Archive for the innovation Category

The digital battle is getting serious but who is fighting and why?

Posted in collaboration, Community, Digital business, digital collaboration, Digital media, Digital news, innovation, IT and communication, Web 2.0 on April 5, 2013 by Geir Stene

Painting_Liberty Leading the PeopleIt’s the giants leading on the battle; it amazes me that the rest of us let them rule the ground alone.

It is all about power, owning the value chain and keeping / achieving profits. Who owns the production line ? Who have control over the infrastructure (path of delivery) and who has the strongest grip of the customers?

For some; helping people to improve their lives and decrease their sufferings and problems seems to be a necessary (but undesirable) cost aspect. No wonder people distrust whole countries, corporations and those who want to sell us yet another vacant argument.

Facebook is coming up with a mobile solution, but do not launch a cell phone. IPhone got behind in the innovation race. Kodak is bankrupt. Sony is losing money all over. Many newspapers tries to generate sufficient revenues by hiding behind firewalls. AT&T (and of course Telenor in Norway) are fighting too, they want the free ride of earning on others production of content. Media moguls are on the ground too, armed to their teeth with copyright arguments. North Korea and other nations are accused for running a cyber war. Most nations want some sort of control over the Internet, they say it’s due to fighting crime.

Confused? No need to be embarrassed. Most people are.

The digital revolution is really about who is producing value in the digital era and are able to deliver solutions to people’s problems and fulfilling their desires in the most benefitual way. It can be a revolution FOR the people, but then the people have to wake up.

The question is not about copyrights, VAT, or that the artists will not survive when everything becomes free. It is not about journalism or literature, storytelling, pictures and film as dying crafts. It is really about a new level of democracy, where the value is in delivering real value to people – the market.

For the media industry  it is important to understand this, and at the same time to understand that the real producers of added value (the artists, the storytellers, the journalists and so forth) need to get the fair share of the value produced!

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Behind Facebooks new ”Graph search”

Posted in Community, Digital business, Digital media, innovation, IT and communication, Web 2.0 on January 16, 2013 by Geir Stene

TVscreen_wall_imageIt seems like people aren’t looking under the hood of what this new direction of Facebook really is all about.

What I’ve seen of reactions so far is concerned about the benefit for people searching (and the lack of benefit outside Facebook environment)Forbes is concerned about privacy in their article: “Facebook’s New Social Search”. [ ]

Forget privacy!
I believe that they aren’t looking closely enough. There is no battle of privacy. In fact that battle was lost before it started. Our governments (all over the world) have ensured that in all their new laws “against terrorism”. Forget privacy in the way we used to think about it.

Rather think transparency. And avoid using companies, and internet portals that refuses to be transparent about what they do.

What are they doing?
Google and Facebook are not trying to provide you with a more humane way of finding what you are looking for. They are not fighting over how personalization as the future of search should work.

They are battling to own your “social data”! They want to have as much knowledge about you, your friends and network, and your actions and interactions in any digital way you interact. They want this to profit from it. They want this in order to sell that social information about you to corporations. That enable them to present desired and needed commercial content to as where you are, when you need anything. None of them wants to be transparent!

Good or evil?
On the one hand this is great news, isn’t it? We finally get rid of spam, of disturbing and irritating commercials in our face. No more stupid “news letters”!

It’s a great idea to be presented by the great offer of a healthy lunch, just when you are hungry, and it’s right around the corner from where you stand. Isn’t it?

It’s great when your car breaks down on the highway, that the rescue car & the rental car is on its way, before you have to reach for your cell phone and start searching for the phone number to your insurance company, the rescue car and the rental company. You don’t have to call work and explain the delay or your spouse to complain to her, what shitty life you have.
That is already information delivered e.g. via Facebook status. Your friends and network knows, those who want to offer you help knows. That’s good – isn’t it?

The “evil enemy country” in the world has hacked into all systems and they also know what you think, what your actions are and what perfume you use, and more important, the credit card number and where/when used. Oh that’s maybe not so good, or is it?

The collective flow of money is in crowd funding!

Posted in collaboration, Community, Digital business, digital collaboration, innovation, IT and communication, Web 2.0 on December 16, 2012 by Geir Stene

16.dec_imageCrowd funding is still ‘hype’ for most industries, but you will hear lots about it next year, experts around the world tells us.

It started out with the music industry and according to this article from Wikipedia  it dates back to ca.1997. I’ll remind you that typical “donate option” at free software websites has been common for years and is also a kind of “retro perspective crowd funding

Till now crowd funding has been used mostly for creative projects (music, independent film, fine arts). We see that “new journalism / citizen journalism project have stated using this kind of funding.

Internet start-ups and other entrepreneurs are increasingly using crowd funding as a financial source. Even the US President Barack Obama embrace crowd funding by the “JOBS Act” that allows accredited investors to invest in equity crowd funding campaigns.

The skeptics will also tell us that crowd sourcing is risky, as criminals will use this phenomenon for creating frauds. I’m certain that is correct. Criminals have always used every possible way to cheat. Read THIS  from TIME magazine about the subject.

Not all kinds of project are suitable for crowd funding. The most obvious areas is project that is non-profit (charity), or where the profit motif is absence (arts) or that the project is somehow perceived as great for mankind.

That means that e.g. environmental- , citizen rights movements, job creating projects and so forth will be able to meet a collective support where crowd funding is a great opportunity to fund a project.

I believe that also more traditional businesses will attract  crowds for financial support, maybe even as a contra- reaction against  what is perceived as “cynical and greedy finance acrobats”.

“Look out for the crowd – there is power in the voice of the masses!”

Innovation: A stunt or a process?

Posted in Digital business, innovation, Web 2.0 on December 14, 2012 by Geir Stene

Bilde1A few years ago a business could develop a business strategy, print it and live by it for a decade? That is not an option in today’s world.

During our ongoing digital revolution the ability to innovate may be a “win or get lost” scenario. Yet, few businesses in Norway have established a structured innovative environment within their organization. Yes, “Innovation” has become a buzzword, but that is not enough.

However Innovation is not one thing! You should ask what kind of innovation and by that methodology you need to implement: Do you need a system that embraces continuous improvements, or does your business demand radical changes to survive the future? Is it in the product line or is it service innovation you need the most?

Most likely your organization  possess the skills, the ability and the will to produce the desired results of innovation processes. External expertise, support and coaching may help to exploit and fulfill the maximal potential.

“Innovation is not about to reinvent the wheel, it’s about using it in the right way, the right place and the right time”

Mobile first strategies

Posted in Digital business, Digital media, innovation, Web 2.0 on December 8, 2012 by Geir Stene

8 dec_imageTrend reports have told us for a couple of years now that the use of smart phones increases so dramatically that many businesses need to rethink their strategies.

I believe that the lap top and the web is no longer the first choice. We want to perform actions and do shopping via our phones. The mobile phone has become a multi- tool used for many things, and it is first and foremost a very “personal” tool.

Think about it, I can happily lend the lap top for a moment; but let other people handle my phone? Hummm…

Mobile first is not just about mobile phones, it’s also about tablets. These are two different “gadgets”. Even if both are handy and you can bring them with you – they have different patterns of usage.

However, the mobile solutions greatest advantages are that they are geared towards individual needs. The needs are situational. I choose widget and channel, based on situation – it’s mostly not a shared experience.

“Meet me where I am, in the tool I’m using,  with a solution to the problem I have! »

What is the purpose of your business?

Posted in Community, innovation on September 7, 2012 by Geir Stene

I posted this question on twitter the other day. And I got answers! Great answers, quite a few answers too.

People were curious. The reason for asking was to better understand what motivates people for running and/ or being in the business they are. Is it the cash, or is there something more to it ?

My followers asked me if I would give them some feedback on what I learned. I’ll summarize in this article.

First: I would like to thank every one of you. I’m humble and very grateful for the honesty and engagement you showed me! Thanks!

Your feedback
The ones that first answered came from small businesses and entrepreneurs.  “The purpose of my business is to get people out”, (with a hashtag #health included) one said. I didn’t quite get it, until I understood that he’s working with outdoor life professionally. Then it all became very clear.

“Your idea is value for us – and helps us provide better health care for you” another said, working with innovation in the public health care.

Also people from large companies and organization answered. One said: “We will create enduring value and leave clear footprints” this statement became a short discussion between twitters, where the CEO clarified by explaining:  “footprints is not meant as monuments, but businesses, systems, environments, management teams who are self-motivated and value-added”.

“Our business is to make people richer on knowledge”, “The purpose of our organization is to provide equal opportunities to unequal (unique) individuals”. I got many other great answers. I have to include this one from one of Norways Police chiefs: “The purpose of my business is to ensure that you and your family feel secure. This way you can spend your energy on making the most out of your business.”

Yes. I also got the obvious answers from several, one said: “If you run a commercial business, it is a lie if one states a different purpose than to create profits for the owners, in my eyes.”

As a consultant I would love to have you all as my customers! This is great answers, and not as vague as most “Vision, mission, vishy- washy statements” I have had to read, not getting anything out of it, over the years!

Lately I’ve noticed that a lot of companies have purposes that go beyond themselves and the “race for profit”. Some companies have purposes that leads to, in some or the other manner; improve something beside their own revenue stream. For some the focus is on a large scale, like improving society. For others it’s about improving or ease individuals life. I’ve also noticed that many of these companies are very successful.

This makes sense to me.
I watched the TED talk  by Simon Sinek where he states:

“People doesn’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it!”

He continues and says something that (you who answered my little questionnaire on twitter) should make you proud of yourselves:

 “If you hire people just because they can do a job, they’ll work for your money. But if you hire people who believe what you believe, they’ll work for you with blood and sweat and tears.” 

We can say the same thing about organizations. A company that is focused only on providing their owners with a profit, I believe is more likely not to take their customers unsolved problems as serious. The “reward” will be unfaithful customers, and declining market shares. “People doesn’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it!”

How to do this?
Well, companies need to clarify why they are in business, then they need to know how to do this in a manner that make a difference to people. Some companies are obsessed with growth, and have forgotten to see the real purpose they have in society and that the only thing worthwhile is to help improving life. We can listen to Umair Haque. In one word he points out how to make a difference:

Singularity. 

He says: “Scale is a solved problem. We know how to do stuff at very, very large scale, if by stuff you mean “churning out the same widget, a billion times over”. What we don’t know how to do is the opposite of scaling up: scaling down an institution, to make a difference to a human life. Lives are singular; and for institutions to truly matter in human terms, they must go beyond the homogeneous, to the singular.”  (read the article in  Harvard Business  Review,  Umair Haque is Director of Havas Media Labs)

I believe that from most of the answers I got from twitter, there is a lot of people out there, that are doing just this every day; some of you have gone beyond homogeneous, to the singular in the way you act and how you do your work!

What is your opinion? I would be happy for any comments, just hit “comment”below.

Social responsibility in business

Posted in collaboration, Community, Digital business, Digital news, innovation, Web 2.0 on August 21, 2012 by Geir Stene

Social responsibility has become a “hot topic” over the last years. I’ll present some viewpoints to the subject, but first three examples from my network:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ferd (@FerdCEO)
Why is it that a “hard core” industrial-and financial company like Ferd spends 20 mill NOK a year on supporting Social entrepreneurship?

In order to learn more I visited Ferd before the summer and had a long talk with Øyvind Sandvold (@oyvind_sandvold ) about the work Ferd is doing. What they support and what is outside their scope. You can read more about it HERE

I think the short answer is because they can! They have the assets and also valuable knowledge to share. Of course the element of charity is there.

But to my surprise Øyvind told me about another aspect: That there is a great “return of investment” for the Ferd company and the employees. Every project they support includes that one of the investments consultants (from the other investment funds) take part in the project as a board member, consult the Social entrepreneur and ensure that strategy, business plans and company start up secure the social business and its objective, and also has a growth plan. Øyvind tells me that these projects have become some of the most attractive assignment the employees can get involved in. They learn a lot, make great friends with people in the projects and experience that it’s very meaningful to provide their knowledge and to support social change. The most important part however is that Ferd as a company gets valuable knowledge in return.

Interesting enough: The Ferd social entrepreneurs has yet not received one application for a digital project!

Kavli (@KavliFoundation)
Most people in Norway know of the company Kavli. The Kavli Group is one of Norway’s largest and most international food groups, with some 800 employees creating a turnover of about NOK 2 billion. The companies produce goods for more than 20 countries. Maybe fewer people are aware of the fact that the profit from all Kavli products is channeled back to society, via the the Kavli Trust? They mainly donate money and focus on advanced science research, cultural activities and humanitarian work both in Norway and international.

Kavli has supported a great range of projects since 1962 and it’s interesting to note this project: Barnevakten.no  (Kids and Media). The organization has acquired a global reach with backing from the Kavli Trust. It is now a big operation with various web-based activities in the USA, the UK, Australia and Denmark as well as in Norway.

Bien Bank (@BienSparebank)
Bien bank is a small bank and the only local bank in Oslo. It used to be a savings bank owned by the customers, and is now owned by a trust. In the same manner as Kavli, Bien banks profit is channeled back to the population of Oslo by supporting informational and educational activities towards children and youth, art and cultural projects and community initiatives.
Bien tells me that they are looking into digital projects as we speak.

In addition to these few examples, we all know of the wide range of classical charity organizations, aid organizations and government’s engagements of all sorts.

As we see social responsibility is not at all a new idea. Our western democracies are built upon such ideas. What I believe we will se in the coming years (and why I write about it) is new and innovative initiatives, more and more of them will be digital. And more and more of them will have elements of what Ferd has implemented: In short – funding and expert help towards Self supported and sustainable social entrepreneurs.  

We will se “niche” projects from groups that want to take part in changing a business, like  Spot.us that says this about themselves: “Spot.Us is an open source project to pioneer community powered reporting.”… (spot.us red) “provides a new opportunity to expand the impact of public media journalism by making it more responsive and responsible to the public, while deploying new ways to support freelance reporters and the newsrooms that depend on them.”

As a warning: We will also see fraud! Solutions created only to enrich criminals, like the warning states in this article in e24 concerning the risk of scandals and fraud in crowdfunding

But should we let the risk of criminal acts from a few, stop the actions from millions of people and thousands of companies around the world that genuinely want  to help and improve the world we live in?