changes in product development and delivery). This is not very surprising, seeing that the one big difference between a product and a service is the human factor, bringing me back to the start of this post, the human resistance against the loss of long-term predictability. How can we convince people to welcome (and even actively seek) changes in customer facing services? How can people be convinced to aspire “different” or even “new”?
Innovation consists in presenting all new services or new ways to achieve a service oriented goal, so the potential success of innovation is (partly) dependent on how the related changes are perceived by people. To me, the true power of Service Design as a “methodology” is not only a consumer centric design of the service(s) itself (the goal), but also design of the change path which leads to the intensified use and acceptance of this service.
It is necessary to keep focussing on your new goal, but in many cases, it’s also extremely important to create a “people-friendly” and motivating change path towards this goal.
“It amuses me when organisations brainstorm – with the same people, around the topics, in the same environment, with the same tools – and expect different results!”—Bettina von Stamm, Innovation Leadership Forum
Apple’s share price has passed Google’s at $632-a-share. Share prices are basically meaningless since the number of shares outstanding differ (Apple has nearly 3x the number of shares out there, and as such, nearly 3x the valuation). But the numbers are interesting in historical context. They show what a ride Apple has been on (while Google has remained relatively static).
When Google went public in 2004 and their stock immediately popped over $100-a-share, Apple’s stock was trading around $15-a-share. When Google’s stock hit $500-a-share in November 2006, Apple’s stock was around $85-a-share. When Google shares peaked in late 2007 over $700-a-share and people were wondering if the stock was the next Berkshire Hathaway (up, up and away!), Apples stock was around $150-a-share.
With the price and the number of shares outstanding, Apple’s valuation is now approaching $600 billion. The next closest company in terms of valuation is Exxon. Their market cap is $400 billion. The nearest tech company is Microsoft. Their market cap is $265 billion.
On March 14, 22 children and 6 adults lost their precious lives in an accident in Sierre, Switzerland.
Language is not a barrier when hearing the unbearable sound of silence. A country divided by language stands united in tragedy, the tragedy of 28 lives taken away from their families and friends in a purposeless accident.
Belgium was completely silenced at 11AM today, March 16, national day of mourning.
Will we remember the true value of life when noise takes over again? Will we be able to distinguish the important from the futile any better after this confrontation with real life tragedy? And most importantly, will relatives and friends of the deceased be able to listen to the sound of life again some day… ?
All my best to the people affected by this incomprehensible event.
(my thoughts go out especially to Kirsten and the kids)
For one, collaboration in the creative design process is crucial:
…The nature of having ideas and creativity is incredibly inspiring. There is an idea which is solitary, fragile and tentative and doesn’t have form. What we’ve found here is that it then becomes a conversation, although remains very fragile.
…The way we work at Apple is that the complexity of these products really makes it critical to work collaboratively, with different areas of expertise.
His view on innovation is strikingly obvious:
…There are different approaches - sometimes things can irritate you so you become aware of a problem, which is a very pragmatic approach and the least challenging. What is more difficult is when you are intrigued by an opportunity.
…This is why these innovations are so hard - there are no points of reference.
He also stresses the importance of consumer awareness of the care people at Apple have for the products they design and develop. This interview does give an indication.
Data roaming in the EU… a never ending story if you ask me. Mobile internet usage keeps on rising, apps are commonly used and accessible to everybody. We all want to use the internet anywhere, anytime!
To me, as an IT kind of guy, it’s rather simple to predict which service on my phone or iPad will use a certain amount of data, but I can imagine that for someone not into the technicalities, this is not equally easy.
So, we found the solution! We will send an sms when usage exceeds a certain threshold (as in: money)… Excuse my choice of words but that’s just plain bullsh*t!
Get those mobile operators around a table and figure out an innovative way of dealing with roaming! Really, this cannot be that hard? I’m sure that people will find a workaround soon. Operators will lose a major part of their turnover if they don’t act now… .
Decline in Venture Capital investments: I guess this is partly due to conservatism and the difficult economical situation. Nevertheless, it’s my opinion that this remains a very important field for supporting innovation. Opportunities are there, we only need to acknowledge them.
Scandinavian countries score well… as expected. Other countries in the EU can learn a lot from our northern member states. What’s with the lack of cross-country-knowledge-sharing? I’m missing initiatives on this part. (and please don’t tell me “language” is still a barrier, nor is “culture”.)
Some countries acknowledge and act on these numbers. Take Austria for instance, WKÖ-Vizepräsidentin Schultz. Many others should act on these numbers too. An economical decline is a driver for innovation, only when we support initiatives.
Service Delivery and the art of listening is what keeps me wondering these days.
My previous post about tourism in Austria is actually a good example. Austrian tourism workers are genuinely ”good listeners”. They really hear what tourists are asking for and most of the time, they deliver! These people are service minded and flexible, they are open to suggestion and they don’t fear what’s new and happening. They don’t cling to conservative values (except for their own well-known traditions) but are always seeking that small opening helping their business take “the extra mile”. They are not blinded by budget forecasts and process flows but instead every move they make starts with listening to the customer.
This way of doing business for many creates a lot of uncertainty. It implies that you adapt your business model to continuous change. A kind of dynamism we tend to swear off in times of economical crisis where we seek stability and retention above all.
Being in ICT Service Management, I get confronted with this attitude daily. We are afraid to provide transparency as this could generate change and change attributes uncertainty about our future. We are afraid to communicate as communication implies confrontation which will force us to reflect on what we do and how we do this.
Every year I’m more amazed of the adoption of new- and social media in Austria! Tourism in this beautiful country is not seldom described as simple and conservative… yet, I don’t know any other country (I’m not exactly a world traveler) so in to new media opportunities!
Finding a hotel is dead easy. Lot’s of them have a decent website, free WiFi, a facebook page, Foursquare entries, yes even Google+ pages!
The bigger resorts now already have their own mobile app. Some even have free WiFi on the slopes!
This country’s tourism industry really makes an effort! And yet, the people are amazingly friendly and down to earth… (and yes, they make very good schnapps :) )
When I read the news today (talking mainly EU here), I start wondering how we will ever overcome this financial crisis? Somewhere along all those depressing statements, one has to say “stop, clear your head and think!”. I can’t loose the feeling that battling the crisis by mitigation measures is the only priority we define.
What will we do when we succeed? When every big company and even every family home is “economically dried out”?
Top priorities should also contain “new (means of) business” (in the broad sense). We should stimulate people in just going the other way, taking a turn and move on! Creating opportunities and motivating other people in doing great things. We should empower young people, allow them to develop some of their great ideas and we should focus on the “grey spots” in society where people with great ideas have no means of sharing them or even expressing their thoughts.
Our current approach is surely taking us into an evolutionary coma if you ask me… .
But, I’m not all negative of course. I do see a whole new year of novelty and surprises! We’re only day 2 and already I’m noticing a lot of people standing in the front of the line, acting like children at the entrance of a new playground.
Well, wish all of you a great and exciting 2012. Now let’s get busy and have some fun doing that! ;)
Everybody is disappointed in the results published by Apple yesterday. It kind of strikes me that Wall Street Analysts didn’t see this comming?
If you look at the projections for FQ4 made after the previous quarter, they did really good:
"Looking ahead to the fourth fiscal quarter of 2011," said CFO Peter Oppenheimer, "we expect revenue of about $25 billion and we expect diluted earnings per share of about $5.50." According to MarketWatch, analysts are expecting higher projections: revenue of $27.7bn and earnings of $6.42 per share. (The Register)
So why did this get out of hand? I guess estimates were adjusted all summer long based on rumors of the iPhone 5 coming in September. The fact that estimates were not revised down when rumors appeared to be no more than that, is not a very smart move.
I’m not an analyst myself, just a small time investor, but the numbers are not a surprise to me at all… .
At this point, Apple estimates for January are higher than the Street’s numbers… now that’s an interesting one!
Well, that’s about it. We’ve been trying appoint a new government for almost more than 500 days now, but no luck. In discussing the appointment of 3 mayors (on a total of 590!), the political parties just could not agree. And that was just the start! Don’t bother trying to understand, it’s a language thing.
I think the only option of getting out of this shaming mess is just selling the country. Consider it a discrete family car. The ones you don’t even really notice. They have some nice features but they’ll never be a Porsche.
So here are some specifics:
Building year: 1830
Mileage: 30528 sq Km.
Seats: 11.000.000 people
Current owner: King Albert (he’s flying over from France to sign the deal)
Country pass available - last general maintenance about 500 days ago
Needs engine revision (or just a new engine - not driveable at this moment)
Manual available in 3 languages (Dutch, French and German)
Guinness Book recommendation: longest drive without driver!
Color: black, yellow and red - looks flashy by the way!
Buy in it’s current state for a very reasonable price! Can serve many purposes (eg. tax paradise, parking lot for Germany, France and the Netherlands, …) and is really reliable (as in: “conservative”).
Bidding starts at €1!
#blackfriday special!!! AA+ -> AA! (sponsored by Standard & Poor’s)
"If it ain't broken, don't fix it" - corporate conservatism
In addition to my previous post, I can’t stop thinking about an easy model to ignite change in Belgian enterprises. Change, to me, can be triggered by several “motives”. Most obvious motives are problems, shortcomings, growth, etc, all well mastered by most companies.
One motive that I don’t notice enough in Belgium is innovation. How does corporate innovation fit companies in times of crisis. As managers, we are completely focused on the financial aspects of the crisis as it happens. This makes us unaware that we are not arming ourselves for the post-crisis market situation of our company.
Possibly, this is what strikes companies all over Europe these days. Look at Nokia, Sony Ericsson and many others. This is the time innovation can benefit a company the most. It can fail for sure, but when you succeed as an enterprise, you will be able to conquer the financial challenges you face. Take a look at Apple for instance. During this whole financial debacle, the grew more than any of their competitors. And yet, they are situated in the “nice to have” segment of their market.
How do you ignite and support innovation in your company? I think there are 3 important and basic rules to that:
As company leader, express clearly the need to innovate to all your employees! Innovation has to be acknowledged as a core enterprise attitude;
Embed means to facilitate innovation throughout the entire company. There’s no such thing as an innovation department or division. As stated in 1, it’s an attitude every employee should master. The smallest, most basic changes can have a big impact on your company, so they can be initiated by anyone;
Have someone with strong managerial and leadership qualities orchestrate innovative ideas into workable and feasible projects.
Probably, everybody has a different view on this, and that’s good! Change and innovation leading to change is a dynamic process evolving with company culture, market situation and above all “human capital”, as in people.
For some time now, I’m really struggling with the way the current enterprise leaders and managers are keeping focus on established values. Let me be clear, I’m referring to the majority of Belgian companies and institutions.
More and more, as technology and the way we deal with it is evolving, I hear and read protectionism and despair. Is it related to the current financial uncertainty? Are we protecting our companies from a monster of Loch Ness, one that may surface one day (or not)?
If you look at the political situation in Belgium, I do see some similarities. Eight political parties around a table discussing for more than 400 days the way and the extent in which Belgium should be split (or not). Some cities in the world have more residents than our country and yet, they manage to manage them rather well.
Norway had it’s share of reality hit every civilian brutaly in the face and what happens? They all stand together, focussed in the same direction: forward!
Belgium, it’s government and it’s companies are vast asleep. I’m fearing the moment we get our wake up call because it will probably hit us hard. This country needs to set it’s mind on one important focus, innovation!
I do believe we have our share of people who can make a difference, in politics as well as business. These people are key in taking care of the way Belgium faces the future. They are the innovative engine that we need. But… as we still are a rather safe (conservative) country, we stick by the slogan: “if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it”. Of course, in world evolution, this attitude will sooner or later take us in to palliative care .
My personal message: managers, politicians, reflect and decide to stay and innovate or to step aside and support a new generation of leaders. The ones who get driven by change, by major turnaround. We need to make calculated risks in this country! Support the ones who describe their dreams as feasible ideas. We don’t need people going for established values, we already have enough of those… we need to dream, design, create and believe.
Enterprise (ICT) innovation readiness, what's in a name
With every newly launched social platform (eg. Google+), the question about enterprise use and engagement value pops up again.
What defines “enterprise readiness” in Social Media/Business? Is it the adoption rate of managers, the leadership quality of founders or C-level directors? Or maybe employee pressure to be able to use these platforms for work purposes?
It’s my experience that only few companies really measure this in their KPI’s on innovation. They measure the amount and the success rate (usage in figures) of new initiatives but not their innovative value.
So is it really necessary to innovate? A question that defines the baseline of the KPI’s (if present). Innovation should “enable” a company in generating added value. This added value can of course be measured in numbers or can be measured in satisfaction, motivation and engagement. ”Use of”, needs to be defined. It’s not just the raw metrics, it’s also the subjective value: the why.
On top of that, not so long ago I read following tweet:
@oscarberg: Funny how people often instinctively reject new technologies that can give them new or improved capabilities
I do think rejecting new technologies instinctively is an attitude many CIO’s would face when reflecting on themselves and their work. The pressure they experience in delivering “direct revenue-generating systems” makes them reject a lot of opportunities of engaging other C-level or even board level directors. We consider “engagement” mainly as a plus when talking about employees, the workforce but it’s probably even more important when considering the upper part of the working-piramid. This will, most probably, influence the innovation KPI’s in a very positive way. Engagement is bidirectional! Senior management still thinks they are, by default, “engaged”… .
Well, that’s probably the question everybody wants an answer to. The platform has lot’s of potential, looks good, feels very fast and… needs some killer features.
It’s the first platform I try that, to me, has the opportunity of combining personal and work “circles” into one account. Once it gets integrated with Google Apps for business purposes, the sky is the limit. This could really hurt other platforms! Microsoft of course will feel some pain but also other very valuable platforms like Yammer, Jive, … can get hurt by this. Of course also some apps in the marketplace will have a hard time surviving (Socialwok, …). As I’m thinking about it, Google+ could create a whole bunch of victims.
As for the pleasure use of it, Google should really integrate the more established tools out there. Thinking of Instagram, Foursquare (I know, they have Latitude but hey, 4sq is really cool), twitter, Tumblr (and blogger of course), etc.
My hopes are set high! Let’s see what happens in the next few months!
It keeps surprising me. The number of websites that deliver content in a non-mobile-friendly way is still enormous. Let’s face it, there are a number of ways to easily adapt a site for mobile viewing. Maybe one of the most pragmatic ways is to (for now,) abandon Flash-only as a development platform.
Don’t misunderstand me, I do admire Flash and worked with it for a long time, but it just doesn’t work in the mobile world.
It’s my experience that, for information and interaction purposes, people are no longer charmed by a flash-based website. They have a smartphone, tablet or any other device on which they want access to the information and the possibility to interact. Imagine this: during your latest family gathering, you decide to organize a summer weekend in some cottage. You take your iPad and start searching… Very soon, you’ll run in to lot’s of sites completely build in Flash. No go on the iPad. So you take your Galaxy S phone (screen is a lot smaller), browse to the same site and see it load… and load and react extremely unstable to every touch you give it. The only result you’ll get is shame and anger. This expensive piece of equipment doesn’t work! Or does it… .
This is a message to the web builders among us. Please consider explaining to your customer why having a non-flash based alternative for his/her site can really deliver! It’s not hard to build, it may be hard to sell, but it will surely be hard to explain a decreasing number of visitors due to lousy accessibility!
Update 1: a small extract from the Google Sites Blog:
A poor mobile web experience can negatively shape a consumer’s opinion of your brand or your company altogether. In a recent study, we found that 61% of users are unlikely to return to a mobile site that they had trouble accessing from their phone, and 40% go to a competitor’s. By the end of this year, more than half of all Americans will own a smartphone. Your customers are mobile, are you?
Update 2: forgot to mention… please all get rid of the floating ads! They are annoying and I am pretty sure they have practically no return. On top of that, they usually give an unprofessional impression.
That’s that. Enough complaining for today. I promise my next posts will contain more positive ideas!
Could google+ mean a breakthrough when available for GAPPS?
Well, as for me, I do believe so. From what I understand speaking with colleagues, there appears to be a growing need for a social networking platform in corporate environments. More and more, C-level management believes in the value of social networking as a knowledge and collaboration platform.
Imagining the possible power of Google+ in addition to Google Apps as a fully integrated cloud collaboration and -networking “suite” really makes sense. In addition to this, I believe this is the way to go, as it would put Google one step ahead of Microsoft and Office365 again. Healthy competion always delivers!
Now let’s hope Google will reveal more of it’s future plans on this soon.
Locationbased services and payment for international data
Some things in tech and life are really difficult to understand. I’ve had some thoughts lately on the price of mobile data when roaming in Europe. With all the available technology, people always know who we are and where we are. Imagine going abroad and receiving a notification from a local carrier that you have entered his/her network. This carrier could give you the possibility of purchasing a limited data plan during your stay and thus preventing the need of expensive roaming data contracts with your home provider.I do see some issues concerning invoicing etc, but do admit, those are no more than issues… . The advantages for user as well as provider would be numerous.
When seeing all the “new account” creations in my mailbox, I can’t help myself from thinking how to integrate all these promising tools. They all have their strengths and shortcomings, but together, they would be able to give me a great online experience! to me, is a great start, but there has to be more to it. It’s just great seeing how I experience the web shift completely to a new platform. Lot’s to think about this weekend when temperatures will hit the ceiling here in Belgium… .
We’ve all been hearing about the “consumerization of IT” for some time now and of course, we all agree with very knowledgeable people like Peter Hinssen that our homes are far better equipped with technology than our desk. As we do spend most of our active time at that desk, this works frustrating in some way. Understandable… . But if I look at what exactly we do in our high tech home, it seems most of our time is consumed by social technology. We open a mailbox, chat-box, Face-book-box, game-chat-box, red button vote box on TV … Lot’s of boxes that allow us to put a social layer over all we do. People are social individuals, no news in that. More and more, we are measured by our social relevance on the web and in the real world.
At work however, we are expected to be productive individuals with clear tasks and boundaries. We are expected to perform in our own world and afterwards report our score on the individual performance indicators that were appointed to our work world.
Clearly, this contradiction troubles many people, from managers to interns all from their own point of view.
The question is, how does an enterprise need to respond to this contradiction without knowing what the future of it will bring? How can you, as a manager change the way your company or department works in order to face the frustration of your people on the use and availability of technology.
Social networking, social media, don’t seem to be “core business applications”. Maybe they’re not, but in some time, they might become “obvious tools”. They might become a “commodity”. Think about the possibilities social network analysis creates for companies. The possibility to analyse the “knowledge map” of a department or the whole company. This will allow us to continuously evaluate and collaborate. It’s a bit like torrent networks. Sharing the best parts of knowledge from where they present themselves. Not loosing your time on non-relevant information seeds. It sounds almost insensible which in fact is a possible downside. But managing this in a constructive way can dramatically reduce employee frustration about the lack of means to access “social information”. Some call on “collaborative leadership” to manage this process. Let the peers co-manage the company they say. Well, I agree. But are these peers ready for this kind of commitment, engagement, responsibility? Good question… .
I think this article on mashable, http://goo.gl/mgTG explains a lot… . Social Technology has been hitting us like a real tropical storm lately. Any company in the world is obliged to start “implementing” social media as a work force instrument. The only downside is, nobody ever told us, conservative technology managers, how exactly we should handle this. New is exciting… that’s a good start I think.