Inbound GPS systems – really !!

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I read a new article in NewScientist that they are trying to create new innovations around Inbound navigation systems. While the concept does not seem so attractive it has its own merits. For a usual technologist,, it would look strikingly similar to Bluetooth or Wi-Fi or for that matter any of the short range communication systems. I would not deny that.

If i understand it right, it might be something like this, when you are talking about the GPS systems you get the co-ordinates. In the same way, you restrict yourself to a sphere of lets say 10 mts radius and then

Like a lot of fantasy ideas i have seen in the past couple of years, this one also includes bringing lot of players to the table and then convincing each one of them that it would profitable for ‘them’ and then create an end-end product.

Lets take a typical example, how do i use inbound navigational systems in my home ?

image

As the example seems ironical, how can my refrigerator move over time ? It is in the same place since the last 4 years. Right, your refrigerator is still but you are not. The controller for this GPS systems can be your watch or your mobile phone for example. Then as your watch / mobile phone moves out of the range of the GPS systems, the temperature is kept moderate in the room / refrigerator. If you walk into the perimeter, it will start to make ice.

One more example is that, you can configure your system such that as long as the remote control of the TV is not in 1 meter radius from the TV it is assumed that your watching it. Put the Remote 1 meter closer to it to switch it off. Not a very good use case.

These are couple of examples. It may go well with Stadiums, Theaters, Music Shows, parking lots etc etc.

Innovation in Africa ..

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One among the major assets of a country or an organization is the incremental innovation activities and their impact on their Economy. Africa, as we all know is a developing nation. But considering the amount of natural resources they hold they should been on the top of the world long time ago. Unfortunately their slavery ended much later than on other continents. They are coming back on the track !

UN, World Bank, IMF and other NGO’s have offered great help to build up the nation which was backward even with respect to the GDP and even basic amenities. Now they are one of the fastest growing nations. I read a quote some that went like, Innovation comes from limitation and scarcity. When you have limited resources and you have much to achieve you walk forward as a nation by over coming difficulties.  There cannot be any compromise over such activities.

As we understand, the nation’s or an organization or a community will always have limited resources. ECON C 101 :).

To Quote an example, William Kamkwamba and the wind mill is the best example one can give. One of the impressive writings from him is “The Boy who harnessed the wind”. Its a story about how he used the limited resources he had to solve a problem in the community. More people were inspired after reading his writing. Book

Most of the innovations in Africa are around irrigation, agriculture, Energy Harvesting, Health Care and Tools used in the daily life. Dont live with the problem, try to find a solution for it.

You can find more information in these websites.

This initiative is very good. A list of projects is here under.

  • A pedal powered hacksaw for the disabled
  • Recycling car batteries in Rural Kenya
  • Solution for Nairobi Blackouts
  • Football: Made in Africa
  • A Wearable Flexible Solar Panel Vest and many more….

Ethan Zuckerman has written a beautiful blog on the proceedings related to Africa and Innovation. You can find it here.

He has written 7 rules of innovation which are below.

  • Innovation (often) comes from constraint (If you’ve got very few resources, you’re forced to be very creative in using and reusing them.)
  • Don’t fight culture (If people cook by stirring their stews, they’re not going to use a solar oven, no matter what you do to market it. Make them a better stove instead.)
  • Embrace market mechanisms (Giving stuff away rarely works as well as selling it.)
  • Innovate on existing platforms (We’ve got bicycles and mobile phones in Africa, plus lots of metal to weld. Innovate using that stuff, rather than bringing in completely new tech.)
  • Problems are not always obvious from afar (You really have to live for a while in a society where no one has currency larger than a $1 bill to understand the importance of money via mobile phones.)
  • What you have matters more than what you lack (If you’ve got a bicycle, consider what you can build based on that, rather than worrying about not having a car, a truck, a metal shop.)
  • Infrastructure can beget infrastructure (By building mobile phone infrastructure, we may be building power infrastructure for Africa.)

Some info on : Dealing with Matured Markets

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Thanks for the linked in users for their comments on the discussion.

I have consolidated the discussion below.

Analyze your current situation

You are a start up and trying to enter into the matured market :

Unless you have distinct technology or pricing strategy it is not advisible. Bare guts will only make you lose money.

You are an established organization and you are seeing declining sales :

One of the reasons this might happen is the out-of-sync state between your Commercial-Technical teams. And one can assume that is the reason behind that might be a new disruptive technology.

You are an established organization and want to increase market share :

Improvement / Extension & Something new

Lets say it is late 1990’s : Company X has been in Auto industry and they thought it was time to focus on refreshing themselves and bring a new meaning for their product ( a car ). So, they sat down and started discussing. They found some interesting points.

Optimization :

Customers are buying what we are selling but we want to give them a better product. Lets bring in the best possible of every part. Lets try focusing in the order of impact on the market.

Engines – Consume less oil and give good mileage. That will make the car more economical and will act as a good pick for the new customer. Interesting !

Suspension – Feel of the drive must be improved. Customer is willing to let go on 2 miles less per gallon of gas, but he wants a comfortable drive. Lets make the suspension engines better to reduce the noise of the car and in turn provide a better user experience.

Design– Attractive interiors and new shape of the car. That is the WOW ! factor for any product. Its like the BMW factor for people like me. They just want to own it ! I am still working on that though ! I don’t think i can make it any time soon. Anyways ! People want good looking cars. Every one who comes in wants to see something very new for an affordable price.

The discussion continued and they did not ‘even’ leave Tires presuming the fact that there must 4 for a car. They looked at their Tire vendors catalogues looking for a better one !

Finally out of these they pick the top three and will start working on them. They just want it to be better.

Something New :

They started talking about Adding accessories like Bluetooth car kits etc etc.

This something new is of course not so easy to find but you need to look at other industries to find that something new in your industry. That is like putting a TV in the mobile phone, a GPS in the car
so on and so forth.

What can be very new in a car? Faster engine, hmm, where do we get it? They went in search of race car engines and started putting in those in the regular cars. Faster cars for everybody. Later Ferrari realized why can’t i do that? They started making Ferrari cars and it again became something ordinary.

The possible solution according to ones market might finally end up being pricing strategy or going in search of new customers overseas or moving horizontally into other markets where your technology ( but not the product are applicable ! ).

Strategic Innovation .. A View Point !!

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Corporate industries are growing at an exponential rate in today’s market space. Big players like Motorola are coming down due to lack of innovation in the right direction. After a big hit razr the mamoth organization came tumbling down for there was never a diversified product after it.
Ironically even big player’s will some times fail to innovate and fall pray to cut throat competition.
The Lion’s Share of innovation always comes from the wrong person in the wrong place in the wrong industry at the wrong time in conjunction with the wrong user.
— Tom Peters
Industry is now in a situation where in it has to innovate constantly or fall prey for its competitors.
The chances that a big scheme of innovation will succeed are very low. It often comes from the simple observation of the procedings in the market place or in the organization it self.
Listed below are few of the many areas which can be dealt with.
Technology planning ( Clear Road map )
Optimization ( Applying schemes like 6 Sigma to optimize each sector of the organization there by making the entire organization optimized )
Breakthrough in the technical domain or making something clearly new
Many more .. list is left to ones’ imagination and understanding of the system.
Some contradictory use cases of managing innovation are below. They are often called as myths in the industry.
I would like to spill out some personal thoughts and those of Tom Peters on the same.
Its not strategic planning with innovative projects, its Play Along !
Strategic planning “will” lead to the “no surprise” outcome but there is always ambiguity to be dealt with in business innovation.
The French army ( 1930 ) invested billions of dollars on the Magnoit line after long and hard study and understanding of the war situations. They were flanked in no time by the flexible German tank strategy.  Mainframe computers came into the market with a prediction of a handful (!) to be sold.
They thought the only buyers are labs ( Bell, Census Bureau etc ). Contrary to that when Xerox introduced high end offset printing technology, the market estimate was 70,000 units. But the intial sale was about 7,000. Both of them are now unquestionably one of the biggest markets in the world (Main frame computers and Printers ! ).
More examples include the mergers and acquisitions that have failed during the 2007-2008 time frame. All of them were strategically planned. Only 4% actually made it through to be successful.
The reason is classical, Not everything that looks good on paper will actually work out to be a good option in the real world.
Strategy works as long as it is flexible enough to accomodate changes real time due to the ambigous market scenarios. There are more than enough failures reported on “sitting and thinking for a long time and the whole thing went for a toss” strategy. Mixture wanted !!
Full planning on an innovation project, may be not a good idea !
Complete technical information and Market reasearch that really makes sense will make sure that the plan is always intact and makes sure an initiative meets its goal. Simulation cannot take you too far, you must always experiment with real products and real customers. Then they will know of the changes that must be made.
Any company which sees a good idea will try to put it into implementation. Lets say, they have put $x million and lot of resources. As the idea tries to turn out after a couple of months, they see some bottle neck which they started hands on with the idea. But the competitor moved ahead of you in that region, by following an alternate approach. Now you are struck in the same bottle neck and you are not sure if you should drop and follow the competetor and deal with IP issues later or you should keep burning money in the same direction.
The question there is why did you not try to do it first after some initial analysis ? Most of the time it will turn out to be following the competetor. If you had taken pre-emptive measures for this and apply the Plan-Execute entangle method you will not be in that situation in the first place.
Split the task into parts and start proceding in that direction, if you see major bottle neck you can drop it there it self and proceed in another direction.
There is also the possibility that if you dont plan at all, you will end up creating a mess ..
If you dont execute at all, competitor might move forward in that direction and supply the product before you. And you will be the one paying the royalty, if IP is involved.
Creative Results need time for development process or “Try it Now !”
Planning an entire development process and then coming up with problems is double waste of time. Always try things than thinking for too long. It saves time and gives better approach.
It is obviously plan and execute but not in series, it is in parallel.
Idea to End product always needs a catalyst. In Tom Peter’s words they are called as champions.
Experimental thinking is a champion’s quality. You need to experiment your idea first. Lot of the ideas go down the drain because sometimes they dont end up being a successful product / Process.
They are the people who can take failures, set backs and still keep moving with the same speed.
Building Teams that work !
Organization comes up with an initiative and usually if its big they tend move lot of employees into it and start running with a big strategy. Keep it simple is the mantra ! What do you really want to achieve ? This is the mistake usually done by big companies with lot of liquid cash to dispense.
Apple was started in a garage with handful of motivated engineers ( Steve Jobs did not even graduate ! ) and they knew exactly what they were doing.
Have a big team is not the key. Having a focused team in which roles are well defined is the solution. Observe the Big teams in the organization funcnationality, you will see a lot of overlap of work assignment. This usually happens in mamoth organizations where Time to Market converts itself to commitment in big numbers but the original force would be just half of what they have, with a clear boundary.
This is always a debatable topic but the point here is what do you really want and what kind of team do you think can really achieve this.
Highily innovative and creative projects are usually done by small and structured teams with aweful lot of focus and motivation.
We can go on and on .. There are scores of books on these topics.
But the point is idea thats are great, execution that perfect and fast, optimized time to market and making it better the next time. Most of all, if one approach fails, forget it ! Move to next.
Thats plain simple innovation strategy.

Corporate industries are growing at an exponential rate in today’s market space. Big players like Motorola are coming down due to lack of innovation in the right direction. After a big hit razr the mamoth organization came tumbling down for there was never a diversified product after it.

Ironically even big player’s will some times fail to innovate and fall pray to cut throat competition.

The Lion’s Share of innovation always comes from the wrong person in the wrong place in the wrong industry at the wrong time in conjunction with the wrong user.

— Tom Peters

Industry is now in a situation where in it has to innovate constantly or fall prey for its competitors.

The chances that a big scheme of innovation will succeed are very low. It often comes from the simple observation of the procedings in the market place or in the organization it self.
Listed below are few of the many areas which can be dealt with.

  • Technology planning ( Clear Road map )
  • Optimization ( Applying schemes like 6 Sigma to optimize each sector of the organization there by making the entire organization optimized )
  • Breakthrough in the technical domain or making something clearly new
  • Many more .. list is left to ones’ imagination and understanding of the system.

Some contradictory use cases of managing innovation are below. They are often called as myths in the industry.

I would like to spill out some personal thoughts and those of Tom Peters on the same.

Its not strategic planning with innovative projects, its Play Along !

Strategic planning “will” lead to the “no surprise” outcome but there is always ambiguity to be dealt with in business innovation.

The French army ( 1930 ) invested billions of dollars on the Magnoit line after long and hard study and understanding of the war situations. They were flanked in no time by the flexible German tank strategy.  Mainframe computers came into the market with a prediction of a handful (!) to be sold.

They thought the only buyers are labs ( Bell, Census Bureau etc ). Contrary to that when Xerox introduced high end offset printing technology, the market estimate was 70,000 units. But the intial sale was about 7,000. Both of them are now unquestionably one of the biggest markets in the world (Main frame computers and Printers ! ).

More examples include the mergers and acquisitions that have failed during the 2007-2008 time frame. All of them were strategically planned. Only 4% actually made it through to be successful.

The reason is classical, Not everything that looks good on paper will actually work out to be a good option in the real world.

Strategy works as long as it is flexible enough to accomodate changes real time due to the ambigous market scenarios. There are more than enough failures reported on “sitting and thinking for a long time and the whole thing went for a toss” strategy. Mixture wanted !!

Full planning on an innovation project, may be not a good idea !

Complete technical information and Market reasearch that really makes sense will make sure that the plan is always intact and makes sure an initiative meets its goal. Simulation cannot take you too far, you must always experiment with real products and real customers. Then they will know of the changes that must be made.

Any company which sees a good idea will try to put it into implementation. Lets say, they have put $x million and lot of resources. As the idea tries to turn out after a couple of months, they see some bottle neck which they started hands on with the idea. But the competitor moved ahead of you in that region, by following an alternate approach. Now you are struck in the same bottle neck and you are not sure if you should drop and follow the competetor and deal with IP issues later or you should keep burning money in the same direction.

The question there is why did you not try to do it first after some initial analysis ? Most of the time it will turn out to be following the competetor. If you had taken pre-emptive measures for this and apply the Plan-Execute entangle method you will not be in that situation in the first place.

Split the task into parts and start proceding in that direction, if you see major bottle neck you can drop it there it self and proceed in another direction.

There is also the possibility that if you dont plan at all, you will end up creating a mess ..

If you dont execute at all, competitor might move forward in that direction and supply the product before you. And you will be the one paying the royalty, if IP is involved.

Creative Results need time for development process or “Try it Now !”

Planning an entire development process and then coming up with problems is double waste of time. Always try things than thinking for too long. It saves time and gives better approach.

It is obviously plan and execute but not in series, it is in parallel.

Idea to End product always needs a catalyst. In Tom Peter’s words they are called as champions.

Experimental thinking is a champion’s quality. You need to experiment your idea first. Lot of the ideas go down the drain because sometimes they dont end up being a successful product / Process.

They are the people who can take failures, set backs and still keep moving with the same speed.

Building Teams that work !

Organization comes up with an initiative and usually if its big they tend move lot of employees into it and start running with a big strategy. Keep it simple is the mantra ! What do you really want to achieve ? This is the mistake usually done by big companies with lot of liquid cash to dispense.

Apple was started in a garage with handful of motivated engineers ( Steve Jobs did not even graduate ! ) and they knew exactly what they were doing.

Have a big team is not the key. Having a focused team in which roles are well defined is the solution. Observe the Big teams in the organization funcnationality, you will see a lot of overlap of work assignment. This usually happens in mamoth organizations where Time to Market converts itself to commitment in big numbers but the original force would be just half of what they have, with a clear boundary.

This is always a debatable topic but the point here is what do you really want and what kind of team do you think can really achieve this.

Highily innovative and creative projects are usually done by small and structured teams with aweful lot of focus and motivation.

We can go on and on .. There are scores of books on these topics.

But the point is idea thats are great, execution that perfect and fast, optimized time to market and making it better the next time. Most of all, if one approach fails, forget it ! Move to next.

Thats plain simple innovation strategy.

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