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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.

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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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Game changing innovations: Desalinating ocean water

January 7, 2014 Graeme Codrington Disruptive Forces, Innovation, Technology No Comments
Game changing innovations: Desalinating ocean water

In our TIDES of Change presentation, we’ve been saying for a few years now that the company that finds a cheap and easy way to desalinate sea water will make more money than they will know what to do with. Access to usable water is one of the key issues the world faces. If you are not aware of just how little usable (fresh) water we have (it’s less than 3% of all water, and if it was gathered up into a big ball of water, its base would only just cover Manhattan; in fact, even all the ocean water is not as much as you think – the oceans are not really that deep (see the picture attached to this post).

On Christmas Day last year, it was reported that chemists from the University of Texas and the University of Marburg have devised a method of using a small electrical field that will remove the salt from seawater. The technique requires little more than a store-bought battery.

Read the report and watch the short video here.

If this is true and workable, it is a radical game changer for the world. Watch this space.

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“Minority Report” type marketing misses the point of the Connection Economy

“Minority Report” type marketing misses the point of the Connection Economy

Scanning cameras lock onto John Anderton’s face as he walks through a shopping mall. Using facial recognition technology advertisers clock his presence and begin an invasive barrage of “personalised” advertisements designed to entice, cajole and convince him to purchase the must have products on promotion. In this a scene from the 2002 movie Minority Report where Tom Cruise plays John Anderson, we are offered a vision of marketing in the future that is coming true today. Last week, Tesco, the UK largest supermarket, announced  that it is installing hundreds of hi-tech screens to scan the faces of shoppers as they queue to pay. Facial recognition technology will then determine age, identify if the person is male or female and how engaged they are with the advert on display. Sounds spookily big brother-ish!

The advertising system,  called the ‘OptimEyes’, can tailor content based on time and location, and will be rolled out into 450 Tesco petrol forecourts, reaching more than five million adult customers every week.  Simon Sugar (Son of Sir Alan Sugar) the CEO of Amscreen, the company behind OptimEyes is optimistic about the systems ability to provide data to enhance the understanding of consumer behaviours. Using face detection technology to “revolutionise” the advertising industry Simon Sugar promises a step-change in advertising stating that “brands deserve to know not just an estimation of how many eyeballs are viewing their adverts, but who they are too. Through our Face Detection technology, we want to optimise our advertisers campaigns, reduce wastage and in-turn deliver the type of insight that only online has previously been able to achieve.”

Simon Sugar and the Tesco marketers that support and promote this big brother push-marketing approach are missing the point of today’s connected technology and the Connection Economy. They are failing to recognise the shift where  old marketing methods are irrelevant. There is no doubt that the technology being used here is impressive and represents an important milestone but it’s application is woefully inadequate and being wrongly implemented. What is required is a mindset shift – the technology of the future has arrived but it is being implemented using old paradigms.

The world of connected things, the Internet of Things, combined with smart devices, wi-fi, broadband and massive storage in the cloud is enabling the step change. But this step change is not technology driven. The step change is a mindset shift around how technology is enabling consumers to interact, engage and form partnerships with companies. In the Connection Economy the consumer  calls the shots and it is the consumer who invites the best brands and most trusted companies into their lives. Astute companies are using technology to build relatiosnhips not to push products and determine who is looking at their adverts. Which is like so old school!

One of the big trends for 2014 will be the explosion of smart wearable computer devices. This is an important exciting trend offering perhaps the most powerful engagement platform companies have ever had for building trusted relationships with customers. Companies that are not thinking how they can leverage and benefit from the ecosystems and Apps being created in this space are fast falling behind the competitive curve. As an example of how it should be done let me introduce Nymi Wristband, a smart wearable computer devices that recognises, encrypts and shares biometric data of the wearer. Like a fingerprint every person has a unique heartbeat rhythm, Nymi reads and recognises this rhythm. By using biometric  information to validate a user’s identity the Nymi Wristband enables immediate and seamless recognition of who you are with other smart devices and connected objects. As Wired Magazine puts it:

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30 ways technology will change education between now and 2030

30 ways technology will change education between now and 2030

While doing some reading to prepare for a workshop with a group of head teachers last week, I came across this very well researched and presented future timeline of potential educational changes we can expect technology to bring in the next two decades. I don’t agree with every point, but I definitely buy into the general tone and direction of the piece.

You can read the original at the Teach Thought website here, or an extended extract below. Note, follow all the awesome links author Terry Heick has taken the time to include. This is a GREAT article and resource!

30 Incredible Ways Technology Will Change Education By 2028

by Terry Heick, 19 March 2013, TeachThought.com

Technology is changing at a rapid pace, so much so that it’s challenging to grasp.

While there is little uniformity in technology, there are some trends worth noting that have spurred tangent innovation, including speed (a shift from dial-up top broad band), size (from huge computers to small handheld devices), and connectivity (through always-on apps and social media).

In fact, we have some to expect nearly instant obsolescence—smartphone contracts that last a mere 24 months seem like ages. Whether this is a matter of trend or function is a matter of perspective, but it’s true that technology is changing—and not just as a matter of power, but tone.

In 2013, technology has become not just a tool, but a standard and matter of credibility. While learning by no means requires technology, to design learning without technology is an exercise in spite—proving a point at the cost of potential. And it’s difficult to forget how new this is.

Fifteen years ago, a current high school sophomore was born.

So was Google.

… Continue Reading

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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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