Services, channels and experiences matter in old economy industries

old-economy-vs-new-economyIn my last post I spent some time examining the opportunities and challenges of innovating in an old economy industry – the railroad industry.

For some industries, especially those that are asset-light, innovation can seem so simple.  Creating another compelling feature, service or product on top of an already agile set of capabilities can be pretty straightforward.

For old economy companies with infrastructure, equipment and assets, trying to innovate can seem very difficult, because of the history you have to bring along, and because of the standards, platforms and ecosystems that define your value proposition.

So here’s where both asset light new economy companies (Uber, AirBnB, etc) and old economy, asset rich industries can find common innovation ground.  Continue reading

Revolution, Platforms, Digital and the Huge Impact on Business in the Future

combining-forces-industrie-4-0-and-iccWe are all moving from the simple digitalization (3rd Industrial Revolution) to innovations based on multiple combinations of technologies, ushering in increasingly the 4th Industrial Revolution.

This is forcing everyone doing business to reexamine how they will manage this changing environment. There is a need to challenge existing assumptions, question how the operating teams need to work in the future and be ready to continually innovate.

As we gather increasingly around different platforms to undertake our business, we will continue to extend and exploit ecosystems that share and relate to our existing aims, or radically challenge them to force ‘us’ to make changes to our existing business models, so to achieve different innovation outcomes that radically alter the present business landscape.

There is a major impact on business underway, which will give such a different velocity to accelerating innovation and managing increasing disruption. Continue reading

Old economy ecosystems signal innovation opportunities

rail-crossover-points-2Paul and I have been writing mostly about ecosystems and platforms in the abstract to date, not spending a lot of time talking about specific companies or industries.

We took this approach because we wanted to establish a firm foundation about ecosystems and platforms generally, that wasn’t subject to debate about their applicability to one industry or another.

In the next several posts we will be looking at two diametrically opposed industries and the importance of ecosystems and platforms to both of these industries. Fittingly, I’ll be looking at the importance of innovation in ecosystems and platforms for an “old economy” industry – the railroads, while Paul looks at the importance of platforms and ecosystems in a new economy company – Alibaba.

On the (rail)road again… Continue reading

Where the physical and virtual worlds are blurring, thanks to Alibaba.

alibaba-visual-plus-logoIf ever there is one company in my mind that is at the forefront of building ecosystems, platforms and customer engagement, that is the Alibaba Group.

They are so focused on building the fundamental infrastructure for modern commerce, presently comprising marketplaces, payment. logistics, cloud computing and big data that is ‘collectively’ empowering businesses of all sizes to leverage the internet for their own digital transformation.

So who is Alibaba?

“Alibaba Group is an internet company that aims to make it easy to do business anywhere. Alibaba operates a range of online marketplaces that connects buyers and sellers, with the company providing the technology infrastructure to help merchants, brands and small businesses all over the world reach Chinese consumers. Alibaba’s ecosystem includes e-commerce platforms, cloud computing, digital media and entertainment, payments and financial services, logistics, and local services.”

Continue reading

Facilitating and Planning out the Innovation Ecosystem Thinking

econocom-comI am presently wanting to determine a framework for investigating and facilitating the thinking considerations we need when we consider innovation ecosystems.

Here I’d like you to consider this as an opening set of thoughts that need to come together far more, in ways that can be repeated and applied to the same basic question that requires a thoughtful thinking through.

It moves towards dealing with the question: “what do I need to consider for entering into an innovation ecosystem design?

It is clear work-in-progress and takes a series of my mind maps I have been developing and now attempting to put these into a structure that those wanting to answer this question can begin to explore possibilities and arrive at answers to their needs. Most of this is taking thoughts and beginning to structure these and build on this further. Still, we all should start somewhere in structuring this. I put some building blocks down recently and this continues to build out the thinking.

Firstly setting an innovation ecosystem into context Continue reading

Innovation Platforms: the future way to go.

platform-buildingWe need to shift our innovation thinking, it needs to be digitally transformed. We need to accelerate our activity and engagement and to achieve this, we need to widen out our communities and connect differently.

This is where platforms come in, “they offer new business models that allow multiple sides (producers and consumers) to interact…..by providing an infrastructure that connects them” (source: Platformed.Info by Sangeet Paul Choudary)

The more I read, discuss and research platforms, the clearer the future becomes for innovation to really advance and achieve its potential, one so often spoken about yet so disappointing in most of its results to date. Innovation calls for the need of a radical change. Technology and its growing potential can make the changes to dramatically alter this.

Actually, technology is transforming the very nature of the firm. Continue reading

Why experimenting with platform innovation is vital

innovation-experiementationWhy wait?

Paul Hobcraft and I have been writing extensively about the impact that emerging platforms and ecosystems are having, and will have, on innovation.

As I wrote previously, we are in the same position with platforms that we were with “dot coms” and ecommerce in 1999.  Then there were thousands of alternatives and experiments to try to figure out what would work.  Now, much the same thing is going to happen at the platform level.

There’s a reason Amazon, Facebook, Google, GE and others are trying to test out their platforms, and why other industries like financial services want so desperately for their own platforms to prevail.

Platforms are enticing because they lead to the concept of a required standard.  Anyone who controls a platform in an industry or market can dictate how the rest of the ecosystem adds value or in some cases connects to customers. Thus, we can expect to see a lot of companies claiming to have the definitive platform in this or that industry.  What’s more, some functions, like the ability to pay for goods and services within a platform, are already platforms in themselves, although they are narrow but important enablers to larger platforms.  Some companies and their platforms will thrive, some companies will build enabling technologies or the “APIs” that ensure tight integration for ecosystem players, but most will take a “wait and see” approach. Continue reading