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Future Patterns of Innovation

Since the first IT systems were invented, IT systems have helped to automate business processes and IT will continue to do this in the future but now IT will become a stronger force in the quest for new business opportunities.

The terms big data and analytics are used heavily in the industry at present, but the fact remains have we stopped to consider what this actually means?

Data is being driven to drive growth in business now and this data is only set to expand in the future with the pressure for business executives to find new innovation’s is hit and miss often because they are not equipped for out the box thinking and compounding that is the fact that the business is organised to support one way of working and are not adaptable to new innovation.

Idea in brief, the challenge for businesses is that established large companies traditionally are bad at finding new ways to make money but these large companies own or have access to vast sets of information that could be used to expand existing business or create new ones. Often what starts as an extension of a business will in fact become a separate business line once successful.

“In short we know we can obtain the answer from technology we just need to ask technology the correct questions.”

So lets look at the opportunity in the market place for this and place in to context the addressable market. Cisco has been a big supporter of the IOE (Internet of Everything) and if you look at the figures its easy to see why. Cisco Consulting predict that the IOE will have an addressable market from 2013 – 2022 of $19 Trillion….yes Trillion for both private and public sectors alike. Perhaps the most alarming part of that phrase for a business is the size of the opportunity and the fact that we are now in that window or opportunity.

So first lets look at what the IOE is: “The IOE is the networked connection or people, process, data and things”. This is already in our everyday lives, do you have a smart meter at home monitoring your energy usage and billing you? Have you adopted a smart box in your car to calculate part of your insurance premiums? The fact is that this idea has been around since the mid 2000’s, what is accelerating this connected network of everything is the advancement in connectivity technologies (4G now & 5G in the next decade), numbers of devices and more recently wearable technology. What is now an advancement is the tools we have in IT to analyse this data.

An early example of such connected technology is Rolls Royce who in the mid 2000’s used engine health management to identify engine related problems at an early stage thereby optimising maintenance and repair schedules. This data was taken from sensors in the engine and the effectiveness of this allowed Rolls Royce to adopt a new business model on how they charged their customers thus giving them a competitive advantage. To expand this idea further Rolls Royce could sell this platform as a service to other such manufacturers across different industries, automative, marine, power etc.

So lets fast forward to the present day and look at what companies are doing now to use transmitted data to optimise their business. One of my favourite examples of this is the UPS case study who used software to map out all their delivery routes and decided to not allow their delivery trucks to turn Left. Sounds bizarre doesn’t it allow me to explain, UPS in the US has 1000’s of delivery trucks and optimising their route both in time and cost savings is key to the businesses bottom line. In the US to turn left you have to first cross an on coming lane of traffic which is a safety concern but more critically it takes time as you have to wait for other traffic to pass. UPS found that programming their mapping software to only allow right hand turns (in US you can turn right on a red light) they shaved 20.4 million miles off the routes, delivered 350’000 more packages and diminished CO2 emissions by 20,000 metric tonnes. That’s an impressive bit of out the box thinking and this was done using software which tracked the delivery trucks and allowed them to analyse different models of delivery.

UPS Report Link

Along the same lines another example is Vodafone who partnered with Tom-Tom, Vodafone can detect which of its subscribers are driving, where they are and more importantly are they stuck in traffic. Vodafone realised they had this data already available to them from the range of devices they sell as most devices transmit your GPS location now, and realised this is a new line of business which we can sell on to people who want this information such as Tom-Tom who give traffic diversions to end users.

So you can see how technology is enabling lines of business and current process improvements and cost savings.

Let’s take a look more closely at the IOE and in particular the medical sector. The medical sector is taking a huge advantage of using wearable technology for all kinds of possibilities, and rightly so as the medical sector is extremely slow to change and when you think of visiting your doctor the fact that you have to phone/email/online a meeting, then explain your symptoms and then the doctor prescribe you something based on the tools he or she has in their office at that time. What if you were wearing a jumper, bracelet, watch that monitored all your health statistics and then alerted you when you need to go the doctor, but behind the scenes the device has sent all your data to your doctor allowing a more accurate diagnostic and health profiling of you?

“Lets develop the idea, why even go to the doctors? With the invention of Google Glass and Facebook Oculus and immersive reality, why couldn’t your doctor appear on your google glass and consult with you online and have your medication posted to you which you need?”

The scope for this is endless, the focus at the moment is on medical heavily but that has not stopped more everyday applications, for instance in Finland sensors are placed in garbage cans which instruct the collection company when they need emptying saving over 40% in waste savings collection.

This industry potential is huge and I can see this accelerating even further as the technology and imagination develops.

So what does a business need to do in order to capitalise on these areas? It starts with asking some fundamentally basic questions;

What data do we have?

What data do we have access to that we are not capturing?

What data could we create from products or operations?

What helpful data could we get from others?

What data do others have that we would like also? can we collaborate?

I work in IT and mostly in the areas which are business process automation and although that will continue the ideas we have discussed above are where the real movement is coming from and where the technology market is going, by asking yourself the above questions you can start to address your future of innovation.

“To relate back to the title of this article, the future patterns of innovation, its already here the question is how are you going to use it?”


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Removing your head from the sand…..

Take the time to learn from others around you

Take the time to learn from others around you

I often think that the IT world buries itself in its own little world and the analogy goes “If I cannot see them they cannot see me” (Hitchhikers guide to the galaxy quote). But there is so much more to be seen and discovered that relates to IT. We are seeing this more and more now, no longer is IT just responsible for the delivery of email and a service desk which we can moan at when things are not working, but IT is now responsible for innovation within the business and being extremely smart on efficiencies, cost and all the while completing this with the same number of staff and an ever decreasing budget.┬áThe “innovation” side comes from the now industry standard words of big data and big data analytics.

Now in my humble view IT departments have not yet fully understood these new aspects they are to bring to the table and this goes back to my analogy of burying our heads in the sand, maybe if we ignore it, it will go away? The harsh reality is it will not, smarter ways of generating revenue for the business and understanding customers through analytics is now becoming mandatory for businesses to compete with each other.

I sound like I am beating up on IT here, but I am guilty of this myself and I think we all are to some degree.

So I hear you ask what is the golden answer? Well I may have just stumbled across a path to that answer, last year I attended something called the “Yorkshire Mafia” in the UK. This was an event driven purely from LinkedIn with no real marketing campaign other than LinkedIn and there were over 2000 attendees.

The real golden nugget here is that it was not all IT companies attending it was businesses of all natures from large corporates to entrepreneurs. But more importantly the key notes were a great way to understand how other businesses are using IT, social media and the likes to the best effect. This involved key notes from Facebook, LinkedIn, Google, Microsoft, and Twitter.

This is a huge networking event which allows businesses from all verticals to meet and see what others are doing. Now isn’t that refreshing?! There is even a Billionaire panel where 6 CEO’s of very successful businesses sit on a panel and can be asked questions by the audience, now personally this was fascinating for me as when do you get this opportunity to ask these people what you want? I may be the exception here but I do not meet the CEO of many companies and this was a unique insight!

So the headline is, if you want to take your head out of the sand and see what other businesses are doing within all industries and how it relates to you, attend this conference I guarantee you will see or hear something you can use or find useful. And the best bit, how much does this cost?! Nothing its free! From a personal note, based on the success of this last year you can see from the sponsors such as Barclays that they have attracted this year that this type of event is growing in size and importance.

Register below and actually go to a conference which is different from your normal industry events, let me know what you think and maybe see you there! Also you will be surprised to see all the IT vendors now rushing to attend these events as they realise the potential of these networking events.

The Yorkshire Mafia