Last month we attended the “Game Changing Technology” Conference, organized by SVForum at Microsoft’s office in Mountain View. The event was about adopting a long-term perspective and looking at a wide array of technologies that could potentially have a disruptive impact on various aspects of our lives 5 to 10 years from today. The conference touched a broad range of areas, including more traditional topics such as the future of computing and enterprise software but also emerging industries such as Human-Computer and Human-Brain interfaces. It concluded with a presentation on innovation foresight, showing a framework on how to understand and identify emerging technologies.
It is widely believed that one of the most promising technologies of the next few years, with a fundamental impact on many industries will be 3D Printing. Also known as additive manufacturing, 3D Printing generally describes the process of creating a three dimensional object by laying down successive layers of material such as plastic, metal or glass. This process allows for the creation of any shape or object with a mix of different materials from a single CAD (Computer-aided-design) 3D file, making it possible to physically produce anything that can be envisioned and designed on a computer.
Last April, Berlin’s startup scene got to show off its best and brightest at the NEXT Berlin Conference in Alexanderplatz. Corporate behemoths like Deutsche Telekom and Telefónica appeared alongside fledgling startups like Etsy and Uber, while putting on a showcase of the newest tech-ideas that Berlin has to offer.
With a barrage of startup pitches, speeches from tech-gurus, and gadgets on display, the conference offered a deep insight into the current state as well as the future of one of the world’s fastest growing tech scenes.
The question is whether Berlin lives up to its tech-hype.
The smartphone market is today becoming increasingly polarized between high-end devices from Samsung and Apple, and low-end smartphones being rolled out by Chinese OEMs such as Huawei and ZTE. As Apple’s dominance declines, new players emerge and middle ground players struggle to find their niche the industry is undergoing a next wave. So what’s going on in the pricing war in the smartphone arena and what’s the future outlook?
A recent move by the French Regulator calling for an investigation into Skype for failing to register as a Telecom operator has caused some rumbles within the OTT ecosystem. This is being carefully watched by players on both sides, since an affirmative outcome could have a ripple effect. At the core of the issue is the question of where do the liabilities and responsibilities of the OTT players end when it comes to communication services. Telecommunication providers not only have to provide for emergency calling, but also allow for legal intercept – this does not a very trivial affair, especially for smaller, specialized players who simply do not have (or afford) such infrastructure.
Today, only 7% of clothes in the US are currently purchased online compared to 61% of books and 52% of consumer electronics devices. Even more startling, up to 40% of apparel bought online is typically returned. 60% of customers state “misfit” as top reason for sending back items. These statistics have two major implications: First, the online retail apparel market in the US is worth US$ 26B – a figure way below its potential compared to the total market size of US$ 371B. Secondly, the frictions on the supply chain side of the retailer for online apparel purchases are significant. Re-packing, re-shipping and even writing off items returned in bad shape or too late in the season to be sold again is a significant cost.
Along with the current imperative for innovation comes the need to adequately measure and steer a firm’s innovation activities. However, conventional performance measurement approaches alone are rather ill-suited for this purpose: financial returns occur with a significant delay, and it is generally difficult to isolate the role of innovation from other business activities in terms of overall company performance. Traditional KPI systems tend to reward meeting budgets and avoiding risk, effectively penalizing bold and entrepreneurial behavior. However, uncertainty and novelty are at the heart of the innovation task, making it a necessity for measurement systems to acknowledge these rather unique aspects as well.
Zipcar’s recent agreement to be acquired by Avis Budget Group has the potential to change the face of the car sharing and rental industries as we know them. The partnership creates an opportunity for the aging car rental giant Avis to revive itself, while Zipcar gets a boost from the infrastructure and inventory of Avis car rental system. Where there are significant gains to be had from the merger in terms of synergies, there is a risk that a forced collaboration between two companies with divergent business models can spell an end to the very innovative services that brought Zipcar its recent successes.
LAS VEGAS, 2013. A lot happens at CES and this year was not the exception. This summary is intended to leave you with a good idea of what took place, what were some interesting products and make sense of where we think the industry is going based on what we saw about the show.
We haven’t quite seen any gleaming success stories about JOYN in the press which however has been full of joyful heralds from the likes of WhatsApp – the news from August 2012 was that they were handling over 10 billion messages on a daily basis, up from 2 billion per day in March.
When we first previously looked at JOYN, we speculated that there were a few routes (or hybrids thereof) which an operator could take in response to this increasing threat. Now as the smoke clears it appears that strategies such as JOYN haven’t quite made it to the most preferred list. What we have been seeing are strategic alliances with the likes of WhatsApp. In just the past few weeks WhatsApp has announced strategic partnerships with 3 in Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia and Chile. There is every sign that this trend will increase and most likely accelerate over the coming months.