Global unemployment among youth is about 13 percent and the future of employment is in dire need of attention from political and business leaders. This was the prelude to an intense discussion organized by the Global Shapers, an initiative of the World Economic Forum, where I was a panelist. The discussion was part of their effort called 'Shaping Davos'. Be it Azerbaijan Hungary, Mexico or India, many countries are staring at a serious crisis of employment, not sometime in the future, but right here and now. For India, the imperative is to provide gainful employment to a large workforce that will add 1 million new people every month, for the next 20 years. Kuwait faces a similar 'youth bulge', compounded by the problem of unemployment rising with the level of education. Hungary is losing its best talent to 'permanent' brain drain.
What happened when we asked Infosys employees to connect two dots on a sheet of paper
Many of you would have heard about how Google came up with a bold experiment for increasing innovation. The management encouraged employees "not to do their job" daily for about 20 percent of the time they were at work. The idea was to increase the overall health and happiness of employees, who often felt overwhelmed by emails and, more specifically, the demand that they respond to those mails immediately. The reason behind this move, according to the company management, was that sometimes just being not connected for a while could be a way to encourage employees to relax and innovate.
Who hasn't heard of the popular comic strip and television show 'Dennis the Menace,' in which an obnoxious little boy would confound and annoy his neighbor, the unwitting Mr. Wilson? That old show perfectly describes the state of consumer-focused chat bots up until very recently. For example, you might purchase a home security system that hooks up to your smartphone only to have the teenager next door hack into it and set off the alarm in the middle of the night. A funny prank to the teenager - but not funny to you and your family!
And haven't we all had some amount of fun asking Siri or Google Voice questions in such a way that they would elicit funny responses? But this is changing. Have you noticed that bots are now becoming smart enough to know that people are playing around with them? Instead of trying to answer a question, they simply stay silent. The goofiness involved with baiting a chat bot is changing quickly, as human beings begin to respect machines for what they are.
One of the most fertile agricultural areas on the planet is California's Central Valley. Chances are that if you walk around an American grocery store's produce section, most of the fruits and vegetables come from that area. But a strange thing is happening to that valley. It's sinking. To be sure, we hear a lot about ocean levels rising - but land sinking?
You bet. As the effects of climate change make agricultural areas more arid, farmers have been forced to drill deep into the earth to access underground aquifers. No more is this apparent than in California's Central Valley, which has undergone years of debilitating droughts. In order to save their crops, farmers there have drilled so deep for water and used so much of it that deep beneath the earth, the empty aquifers are collapsing and, like dominoes, every layer of soil above them is sinking as well. Another byproduct of tapped out aquifers that have collapsed deep below the planet's surface is that they can no longer be refilled as they have for millions of years by natural sources (like rain and melting snow).
STEM Integration in K-12 Education
The 'back to school season' in the U.S. is like a holiday, celebrating education - and new backpacks. But for too many, celebrating education stops at graduation. Far too often, when classrooms become cubicles, K-12 becomes 9-5, and students become employees, that commitment to learning stops.
Leaders consider ASEAN's future direction
Last week, I represented Infosys at the World Economic Forum (WEF) on ASEAN in Kuala Lumpur. The theme of the conference - Shaping the ASEAN Agenda for Inclusion and Growth - couldn't have been more relevant. Southeast Asia is experiencing great economic growth and urbanization, but that kind of social improvement doesn't include everyone. Granted, the ten-member states of ASEAN all share similar cultures and histories by virtue of geography. But that's where the similarities end. There is Singapore and Brunei on one hand, with their pristine streets, skyscrapers, and some of the wealthiest populations on the planet. Then there is Cambodia, with a largely rural and poor population.
This year's conference focused on public and private partnerships to address some of the areas that need immediate attention, such as education, infrastructure, transportation, and unemployment, to bring about parity between the developed and poorer countries in the region. And for such initiatives to succeed, digital - as the great enabler of our times - must connect 625 million people in the ASEAN region. It was heartening to witness unanimous faith of leaders from political, social and business communities in digital technologies in accelerating changes, improvements and benefits in the ASEAN region. The perfect confluence of needs, collective intent to address these and opportunities.
My friends and I learned the hard way. As baby boomers, we entered the workforce in the '60s, '70s, and '80s with the fresh-faced expectation of 'jobs for life'. Many of us assumed we'd fill out our W-4, buy our first car, get married, raise our kids, and finally retire with the same company's name at the top of our paycheck. My idyll was shattered when my Fortune 10 employer - a company which had never downsized its staff in its 100-year history - launched the first of what became a decade of annual staff reductions. Most of my generation had received the same wake-up call by the end of the millennium.
Fast forward to 2016. The millennials harbor no illusions. Two similar studies on millennials' job outlook, one published in January by Infosys and one released last week by ManpowerGroup, underscore the sharp re-set of their expectations. They want employment security, but know that it's elusive; they've cleverly redefined security in terms of career, not job. They think in terms of serial jobs, job portfolios, gigs. Long-term career growth in one company is the ideal - but they know it is hard to find.
As all of Infosys prepares excitedly to host TEDx Bangalore at our campus on Sunday, May 29, I wanted us all to think once again, deeply, about the reasons why it's important to support initiatives like this. It is this very thinking that compelled us to bring the TEDx Anchor Program to India earlier this year.
In four years, India is set to become the world's youngest nation with almost two-thirds of its population being of working age. "Bursting with youthful energy" is a great way to describe India. But what would be even better is when we script a future where we can alter that description to read, "Bursting with youthful creative energy". Now, that would be something! In fact, it is just the thing we need.
The 'Pale Blue Dot' is a photograph of planet Earth taken on February 14, 1990, by the Voyager 1 space probe from a record distance of 6 billion kilometers.*
"Look again at that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there-on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam..." - Carl Sagan, American astrophysicist and author.
Today is Earth Day, when we celebrate the pale blue dot that Carl Sagan was moved to write about after he saw the blurry image from a photograph the Voyager 1 space probe had taken. Voyager 1 was heading farther into interstellar space at the time when this photograph was taken. Shooting these images were not originally planned, but Sagan, a member of the Voyager imaging team at the time, came up with the idea of turning the spacecraft back toward its home for a last look. Voyager 1's gesture was all too human, a kind of final farewell to the planet, which led Sagan, who also created the popular documentary Cosmos in the 1970s, to write an emotional essay about our place in the grand scheme of things. He reminded us eloquently and indelibly that our island home is indeed a finite and limited resource.
Solar panels at Infosys campus in Pocharam, Hyderabad, India
Today is Earth Day and it is also the day more than 150 global leaders will sign the COP21 Paris climate agreement, committing their countries to cutting carbon pollution and combatting climate change. At Infosys, we care deeply about the goals these events envision: a brighter future fuelled by clean and renewable energy and a world protected from harmful climate change. But for Infosys, it's about more than one day - it's our everyday commitment. In fact, we're on our way to becoming one of only a handful of companies in the world to be truly carbon neutral - a goal we hope to achieve by 2018.
We strive to be responsible corporate and global citizens because we believe we all must help mitigate the global crisis that is climate change. It threatens communities and companies alike. From Silicon Valley to Bangalore; its impacts will be severe. Growing pollution, hotter temperatures, increasingly scarce resources, and rising seas will not only affect the health of our communities, but the businesses and supply chains of our industry. Cutting carbon pollution with clean energy is one big way we can help.
This year's Confluence - our annual thought leadership summit - has the makings of a blockbuster with its compelling content, transformational experiences, and innovations that people can pick up and apply straight off to their businesses. Whether it's the latest ideas for continuous business reinvention, exciting new ways to automate with maximum payoff or experiential learning in how intelligent platforms can create unprecedented capabilities, Confluence captures it all in a choice of experiences that delegates can then pick and choose from to build out their own personal Confluence. It offers the perfect platform for problem-finding, for people to ask why, and why not, even as it brings together client leaders, academicians, influencers and the who's who of the world of technology and business for three days of looking, learning, sharing and improving.
For us, it is a huge opportunity to bring home the value of the amazing work we do for clients - the Infosys technology that flies planes, that makes drugs safer, that assures parents that their teens are driving cars safely, and in ways little and large making our world a better place to be. Better still, Confluence will create forums for all of us to learn from each other, to build new and renew old relationships, to outline our vision for our own business and our clients', based on innovation, automation and lifelong learning, and thus deliver the promise of brand Infosys.
"...miles to go before l sleep", Robert Frost's much quoted poetic description of the journey ahead seems a rather apt depiction of the path before India. Indeed, we have so much to do that needs to be done. For starters, how can we get the nearly 80% of India that's offline today, online? How can we find a way for India to lead the world in financial inclusion? What's the way to bridge the gender divide in the country? Is there a solution to ensure our education systems mould purposeful problem-finders instead of just problem-solvers? What about the dozens of questions posed by our growing young population and their growing aspirations?
Ideas - big, audacious, simple, smart, imaginative, forward-looking, doable - we need them all to find and solve challenges, such as these, that surround us.
Infosys in the strategic partner for global TEDx Anchor Program
Think about the history of mankind. Every forward step that man has ever taken in his journey on this planet - be it the invention of the wheel, the evolution of modern medicine, the building of the printing press - has all happened because of an idea. An idea that was born in the mind of one individual, but which didn't just stay there, because it was shared and brought to life by several others who improved on it to create new solutions and open up new opportunities.
Today, the power of shared ideas is more compelling than ever before.
InfyMakers at the National Maker Faire in Washington, DC
Have you ever seen a child play, build something with blocks, then tear it apart and build something new again? A child learns by exploring the unfamiliar, trying new things, curiously examining the world around, often from different perspectives. This innate desire to seek out new experiences, to tinker, explore, create, destroy and remake, is a defining trait of all children. Fast forward 10 years, the acquisition of language has in most cases replaced a child's natural learning through creative expression with language based inquiry. Most education systems emphasize the acquisition of knowledge through rote learning and textbooks, rather than curious, hands-on explorations. Another 10 years later, our students have successfully acquired considerable knowledge but somehow buried that natural desire to create, and by now most believe that making is a prerogative of the select few.
The ability to create, to make physical and digital artifacts, is critical to our future. The future is, and always has been, shaped by those who can make. Indeed, human evolution over the centuries has been driven by inventions produced by ordinary people. Groundbreaking inventions, like the first airplane, the personal computer, the bicycle, the automobile, the light bulb, the printing press, all evolved out of projects led by tinkerers. And every such invention gave birth to a whole new breed of innovators who wanted to build on, and improve the original. In just the last 10 years, we have seen great advances such as smartphones, electric and self-driving cars, new forms of delivering energy, sensors and more. All these efforts to improve human life and make things better were led by people just like us.
Tradesy CEO on how to cash in on your closet [Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OuVBB88IjS8]
During a trip to Mumbai three decades ago, I took the local train to Churchgate. When I arrived at Churchgate, I asked a taxi driver if he would take me to Cuffe Parade. He said yes, but went on to ask me: "Sharing or charter?" Upon seeing the blank expression on my face, he suggested that I opt for sharing: "You will be saving money in your pocket!" We waited for roughly five minutes, until three other passengers joined us. He dropped us at our respective destinations, me being the last, and charging us almost equal amounts. I hesitated, but then, out of sheer curiosity having experienced this interesting business model, asked him how much I would have paid him had I chosen the charter option. "More than double what you paid just now," he replied.
My taxi ride through Mumbai turned out to be a really a good deal. The driver earned twice as much, and I spent half of what I would have had I chosen the charter option. I was quite proud of myself as to my decision to follow the advice of the cab driver. However, what if the other three people in my taxi had been pickpockets and thieves? (Or just downright annoying people). What would I have done? In economics, there is a maxim known as the 'opportunity cost.' In this case, what the opportunity cost meant was this: Did the money I saved sharing the taxi outweigh the money I would have paid had I been late to an important meeting, or a victim of a pickpocket criminal? The question is THE question facing the new 'sharing economy.'
Service offering on Design Thinking and design-led initiatives [Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ZBRZXcaNp4]
Even as the power of technology has risen exponentially over the years, its transformational impact - in terms of its contribution to solving the biggest problems of our times - has plateaued. Take transportation, which has been at a virtual standstill for more than a generation; in fact, in some cases, travel times have even increased. It's the same story with biotechnology, which, despite incredible advances in gene sequencing, has still not managed to find a permanent cure even for malaria. Part of the problem is practical, one of resources; it's often 'safer' to fund companies solving known problems with incremental solutions, as opposed to tackling the transformational.
But the bigger issue is one of mindset. Technology firms are so caught up in solving the known problems, in execution, and have become so good at it, that they've come to believe that it is perhaps all they need to do. Unfortunately, this is turning us into more and more able doers, who unquestioningly take instructions and follow through. That's denting our ability to be able problem solvers in the truest sense.
The Infosys 'Earth 360 Experience' project at Davos
It's in places like Davos, tucked into a valley in the Swiss Alps, where one is confronted with the stark reality of climate change. Davos is 150 kilometers southeast of Zurich, and to get here we travelled through picturesque valleys, past pristine snow-capped mountains, along crystal clear mountain rivers. But the temperature is rising, and Switzerland's glaciers are melting.
Last November, delegations from almost 200 countries met in Paris to negotiate a global document on the reduction of actions that lead to climate change. 150 global leaders met in the same place at the same time because this is one of the most important issues of our time, inspiring the thousands of delegates to act and come to an agreement. The Paris Agreement, presented after two weeks of negotiations is a consensus of the parties, and will become legally binding if ratified by at least 55 countries that represent at least 55 percent of global greenhouse emissions.
Organizational innovation: Between structure and white space [Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5fv2bhTd07I]
This week, our leaders across the world gathered in our Bangalore campus to reflect on the last three months, and chart the way forward for the toughest quarter ahead. When we were not talking numbers (we just announced our third quarter results after all!), one thing was evident - we are doing something fundamentally right. The highlight being the Zero Distance movement within the company, which was implemented six months ago.
Over the last few quarters, we have been working very hard to bring innovation to every project and, in the process, harness a culture of innovation among our 180,000+ strong employee base. It hasn't been easy. But, we are finally beginning to see the rewards. Today, 90% of our delivery organization can proudly say that they have done something innovative in an existing project, beyond the scope of work. And when 90% of our delivery organization vouches for this, we are talking about approximately 8,000 projects. I couldn't be more proud of the incredible effort and enthusiasm of Infoscions behind this high-impact movement.
Infosys - Corporate Citizen of the year
Over the years, I have participated in multiple Economic Times awards events in various capacities. We received the Company of the Year award for the first time in 1998, which was special for both Infosys and Economic Times who had only just introduced the awards that year. Later, I accompanied my husband when he was the recipient of awards including one for Lifetime Achievement and another when he was recognized as the Businessperson of the Year.
In 2002, I received Infosys Foundation's first Corporate Citizen of the Year Award. Stepping on the stage to receive it for the second time this year was a touching moment - it brought back memories of the early years of Infosys and Infosys Foundation. They were the years that inspired me to work at the grassroots and visit the poverty-stricken and crisis-riddled areas of the country. With each passing year, my hair got a little greyer and I learnt just that much more about the diverse people of our land and the need for vast improvement in all our states. I understood that creating real change can take decades and not just years, but we trudged on... along with the Infosys team and the volunteers.
Last year was a good one for Infosys. We clocked a smart increase in revenues over the previous financial year. We brought a number of new companies - Panaya, Skava, Kallidus, to name a few - into the Infosys family. We also featured prominently in most major analyst ratings. Now, 2016 has begun on a great note with Infosys being ranked second in BusinessWorld's list of 'Most Respected Companies', close on the heels of Google India.
The Importance of 2 degrees
Environmentalists have marked the 21st meeting of the Conference of Parties (COP21) - also known as the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference - being held this week and the next in Paris, on their calendar eagerly. The topic of climate change is nothing new. It has been debated and discussed extensively in the past two decades by politicians, governments, and environment activists. But, this time around, there seems to be a sense of urgency. Average temperature of the Earth has increased by 0.85 degrees Celsius since 1880. And if the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions stay high, experts predict that we could see the average temperate rise anywhere between 2 to 4 degrees Celsius. Global warming to that extent can wreak havoc across the world. We're talking about floods, wildfires, extreme heat, limited water supply, and much, much more. That's why, it's more important than ever for heads of states at COP21 to arrive at an agreement to keep global warming below the critical threshold of 2 degrees Celsius.
As someone who is passionate about preserving the environment, I've been closely following the discussions around COP21. It's encouraging that many large corporates are also pledging their commitment to this endeavor. In an open letter to world leaders, CEOs from 78 companies, including Infosys CEO Vishal Sikka, have come together to reduce GHG emissions, and help the world move to a low-carbon, climate-resilient economy. CEOs, in collaboration with the World Economic Forum (WEF), have offered to contribute concrete innovations, solutions, practices, and policies to reduce the overall global warming. This alliance has set targets to reduce their own GHG gas emissions and further seeks to catalyze and aggregate action and initiatives from companies from all industry sectors.
Navigating the circular economy: A conversation with Dame Ellen MacArthur
One of my favorite new conferences is accessible anywhere on earth where there's a wi-fi connection. It's open to everyone. And its aim is to view the global economy through a new lens and not what its curator calls the 'take, make, and dispose' economic model of old. Welcome to the three-week Disruption Innovation Festival, a global meeting of some of the biggest, brightest thinkers on earth who are dedicated to touting the merits of the 'circular economy'.
The circular economy is, according to its disciples, the ultimate disruptive force to the global markets. In the current economy, a vestige of a 19th century model in which a small number of people owned assets that were used to manufacture goods and services that would be bought, used, and discarded, consumers are awakening to the fact that access is the new ownership. Instead of disposing of assets when they've served their purpose, modern stakeholders are learning to regenerate them through the Internet of Things, Design Thinking, and radical advances in materials science.
Amazon Opens Bookstore in Seattle
There are plenty of examples of the relatively new phenomenon of omnichannel retailing, but none is quite so striking as that of Amazon. Omnichannel retailing aims to appeal to all of a customer's senses and to empower her to buy whatever she wants at her convenience. On the surface, the fact that Amazon, a global online retailer, is opening a 'brick-and-mortar' bookstore in a single location, seems to be a validation of the omnichannel trend.
But then there is the fact that Amazon is indeed a global retailing behemoth and it is opening (for now, at least) just one store in a Seattle neighborhood. The move, given that it's right before the holiday shopping season, could be a one-off. It doesn't spell actual commitment to dealing with the many challenges that come with operating physical outlets (hiring and training sales associates, leasing real estate, etc.) on Amazon's part.
The prestigious Fortune 500 was first published 60 years ago. If a company features in the business magazine's annual list of America's top 500 companies by revenue, it tells the world that the organization has arrived. Yet, one statistic in a recent issue of the magazine should make us all stop and reflect: only 57 of the original Fortune 500 companies remain on the list today. The number suggests that, as one business tycoon famously put it, it's easier to make the list than to stay on it.
Indeed, the churn in large enterprises on that list in just six decades is proof that not enough of them have the tools to sustain their prominent places in a marketplace that is always changing. I'm reminded of a popular book by Harvard Business School's Clayton M. Christensen - The Innovator's Dilemma, which is a treatise on his theory of disruptive innovation. The theory goes that enterprises that were once startups become so successful in the marketplace that they sometimes lose sight of the culture of innovation that got them there. In no time, new enterprises out-innovate the established firms and create new markets, rendering the established firms obsolete.
Within grasp: Zero Distance to client, code and value
What does it take to make innovation mainstream in a large organization? What does it take to make innovation business as usual? Not just for a think tank of designated innovators. But for all. Not by issuing top-down mandates and monitoring progress, but by somehow making innovation intuitive ground-up - almost an organizational state of being. That would undoubtedly mean an introspection into the enterprise's purpose, a deep dive into the organization's very essence of existence. And most importantly - it would mean that the findings of this introspection resonates with every single person in the organization.
We decided to see if there was a way to make this work in our own enterprise, and bring the benefits of this exercise to our clients. We wanted to do this by imbibing the three basic principles - every team aspiring to be closer to end users, closer to technology, and closer to creating value - essentially at Zero Distance to our clients.
I'll never forget the day when I heard a physician joke that the biggest 'problem' facing the population was the Internet. What he meant was that his patients would often go online to various medical sites to diagnose themselves. When they finally got to see their doctor, they would emphatically tell him what the medical problem was - even if they weren't even close in their self-diagnosis. I have even heard a doctor's annoyed voice: "You tell me the symptoms and not diagnosis."
But the phenomenon of consumers 'talking' to the Internet to receive some sort of medical information is a testament to how distant they may have grown from their primary care physicians. As time in a physician's exam room is getting shorter and waiting time in doctors' offices is becoming longer, accessing the Internet to find treatment options has become natural. Pharmaceutical companies are using this widening chasm and are beginning to see the advantage of omni-channel marketing to doctors as well as patients.
Inside the movement to let workers rule themselves [ Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6kRzNLZ6plQ ]
It's almost a right-of-passage among the start-ups of Silicon Valley and Bangalore. The very innovative engineers who start tech firms with their friends vow that they will never sell out to a larger company to keep the feeling of a start-up alive in the workplace.
The problem here, of course, is that some of these companies become incredibly successful overnight. Not only are they (sometimes) offered big money and stock options to 'sell out' to a large enterprise; they find that having a flat organizational structure is impossible when they grow past a certain point.
If you don't think the world is globalizing at a rapid rate, then check out the following statistics: In 1990 there were little more than 3,000 multinational companies. In 2012, that number had snowballed to 100,000.
If you want further proof, watch a World Cup match. The national origins of the companies being advertised around the soccer pitch and on the shirts of the players are sometimes difficult to determine. Those that are easy to determine - McDonald's, for example - are as comfortable in doing business in a bustling city in China, as they are doing business in a small, mid-western town in the United States.
Are you fit for 50? : What oil & gas industry is grappling with
It's easy these days to be bullish about fossil fuels. Like or not, oil still powers the high-tech, digital economy. Sure, some companies have 'gone green' by placing solar panels on their roofs. But a commitment to sustainability can be an expensive one and especially hard to justify when boards of directors are watching how every last cent is spent in a company.
Why does the world remain addicted to oil? Well, because it's relatively cheap and abundant. But what happens when the countries that pump most of the world's black gold decide they want to flood the market with it? Prices of oil futures plummet and have a domino effect on just about every other industry.
What is Design Thinking [ Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ee4CKIPkIik ]
When one of Detroit's 'Big Three' automotive companies hired a new design chief about 15 years ago, the gentleman stated in an interview that he didn't get his inspiration from certain types of cars as much as he did from other industrial products. Yes, here was a newly-minted automotive company executive telling the world that he found design inspiration in toasters and clocks and chairs!
He might have insulted his new employer if it weren't for the type of chairs he mentioned: Eames chairs, the beautiful products of mid-20th century Modernists Charles Eames and his wife Ray. To this day their eponymous chairs command top prices in upscale showrooms. The fact that this car designer was saying he was a fan of the Eames chair was a sign of his sophistication. Car buffs immediately were curious as to what his designs would look like on four wheels.
Supreme Court gives Obamacare major victory
There was once a popular trend in the American presidential politics known as the Flat Tax. The idea was that the country's tax system had become so complicated that some of the candidates proposed one, flat tax for every taxpayer. Come tax time, the payer could fill out her taxes on a simple index card and mail it back to Washington. No accountants, no multiple tax forms, no bureaucracy.
That idea never took hold. In the tax system, that is. But the idea of universal healthcare more recently seeks to do for insurance what the Flat Tax would have done for taxation: Create a simple way to obtain and pay for universal healthcare coverage. That's a huge job, and it's easier said than done. But America has made its first bold steps towards a universal system that European and other major countries have enjoyed for decades.
Here's a glimpse of the small steps we are taking as an organization to better this planet
Today, on the occasion of the World Environment Day, I want to seed a small thought. When we think of saving the environment, why do we only think at the doomsday scale - probably even feel bogged down? While global warming, climate change, carbon footprint, deglaciation and deforestation are issues of serious concern, shouldn't we also focus on the little differences that we can make, everyday?
I can tell you that the large corporates or non-government organizations are already doing what they can: Apple's new headquarters will be entirely solar powered, Google is committing to renewable sources of energy, and Infosys is pioneering radiant cooling in its buildings in India. How is it that we - you, me, and every other person - don't figure in a narrative where we are both the prime actors and the biggest beneficiaries?
The energy here is so palpable that one can almost touch it. The buzzing precincts of San Francisco Marriott Marquis suddenly seem incredibly electric. Nearly 800 delegates, including our clients from around the world, industry analysts, advisors and our ecosystem partners are gathered here, for Infosys Confluence 2015, to deliberate, discuss and debate how technology can make it possible for all of us to push the limits, make our businesses stronger and do all that we can imagine. Indeed, Be More.
While this overwhelming participation and celebration stands testimony to the three-decade strong relationship we've forged with our stakeholders, there's certainly more to it. I believe it is the dialogue Infosys has started about the new next-generation business challenges that these industry leaders are trying to get their arms around. Enterprises today continue to be challenged by the traditional concerns around efficiency and growth, while at the same time, they are witnessing fundamentally new kinds of problems for which there are no best practices yet. Infosys recently embarked on a journey to address these dual concerns through the Renew-New strategy. The renewal of the known - bringing massive, transformational improvements to our traditional services by bringing continuous innovations through automation, repeatability and AI. And simultaneously, focusing our creativity and imagination on the unknown - completely new kinds of solutions, open-source based, next-generation elastic platforms to solve the new kinds of problems. In other words, be the next-generation technology services provider. And what better place to see all this innovation in action than at Infosys Confluence 2015!
Solar Impulse 2 takes off for historic around-the-world attempt
Places that have ageing urban infrastructure have a golden opportunity on their hands. When they do re-build, they should take the chance to do so with sustainability in mind. Then there are places that are about to undergo a building boom, like India. Studies show that a whopping two-thirds of the commercial buildings planned until 2030 are yet to be built.
I think this is a brilliant opportunity for Indian companies to create the most efficient structures in the world. Why? Well, much of India is blessed with a lot of golden sun, which means a lot of solar energy. And the more we learn about sustainability, the more we're realizing that solar energy is the most efficient and cost effective energy in the long run - especially to build with.
Droning on...in a good way! Uplifting ideas from Team DroneIT
March Madness began a little early at Infosys last weekend with its first US Hackathon, conducted in the Dallas area. While the rest of the country was busy contemplating their NCAA basketball brackets, several intrepid teams were in their local office working around the clock to create working prototypes. What better way to spend a weekend?
Besides the lure of the champion's prize and the adrenalin rush of conquering a tough problem, this was a great opportunity to see Design Thinking at work in real time. It was amazing to see the teams start from essentially a zero base, armed with only an idea, and create a technology stack and demonstrate a working prototype in less than 48 hours.
Cancer patients find hope in precision medicine
We live in an age when personalized digital assistants know more about our lives and our daily schedules than we do. So wouldn't it stand to reason that we should be able to receive personalized pharmaceuticals as well?
The medical field I'm talking about, also known as precision medicine, is radically altering the life sciences industry. Recently, the American president called for his country's lawmakers to allocate $215 million toward what he's calling the "precision medicine initiative." The background behind this ambitious project is that every patient is different (we kind of knew that). But what pharmaceutical and biotech companies are making great strides in is knowing the exact genetic make-up of an individual - from that person's genes to the microbes living in her body and certain environmental factors as well (suppose he/she's a pack-a-day smoker).
Carl Walderkranz talks about Tictail [Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FG9gftpfHV4]
You've all read the articles about companies like Amazon.com and Alibaba becoming so large and vast that their retailing tentacles will encircle the earth. No other retailer will be able to challenge their market supremacy because websites like these will grow ever larger. And you remember what your economics professor told you about economies of scale.
Well, I think that one of the advantages of the Internet has been its ability to level the playing field as well as serve as a global platform for enormous retailers. That means smaller retailers with innovative ideas can get those innovations out to the public digitally. What I find particularly interesting is that mobile apps are now the tool of choice for retail innovators who want to grow on a national or global scale and even strike alliances with the huge players like Amazon.
Start-ups are providing retailers with an affordable way to steer ahead of the competition
What are the most important things on a retailer's mind? Staying ahead of the curve, with a little help from technology, of course! Up until a few years ago, this meant large capital investments on the part of the retailer. But, things are changing. Start-ups are providing retailers with an affordable way to steer ahead of the competition.
Start-ups provide retailers with two distinct benefits: speed and cost. Today, start-ups are working on exciting solutions. An interested retailer can experiment with these technologies in controlled markets and see what works. Then, there is cost. Some of the innovations, especially in the omni-channel space, require capital and infrastructure. Start-ups are building such solutions on a small scale allowing retailers to leverage these investments in a controlled pilot before determining if there is a business case to do something new on a large scale. For retailers who are trying to leverage their brick and mortar footprint in the omni-channel space, start-ups can provide a way to leverage their store networks, which are closest to the end-consumer as a competitive advantage against the likes of Amazon and AliBaba who are making huge investments in this space.
The theme: "Technology Solutions for our Cities." The participants: 50 teams that we hand-selected from an entry pool of more than 350. All the teams that applied were talented so we had the advantage of being able to choose the very best of the best. During the second-to-the-last weekend of 2014, we hosted these 50 teams at EdgeVerve's headquarters in Electronics City in Bangalore. So from the very start of the 24-hour-long event, from Saturday morning to Sunday morning, we were in the middle of the one the world's largest cities with the event's mandate to come up with solutions to make such an urban core a better place in which to live and to do business.
For managing insurance run-off, IT strategies include complete outsourcing of the end-to-end IT operations and platform-based IT or business process outsourcing
Is it too much for consumers to expect steady income streams from dividends off annuities, life insurance policies, and the like? The answer - theoretically, at least - should be a resounding yes. But try telling that to life and annuity providers in today's world, who are going through a challenging period. You name it and they're dealing with it: sustained low interest rate, fierce competition, increased regulatory scrutiny, and changing customer preferences.
So the pressure is on to find new ways to extract value from every corner of the company so that consumers don't get stuck with flimsy returns. Is it any wonder, then, that some prominent insurers are spending significant time, money, and resources to manage their closed block business? This business has become the 800-pound gorilla in the room. Closed blocks have piled up over the years because of the discontinuation of unprofitable or non-strategic products.
The wearable in any form will eventually cost less to make and be smaller, lighter, and more convenient than smartphones and tablets
The average mobile user checks her device 150 times a day. So says one of the foremost authorities on technology in the world, Mary Meeker.
Meeker was one of the first Internet analysts in the 1990s. She left Morgan Stanley to become a venture capitalist at Kleiner Perkins and her annual Internet Trends presentation is the industry gold standard and a highly anticipated event. Her latest prediction is that wearable computing platforms are going to continue to boom in popularity. Consider a metric like consumer listening hours: On Pandora as measured in three categories (PC versus mobile & tablet versus wearables like car/TV/appliance), wearables are expected to account for more than a quarter of total share.
"If only I could bottle that..." These are famous first words. And the rest of the sentences are usually just as well known: "... I'd be millionaire" or "...I'd be famous."
The problem was that until very recently it was difficult to bottle something as intangible as ingenuity. In the old days, an executive would hope to hire the right people, create the right corporate culture, and hope that a healthy amount of innovation grew out of such a mix. But that was yesterday.
Eric Paternoster, President & CEO, Infosys Public Services, discusses a platform-based approach to IT that helps healthcare organizations shift focus back to their core business
Up until recently, health insurers in the US had little motivation to transform themselves into high-tech organizations. The age-old business model and legacy technology systems, though out-of-sync with the requirements of today's dynamic healthcare environment, have continued unchallenged for several years with little or no reason to change. Yet a recent market phenomenon is now influencing key changes: the rise of digitally savvy consumers. Did you know, that more than 95 million consumers use mobile devices to access health information and tools? And that 40 percent of them visit one or more websites to research new health insurance plans?
Indeed, health insurers are being nudged out of their comfort zone. Business-as-usual approach by consumers, who are looking for competitive offerings, expect to be better engaged and are looking for superior customer service. Our survey reveals that six out of 10 healthcare insurance consumers feel that they do not fully understand their coverage and eligibility, and they expect better assistance and information in order make right choices when it comes to selecting plans. What has long been a 'group-centric' business model in the health insurance industry, especially in the United States, is fast turning into a 'consumer-centric' one, thanks to digital. The entire healthcare realm is benefiting from this digital transformation and from the rise of consumerization.
The Future of Gamification [Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=usPHFhfDCq4]
Type the word 'gamification' in your Google search tab and you will know that it is a hotly debated topic, which is gaining momentum. At the heart, gamification is a simple idea: take gaming concepts that work and apply them in a non-gaming environment. In reality, however, it is a lot more than just that.
In my view gamification is all about influencing user engagement and leveraging the human psyche to learn more in order to achieve a common goal. The common could be anything - solving a problem, increasing loyalty or creating new efficiencies.
What is Internet neutrality? [Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2psly3euy78]
One of the recent gatherings of world leaders took place in Beijing at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC). Top on their agenda? Not run-away epidemics, military campaigns, or the global economy. First on the list was the Internet.
If you don't think digital platforms have matured to the point where they're pervasive and downright influential, then consider what world leaders are discussing. The APEC conference brought the issue of Internet neutrality front and center.
Chris Curran, Principal and Chief Technologist, PwC, describes the evolution of The Internet of Things.
Seamless. That's a buzzword of today. A seamless platform gives consumer-focused businesses the vitality and robustness they need to perform in a hyper-connected and competitive marketplace. Everything must happen without a hitch.
You see, today it seems everyone is trying to sell something 'smart.' Smart cars, smart home systems, and, obviously, smartphones come to mind. But ask yourself just how smart any of these products really are. Instead of smarts, try rating their true intelligence - the extent to which they know about you and your expectations as a consumer. You'll find that most 'smart' products don't know a whole lot. 'Smart' products are neither able to see the whole picture, nor can they talk to one another.
A major way that insurers are becoming more nimble and cost-effective is by embracing Big Data, mobility, and the Cloud
Fact: The insurance industry is slow to innovate. The reason? There's really been no need to do so until very recently. For hundreds of years its business model has been very simple and most of the large firms relied on an army of independent agents to sell their products to the public.
Just as the Internet revolutionized retailing, it is making waves across the ever-traditional world of insurance. That's because companies both large and small, old and new, can reach the public directly through the Internet. If the right Information Technology powers direct consumer access, the result is a potent combination of efficiency and cost savings for otherwise staid companies.
J.C.R. Licklider was one of the founding founders of the modern day Internet
I see on TV news that people wait in lines for days to buy a new mobile phone or tablet. Current events got me to thinking: What if I were to walk down any street in any city of the world and ask a random passer-by about who were revolutionary figures in, say, the histories of India and the United States. Chances are that anyone would very quickly be able to tell you about Gandhi and Washington in their respective quests for freedom. But if you ask those same passers-by who were the fathers (or mothers) of the global digital revolution, they'll likely be at a loss for words.
This would be an interesting experiment, because a random person would take the mobile device he's holding (or the new one he's hoping to buy this weekend), access the Internet, and search for those leaders of a digital revolution that continues to shape our world. The irony is that even those digital devices or a quick web search - results of their spirit of innovation - might not reveal key names from history!
China is leading the world in Smart Grid investment
A few summers back, on a sunny day in Seattle, I met an influential industry analyst to catch up on various issues in the utilities industry. We spoke about how Infosys can best position our clients for success.
As we settled down for this exchange of ideas, he ordered a coffee and I got a chai. We started talking about chai and about India and the variety of chais one can find in India. Then we shifted gears quickly and started discussing our favorite topic from the industry at the time: the Smart Grid.
Healthcare organizations need to look beyond the traditional build vs. buy model and adopt a 'platform-oriented' approach to IT instead
US healthcare industry is in the midst of a perfect storm. Healthcare expenditures have risen to a whopping $3 trillion, about 17 percent of the entire gross domestic product (GDP) and are expected to increase further. Healthcare organizations are under tremendous pressure to improve health outcomes and lower costs amidst rapid consumerization in an active regulatory environment.
How can healthcare organizations re-focus on their core business or mission of healthcare? By re-thinking the approach to healthcare IT.
What's ahead for insurance?
The founders of the insurance company Oscar have an interesting slogan: "We didn't start this company because we love health insurance. Quite the opposite, in fact." Spend some time learning about this start-up and the state of the insurance industry in general, and it becomes quite clear what the founders of Oscar mean.
If ever there were an industry that was suspicious of innovation and penalized creativity, it's the insurance business. Take a look at your next insurance bill. Do you even remotely understand it? Is it obvious as to how you can file a claim? Is there anything clear and easy-to-understand about the entire business? The answer, I gather, is no to all of these questions. So when three young entrepreneurs founded Oscar, they wanted an insurance company that was, as one of them describes it, like your family doctor. A company that is reassuring and takes the time to know its customers. You see, because insurance is so profitable without barely any effort or know-how, it is one of the last domains that is moving away from brand centricity to customer centricity. Retail, financial services, and pharmaceutical companies have embraced this movement.
In some countries, the government-run post office can often be a poster child for inefficiency and all that is wrong with federalizing an organization. Add to the mix the decline in mailing traditional letters because of email, and post offices have faced some challenging years.
In the United States, for example, a debate has raged over the future of the country's post office. Some people say it should go private. They point to companies like Federal Express and United Parcel Service as examples of how efficient a mail delivery system can be when it is run for shareholders instead of by the government.
Hotel room technology is changing the way you stay
When asked how his company would utilize the Web during the dot-com boom of the late 1990s, one of the worlds most respected CEOs answered that the conglomerate would not jump headfirst before thinking things through. A reasonable enough answer with 15 years of hindsight, right?
Well, think back to Web 1.0. There was speculation enough to make your head spin. Many CEOs slapped a ".com" on their businesses and expected a windfall. Some 99 percent of those businesses never went anywhere. That's why the guarded, skeptical approach of that conglomerate's CEO seemed so radical in the day.
Chances are you're not with a start-up company. You're not working out of your parents' garage. You most likely have a huge network to think about and it's filled with legacy technology.
Can big, established companies get the same kind of exponential growth that innovative start-ups do? You bet. That's one of the main messages I heard time and again this week during the annual Oracle OpenWorld event.
I had the honor of delivering the keynote address at the CIO Summit a couple days ago. I met an amazing amount of people from enterprises across all sectors. What they're focused on the most is making sure that their IT systems deliver the best results for their respective companies.
Vishal Sikka's keynote address highlights from Oracle OpenWorld
Of all the enlightening experiences I've had so far at Oracle OpenWorld, perhaps the most interesting is that voice they keep playing in the central courtyard between all the exhibition halls. The man essentially says: We're not in the smart phone age. We're not in the tablet age. We're not in the mainframe age or the Cloud age. Then he pauses and says: We're in the Information Age.
They keep that soundtrack on a loop. So whenever I'm outside, walking between the vast convention halls, I keep hearing that voice. I've been pondering the distinctions the man (perhaps it's a voiceover by Larry Ellison himself) keeps making about what defines this age. Information. Notice how our era isn't defined by a piece of hardware. It's what is stored and is amplified on all that hardware.
Vishal Sikka talks about the road ahead for Infosys on his first day as CEO & MD (Aug 1, 2014)
Exactly one hundred years ago, the city fathers of Cleveland, Ohio, devised a pretty smart piece of hardware: the traffic light. In America, by 1914, automobiles were becoming quite popular. In many cities there was chaos on the main thoroughfares. There was little established protocol for drivers of the horseless carriage.
I use this example because as a piece of hardware, there are few more enduring inventions than the traffic light. Red for stop, green for go. Simple enough. So simple and easy to understand, in fact, that it has kept the world's cities in order for the past century.
There's an empty Big Box store near where I live that used to be bustling with activity. It was a Border's bookstore that had a gourmet coffee shop right in the store. Every weekend a classical string quartet would perform in the main gallery while shoppers perused the latest titles. Everything about the shopping experience was upscale and delightful.
Yet now that store site sits barren ... a reminder of the potent and powerful online retailing revolution.
Brand-Centric Model To A Customer-Centric Approach
Among the architectural treasures of every big city are the banks. Walk into any old bank and you feel awe-inspired. A coffered ceiling soars above with marble walls with brass fittings everywhere and at the center is a huge vault. It was less about customer, but more about brand image and service/product offerings that differentiated one bank from the other.
Fast-forward to today and most banks are pretty sleek looking. They use modern steel and glass to exude a kind of bare-bones efficiency that customers are looking for. This is important because banks have realized the advantages of moving from a brand-centric model to a more customer-centric one. That is to say, they are the ones who should feel privileged when you walk through the door, not the other way around!
It's been a month since I started as the CEO of Infosys. An intense and rewarding journey. And journey is a key word here: I've been on the road a lot. And perhaps that is fitting, especially when charting a new course, that the thinking of it happens on planes, trains and automobiles heading in all kinds of directions.
Late in the evening of my very first day, I found myself in our university in Mysore, addressing ~13k of our fired up, screaming, trainees in the amphitheater of our magnificent campus. And that campus, which I'd heard so much about over the years, was far beyond my expectations. Its beauty, its attention to detail, its magnitude, and its sheer awesomeness, is something to behold. Almost 350 acres, lush green, massive use of renewable energy, and just a great example of sustainability and smart city innovation. And the university itself is an extraordinary institution. We can train ~16k resident students concurrently with a world-class team of educators. Truly exemplifying the spirit of a company that is founded on education, on learning. As my mom used to say, when we can learn anything, we can do anything. And nowhere is that simple truth more evident than in our Mysore campus, where you get the palpable feeling that the young trainees, on their way to great companies in the world to do great work, can do anything, because they can learn anything. It became clear to me that revitalizing our learning core must be a key focus for us going forward.
Today, retailers are seeing consumer behavior and social expectations change on a vast scale. There is a confluence of forces in the global markets that make the era in which we're living a very important one to large retailers. Forces like omni-channel retailing, ability to understand and respond to the context of each and every consumer touchpoint, and a concerted effort to revamp the information systems--have created tremendous pressure on even the savviest of companies.
Best-in-class retailers are quick to adopt processes and models that cater to the new demands of the industry. That sounds fairly straightforward. However, rapid and steady adoption of customer-focused processes is the exception in the retail industry. It's an industry that's very traditional and doesn't exactly change direction easily (art vs. science), especially when technology is involved. Too often, decisions are made on the basis of 'gut feel', competitor insights and current trends, some of which are not destined to survive another purchasing season or two. Once these investments do not yield the desired results, retailers often struggle to justify their decisions. By that time, however, it's too late and the monies are already spent.
The Evolution of IT Outsourcing [Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mOF54rIIw0Q]
Today, a manufacturing firm can confidently stride across the globe, set up plants, distribution centers, storage facilities, and whatever else it wants with the utmost organizational precision. That confidence - as well as a global footprint - is rooted in the knowledge that the firm has at its disposal an endless array of great software. Whether MRPs, ERPs, demand forecasting, or logistics & supply chain management, there are endless options to ensure that the modern manufacturing company utilizes IT to enhance operations and boost margins.
Every sector and industry should be so lucky. You see, the overarching phenomenon that is offshoring or outsourcing (or whatever you'd like to call it) affects each industry differently. Whereas the aforementioned manufacturer has an IT suite that allows it to reap the efficiencies of having storehouses in Malaysia, a stamping plant in Switzerland, and a sales office in Uruguay, other sectors haven't been as successful. I'm speaking, of course, about the professional services field. Woe to the project manager whose task it is to keep a global operation running seamlessly with the most rudimentary set of IT tools.
Indra Nooyi says that women cannot have it all [Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h8yi5Cz2oH4]
Being a passionate professional, driving woman's leadership and empowerment, I am deeply interested in gender studies and movements. Did you know that India has 614.4 million women, which is roughly about 8.77% of the world's population and 300 million more people than the entire population of the United States of America! And, as a country, we have been ranked 101 out of 136 countries in the 2013 World Economic Forum (WEF) Global Gender Gap Report, which benchmarks national gender gaps on economic, political, education and health-based criteria.
According to a study titled 'Women in America - Indicators of Social and Economic Well-Being' by the US Department of Commerce, Economics and Statistics Administration in 2009, only 7 percent of female professionals in the country were employed in the relatively high paying computer ($1,253 median weekly earnings) and engineering ($1,266 median weekly earnings) fields, compared to 38 percent of male professionals. In 2009, nearly one-fifth of all women were employed in just five occupations: secretaries, registered nurses, elementary school teachers, cashiers, and nursing aides. The US ranks 23rd in the 2013 WEF report. Norway, which was ranks 4th in the same report, widely adopts an approach of Gender Mainstreaming that calls for the integration of gender perspectives into all stages of policy and processes − design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation − from government to private enterprises.
AT&T buys DirecTV in multibillion dollar deal [Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kS_lkNXL68g]
Very often we hear of industry consolidation in the media and telecommunications space. Take the recent announcement by AT&T to acquire DirecTV, for example. The press releases that went out talked of how the sheer size of the combined company would have many benefits. The belief is that a merger of this stature would bring economies of scale, enable investments, and help the end-users--the customers.
Consolidations like this, however, are not just for the customer's benefit. The truth is, Pay TV companies are facing tough competition from new entrants in the market, like Netflix and Amazon Fire TV. These new entrants not only stream music and content via the Internet but also create their own content! Moreover, the customer demographic for Pay TV companies is also changing. Younger consumers don't have the kind of loyalty to the traditional TV medium that their parents do. They stream content on their mobiles.
The last 8 weeks have been surreal, a blur. From running all of SAP's products to being appointed the next CEO of Infosys, I've been through two extraordinary transitions within a period of time that feels like an instant. And at the same time, these two transitions happened amid the backdrop of much bigger transitions, and transformations, that organizations go through, from companies to countries. Transformations they must go through, to survive, to continue to be relevant, when the circumstances and contexts around them change dramatically. Companies around the world, including mine, are going through these transitions, driven to a large extent by software and computing technology. And as I write this over the fourth of July weekend here in the US, my country of citizenship, I join more than 300 million citizens in taking the time to celebrate independence and big transformative ideas, such as individual freedom, democracy and a constitution to guide a nation. And at the same time, my maternal homeland India has just seen a great transition of its own, and more than a billion citizens find themselves hopeful and looking ahead to a great transformation under a new transformative leadership. So I've found myself reflecting on both my own transitions and those of large organizations, and thought this summer weekend is a good time to write some of these thoughts down.
I was at SAP for 12 years. More than a quarter of my life. And we did a lot. It was a great ride, a great wave. After the news of my resignation and my sudden departure from SAP came out, there was at first the shock of the abruptness with which all this happened. But such is the nature of waves. A great ride one moment and gone the next. This was followed by an incredible outpouring of support from thousands of friends and colleagues, more than four thousand of them, deeply heartfelt emotions, and show of support, that made this transition so memorable and the 12 year journey so worthwhile. It reminded me that we are defined not only by the work we do, but also by the deep and lasting relationships that we build during our journeys.
What do banking customers want? [Source:
Innovation - literally "to make new" - hasn't always been considered all that desirable, in the corporate world or anywhere else, for that matter. Executives, sometimes, become so focused on pleasing customers and shareholders that they miss the forest through the trees. Indeed, these executives don't fail because they make bad decisions; their businesses fail because of their good decisions! As they focus on bringing more and better products to market (so-called sustaining innovation), the established enterprises tend not to see other things that customers want.
Disruptive innovation doesn't always work out the way it's put forth in books. And the financial services sector presents some interesting examples. A disruptive innovation to the banking industry in the late 1990s was the creation of rolled-up, ready-for-sale products like subprime mortgages, collateralized debt obligations, and mortgage-backed securities. Banks were reaching a whole new audience and creating an untapped market with these "brilliant" innovations.
Xbox Kinect offers a new way to help children with autism [Source:
Commercial banks, it seems, are learning how to engage digital customers by making otherwise mundane things - such as applying for a mortgage - into challenging and even fun events. For instance, they would transform an application into an online quiz that not only makes the process fun. The format provides the bank with extra insights as to who wants that loan.
So I was particularly struck by a recent report that discussed how innovative firms in other industries are thinking about the benefits of playing games. One place you wouldn't expect there to be too many lighthearted moments is the hospital. Many stroke victims who end up in a hospital eventually learn from their doctors that although they've survived, they have a long and arduous road ahead of them. Rehabilitation is long, complicated, and expensive. There is new hope for stroke patients and it comes from the same technology that powers the popular Xbox video game system from Microsoft. By holding a wireless device in their hand, they can now play an opponent in a friendly game of tennis, for example. The key lies with the motion-sensor camera that makes games on Xbox so popular. In fact, a Montreal company has designed a set of exercises that stroke victims can use on an actual Xbox to help with their recoveries. Physical therapists can program a set of activities and exercises that are tailored for each patient. In fact, doctors and physical therapists have said that they see faster results with patients who use the home gaming system.
The pharmaceutical research and development (R&D) process has many complex layers. Most of these layers go beyond the drug development process itself. We are talking about logistics, the compliance process, and the distribution network. Caught up in this maze, pharmaceutical companies often end up focusing on these processes, instead of the job at hand: developing effective drugs to make people healthy.
From my conversations with industry insiders, I've come to realize that the immediate cause for concern is really - managing the clinical trials process. Clinical trials is the part of the drug development process that has, in recent years, been outsourced to a batch of enterprises (Clinical Research Organizations) that specialize in dealing with the complexities. There are so many facets of the trial that keeping the cost of the processes down to make the drug commercially viable has become a huge challenge.
The Best in Personal Banking Apps [Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vJDf4L29u6I]
I think I might need an advanced degree in computer engineering to use a few of the apps that my bank has provided me. There are so many apps to begin with. Not all of them are easily accessible nor is it always apparent as to how to go about launching them. I thought online banking was rooted in convenience. Indeed, maybe there's the rub: the distinction between online banking and banking apps.
The influential tech consultancy Gartner Group has even gone on record warning banks that the sheer number of apps offerings could eventually hurt customer satisfaction in a major way. The analysts at Gartner cite two issues in particular. The first is that there are so many apps that banks make available to customers that they've essentially inundated the space. With so many available to one customer, each one gets less and less promotional airtime and therefore less use. If that weren't bad enough, it's a chore for a customer to find the app that she needs. One of the reasons for this confusion is that banks release apps often listed by line of business.
Business Insider Interview on Workplace Flexibility [Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7KCXJ3BpBf4]
I recently came across a fascinating movie from the late 1950s that deals with some of the same issues the corporate world is struggling with today. It turns out that very little has changed in the last half-century when it comes to how enterprises cope with an ever-evolving workforce.
The movie is called Desk Set. It stars Spencer Tracy as an efficiency expert who is hired by a large media company to find ways to streamline operations and save money. He stumbles upon the reference department headed by Katherine Hepburn; her headstrong character futilely resists the installation of a computer that Tracy claims would do the work of six librarians. The computer, which takes up an entire room, is fed punch cards. It performs extremely well until it accidentally prints out dismissal notices on pink slips to everyone in the company, including the CEO!
Consumers have intense, short term relationships with brands. The challenge today is to change these to long-term, sustainable ones. But, technology-savvy consumers are changing the rules of commerce and shifting the balance of power in their favour when it comes to the relationships they have with brands. Three factors contribute to this:
Ian Chatfield, Customer Experience Director, Openreach Service talks about this engagement
"Think fast." That's what you would say to your team if you are the head coach trying to win a tight game. In a different context, that is what an executive wants her colleagues to do when dealing with customers - especially the unhappy ones.
Customer service and engagement is probably the most important and yet the most overlooked aspect of a company's operations. It is a good example of why innovation must begin at an organization's lowermost level (with customer service agents) in order to have the most lasting effects on a company. Not everything, you see, in an organization can trickle down. Innovation must also travel up the chain.
Words like innovative and nimble aren't what immediately come to mind when describing the insurance industry. Perhaps, that's because the business of insurance runs on a very basic premise: An army of actuaries utilize algorithms to determine rates for policyholders. If something such as a natural disaster occurs and the companies must pay out on some policies, those companies simply adjust the rates they charge to everyone else. So insurers typically take very highly risk-measured decisions.
In a business as predictable as this one, you wouldn't imagine that bold, imaginative thinking could ever be a part of the corporate fabric. Yet a group from had an extremely enlightening series of meetings with insurance company executives lately. We spoke of how they can use digital tools that ultimately will aid their customers and enrich their bottom lines. Not surprisingly, they listened to what we had to say.
Revolutionary mobile payment M-Pesa turns seven years old [Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EN_IN2eMmDU]
Maps of the world displaying political boundaries or topographical details - mountain ranges, deserts, and vast rainforests are commonplace. But look at a map based on a proportion of the world's population, and, you'll know why companies are thinking of ways of tapping into the Asian and African marketplaces. Up until the 20th century, these two continents did not control a remarkable amount of the world's wealth. But as their populations grow and enter the middle class, they are where any smart company wants to be in the 21st century. On a proportionate-population map, Asia and Africa would be even more enormous than they are on a political map. Most of the people on this planet - about 8 out of every ten - lives in either of those two places. Add economic power to a vast population and you can see why global enterprises are looking eastward for expansion.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation recently published a table that looks at the world in a way that's not unlike those proportionate-population maps. The table envisions the world as 100 people, a very basic and clear way of delineating who is who and who has what. For example, out of the world's 100 people, 48 of them live on less than $2 a day. And 13 of them do not have access to clean, potable water. And what about English, the so-called language of the Internet? Only 5 of them are native English speakers!
Davos 2014 - The New Digital Context [Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hgP4cgYo1YE]
Are digital consumers beginning to grow uneasy about sharing their personal information with large enterprises? It's an interesting question that our friends at the prestigious World Economic Forum are attempting to answer. The WEF recently teamed up with Microsoft to study "context." The new WEF study not only looks at how consumers define context but also how organizations can better design context-aware systems that allow for more meaningful online interactions. Individual preferences are complex - no two are alike. So in the era of Big Data, companies are discovering a paradox: Even though they get to see broad brushstrokes painted for them by Big Data, they still need to understand the individual consumer. That's not always the easiest thing to do.
The study tells us that the context in which data is used is not binary - it's "nuanced, personal, evolving over time and reflecting differences in cultural and social norms. There are no absolutes." To that end, I think it's vital that organizations develop the kind of transparency that these many, nuanced views can each appreciate and understand. At the top of this to-do list is the need to empower digital customers so that a circle of trust on the Internet is fully developed.
Google's Grand Plan for Titan Aerospace [Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=31PW-Ep-Ykc]
This snippet of 20th century history never fails to amaze me: In the 1960s, at the height of the Cold War, several military-industrial elites got together to propose creating a communications network that could work in the event of a nuclear war. Their top-secret plan was to design a complex web of communications lines that would allow messages to reach the intended recipient even if a portion of the network was knocked out of commission by a war. Various governments developed this byzantine network and there it stood by for decades, ready for armies and political leaders who might need to use it. They never did. By the 1980s, university professors began using it to send each other messages and trade research.
That Cold War relic was the Internet.
Soon more than just colonels and professors would use it. A young generation of scientists and computer aficionados would unlock its commercial potential. By doing so they helped create the Information Age. Many people are surprised that the Internet sat around as a little-used tool of a bygone era until innovators began harnessing the technology to create value in completely new ways. Its story serves as a lesson as to what can happen when we are unafraid to look at technology from new and untested perspectives, especially when monetization is a possibility.
Banking and Media - Cross Industry Innovation - Telstra Enterprise [Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xp3hYTR-qKI]
I can't say that I'm the biggest fan of fast food. But I am a fan of the business processes and operational excellence that some fast food chains employ in order to get a meal in front of a customer in just a matter of minutes. I've also been impressed by the innovative culture of fast food restaurants. At first glance this statement sounds a bit odd - I mean, how innovative do you have to be to fry up a hamburger?
Well, consider this story: In the mid 1970s, McDonald's got word that one of its franchisees had placed a poached egg, a slice of cheese, and some Canadian bacon in the middle of a toasted an English muffin. He called the sandwich the "Egg McMuffin" and it was (excuse the pun) selling like hotcakes. The restaurant manager had wanted something to sell during the late morning, when people were coming in to buy coffee but it was still too early to be ordering hamburgers and fries. The executives at corporate headquarters were impressed by this new sandwich and gave it their mark of approval. Soon, every McDonald's around the world was selling this new sandwich and it helped the chain expand into the lucrative breakfast timeslot.
The business world can't really get over the fact that Apple, a perennial winner of countless innovation awards, spends just about 3 percent of its annual sales on research & development. (The average for consumer electronics firms is 6.5 percent.) Wasn't it supposed to be expensive to be innovative?
The fact uncovered by recent studies - that there's little correlation between R&D spending and a company's financial performance could be a tough pill to swallow across much of the corporate world. That's because a long-held assumption is that in order to grow, an enterprise can perhaps sideline operational concerns like efficiencies but must focus like crazy on developing new products.
This Day In History 4-22-1964 The New York Worlds Fair Opens In Manhattan [Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uHJQJuYt8RI]
To Star Trek fans, it's no surprise that when the first commercially available cell phones really took hold in the 1990s, they were "flip -phones" that had an uncanny resemblance to the communicators used by the fictional crew of the Enterprise. When science fiction visionaries, or even corporations for that matter, have a healthy, optimistic view of what might be in store for society, it's amazing how many of our collective ideas can come to life.
Some 50 years ago, the last major World's Fair opened in New York City and exposed more than 50 million visitors to an array of gadgets and concepts. Most of them came from the corporate pavilions. The World's Fair amazed audiences with a selection of items that seemed so far off into the future to ever become a reality. Here are some of my favorites; you'll be surprised at how many of them were right on the mark.
Crowd-funding Drug Development: Justyna Leja at TEDMEDLive Imperial College 2013 [Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=edeHvKDOmco]
One of the most exciting developments of the past few years has been the rise of crowd-funding. The basic idea is that if someone has a platform from which to put his business idea on display, there will be enough people around the world who will not only be interested in the idea but willing to contribute money towards the endeavor.
What crowd-funding has demonstrated is the sheer power of the digital consumer. In a bygone era, someone had to convince one or two entities that his idea was worthy of investment. Because of the digital community, individuals can pool their resources and act as their own big banks.
60 Minutes - IS THE US STOCK MARKET RIGGED? [Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sK0aoQ5yVmA]
One of the sweeping promises of the Information Age has been about how a potent mix of technology and communications liberates societies.
But when an expert sheds light on fascinating developments in the global financial markets, it's a good time to consider whether the world's enterprises and consumers are sufficiently prepared for a little known "un-leveling" of this Information Age. I've enjoyed all the books from the financial journalist Michael Lewis, and his latest, Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt, is no less interesting. Lewis is stirring the waters by claiming that financial technology has allowed the market's big players essentially to rig the system.
Vijay Govindarajan on Reverse Innovation - Nordic Business Forum 2013 [Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LM85P1arcNE]
Professor Vijay Govindarajan, who along with General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt coined the term "Reverse Innovation" - a.k.a. blowback or trickle-up innovation - says that it has the power to transform every industry, from energy and healthcare to transportation and consumer goods. Yet, outside the quoted-to-death example of GE's wonder ECG machine, real world examples of successful reverse innovation are few and far between. So, is this a case of third world hype or a story of missed opportunity?
Perhaps a bit of both.
Like any other commodity, reverse-innovated products need to find an equilibrium between demand and supply side factors to successfully transition from developing to developed world markets. This means they need to encounter a need that local players in developed markets have not fulfilled because they are either unwilling or incapable of doing so. Also, emerging market firms must keep up a steady stream of innovations and develop an instinct for identifying good "reverse" bets - those with a greater likelihood of acceptance among industrialized world consumers.
Healthcare Technology Outlook 2020 Technology uptake [Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8J6-W38YuU4]
Medicine has advanced to the point where the world's average age expectancy is steadily on the rise. For all that quantity, however, there remains the issue of quality. Lots of people are living long lives - far longer than, say, a century ago - yet instead of receiving cures to conditions, they're requiring a staggering amount of sustained and constant treatment while doing so.
That's where the right Information Technology comes in. The healthcare industry won't be able to continue making the same kind of gains it's made in the last 50 years. Without the right IT, the healthcare industry also won't be able to narrow the gap between simply extending lifespans and improving the quality of those lives.
Aurolab, Jaipur Foot - Infosys presents Innovating for a Better Tomorrow [Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wxboOIgTKb8]
During the filming of "Innovating for a Better Tomorrow," an influential television series that debuted in India in February this year, the deputy editor of CNN-IBN asked Mr. Murthy if he saw any difference in the culture of innovation and entrepreneurship between now and 30 years ago. His answer was motivational: Today there are more fresh ideas and budding entrepreneurs in India than there were three decades ago. And their commitment to social progress is more resolute as well.
Economists have argued for centuries about the limits of private investment and entrepreneurship. Is it the responsibility of governments to provide all of the funding and infrastructure by which economies run, or can private entities fuel these engines of progress as well? If recent history is any judge, then it would certainly appear that it would be the latter.
Why did Facebook buy WhatsApp? [Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ocMyXXAYnVY]
Recently, members of a now defunct exclusive hacking club got together online to celebrate not a breakthrough break through, but the spectacular success of one of their own - Jan Koum and his US$ 19 billion Whatsapp deal with Facebook. This was the latest in a not very short list of successes of the club's alumni, which included at least one of Napster's founders, and those of Cloudmark, Servio, Duo Security and Immunet, among others.
If ever there was a metaphor for the power of disruptive-innovation this must be it. But urban-legend-status notwithstanding, the truth is that manifestations of disruptive innovation are few and far between - a corollary of the fact that only a tiny fraction of the young and restless who want to disrupt and innovate actually go out there and do so. The vast majority finds its way into the portals of the conventional workplace, nurturing that deep-seated desire all along.
Technology at Morgan Stanley [Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hGXHi5jJA2M]
The financial services industry is at a crossroad. OK, I know what you're thinking: That sector is at several crossroads. Post-global economic crisis, it's probably the most interesting time to be in or be observing the big banks. There is a profound cultural shift that is emanating from within the world's most prestigious and well-known banks. Many banks have decided that a culture of overwork has had its day.
If any of you have worked in a financial services firm, you're aware of how long the hours can be. "Face-time" is an aspect of this culture. You want to make sure that the managing director sees you in the office at all hours, even if you're not necessarily working on a project. For the better part of the last couple centuries, being upwardly mobile at a bank meant putting your personal life on hold and devoting your life - seven days a week - to the firm.
Creating effective organizations takes a lot of effort and it's no small task. We value the ability to bounce ideas off each other in environments that are safe. We come up with prototypes for new products and services by not being afraid of proposing ways of approaching an issue that might rub people the wrong way. And the team matters - people that collaborate instead of focusing solely on their own goals are often the most potent part of any brainstorming session. But what is a safe atmosphere? It's a place that you might perceive as unfamiliar but remain confident.
When Infosys worked with the European Business Awards to detect the common elements of a best-in-class company, what we found was that organizations that create safe places of brainstorming and creativity tend to be the ones that are the most profitable and able to stave off the competition. In fact, the EBA winners tend to have as a common characteristic the ability to define new markets by sheer virtue of their collective creativity.
I was struck by how someone recently described the new chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of the Unites States. Janet Yellen, she said, is not only the first woman to hold that post. But she's also the first Keynesian who's *open* about being one.
Being a Keynesian, of course, means that you have great faith in the power of monetary policy to affect the economy as well as the banking sector. That there have been central bank governors who have believed in Keynes is without argument. It's fascinating, though, that she is the first one in her country not to hide her devotion to this philosophy. I bring this up because monetary policy is back in the news again. Our colleagues who attended the World Economic Forum last month came away with a healthy dose of discussion on the topic.
Big Bang Disruption Why tech giants must innovate or die [Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ctxUJK-7XFk]
We've read a lot about the merits of market disruption, and for good reason: Either disrupt the market or risk being disrupted out of business.
But how often do we think about what I like to call micro-disruption? Essentially I'm talking about how we face technological snafus that make us quite aware that we're in dire need of more innovation. That's because innovation is a never-ending process. We might be content to have a service or product on our hands that apparently needs no improvements. Not major improvements, at least.
Widespread products like the television and telephone worked pretty much the same way for decades. Only in recent years have we seen smart TVs and mobile telephones thoroughly redefine and reshape those respective markets. In both cases, individuals began, one by one, to call for improvements in those media to meet the needs of their changing lifestyles. And the market eventually caught up to their expectations and desires.
Infosys Prize 2013 winners with Kofi Annan and the Jury
It's time for the Olympics once again. For me, the best part of the games is the telling of all the back-stories before each event.
For those of you who aren't familiar with the back-story, it's a sometimes-emotional look at an athlete's struggles to get all the way to the Olympics. Most of these stories are about against-all-odds situations. It's not uncommon to learn that the aspiring athlete comes from a tough neighborhood, has sustained numerous injuries, but has the right mental attitude to focus on the prize - in this case, an Olympic medal. True, these stories are neatly packaged month ahead of time and formulaic. But that's one of the reasons they work so well. We know that each back-story ends in the present athletic contest laid out before us. And it usually results in that person winning a race and achieving medal status.
Anyone who has ever ridden public transportation in England has seen the curiously phrased warning sign "Mind the Gap." I often think of that sign when I hear about how public leaders are thinking about the young people in their respective countries.
We all like to speak of sustainable societies. But beyond just recycling, we need the skills and talents of people to be sustainable as well. That got us to thinking about "minding the gap" when it comes to how India's younger population are prepared for the economy of tomorrow. No doubt about it: Our young people are bright, dynamic, and important to our future. That's why we need to make sure they have the right talents to succeed in a challenging, high-tech global economy.
Adam Grant Discusses Give and Take [Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OHgIQR1zUq4]
Are you a team player? Most of us would like to think we are. That's good news because of the way organizations are assessing the very nature of success.
The coolest viewpoint on this topic is articulated by the Wharton management professor Adam Grant . He says that success used to commonly be a collection of individual achievement. But that's going to change as companies increasingly look at how your accomplishments affect your colleagues. It seems we're all in this together after all! For example, ask yourself what kind of impact you will have simply beyond your core job description. Grant challenges us to think about three types of interactions we have with teammates, The way you interact with colleagues can often say as much about you as does your training, experience, and education.
For starters, there's the "taker." A taker tends to think about getting as much out of teammates as possible. In a bygone era, takers could be tolerated because there was enough work that could be performed in a non-collaborative manner. But today, in the era of innovation, teamwork is essential to generating good ideas. Takers can easily suck the oxygen out of a brainstorming session.
In the field of organizational theory and management, no entity has been both highly respected and at the same time roundly derided as the conglomerate. In the 1950s, these large companies came into their own. It would not be unheard of for a conglomerate to manufacture everything from breakfast cereal to car batteries and ladies' shoes (and every product in between).
For generations, shareholders loved conglomerates. They were companies that were involved in so many businesses that no matter what happened in certain markets or economies, the conglomerate could weather the storm because of the sheer variety and expansiveness of its exposures to different sectors.
Christine Lagarde's inspirational address at the World Economic Forum pointed to some cold, hard facts about the year ahead: First, every country - whether developed or frontier market - must work to ensure that reforms stemming from the Global Economic Crisis take root.
Second, a strong and lasting economic recovery occur leveraging factors from a number of fronts: fiscal, structural, and financial. I think a very important player in the global economic comeback is the financial services institution.
To be sure, regulators and policy-makers from every country have worked very hard during the past five years to prevent, as Lagarde termed it, the Great Depression Part II. But it's the role of banks, and particularly the consumer-oriented commercial banks, that are vital to creating an atmosphere that encourages people of all socio-economic levels to save for retirement, invest for their families, and borrow funds to buy homes and build businesses. A statesman once said that the business of his country "is business." I see what he means. When people of all stripes are saving and spending with banks as their user-friendly intermediaries, the entire economy benefits from their actions.
The Year in Technology: Follow the @Money [Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x7S7MnY75yA]
As leaders, we only get so many chances to follow through on our intentions and plans.
Star Trek fans know a bit about the importance of delivering on what you promise. The chief engineer of the Enterprise, Commander Scott, likes to say that if you make your promises a bit underwhelming, then when you save the ship at the last minute with a few deft moves, you'll be seen as a miracle-worker.
That's why it pays to be extra mindful of project planning our innovation journeys at the beginning of the year. Now let's face it: Everyone wants to innovate and be cherished by his or her peers as an innovator. But don't enunciate your plans until you know what your enterprise wants.
Talk about thinking outside the box! Here are some of my favorite innovations of 2013. This list is by no means exhaustive. It's meant as a springboard to think about what impressed you in 2013 ... and what might be the ingredients of those big innovation during the coming year.
I would suggest that we not subscribe solely to the notion that an innovation has to be an earth-shattering event. Most of the world's most ingenious and most lasting innovations arrive without a huge fanfare. But they stand the test of time and end up changing the way we live and do business.
New Bio-metric Pulse RFID Chip New World Order Tracking Technology ! [Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YRYbAfqejpI]
Until recently, there was an understanding in the computer world that chips would follow a fairly agreed upon path when it came to increased power and decreased size. By stacking chips on top of one another, however, we suddenly have a marvelous market disruption. Developments are going a lot more quickly. That's because a stack of 150 or so chips with enhanced connectivity and speed would be able to fit into a space of a mere two or three chips.
There are many in traditional industrial roles who are biting their fingernails in fits of anxiety. Might a stack of super-chips have the processing power and speed to replace them?
Being "Intrapreneurial": How to increase innovation in any organization [Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U1XGPJC0alU]
Self-evaluation forms. Project plans. Long meetings with department heads. And, of course, the various brainstorming sessions. Sounds like we have all the trappings of a new corporate year.
For most of us, the year that begins in January is a chance at renewal - an opportunity to assess what we've accomplished and to chart an ambitious course on our respective journeys. As business leaders we're expected to develop new products and services with very little outside assistance. A test of a team's effectiveness is its ability to operate independently and deliver outside-the-box results ... often within strict budgetary and time constraints.
If only life were as fun and exciting as being a contestant on a television game show!
Imagine that every time you had to make an important decision, a studio audience would be cheering you on. When you answer a question correctly, you would win a fabulous prize. And the show's host would help guide you through life's many challenges.
Unfortunately our lives don't come equipped with the trappings of a lavishly produced game show. But our lives sure would be neat if they did. One result, I think, is that we would all be encouraged to be a lot more innovative. Nothing motivates a person quite like an assortment of cash prizes and the rousing cheers of a studio audience.
Can you speak Esperanto? [Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MjB0v87oMD8]
Remember Esperanto? Several decades ago, an assortment of academics and linguists invented a language that would become (they hoped) the world's common language.
It was a flop. But I must say that the intentions behind Esperanto were admirable. If people involved in international business all spoke the same language, wouldn't it be great? Being able to communicate effortlessly across regions and markets would be immensely useful. Well, yes and no. Some other research out of academia finds that enterprises that embrace other cultures, languages, and ways of doing business are at an advantage. You might think that in the age of globalization, these findings would be obvious. But drill down a bit deeper and the reality is that many organizations expand into other countries without giving those new regions and markets much thought.
Such companies would do well to spend a lot of time analyzing how best to adapt to new markets. Any organization can expand by opening new offices overseas. But the successful ones approach each market differently. Of the many things that make me proud to be an Infoscion, is our ability to be very aware of whatever market we enter. Our company's success continues to be predicated in part on our knack for "speaking global."
Brewbound Session 2013 - Boston - Innovation Strategies with Jim Koch of Sam Adams [Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_SINQgYUDpo]
One of my favorite lighthearted quotations comes from Benjamin Franklin: "Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy."
Nobody ever said that profitably producing all that beer was an easy, stress-free process, however. Jim Koch should know. He's the founder of the Boston Beer Company, which produces the upscale Samuel Adams Lager. Before his beer became a runaway success and pretty much created the craft-brew market, Koch faced the struggles and challenges common to many owners of small businesses.
Besides being an aficionado of crafting beer on a relatively small scale, Koch is an advocate of providing small-scale loans to budding entrepreneurs. Koch says that he wishes he knew everything he knows now when he was starting his brewery some 30 years ago. In that spirit, he lends out anywhere between $500 and $25,000 to entrepreneurs in the hospitality sector.
Kodak: From Blue Chip to Bankrupt [Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wwfwr8eYP50]
We all have strategy maxims we cherish. So it's not easy for me to challenge the well loved musings of the greatest business thinkers of our time. I'm not the only one, however. Several strategists, for instance, have been questioning the notion that enterprises must focus primarily on building up long-term competitive advantages.
Yet it seems technology has created markets and enterprises that come and go like the wind. If we concentrate on parsing Big Data and focusing on the market-related issues of the moment, it more often than not seems that there is also a need to build 'transient competitive advantage'. This idea is one of several that have come from an ingenious essay by a well-respected business strategist.
One of the most striking things he reveals is that that every two weeks a new company replaces an old one on the Standard & Poor's 500. Plus, in recent decades the average lifespan of a company has declined sharply to 20 years from 60 years. If your organization does build up a solid competitive advantage over your rivals, chances are that advantage won't last very long - whereas in the old days it would sustain the enterprise for years against all newcomers.
Customer Centric Innovation: Vittorino Filippas at TEDxUniTn [Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kFh3Q2eOZ1U]
One of my favorite stories about fast food innovation dates back some 35 years ago. That's when the manager of a McDonald's started putting a poached egg, a slice of cheese, and Canadian bacon in between two toaster muffins and selling it as the Egg McMuffin. That one breakfast sandwich allowed him to extend his franchise's hours. But it did something else: It gathered the attention of the company's top brass. Although McDonald's was and is a massive corporation, it organized itself so that an innovation could come from anywhere - even off the grille of a store manager in some obscure small town.
Today we're seeing a variation on this theme and it's all thanks to the rise of the digital consumer. In certain cases, customers around the world are becoming as powerful as R&D squads at major enterprises. Consider what's brewing at Starbucks. There are reports that the latest fad - adding a bit of fizz to their traditional hot and iced coffees - is something the corporate chiefs at Starbucks are watching with intense interest. Rather than discourage the practice, the company is quietly telling its Baristas to give in to the growing numbers of orders for carbonized drinks. Starbucks could have easily squashed the fizz movement. But maybe an upstart competitor, looking to find a new market and disrupt an established player, would have jumped on the carbonation bandwagon. Its first-mover advantage could have knocked the wind out of Starbucks' sails (and, more importantly, sales).
Emerging markets are a veritable gold mine for global consumer brands that face slowing growth in the developed markets. Mining that gold profitably, however, is no walk in the park. These markets present significant challenges to brands.
Emerging markets are a complex maze of traditional retail structure dominated by millions of small retailers (India alone has 12 million). Due to the high costs and logistical nightmare involved in reaching these retailers, brands depend on thousands of independent distributors to connect them with retailers and customers. They also provide local market intelligence to complement sales and marketing efforts of the brand. However most of these distributors are not technology enabled, have no standard way of maintaining sales and demand data and, more often than not, fail to share vital information with brands. Due to this lack of visibility brands don't know what is selling, where it is sold, what customers are buying, whether product quality is being maintained, and how much inventory is present and at what locations. This drastically reduces their ability to sense and respond to market demand.
iOS 7 vs Android Jelly Bean vs Windows Phone 8 vs BB10 [Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xJkB8PFD-eo]
Today, the Android computing platform boasts a 72 percent share of the 1.5 billion smartphones in use on Planet Earth. That's up from 55 percent one year ago. Apple's iOS comes in at an 18 percent share, holding steady from about the same share last year. It helps that Android accounts for 80 percent of the new smartphones hitting the market this quarter. So it's likely that its share of the market will only increase for the foreseeable future. The most interesting aspect of this? Blackberry, which used to command a majority of global market share up until a few years ago. It's once-sizeable lead of some 40 percent market share in 2008 eroded to just 4 percent this year.
True, Apple's iOS remains popular in the United States. But Android is the undisputed smartphone champ when you look at the global market as a whole. In the rapidly growing smartphone markets of China and India, for instance, Android is the platform of choice. Those two markets, along with other large, emerging economies, are where much of the smartphone-and-tablet story will play out in the coming decade.
The quickly evolving market for mobile platforms should serve as a lesson to all of us in the technology sector. You're only as good as your most recent product or service. That particular product or service might be an update to a long-running brand or it might be an entirely new offering. Either way, it pays to keep your enterprise focused on new entrants and how they approach a market in which you hold a comfortable lead. Blackberry continues to be the mobile platform of choice for some large corporations. What we've seen, however, is that consumers have no qualms about using one platform for work and an entirely different one in their personal lives. I would have never predicted that millions of smartphone consumers would pay for the privilege of carrying around two devices. Who welcomes that inconvenience? Apparently lots of people.
GE's Innovation Czar On Startup Qualities | Beth Comstock | WSJ Startup of the Year [Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vJRkSnMy-mQ]
Innovation is driving the marketplace like never before. So many of us have come to the conclusion that to build an effective organization, we must all think and act like a 20-something entrepreneur who works out of his parents' garage.
There's no denying that young innovators who are fresh out of college will deliver plenty of market-changing products in the next decade. But what about the rest of us? The lion's share of the global economy consists of people who work at large enterprises with distinct corporate cultures and well-defined hierarchies. Too often we're led to believe that we have to throw off the trappings of the large organization in order to innovate like a start-up.
It turns out that the opposite is true. That is, the young entrepreneur who's looking to build tomorrow's enterprise from a drafty garage should be taking cues from established organizations. That's because every effective (and, ultimately, successful) start-up is the result of the right mix of messy innovation and defined, disciplined business processes.
How Ford's Assembly Line Has Changed Over 100 Years [Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cxjZ2VT9lFU]
One hundred years ago this month, the automaker Henry Ford stretched a 150-foot rope down the length of his manufacturing plant, attached it to a winch, and - voila - the moving assembly line was born.
Such an assembly line arose from the basic need to manufacture a product - in Ford's case, automobiles - fast enough to keep up with consumer demand. Up until 1913, the production of a car typically involved a team of skilled machinists who would build the model from the ground up.
The assembly line was innovative because it assigned a single task to each of the workers along the line. The workers repeated their tasks on each car that came down the assembly line. This format meant the worker didn't necessarily have to be a skilled machinist. Because the work often involved simply affixing a part to the body of the car, a worker with fewer skills could be hired.
In turn, more people could get employment and develop their skills on the job. In just a few weeks, the assembly line reduced the time it took to manufacture an automobile to three hours from 12. So why, you ask, am I dusting off this interesting piece of industrial history? Well, we live in the digital age, when bits and bytes of information can travel around global networks in seconds. Yet the moving assembly line, which is a century old, is nevertheless an innovation in progress.
Anke, Assistant Vice President for Research and Innovation - L'Oreal USA R&I [Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-BBBCubLltQ]
Part of any innovation journey is to create a major market disruption, right? Well, you don't have to be quite as dramatic as many of us have believed.
There's nothing wrong with redefining the marketplace and introducing new products and services. But the most effective and lasting innovations are relatively small and methodical over the long haul. A vast majority of us are people who constantly innovate but haven't necessarily developed earth-shattering ideas that redefine the market.
One of the statistical givens of the world of finance is that the greater risk you take, the greater the reward. It's why some huge financial institutions give great leeway to their proprietary trading desks. Those financiers are experts at trolling the capital markets for arbitrage opportunities. They can make enormous returns when they buy the right security or take the right position.
The Future of Money: Todd Hirsch at TEDxEdmonton [Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K0n3BGId9nU]
Nothing catches a crowd's attention quite like telling them they're throwing money away. That was the subject of a recent report from a financial services company.
What it meant was that many countries are moving toward getting rid of their paper currencies in favor of other modes of payment. When you think about it, the exchanging of cash for services or merchandise is a pretty antiquated system. It's been around for eons. One of the reasons it's remained popular is that small businesses continue to accept bills and coins even though cashless payment systems abound.
Some economists say that a nation's dependence on cash can be symptomatic of both short- and long-range problems. In fact, the act of printing paper money and striking coins can account for as much as 1.5 percent of a country's gross domestic product. It's clear that as economies become more sophisticated, organizations will come to rely on cashless systems because of their efficiency and effectiveness.
Boredom, The Real Secret Behind Innovation [Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AFe4aPewV9c]
I continue to find a common thread running through the stories of the world's greatest entrepreneurs. Why is it that nearly every one of them has had a bout with boredom? That's the one trait you wouldn't associate with men and women who build companies from scratch, fend off competitors, and bring amazing products and services to market. How could classic Type A personalities bent on conquering a certain sector or industry experience boredom?
Many management gurus agree that boredom is a recurring problem among business leaders who are always trying to find their next business challenge. What I find fascinating is that most entrepreneurs become familiar with a new market and, just as they're about to blaze a new trail, decide to pull back for a while.
A friend of mine once shared with me the trials and tribulations of building a precision tools business. He operates in a very specialized sector. Large industrial companies rely on precision tool shops to do jobs like stamping or forming metal using a host of sophisticated techniques. My friend's company specializes in molding metal parts for automobiles by using water. The water is injected into a mold at such high pressure that the metal shapes itself into a specified form. For years my friend stayed on top of the latest technology and positioned his company as a supplier to some of the world's largest automakers. He was on the verge of expanding the company to other continents in order to fulfill growing demand from overseas markets. But then a curious thing happened: He got bored. His corporate officers and the board of directors were fairly confounded by his abrupt decision to hold off on an ambitious international expansion.
Lead and be the change: Mark Mueller-Eberstein at TEDxRainier [Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yv-QiSvuLLM]
Winston Churchill once said that you should never let a good crisis go to waste.
As business leaders we know exactly what he meant. It's often an imperative to transform your organization when times are tough. Outside challenges give you the excuses to act quickly and decisively. You can shake up the company without the board of directors of fellow executives questioning your every move.
In some respects it's more challenging to transform an organization during a period of relative calm. If the economy as well as your business is chugging along, then why rock the boat? Why bring unnecessary heartache into your life by hiring and firing and charting a new strategic course?
The Convergence of Business and IT [Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GzP6pO_jzyk]
Time. The Rolling Stones sang about it ..."It's on my side...". And most of us wish we had more of it.
Thanks to strides in technology and a rapidly evolving marketplace, the word stands for a lot more these days. In fact, TIME is an acronym that experts use to describe the convergence of the telecommunications, information technology, media, and entertainment industries.
That the TIME acronym has become generally accepted is a fascinating development, indeed. The four industries that are covered by the word were, at first, separate and distinct. Now, because of convergence, they've morphed into a completely new marketplace.
From the hallowed halls of academia comes a study that investigates the effects of convergence. What happens, for instance, when companies that were once in separate industries suddenly become rivals? Well, the first thing to do is to acknowledge that times have changed and that your company is part of a new marketplace. Getting past denial is tougher than you might think. Who wants to have dedicated his or her career to being number one in a particular industry, only to find that this industry doesn't really exist anymore?
TEDx - Simon Dixon - Changing The Rules of Banking @TEDtalks [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zUl9nOqaU8s]
A wrap is more than just a tasty sandwich rolled up within a soft tortilla shell. And it's more than what a director of a movie yells when they film the final scene. In the financial services world, a wrap is another term for a banking innovation known as the Unified Management Account (UMA).
Up until recently, a money manager who was doing the bidding of his clients - to build a diverse portfolio of stocks, bonds, and mutual funds - would open up a separate account for each asset class. The UMA, or wrap account, allows the banker to place all of these diverse assets into one account. Doing so saves a lot of time and money. In turn, the bank has the ability to serve more clients, so it can be more profitable.
Indeed, the "wrap revolution" is an exciting development in how the financial services sector is evolving to meet the needs of its individual clients. It used to be that it was relatively inefficient for a bank to concentrate a lot of time on a single individual when it could be catering to a large institutional client instead. The development of innovative products like wrap accounts allow single consumers to get the kind of attention only the big institutional players would otherwise receive.
It's a fairly fine line we business leaders walk. On one side are shareholders and directors who scrutinize the bottom line. On the other are the people in our organizations whom we expect will create and maintain a pipeline of innovative offerings.
The issue is that the innovation process can be relatively expensive and unpredictable. Major shareholders and company directors obviously want the same results as your R&D people, but they prefer those results to happen within a specific set of cost guidelines. The reason you're in the C-suite to begin with is that you can presumably bridge those two outlooks and make the organization work as one.
When Eric Schmidt, the hard-driving CEO of Google, first joined that company in 2001, one of the young founders, Sergey Brin, told a reporter that Schmidt's appointment was to bring "parental supervision, to be honest" to the company. To me, that remark captures the essence of the kind of organization many of us are attempting to build in the digital world. We want to be as competitive as possible, especially with fierce, new upstarts nipping on our heels every day.
O'Reilly- When something is commoditized, an adjacent thing becomes valuable [Source:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Uy51k-x9MI]
As business leaders, we're faced with what often seem like endless opportunities to get out of the office and view our organizations from a fresh perspective. We attend retreats, conferences, and team-building days, just to name a few. These off-site gathering allow us to hear about the experiences of other executives.
One such executive is a veteran manager who was chosen as a fellow this past year at a prestigious business school. She has some extremely interesting reflections on what it takes for an established, long-serving company officer to stay innovative. Here are some of her insights, along with my additional comments.
First, know your customers. If you've seen the results of our sweeping survey, Engaging Digital Consumers, you're quite familiar with what we've been saying to our colleagues and clients alike: The digital world has empowered customers to such an extent that it's time to rewrite the playbook. The extent to which a company's consumer base can help it gain new insights has never been greater. That's why it's vital to make sure you have the best information-gathering tools at your disposal. But your organization should also be prepared to give your loyal customers something in return - be it a special deal on merchandise or a heads-up on an upcoming sale.
Gates: 'No Doubt' Wealthiest Have to Pay More Taxes [Source:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a1oVeU3igrY]
For decades, public aid agencies have raised money and attempted to boost the economies of emerging markets. Their formula was fairly standard: They donated funds to non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that in turn funded various local projects.
But two things happened. First, the global economy soured and a lot of the money raised by public aid agencies dried up. Second, NGOs began to see the limitations of what public funds could do to make a difference in the emerging markets. That's because public sector funding usually involves a specific goal like professional training in a certain industry.
Public efforts obviously had the best of intentions. But economists will tell you that an attempt to build a market artificially by training people for a certain task only goes so far. It's more effective to allow the forces of supply and demand to take hold. One of the reasons the emerging markets have become so vibrant is that private funding is becoming more popular. Unlike public sources, private funding usually targets an economy in such a way that it creates demand for goods and services.
Heart over Head- Recognising Emotion in Decision Making: Rebecca Stephens MBE at TEDxSPS [Source:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TNFJ3Zhy0Z4]
It's strategic planning time, ladies and gentlemen. So put on your decision-making caps.
As long as many of us can remember, corporate strategy has been all about decision-making of a rational, structured nature. We crowd into a room with a whiteboard and chart out where we want the organization to go. This activity is as old as the hills. It's not to be confused by a parallel development in the corporate world - the creative brainstorming session. Whether we're aware of it or not, we wear a different cap for this process.
Is it possible to put on the two caps at once? What I mean by this question is if we're able to make decisions that combine the tried and true structure of rational thought with intuition. There's a new school of thought that says business leaders are at their best if they can use both parts of their brain at once - the conscious half that governs rational thought and the subconscious, where we make our gut decisions.
TEDxDirigo - Paul Josephson - Why We All Need to Be Neo-Luddites [Source:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fsKHaCIwyaY]
Think back to how the garment workers of early 19th-century England must have felt. Technological advances and the mechanization of textile looms were making their centuries-old jobs pretty much obsolete.
The garment workers were frightened that the onset of even more mechanized looms would leave them unemployed. Led by a young worker named Ned Ludd, the rebellion of garment workers - or "Luddites" - included smashing the mechanical looms in hopes that their human skills would continue to be of value to the owners of the country's wool mills.
A funny thing, the march of progress is. Despite the best attempts of Luddites to put a wrench in the mechanized looms, those factories did indeed modernize. Although their fear was that they would be out of work, the people in England's industrial trades experienced a century of economic expansion and industrial growth. It seems the age of the machine helped create more jobs that were of a higher quality as well.
Consumerization of the Enterprise [Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z7ZfvAQSOB4]
The customer is always right.
For decades we've heard retail establishments proudly proclaim their commitment to placing customers first and making them the cornerstone of their business models. Today many large enterprises are waking up to the realization that their employees might be their most loyal customers. If that's the case, they should be listening to what the various members of their workforce have to say.
Infosys Finacle Mobile Banking - Simple, Secure, Future -Ready [Source:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qmvLX0eSl2Q]
Chances are you remember exactly where you were five years ago this month when the global economy began crashing down. "Financial Armageddon" was the term many an analyst and economist used to describe what happened during those frightening couple of weeks in September of 2008.
As with any traumatic event, we human beings tend to prefer not to think about what transpired. That's only natural. But if we can look back upon what led up to that meltdown and how our institutions handled it, we can learn a lot about how to prevent something like that from happening again. I think one of the positive things to have come out of the GEC is that banks are using technology in new and innovative ways, especially when it concerns their customers. Some aspects of mobile banking might be the keys to preventing another economic crisis.
First it helps to look at the crisis through both quantitative and qualitative lenses. If you view what happened quantitatively, a criticism might involve the sheer size of some of the banks - banks that were "too big to fail." Whatever your opinion on this matter, the American government made sure that many of those banks did not fail because of their Troubled Asset Relief Plan (or TARP). As a comparison, their neighbors to the north, the Canadian banks, tended to weather the crisis better because they'd taken fewer (and smaller) financial risks in the years leading up to the crisis.
Narayana Murthy on "Leadership" : Economic Times - The Power of Ideas [Source:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eTMN78iio0k&list=PL5A78EB670692772A]
Do you have what it takes to be an effective leader? More specifically, do you have what it takes to make a leader's checklist?
I ask because of new academic research on the importance of the actionable checklist in any organization. For instance, New York City's fire department, one of the largest in the world, has no less than 13 different checklists that its leaders must abide by in case of emergency - and the FDNY faces lots of emergencies. Their "Mayday" checklist includes things like ordering all unrelated two-way radio to stop and establishing a staging area for firefighters.
In the corporate world, Microsoft's sales managers use a pre-sales checklist that includes finding out who will be on the sales call, researching those people on an Internet search engine, and committing their sales pitch to memory. Another organizational checklist highlighted in a recent article I read included softer topics such as trying to see the world through clients' eyes and working with them to transcend conventional thinking.
Inspiring the next generation of female engineers: Debbie Sterling at TEDxPSU [Source:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FEeTLopLkEo]
Girls. And their education is a subject close to my heart. That's one of the reasons I also closely follow the activities of Infosys Foundation.
Part of the Infosys Foundation's mission is education. We've helped teach thousands of children across India. In the West we're active in a number of charitable efforts as well, not the least of which is sponsoring an entire class of students enrolled in the YWCA of Greater Atlanta's "Teen Girls in Technology" program (TGI Tech).
Energy Storage for the Age of Renewables: Prof. Dr. Eduard R. Heindl at TEDxStuttgart [Source:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XF7mbEsEP04]
Remember the major development of the Basel II accords that followed the global economic crisis? Bank governors huddling in a Swiss boardroom came up with a stress test to gauge how much liquidity banks needed to buffer them from another meltdown. Many banks found the test results to be sobering. They worked on stashing away more cash for the proverbial rainy day.
Municipalities up and down America's eastern seaboard continue to face record-breaking temperatures each year - heat waves that strain a utility's ability to provide service. Wouldn't it be great, utilities said, if they had sufficient energy reserves to keep their customers powered up during future heat waves? Unlike the cash reserves of banks, however, storing vast amounts of electricity is easier said than done.
Reuters Breakingviews: How to stop banks treating customers like meat [Source:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UeVchohzkeo]
Stripped down to its most basic elements, banking is a fairly straightforward business. A bank can make money on interest rate spreads or the fees it charges its customers. Beyond that, everything else is icing on the cake.
For the better part of a decade, financial services firms have expanded mainly thanks to the second way: increasing their existing fees and coming up with new ones. Credit the overall sluggish nature of the global economy for this phenomenon. When one business line becomes more challenging, it's common sense to ramp up your other source of income.
Winning the $30 trillion decathlon: Throwing accurately [Source:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1_ZhdTk7eBA]
An American venture capitalist with two decades worth of experience investing in India recently wrote that for the "start-up ecosystem" to flourish in South Asia, you need six key ingredients:
• Risk capital
• Inexpensive technology & communication infrastructure
• A talent pool
• Large markets and
• Purposeful government policy
Fair enough, I thought. The list is not unlike what made up the culture of Silicon Valley in the mid- to late-1990s. One element - a talent pool - is especially strong in India because of the young engineers returning home from top-notch universities in America and Western Europe. Plus, they've gotten first-hand exposure to companies such as Google, Facebook, Oracle, and HP both in the West and in India.
When one thinks of India, the aroma of spices is a natural association. Spices are not just about flavorsome food. It's also about the spice route that connected countries for trade in medieval times, often played a major role in the exchange of culture and art among the major civilizations of Europe and Asia. In fact, Vasco da Gama, the famous explorer, connected India with Portugal in 1498 via sea-route, in his search for spices that could preserve meat better! This became a game-changer in many ways as he found the maritime route connecting East with the West and this was to lead to a dramatic surge in commercial activities. This maritime innovation was a great shot in the arm for trade.
We learned recently that one of the greatest investors of all time, Carl Icahn, did what he's never did before: helped raise the stock price of a company by sending an upbeat Tweet about it. Talk about a powerful 140 characters. In this case the company was Apple, in which Icahn said he'd taken a large position and had enjoyed a nice discussion with CEO Tim Cook. Carl Icahn is a hardnosed businessman. What's interesting to him is innovation as far it feeds into the company's long-term success and earnings potential.
Jeff Bezos Advice to Entrepreneurs - Founder of Amazon.com
[Source:CorporateValley http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KVZAIss-A-Y ]
You're only as good as your last market disruption.
Don't think so? Well, let's consider how the stock market values innovation. Upon first glance there's no discernible pattern. But if you take a closer look at companies that have track records of relentlessly disrupting their markets and creating new ones, they're usually rewarded well beyond what traditional valuation methods would ever grant them.
Make no mistake: The stock market shrewdly takes notice of those companies that innovate once or twice and then rest on their laurels. In this unforgiving economy, a company must build a solid track record of disruption. Companies that we think of as one- or two-time innovators continue to be pummeled by the market ... even if strong earnings miss the even loftier expectations of investors and analysts.
Building a culture of innovation can sometimes mean starting with an open template. There exists no single, agreed-upon method for establishing a process for achieving innovation. So it's helpful to look at companies at various stages of their lifespans to see what works ... and what doesn't.
Mature companies derive their culture from many long standing factors -like leadership, processes, and values. Start-up firms, on the other hand, don't have the same business horizon. Their founders might have great ideas and a desire to change the world, but they also want to be (and need to be) rewarded quickly. Internet start-up CEOS are thinking about funding targets, the speed of technological change, consumer tastes, and a drive towards a buy-out or IPO. You can bet these factors influence how such companies seek out and define innovation.
Outreach Efforts to Create A Stronger, More Resilient New York [Source:mayorbloomberg]
When it comes to dealing with the effects of climate change, an ounce of prevention could be worth a pound of cure. At least that's what government officials are saying as they request enormous infusion of cash to gird municipalities against super-storms of the future.
Even the best meteorologists can't say for certain how slight changes in planetary temperature will affect oceans and weather currents over the next few decades. So, deciding how much to spend on so-called resiliency measures amounts to a profound leadership conundrum. An interesting example is New York City's mayor, Michael Bloomberg, who is different from many politicians in that before coming to government service, he was a businessman - and a very successful one at that. You might say that he understands the importance of return on investment very well.
What is DOGTV? [Source:DOGTVWORLD http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wLrAoEpyiP4]
A brilliant engineer who started and sold more companies than he could keep track of said he was in the mobile computing space because of just how quickly people have morphed into über-social beings.
I've never heard someone describe the mobile computing space as a chicken-or-egg scenario. Yet that's just what this venture capitalist did. He said he wasn't sure which came first: the urgent need to share the minutia of day-to-day life or the technology that enables us to do so. Either way, he said, it's a multibillion-dollar industry and it's growing bigger by the day.
We need a Plan B because, as the former president of Costa Rica, José María Figueres, says, "there is no Planet B."
Those of you who have been fortunate to travel to Costa Rica have probably come away impressed that the country's population is working towards the tenets of sustainability. When an entire nation can proclaim its appreciation for la pura vida (being full of life), we shouldn't be making excuses for our own communities and companies not doing the same.
President Figueres has joined a group of prominent political and business leaders, including Virgin Atlantic's Richard Branson, to form a global initiative called Plan B. Branson is already known for his company's Carbon War Room, which challenges his fellow entrepreneurs to begin putting their commitment to sustainability into practice.
Why is there an inverse correlation between the amount of time and money a municipality spends on creating an "innovation hub" and the actual innovation that comes out of it? I have my own theories.
Among the first things we learned in Economics 101 was Adam Smith's faith in the market's "invisible hand." In some ways, Smith's perspective mirrors what I've come to learn about entities that try to replicate Silicon Valley in their own backyards. They never can seem to find the right formula, despite support from the smartest academics and think tanks on the planet. Maybe they're trying too hard. Maybe they should allow a kind of invisible hand of innovation to take over.
Nobody ever said an innovative product on Wall Street assured immediate gratification.
Warren Buffett has tried to teach us otherwise. For decades he's been expounding Graham & Dodd's value investing mantra, initially to housewives in an Omaha classroom and eventually to the better part of the world. But it's easy to grow impatient with the Oracle of Omaha's measured approach to investing. If he can't immediately grasp how a business or a financial instrument operates, he tends to stay clear of it.
Being careful and investing with a long-term outlook is a trait that doesn't seem to sit well with some consumers in the digital age. They want immediate results and have grown accustomed to lightning fast transactions and communications. Why should the practice of investing be any different? Experiences created by the retail and internet businesses are spilling over to influence expectations from banking. People cannot wait over 30 seconds for a burger at their favorite fast food joint and are pampered by the likes of Google that delivers results even before a user completes her query. Little wonder, consumers expect instant gratification from everywhere. In fact, in the U.S, the average investment holding period dropped to less than 4 months in the year 2000 in contrast to nearly 16 years in the 60s-70s.
In 1948, shortly after the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi, the Nobel Peace Prize Committee declined to award a prize on the grounds that "there was no suitable living candidate" that year. Although nominated on multiple occasions, Gandhi never received the Nobel nod -- a dubious omission shared with the likes of Vaclav Havel for Peace, Leo Tolstoy for Literature and Dimitri Mendeleev for Chemistry.
Like most things, no doubt there were political issues behind these snubs. And though the Nobel Prizes still take pride of place in global awards recognizing the pinnacle of human achievement, there's no denying the symbolism of the awards being bestowed in a rarefied European court.
Too big to fail. We've heard this description uttered many times in the past few years by bankers and policy-makers alike. Some financial services institutions have become so enormous that if they were to go under, they'd pull many of us down with them.
Depending on your point of view, if a big bank is ailing then it pays to prop it up, at least until the bank can weather a financial storm or two. Another side of the argument is that the bank might operate more efficiently and need less outside assistance if it weren't so large.
Grassroots Innovation: Onion Transplanter, Pandharinath More [Source :http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z0WYreYP-B0]
You play the hand you've been dealt. Not only is this a good piece of advice for someone in the middle of a high stakes poker game, but those of us in other pursuits can live by it as well. I've listened to many competent professionals in Global 2000 companies (including my own) complain that if they only had an even larger budget they could develop better products.
Yet you don't have to look too far beyond the walls of corporate labs to see examples of amazing innovations born out of necessity and delivered on the tightest - and sometimes non-existent - budgets. The stories below validate my belief that breakthrough innovations that bring immediate and meaningful impact on peoples' lives can be found everywhere on any scale.
No Noise at Selfridges [Source:Selfridges http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a_BHskOcY7k]
The man who changed the face of shopping, Harry Gordon Selfridge, lived more than a century ago. His department store in London, with its dazzling window displays and helpful sales associates, made shopping - for the first time in history - less chore and more fun. His store continues to be a beloved part of the British retail scene.
There was another side to the American-born Selfridge. He is also known as a bit of a management guru. Thanks to the books he wrote about leadership and the history of the retail industry, we can continue to enjoy his wit and wisdom. Make no mistake: Selfridge's ideas are timeless and just as relevant today as they were in the early 20th century.
Mind the gap. Those of us who have ever spent time in London know of this signage in the city's many Underground stations. It's meant to remind us not to get our feet caught between the edge of the platform and the train. As we blaze a trail into the innovative world of tomorrow, It's a good idea to mind a different gap.
The one I speak of is the skills and talent gap facing many Global 2000 companies. The irony is that these companies tend to do business in countries that boast stellar university systems. It's within the walls of these colleges and universities that a significant share of the Western world's younger population graduates. Yet large corporations have trouble finding enough qualified candidates for job openings that demand specialized, high-tech skills. I'm not here to discuss the state of higher education in the Western world. I'm here to tell companies that they need to step up and make sure they have programs in place that help hone the talents of workers for the jobs of the 21st century. In Atlanta, where I work and live, the unemployment rate hovers between 7 and 9 percent. Yet there are plenty of jobs available in the metro Atlanta region. What's going on?
A significant part of the information revolution that's unfolded rapidly over the past several years is around metadata that can be sliced, diced and interpreted in such ways that organizations gain insights about their customers. We learn about behaviors as a group of course, but companies are going deeper to get a glimpse of an individual's tastes and preferences. This development gives enormous influence to consumers. So much so that companies need to accept the fact that consumers now have most of the power in a digital marketplace.
Not convinced? Well, individuals can disrupt or even shut down a business ultimately if they leverage their brand communities and social media outlets in certain ways. That's the stark change that's come about in the digital world. Imagine for a moment if the owner of a company said today that you could buy the product his company made in whatever color you wanted so long as it's black. I reckon that he would go out of business very quickly. Yet it's hard for some companies to grasp this fact. Yesterday's all-powerful organizations can no longer dictate to consumers what they want or need. A corporation has two choices: It can draw a line in the sand and challenge this convention. Or it can accept the new reality of the digital age and engage with its consumers to influence the conversation.
Leonardo da Vinci is best known for his paintings and frescoes. The piles of yellowed notes and diagrams he let pile up in his workshop might not be as beloved as the Mona Lisa, but they explain why multi-talented people are often referred to as Renaissance men (or women). When he wasn't painting, Leonardo was busy attempting to build helicopters, design plumbing networks, and create a host of other fascinating engineering projects. Five centuries on, we can confidently say that this famous artist never developed a workable helicopter. His drawings contain far more dead-ends and messy blueprints for never-realized projects than anything that was ever utilized. But that's part of why da Vinci's notebooks are so interesting to modern-day audiences. He's proof that innovation and creativity aren't necessarily neat, tidy, and the domain of people wearing white laboratory coats. Take another innovator, Thomas Edison. He was known to have experimented with thousands of different materials in his quest to find the optimal filament for a light bulb. His studio was always a cluttered mess. Creative types like Edison and da Vinci didn't view their efforts as searching for the right answer as much as they did searching for any answer. It's probably why, by redefining the question and becoming unbridled in their creative abilities, they were so successful in their various pursuits.
Man Of Steel - Official Teaser Trailer [Source: FilmTrailerZone http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ll39CAovGrg]
An entertainment industry analyst recently said that a decade ago, when Hollywood grasped the prospect of China and Russia becoming the world's biggest movie markets, American producers settled on a global formula for their exports. Both Chinese and Russian audiences favored big, splashy action scenes over long-winded dialogue - and moviegoers in both countries couldn't get enough special effects. Little wonder that every blockbuster released over the last few years is an action thriller. Hollywood learned very quickly to recognize the unique opportunities within the two emerging markets and adapt its products. It's why American movies continue to be so successful around the globe.
Hollywood isn't alone among big American industries as it learns from markets outside its traditional comfort zone. Internet companies in China are riding the wave of mobile innovation that's getting a lot of attention and competing for local talent. Well known internet analyst, Mary Meeker, says the development of Internet-based businesses in China is going to be very different from how things played out in the West. Plus, any company wanting to grow globally over the next decade would do well to focus on these distinctions. Meeker, as many of us remember, was among the very first dot-com analysts back in the 1990s. She's now a partner at Kleiner Perkins, the venture capital firm where she recently gave her annual Internet trends report.
Airtel Money, powered by Infosys WalletEdge, pushes the limits of financial inclusion in India
Google recently announced a plan to help build and maintain wireless networks across the emerging markets. Doing so could connect Google's lucrative ad-based model to billions of people who have yet to experience an Internet connection. Of course, reaching billions of people in places like South Asia and Africa may take a while. But do we really have any doubt their next market will be in outer space? I am kidding, of course. Well, just a little... What I mean is that these guys at Google have a track record of aggressively protecting and enhancing their revenue model. If you've watched their success over the last decade or two, you realize that this company defines inclusivity as more than simply reaching far and wide. It's more about maximizing market reach through new markets and services and dominating the market they're already in. Google's market is inclusive of the connected world.
In fact this concept of 'inclusivity' fits neatly into our New Commerce theme. And, we've done significant work with developing and deploying products for use and consumption in the emerging markets. After all, we were born in an emerging market country. Our heritage provides a key advantage in becoming and remaining a top global corporation that is nimble and understands the needs of every market and geographical area.
The beanbag and the red-felt billiard table - are two items that so embodied what it meant to be a hip dot-com start-up in the late 1990s. These two objects told the world that one's dot-com was all about tearing down the antiquated bricks-and-mortar business model. It also conveyed the distinct possibility that one was about to have an IPO that could potentially transform the entrepreneur and his dot-com buddies into multimillionaires. (at least on paper for a few weeks).
I'm kidding about the trappings for the most part, but not about chasing the element of cool and how that can often be a costly and futile activity. Simply being perceived as cool in the marketplace can have a low correlation to a firm's actual financial performance. Indeed, when it comes to a company's cool factor, bold, decisive actions in the marketplace tend to speak louder than the presence of beanbags in the reception area. Instead of focusing on long-term core values - to stakeholders, there's nothing cooler than that - companies sometimes get into the habit of chasing cool. When you chase something, you can place too much time and energy on differentiation for the sake of differentiation. Gains from such efforts can be fleeting.
Franz-Josef Schuermann, Country Head - Infosys Germany, with Aart de Geus, CEO, Bertelsmann Foundation
It's always encouraging to hear when the private sector offers hands-on solutions to the world's most pressing public problems. Take education. The Germans are well known for the unique way they structure their education system. From the time a student is enrolled in kindergarten, teachers begin assessing a child's intellectual strengths and weaknesses in order to channel them into various tracks.
One track is for the university-bound. These students will someday grow into refined, young adults reading Goethe, studying Nietzsche, and listening to Bach on Germany's ancient college campuses. Some of these college students will go on to graduate schools in various medical, legal, business, and artistic fields. Yet others are channeled into engineering schools, where they'll learn how to design and build the world's next generation of bridges, skyscrapers, and computers.
When the chairman of America's Federal Reserve - arguably one of the most powerful men on the planet - says he's not going to talk monetary policy, pay attention. That's one speech you won't want to miss. Ben Bernanke did indeed do such a thing at a commencement address recently at a small American liberal arts college. The business reporters in the audience were initially disappointed that Bernanke wouldn't be providing them clues as to where interest rates would be headed in the coming months. But those who listened to his fascinating address on the power of innovation came away with some terrific insights.
Of course, the Fed chairman aimed his remarks at a bunch of wide-eyed graduates, ready to brave the real world, get jobs, and make a difference in society. Bernanke addressed something a lot of folks have wondered about for the last few decades: Is this the end of a century-long economic boom? Are our best days of innovation and exciting, life-changing inventions behind us? If you compare your lifestyle with that of your grandparents, you might say yes. In their lifetimes, they enjoyed jet travel, nice cars, long distance telephone calls, and access to quality health care. Our lives aren't that different from what they experienced.
Mayor Gregory Ballard and Winnie Ballard planting a tree in the Infosys Hyderabad campus to commemorate their visit
The sport's most passionate fans, the entire city abuzz, and the sound of roaring engines - that's what people think of when the Indianapolis 500 comes to mind.
Not too far from the famous speedway, however, there's another race going on right now. This one lacks the sounds and drama of the Indy 500, but it's critically more important to the citizens of this Midwestern city. The race is to make Indianapolis one of the major Information Technology hubs of the 21st century.
In the pole position is the city's mayor, Gregory Ballard. He just returned to Indiana from India, a goodwill trip when I met with him at the Hyderabad campus. We talked about business partnerships and I believe Ballard got a glimpse of the transformational work we do for our Global Clients in the Hyderabad Campus of Infosys.
Patrick Adamcik, ConCert Project Director, DNV discusses about business sustainability
The BRICS countries - Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa - are big places with rapidly growing populations and expanding economies. So when a renowned think tank says that Infosys is among the five most sustainable companies in all of those countries, it's a distinction for us to celebrate.
I say this because sustainability isn't always cheap. It's not always easy. And it's certainly not the most popular set of programs to foster when the global economy is stuck in neutral and shareholders scrutinize every corporate activity for its cost-effectiveness. We have been a sustainable company through thick and thin, and we believe that our serious, long-lasting commitment to the environment - physical, social and economic - continues to pay off in a number of ways.
Mater artium necessitas. Or in English: Necessity is the mother of invention. We, in the technology world, certainly owe a lot to necessity. You can look at necessity a number of ways:, such as drive or ambition or determination. These qualities are all part of the culture of a great technology-based organization. But while we're analyzing old phrases, what's also noteworthy about the one I've just shared is that it links invention (or innovation, if you'd like) to a mother. Because the U.S and urban India celebrated Mother's Day this weekend, I thought it would be fitting to look at what influence our moms have had on the world of technology and human progress in general.
I came across a wonderful essay in the Wall Street Journal earlier this week from a technologist who likens her experience with raising her four children to creating a more efficient organization. At first she admits that she knows she might offend some readers with her premise - how "arrogant" she might come across for recommending that a good leader parents her employees. Instead, what she is saying is that her parenting helped her understand the different styles and personalities of people around her. And, more importantly, how to motivate and challenge them against the background of a technology company.
(L)County Executive Isiah Leggett, Montgomery County, Maryland and Eric Paternoster, Member of the Board, CEO and President, Infosys Public Services (R)inaugurate Infosys Public Services new HQ and first delivery center in US.
Infosys Public Services is at the forefront of the transformation of the healthcare industry and its relationship with the public sector. That's why I'm excited about the company's new headquarters and delivery center in Rockville, Maryland. The combined facility reinforces our commitment to our clients and to the communities in which we operate.
Infosys, our parent company, set up Infosys Public Services as a separate American subsidiary in 2009. Doing so let us bring the best of both worlds to healthcare and to the public sector. Along the way, we've developed innovative industry solutions. Better still, we've tapped into the expertise of our parent company, an expansive global corporation.
Read Clayton Christensen's How Will You Measure Your Life? yet? After the wild success of his book The Innovator's Dilemma in the late 1990s, this Harvard Business School professor seems to have delivered another hit because the author once again requires the reader to make some tough decisions about how one relates to one's surroundings.
I came across a recent interview with Christensen in which the professor discusses making life decisions based on full value rather than marginal value. What does he mean by this distinction? For example, making a decision based on expediency is often based on the assumption that you will pay a small, marginal cost. But Christensen warns that in the end, you always end up paying up for expenses you never thought you would have to face. "This goes on in your personal life just as much as it does when you invest in setting up a sales force," he says in the interview.
The Infosys Foundation recently had the pleasure of recognizing two Google Fellows for their accomplishments, much of which laid the groundwork for what we know today as cloud computing. Our company and its charitable foundation are always looking to foster education and innovation wherever it might be.
A very successful private equity investor once shared with delegates of a packed conference that he spends more time on the road than he does in his office. The reason, he said, is that he wants to see firsthand the types of companies in which his firm is considering investing. Not only that, but he would go to exotic lands during theworst times (weather-wise) of the year. Monsoons would hit the coasts, earthquakes would shake cities, and snowstorms would cripple roads and airports. It wasn't a fun task, he said, but it allowed him to see how the land's commercial enterprises faced challenging situations. Being a private equity investor is about identifying growth where others can't. The globetrotting on the part of this particular financier was just one of his tactics to identify which foreign companies had systems and processes in place to deal with unexpected events.
Sports analogies in the business world are admittedly somewhat overdone. But I do want to share something I witnessed recently when I watched one of the world's greatest basketball coaches comment on his secrets for success.
The coach is an American named Rick Pitino, who recently led the University of Louisville to his country's national collegiate championship. One of the sportscasters pulled aside Pitino for an interview before the final championship game. He told the coach that he'd been watching the team throughout the month-long basketball tournament and one thing became clear: That the team tended to play its best game when it was losing. Coach Pitino paused for a moment and thought about the sportscaster's peculiar comments. Then he explained why he thought his team raised the level of its game every time it looked as though they didn't have a chance of winning.
Airtel executives discuss how 'airtel money', powered by Infosys WalletEdge, pushes the limits of financial inclusion in India
The artist Willem de Kooning, a master of Abstract Expressionism, once said that he had to change in order to stay the same. He was speaking about his art, but I suppose a technology innovator could be in that same frame of mind when thinking about his inventions.
Technological innovations - the really good ones, at least - help us to live our lives to the fullest but without really noticing the technological interference. Consider for a moment the convergence of personal computers and mobile telephones. To the business world and to society in general, this development was profound. People could conduct business wherever they were because of the computational power of the communications devices in their hands. Yet as people and as businesses they were essentially the same. They communicated and computed for decades before convergence. They simply were able to do so in different ways and with little notice to the major technological changes that underscored it all.
Edward Rybicki, Process Integration Officer, Volkswagen Group of America, on Infosys' long-term approach to IT.
Remember when the Saturn brand took the car world by storm 20 years ago? They shook up the industry by offering no-hassle pricing, friendly sales associates, and plastic, dent-resistant panels that could hold up to the meanest, run-away shopping cart in a parking lot. But the brand's initial appeal wore off after a while. For starters, the company failed to anticipate that loyal Saturn owners would be looking to upgrade to a larger, fancier model. They didn't have such a model ready for showrooms until five or so years after the brand's launch.
In an industry filled with testosterone-laden wannabes and nubile starlets, one of Bollywood's leading lights has had nearly half a decade in the business. A superstar who needs no introduction. How does he do it? Genius? Beyond doubt. A great work ethic? Absolutely. But above all it's because he has reinvented himself to stay relevant over the years. And repeatedly raised the game. While no one gets a prize for guessing who I am talking about, the septuagenarian superstar is Amitabh Bachchan.
Is there a lesson here that one of India's greatest exports can give to another?
I got into a friendly debate recently with a friend about the level of IT investment necessary for competiveness. My friend's organization was spending upwards of 3% of revenue on IT. To put this into context, the benchmark for IT spending as a percentage of revenue for their peers in the industry is in the region of 1.8% to 2.3%. So, does that mean that a company, which spends 3% has got it all wrong?
Industrialization of banking is driving the business to become simpler, more efficient and yet more robust. There's also the growing importance of developing a seamless multi-channel strategy, while optimizing banking infrastructure and managing challenges around evolving global compliance. These themes will fuel and accelerate the growth of tomorrow's banks. Creating paths to new markets and giving birth to new products. It 'll shape thinking about how banks can thrive. And how leaders will look for answers as important as the right questions you ask. More and more of these answers will come from the world of technology.
There's a saying on Wall Street that two emotions drive investors into the market: fear and greed. But there's only one element that keeps investors on the sidelines: uncertainty. Once uncertainty is removed and investors can see signs that the market is headed one direction or another, things heat up.
For American healthcare, any uncertainty around reform legislation was effectively laid to rest last year. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) will more or less remain intact despite a long history of controversy - including a Supreme Court challenge.
When we moved into NJ from Boston, we bought a house with a large, unfinished basement. To my wife, who enjoys painting, that space downstairs was a blank canvas. There were all sorts of things she wanted to do with the basement, including, of course, adding an art studio. As she began to surf the web looking to implement her renovation ideas, she came across a company that allows you to create your own nameplate for the front of your house or mailbox. Her experience with that company is an ideal example of the three important foundations on which effective and innovative organizations operate: mass customization, and maintaining relevant knowledge.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) is going to have a profound effect on all aspects of life, particularly for the nearly 50 million Americans who will now be part of the healthcare system.
The plan aims to make comprehensive healthcare more accessible and affordable to all Americans. The more that both individuals and companies know about how this transformation will effect them, the better they'll be able to position themselves to take advantage of all its intended benefits. Indeed, fully implementing such a sweeping policy change is going to be the biggest challenge.
At the beginning of the 20th century, the world was fixated for a few months on a tiny farming community outside Dearborn, Michigan. It was in the hamlet of River Rouge that Henry Ford had decided to build a factory the likes of which had never been seen. It was a grand manufacturing experiment - un-forged metal and other raw resources would go in one end and a shiny new car would come out the other.
Part of the pleasure of reading a good book is being able to share it with friends and colleagues. And because Infosys provides me with this space to blog about topics like innovation and creating smarter organizations, I can supply you with a digest of some of my reading that's relevant to these areas.
In that spirit, I highly recommend Doing Capitalism in the Innovation Economy by William H. Janeway. The author is a venture capital veteran who provides a fascinating glimpse into a rarified niche of the financial world, especially as to how VC firms funded the first modern technology start-ups of the 1970s and '80s.
I'm in the power business. It's my job to make sure energy companies around the world transform themselves into modern organizations.
From my office in Los Angeles, I work with utilities around the world that are in various stages of development. In India, for example, they're dealing with a population boom where a sizeable chunk of the country is entering the middle class. That crowd wants electricity to power air conditioners, computers, and kitchen appliances. India's challenge is to build power plants fast enough to keep up with demand. In the United States, it's a different story. Mass expansion of the electric network happened more than 100 years ago. The challenge for American Utilities is to update much of that aging infrastructure.
"Now don't get me wrong. I like innovation; just not too much of it." That's what I imagine I would hear if I were a fly on the wall of certain corporate headquarters these days. Large companies that once zealously guarded their technological innovations are now opening the floodgates of access to such technology. Yet, they're grappling with just how wide they should throw open those floodgates. Indeed, it's a delicate balance: If there's too little innovation on the part of your collaborators, you're pretty much out the game. But if they take what you gave them and innovate too much, they stand to take control of the very technology you once called your own.
Like it or not, we tend to think in extremes: He is incompetent. This job stinks. I am a failure. My boss loves me. This idea is perfect. She is an angel.
But there's a danger of looking at the world in black and white. I am reminded of a recent webinar hosted by Hitendra Wadhwa, a professor at Columbia Business School. His fascinating presentation was titled The Power of Paradox: How to Unlock Your Full Potential by Embracing Opposing Ideas. Wadhwa explains how some of the world's most effective business leaders are incredibly adept at seeing issues in shades of gray. "Great achievers through the ages have secretly cultivated a powerful discipline that has allowed them to operate at their highest potential in life and leadership," Wadha says. "Rather than choosing between two opposing thoughts, values, traits, beliefs or emotions, they have stepped up their game by simultaneously embracing opposites."