Opening Ourselves Up to the Innovation Mashup

Mash Up VisualSometimes some things come slower than others, and then they suddenly rear up and hit you. We don’t make all the connections we should; we are too caught up in our little world, beating our existing drum, drowned out by its own noise, to step back and appreciate something new is really happening.

Recently I was investigating one strand of thought and then bingo! Something else, leads to something else and the rest, so to speak, becomes history.

I’ve been reflecting on the new era of innovation and opening myself up to exploring alternatives, different thoughts, discussions and viewpoints. Underlying this is a growing sense of my convictions, still partly forming, malleable but trying to drive certain ‘stakes’ into the ground to keep testing and improving on a hypothesis or two; that innovation and its management definitely has to change, and fast!

Of course the cloud figures in this as a whole new different way to orchestrate innovation. More on that at another time as I need to get into some more robust discussions with one or two others on this and expand on my own position a lot more.

My recent ‘bingo’ moment was as I was listening to a round-table discussion within GE and its lighting division with a panel of outside thinkers. Beth Comstock, Senior Vice-President and Chief Marketing Officer was chairing the discussion, so it will always stay lively and stimulating and it did not disappoint on that. Her throwaway line at the end of the panel session was “Perhaps the headline here is the Big Data Mash Up”.

Mash-up?  So am I missing a certain beat here? Or does it fit into my thinking

This started me off – Mash Ups, Ecosystems, Platforms, Big Data so how about the Big Mash Up to help the necessary Smash up?

So off I go on one of my walkabouts, needing to plug into mash-ups a little more.

Business jargon is drawing more and more from our software and computer worlds. We have seen lean, agility, scrum and a host of others entering into our business practices in broader ways than the original application; the principles are being extended out.

So what is a mashup?

In web development it uses content from more than one source to create a single new service, displayed in a single graphical interface. It works if it is fast, easy to integrate and has clear application interfaces that allow this to happen.

The original term of mashup, according to dear old Wikipedia, comes from British – West Indies slang, meaning to be intoxicated or a description for something or someone not functioning as intended. I like this as it is the way many of our companies are reeling from with all the disruptive changes swirling around them. Also within music, it is used when we remix and combine different aspects of music or song from one vocal track to another. Thereby ‘mashing them’ together to create something new.

So why do I feel the innovation mashup is coming?

The main characteristics of a mashup are combination, visualization and aggregation so as to make ‘it’ (whatever it is) into something more useful, for personal or professional (or organizational) use. We have a fair number of mash-ups going on already; in business mash-ups to reveal actionable information, consumer mash-ups that can come through our browser interfaces (maps and info) and data mash-ups that provide new, more distinctive web services.

I’m not going to get into all the technical stuff on this, let alone the challenges but as you read about the taxonomy structures I start thinking innovation taxonomy. Don’t ask me why but I do.

Let’s smoke a little more here (I’m kidding) and think the Internet of Innovation

We have been digesting the internet of things, the internet of everybody so we need to push this a little more and ask “can a comprehensive vision of how this set of events around digital, data etc., alongside our physical needs be translated into returns for a business wanting to engaged in greater, more valuable innovation”. These will come from platforms and connecting everyone.

I hold one additional thought here “virtualizing the core business” and extending this beyond the core, to deliver innovation faster and better by orchestrating its parts to architect the future, based on responding to real needs and extending those existing deliverables that continue to provide value.

We need to manage innovation in more real-time, we need to dramatically improve the process, we need to pull together often the disparate knowledge, we need to inform better, we need to place what we are doing into a greater context and we need greater predictive decision-making. What we have working the innovation activity is ripe for disrupting. Innovation and its management is mostly operating with the 20th century model.

The move towards digital – physical mashups

Darrell Rigby of Bains & Co wrote a recent article in the September 2014 Harvard Business Review entitled the “digital-physical mashup”. You could image that got my attention in my walk about.

His view is we are in a period of upheaval, do we see technologies as a threat or a new pathway. The growing reality is digital has the real potential to destroy our existing positions in existing markets.

We see this with digital platforms, those lean on physical assets attack the incumbents, take Airbnb for example in its mattress and B&B challenge to hotels or Kickstarter for alternative funding. Value creation is being rethought in totally different ways and business models and being staged on platforms.

Now what happens when you combine digital and physical? As Darrell comments there is a growing ‘weaving’ of digital and physical worlds to come tightly together. He cites Nike+ that is giving more than 30 million customers a tracking, sharing of runs, workouts and setting fitness goals as the shoe has a built-in sensor and can work with your iPod to see data on time, distance, calories burned and can all be synced back, compared for charting your progress.

Here we see digital sport emerging, the ones not embracing technology will suddenly have their market position erode (and fast)

Then we come back to GE and Beth Comstock’s throwaway line “the big data mashup”

GE when they decide to move into something, they tend to do it big time. They make “big bets on big things” according to their CEO and Chair Jeff Immelt. Big Data Analytics is one of these exploding for them. They have housed this under “Industrial Internet” and GE Predictivity TM for asset and operations optimization.

This will come from these analytic insights, through the use of sensors and other technologies in aviation, rail, oil & gas, power generation, wind, power distribution, healthcare, mining, water and process technologies, lighting and manufacturing from machines that are self-aware interacting with other machines and their human operators.

The collecting of data is impossible to manually analyse but if this can be translated into insights through analytics’s and big data management techniques, visualization and dashboards techniques, that can manage complex machines, save labour, downtime, direct resources and reduce costs it certainly opens up the thinking.  GE’s estimates could be as much as $20 billion in wasted deficiencies per year. Further opportunities will simply occur as this gets understood more as it gets rolled out.

Wikibon analysts believe the analytics market will be worth more than $47 billion by 2017 and Gartner reckons the rise of the Internet of Things will propel the global IT industry past the $3.8 trillion mark by the end of this year.

I can certainly see this as a valuable and seemingly ‘big bet’ sandbox to go and play in and GE are doing this on a strong execution platform. They already have scale, they are just scaling this more into a different business model and value propositions.

Big Data is coming of age, can we handle it?

Big Data is going to certainly drive IT spending in the next few years, yet it is its translation that promises to be within the value extracted, on how we interpret this though analytics, insights and what it then yields in improved productivity, new product designs and service offerings. It all signals a very healthy set of new innovation activities in new products, services and through new business model designs. The fusing of digital and physical for new opportunities is upon us.

So are we seeing the groundwork for a new industrial age where innovation will increasingly play even more of a part, one that needs us to focus on the data, our people and the whole architecture, where the ability to collaborate, exchange, network and decipher what is coming towards you in meaningful ways to turn insight into commercial opportunity seems beckoning.

So is our current innovation systems fit for purpose?

So real-time comes up against old-time innovation processes – something will have to give.

So there is a whole new world of possibilities, a mash-up of the cloud, data, analytics, digital / physical combinations, real-time activities all crowding into the existing innovation pipeline, manually being cranked along. No, something needs to change. We need to really begin to dump these legacy systems for manual innovation and really step back here.

The BHAG for innovation is needed here

We need to take a very different perspective on the innovation process. We need a greater visual control across our organizations; we need to build a completely new end-to-end innovation management system on a platform approach.

We need to collect and aggregate more knowledge, information and data than ever, the complexity will simply grow as we connect more the digital and physical worlds and innovation is being expected from this fusion.

Fusing the parts, forming the bigger picture

We need to give up on ‘hard end of line’ measures and metrics (so anti-empathy) and go into analytics far more, for driving innovation along its new process constantly at its point of need (note that), embrace data, seek and design new deployment models like cloud and mobility, merge the architecture design of the innovation process onto a visualization platform, seek out those that can contribute both inside and outside the organization.

We need to orchestrate, provide stunningly different user interfaces (beyond the Excel spreadsheet please) that can come into you wherever you are, tailored to the individual’s role within the innovation development process at a particular time to make it flexible as an on-demand need, drag and drop knowledge into your space to make it hugely dynamic full of interactions, modular and capable of being extended within our more elastic (flexible) enterprises.

A future full of collaboration built on real-time and valuable insight

The future will be collaborative, full of mash-ups to make innovation happen. Innovation management needs to be in the driving seat of changing in response to the next revolution of digital and physical that is ushering in the next era of innovation.

Who is going to take up this grand challenge or is innovation just going to be lagging behind again as efficiency and effectiveness remain as the big brothers dominating the organization’s thinking ‘block’? We do need a whooping big innovation mashup. By all indications, what is coming towards us we certainly will need some big innovation mashups.

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One thought on “Opening Ourselves Up to the Innovation Mashup

  1. Pingback: The growing need is to move innovation into the cloud. | Paul4innovating's Blog

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