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Don’t write the U.S. off just yet – How the TIDES of Change model can help assess the future of the world’s largest economy

Don’t write the U.S. off just yet – How the TIDES of Change model can help assess the future of the world’s largest economy

“Many business leaders will realise, soon, that they are underinvesting in North America” says Joel Kurtzman a leading figure in the U.S. on the future of business. Joel founded the Booz & Co magazine Strategy+Business and is also a senior fellow at the Milken Institute, an economic and finance think tank. This is an interesting prediction especially as the prevailing wisdom suggests that companies should be focusing on the emerging BRIC nations. So should you take note of Joel’s prediction or is it the hype of an American consultant longing nostalgically for the return of America’s golden era? If Joel is right however, there will be important strategic implications for businesses, consumer confidence and the future of global economic growth.

At TomorrowToday we specialise in understanding disruptive forces and for over a decade we’ve been making sense of a changing world. Our research on disruptive forces indicates that economic and political power is shifting distinctly East as well as South away from the U.S. This trend, we believe is likely to continue for the next two to three decades until a new equilibrium is reached in the global economy. So on the face of it our research does not support Joel’s prediction. However, this is where it get’s exciting because disruptive forces have an uncanny knack of creeping up and catching business leaders suddenly off guard. To remain vigilant leaders need to seek out the voice of dissent, find the voice that goes against reason because these can often be the weak signal that things are about to change or be disrupted. For example, back in 2005, Raghuram Rajan, a chief economist at the International Monetary Fund, attended the top central bankers’ get together in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, to present a paper on how the financial sector had evolved during Alan Greenspan’s era and gave a presentation that his listeners could never have expected. He argued that increasingly complicated instruments like credit-default swaps and mortgage-backed securities, had made the global financial system a riskier place, not less so as many believed. His presentation at the time represented the voice of dissent, under Greenspan the global financial market had never seemed more stable and Rajan’s audience didn’t take him very seriously. Three years later in 2008, however, his views proved prophetic. Rajan has since been credited with generally predicted the sources of the worst financial collapse since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

So as the global economy navigates to a point of equilibrium, the forces of disruptive change will make the journey somewhat turbulent and if Joel’s prediction represents the voice of dissent, it’s worth considering it in more detail. Using our TIDES of Change model on disruptive forces I’m going to test Joel’s prediction. The TIDES model assesses the impact of five disruptive forces – Technology, Institutional Change, Demographics, Environment & Ethics and Shifting Social Values.

Does Technology support Joel’s prediction?  … Continue Reading

Getting rid of email – here’s a company that’s done just that

Getting rid of email – here’s a company that’s done just that

Over the last few months I have begun to include a small section in some of my workshops on the clutter and “stuff” that makes work life a pain. Almost all participants identify meetings and email (and many add managers, for a “3M” trilogy of evil). Email is going to kill us. Or at least melt down sometime in the next few years.

You know this to be true. Your inbox is in much worse shape today than it was a few years ago. And it isn’t going to get any better by itself in the years ahead. We’re going to have to find a fix for this growing problem.

Some companies reckon that the solution is to abandon email altogether. The South American travel comparison site, El Mejor Trato is one such company. Fast Company magazine interviewed the CEO, Cristian Rennella (who only gets about five emails a day, from external people) to find out what they did, how they did it, and the impact it has made on their business. Read the report here (or an extract below).

This might be worth trying in your team or business. You’ve got to try something!

… Continue Reading

Award winning emerging market startups with a global edge

Award winning emerging market startups with a global edge

Seedstars World is a Geneva-based company that holds competitions for startups around the world. Their list of competition winners from the last year includes 19 emerging market companies that are innovating products and services with some exceptional promise.

We believe that disruption (and therefore, innovation) comes from the edges. These edges might be at the edge of an industry, an economy or geography. The interesting thing about the 19 firms listed by Seedstars is that they’re beginning to focus their attention on taking their offerings into established markets. With access to crowdfunding and venture capitalists who are starting to look beyond established markets in order to get higher returns, these companies may be hugely successful. But more than just looking at them, they’re a symbol of the change in mindset of business leaders around the world. Emerging markets should not be ignored.

Elizabeth MacBride, a writer for Forbes magazine took the list and categorised it helpfully as follows:

Financing infrastructure is being constructed fast and at the cutting edge.

    • Accra, Ghana-based Kitawa is building a Bitcoin-based online payments platform.

    • Remit.ug, based in Kampala, Uganda, enables people from all over the world to transfer money to mobile wallets in Africa.

… Continue Reading

Just for fun: Why you really, really want a drone at home

June 20, 2014 Graeme Codrington Future Trends, Innovation, Technology No Comments

It’s Friday, and the weekend is here. So, for a bit of fun check out this wonderful use of a drone. Drones are now readily available. My brother, a video producer based in Atlanta USA (see his video channel here) has one of his own that he uses to create amazing camera shots.

These drones can be programmed to follow GPS co-ordinates, and one smart guy has programmed his drone to take his dog for a walk around the neighbourhood. Here’s the video:

Dogs and drones

What would you use a drone at home for?

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Sharing Your Secrets: What Elon Musk’s latest move at Tesla means for you

Sharing Your Secrets: What Elon Musk’s latest move at Tesla means for you

I’ll admit it: I have a huge man-crush on Elon Musk. I like everything this guy does. From his passion for space exploration and madcap vision of a one way trip to Mars, to his recent announcements about building both flying and submerisble cars, Elon is the very eptimony of a swashbuckling hero for the modern age. He’s also a South African – land of my birth too. Yet, in between the media hyped pronouncements there is some serious thought going on about the future shape of the world. Every industry he touches he also changes.

Yesterday, Elon’s electric sports car company, Tesla, announced that it will release all its patents to the world for free. Now anyone can build an electric car like they have.

There is some sanity behind this madness. In order for Tesla to grow now it really does need an entire electric car around it. Elon has seen that instead of protecting the slice of the pie he currently has (which is quite big), it’s going to be better for him to build a bigger pie. I think he’s spot on. Too many businesses spend too much time and effort protecting their piece of a pie, rather than building the pie. Lesson #1 right there.

But the bigger lesson, and the more important issue for everyone else is that Elon and Tesla understand that we’re increasingly living in a world where information is no longer power and everyone will know everything anyway. Many industries are currently built on what I call “knowledge arbitrage”: you and your company know things that other people (very often including your customers) don’t. By 2020, this will not be true. Good examples include investment banking, financial planners, pharmaceuticals and law firms.

What would your industry look like if everyone knew everything that everybody else did? What would your business model look like if it could not be based on having a corner on a set of information no-one else has? How would you add value to your clients if they already know everything you know? You may not need the answer to these questions this year, but you will need them by 2020. So you might as well start now.

Elon Musk is already one step ahead of you.

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Apple just entered your market (Healthcare, I’m talking to you)

Apple just entered your market (Healthcare, I’m talking to you)

For the last few years, our team has enjoyed asking our clients a hypothetical question: “What would the impact be if Apple/Google/Facebook announced today that it was entering your market?”. To be honest, I think it should be a thought that strikes fear into all existing players in any industry. And it could be ANY industry.

A few industries have started to feel the reality of this hypothetical question. The car industry has Google’s driverless cars. The telecomms industry has Facebook’s internet connectivity drones (and Google’s blimps). The investment industry has Google’s free stock analysis. The robotics industry has literally been bought up by Google in the past twelve months. Elon Musk of Tesla is getting into transportation, space travel and free wifi for Africa.

And now Apple is making a move into healthcare.

This makes a lot of sense to us. In the world of the Internet of Things, the smart home is probably the first place we’ll see innovation and practical applications (the Nest thermostat system is just the start). But next on the list of clever things to do with a world filled with sensors, big data analysis and real-time information that will actually make a difference in our personal lives is healthcare.

the more we measure what goes into our bodies, what comes out of them, what we do to our bodies and how they respond, the better we will be able to improve our bodies’ functionality. This will improve our health and directly improve our standard of living. It’s a no-brainer. And Apple are spending significant money to start the process of owning this space.

It will start with some simple apps that get us into the habit of monitoring and managing our health. It will soon extend to monitors that are inside our bodies (there are already external wearables like fitbits, and GPS enabled apps like Nike’s Running and others). And that will all connect to a personal healthcare cloud that will provide real-time updates on what’s happening in our bodies. You can read more about what Apple is planning here. And here is another excellent analysis of the hardware they’ll probably be using to make this happen.

I think we’ll also see smart toilets quite soon. Amongst the most important health information we own is what comes out of our bodies. We literally flush this valuable information away a few times a day. Imagine a toilet that could analyse that waste before flushing it, and provide instant, valuable feedback. You’d know you need more liquids, or less protein at your next meal, or that you’re missing vital vitamins at the moment. It’s going to happen. And maybe it will just be an iToilet that does it.

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Happy birthday World Wide Web

March 12, 2014 Graeme Codrington Disruptive Forces, Innovation, Technology No Comments
Happy birthday World Wide Web

It was on 12 March 1989 that a young British scientist, Tim Berners Lee, working at CERN in Switzerland sent a memo to his boss entitled “Information Management: A Proposal”. In it he proposed to develop a way to share information over a computer network. “A ‘web’ of notes with links (like references) between them is far more useful than a fixed hierarchical system”, he wrote. Read the memo here.

“Vague, but exciting”, wrote Mr Berners-Lee’s supervisor at the top of his CERN memo.

The rest is history.

He created the World Wide Web, and the HyperText Transfer Protocol that governs it.

25 years old today, then: Happy birthday, World Wide Web!

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The biggest problem in business right now? I.T.!

The biggest problem in business right now? I.T.!

Over the past few weeks, in a number of workshops and interactions with clients I have become increasingly bold in my pronouncements about IT. Most companies’ information technology departments are now holding their companies back. They are protecting outdated systems and policies. They don’t have the resources to run ahead of their organisations – they’re doing all they can to hardly even keep up. Many are nothing more than techie solutions departments. And almost none have a future-focused orientation, with resources to experiment, play and discover new technology that could push their organisation forward.

Some IT departments are like this because they are lazy. It’s easier to just say “we can’t do that” than to create complexity in the system (for example, in allowing a ‘bring your own device’ policy, or in creating multiple levels of security access so that some people in the company can actually watch YouTube videos). But mainly it’s because IT departments are under resourced and have budgets that are not nearly adequate for the technology age in which we live. Who knows why companies do this to themselves right now. But then, IT departments are often complicit in these budget processes, not standing up for themselves or presenting an adequate case for what they should be doing for their businesses.

Whatever the reason, the state of IT is dire right now. And that means most companies are not living up to their potential in the digital age.

Here’s a video I recorded recently where I talk about this problem. Feel free to share this as the starting point for a conversation in your firm about the correct role of IT right now.

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3D printing rapidly approaching tipping point

February 7, 2014 Dean van Leeuwen Disruptive Forces, Future Trends, Innovation, Strategy, Technology 1 Comment
3D printing rapidly approaching tipping point
We’ve been watching and tracking the implications of 3D printers and a disruptive force and innovation for over five years now. We’ve observed many exciting developments from the work of Behrokh Khoshnevis, a professor of Industrial & Systems Engineering at the University of Southern California, who created a 3D printer that prints houses in 20 hours, using a process called contour crafting; to the use of 3D printers to print human tissues, spinal columns, jawbones . NASA has taken a 3D printer into space  and; Nestle (one of TomorrowToday’s clients) is experimenting with the printing of chocolate and pizzas. It seems that the innovations and uses for 3D printers are limited only by our imagination.
The rapid development and adoption of 3D printers, (Amazon now has a dedicated portal for 3d printing fanatics, London has iMakr – the world’s largest 3D printing store, and colleague and TomorrowToday co-founder Graeme Codrington bought a 3D printer for his family – making him the coolest dad for his 3 Gen Y daughters!); is leading to an explosion in the types of printers, materials used (from Titanium to human cartilage) and the costs are rapidly reducing. McKinsey, a leading management consultancy, believe that 3D printing or additive manufacturing has now reached the tipping point and senior leaders need to be observing 5 disruptions that will accompany this trend. You can read their article on 3D printing takes shape below or at their website.  Two thing are for sure, 3D printing is set to reshape the world of manufacturing (if not the world at large) and we are a tad proud to say TomorrowToday’s futurists got it right again.

The Year of the Employee: Forbes’ predictions for 2014 talent, leadership and HR tech

The Year of the Employee: Forbes’ predictions for 2014 talent, leadership and HR tech

Ian Turner, one of Duke CE’s top MD’s and leadership development programme experts gets credit for finding this interesting article and sending it on to me. There are some fascinating thoughts in Deloittes’ predictions for 2014, published in Forbes, as they suggest that this will be an important year for talent, leadership and HR.

Read the full article here.

As they point out, based on a Deloitte’s Human Capital Trends survey they’re just completing, “the top two people issues facing organizations in 2014 are leadership and retention. These are the problems we face in a dynamic, growing global economy…. This year, for the first time in more than five years, employees are in charge. Companies have reduced costs, restructured, rationalized spending, and pushed people to work harder than ever. More than 60% of organizations tell us one of their top is dealing with “the overwhelmed employee. This year the power will shift: high-performing employees will start to exert control.”

Their top ten predictions are:

… Continue Reading

Booz & Co’s Strategy+Business Best Business Blogs of 2013

Booz & Co’s Strategy+Business Best Business Blogs of 2013

The editor of Booz & Co’s Strategic+Business magazine and blog site selected his favourite business blogs of 2013. I like this list a lot – there’s some really valuable articles here. It’s an eclectic list, but well worth taking some time to read through and share with your team:

Susan Cramm: Retaining Top Talent: Yes, It Really Is All about Them
If you want to retain your high-potential employees, you have to get involved in helping them plan their careers.

Ken Favaro: Is Strategy Fixed or Variable?
Successful strategists understand that their role is to manage a process fraught with contradictions.

Sally Helgesen: The Three Habits of Highly Effective Demotivators
Surefire tips for stamping out morale and making sure you get the least out of your employees.

Nick Hodson and Thom Blischok: What if Clay Christensen Is Right about the Grocery Business (and Amazon Is Wrong)?
The disruptive influences of e-commerce may finally be setting their sights on the grocery industry.

… Continue Reading

Apple isn’t going away just yet

Apple isn’t going away just yet

The predictions of Apple’s demise have, it seems, been all too premature.

At TomorrowToday, we’re big Apple fans. Personally, I am certified Apple cult member, with a completely Apple-infested house (with everything from iPads and iPods to Apple TV and Airports). I don’t claim to be objective on this issue.

We also steer clear of short-term market trend forecasting, precisely because it is so difficult. And unless you’re the marketing and sales director of a company in that industry, it’s not really that important. Keeping “score” by trying to predict how many Apple handsets will be sold on the third Saturday after the next full moon doesn’t make much sense to me anyway. The health of companies must surely be more related to longer term trends than short term triggers?

Yesterday, however, an article on AppleInsider.com caught my eye. A year or so ago, technology analysts were falling over themselves to predict the demise of Apple. Linked, of course, to the death of Steve Jobs, they made all sorts of predictions about how Apple would lose market share, not be innovative and generally lose their way. As a vocal supporter of Apple, I disputed each of these points. There appears to be a culture at Apple that I was hoping would outlast a single person.

Some things have not been brilliant at Apple in the last year. The biggest issue for us at TomorrowToday is that the latest version of Keynote (in Mavericks OS) is a massive leap backwards for professional presenters. Key things that we need have just been taken away – the most significant is the ability to customise the presenter view screen on your laptop. Inexplicable, frustrating, and Apple are doing nothing to restore this functionality or respond to user demands. I am sure they will in time. The logic, by the way, is that they are moving all of their software to focus more on iPad functionality – but that’s a dumbing down power users can’t abide. They apparently did the same a few years ago with Final Cut Pro, and eventually rolled back all their changes after power users demanded it.

But this is a minor issue (for the company; a major one for me – I have stuck with the old version of Keynote).

As we review 2013 and the performance of the main technology companies, it appears that it is not Apple who were in danger of slipping sales, slowing innovation and sliding standards. As the article I saw says: “Google, Samsung and Microsoft were the companies in 2013 with sales problems and a lack of innovation, while Apple continued to remain the most profitable and successful in executing its strategies and the company everyone else in the industry looked to for ideas and leadership.”

Read it in full here if you’re interested. There’s important information about the fight between NFC and BLE (Apple’s choice is BLE and it’s winning); on the sizing of phones (seriously, is it the 80s all over again with the size of some Android screens being sold as phones these days?); and Google versus other search entry points.

We are not too concerned about the exact features of the 2014 smartphones or whether Apple or Samsung end this coming with a higher market cap. But we are very interested in where the innovations of the technology world are heading. Enjoy the article and the in depth analysis of who is doing what, and where it’s likely to go.

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Primary Blog contributors

The main contributors to this blog are:

Dr Graeme Codrington, co-founder of TomorrowToday, author, speaker and expert on the changing world of work
Dean van Leeuwen, co-founder and CEO of TomorrowToday UK & Europe, speaker, consultant and Chief Intellectual Adventurer
Keith Coats, co-founder of TomorrowToday South Africa, leadership development guru, speaker and author
Professor Nick Barker, director of the Asia Pacific Leadership Program at the East-West Center in Hawaii, leadership development expert
Markus Kramer, marketing director for Aston Martin and brand building expert
Keith Holdt, Visionary Enabler of business growth and change, currently works for LDC as an investment executive.
Dil Sidhu, Chief External Officer, Manchester Business School; Executive education specialist.
Dawna MacLean, expert on fostering meaningful change and creating authentic experiences through transparent and trusted partnerships.

Click here for a full list of contributors

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