Posts Tagged ‘Digital Technology’

Is Apple Cooling or Transitioning to a Techno-Luxury House of Brands?

Sunday, June 8th, 2014

Blog graphicThe recent announcement that Apple is acquiring Beats Electronics for its streaming audio and electronics capabilities has caused consternation on Wall Street in terms of whether this is an indication that Apple’s renowned ability to innovate in-house is cooling and that the company is beginning to stall.

Most of the attention around the Beats acquisition has focused on its streaming capability and whether it offers as good a service as Spotify or Pandora. The potential that this joint team brings for developing future offerings in the broader entertainment landscape, including video, should not be ignored.

Other key benefits for Apple include Beats’ wealth of aggregate knowledge of the entertainment, music and electronics industries, as well as its connection with the youth culture – something that many other companies seek to emulate. Beats is considered to be a relatively strong U.S. brand with a youth flavor and one that, when attached to Apple and its global market presence and subscriber base, could infuse a stronger linkage with their younger purchasers, further extending their cool image and status.

At the heart of this transaction, however, is the issue of “the innovation divide”, where larger process driven companies are not always as flexible and in tune with the rapidly changing technologies and consumer demands that startups seem to easily tap into. This is why we have seen Facebook acquiring WhatsApp and Oculus. as well as Google acquiring Nest.

The real challenge faced when executing such acquisitions is being able to blend the cultures and mindsets of the new company with the dominant corporate culture that prevails. This may seem easy but the reality is that the founders and creative thought leaders who drive the acquired company usually leave fairly quickly. What can Apple do to prevent this happening and also create a mechanism and process for future acquisition and expansion going forward? The key may be keeping them as independent operations and brands supported by the power of the Apple global logistics, branding and design machine.

Are there other reasons that Apple should be considering this broader transformation? At the recent DLD NYC Conference, Scott Galloway identified that technology is a terrible business to be in because: “If you don’t reinvent it every year, your stock gets hammered”. He stated that “you want to be in a business that leads with your heart not your head, as it results in irrational wants and needs which in turn lead to larger margins”; he believes that the investment community has recognized this, giving Cartier as an example of having a larger market cap than Deutsche Telecom. Galloway identified that “the best neighborhood in the world is luxury” and although, in his opinion, Apple is the best house brand in the world, it’s in a bad neighborhood which can be a “terrible stock strategy”. He believes that Apple needs to transition its business into the luxury neighborhood in order to become a great iconic luxury brand and, in so doing, become the first trillion dollar market cap company. There seems to be strong evidence that Apple has already initiated this transformation with the appointments of Angela Ahrendts, former CEO of Burberry, and Paul DeNeve, former CEO of Yves Saint Laurent, into key positions within its organization.

The possibility is that the acquisition of Beats could be Apple’s fledgling step to creating not just a single luxury brand but a house of brands, similar to LVMH, with multiple appeal points for a broader global audience, rather than limiting their offering to a single brand or a single technology. The creation of a new techno-luxury house of brands supports Apple’s quest to become the first trillion dollar market cap company, and the company’s transformative strategy indicates a return to its historic reputation for unpredictability!

Steve Bell, President, KeySo Global LLC

Technology Scouting and the Catch 22 of Innovation

Monday, October 14th, 2013

I came across what I would call the “catch 22 of innovation” the other day while working on a project that’s tipped to disrupt an entire industry.

Every major city now has the desire to become a smart city and to use digital technologies to provide better services and products for its citizens. However, as anyone who reads the news understands, the majority of this innovation in digital technologies is coming from small startups, not from the larger more established companies. One of the services that KeySo Global provides is technology scouting to large companies and for exactly this reason; they are not innovating broadly or rapidly enough, and are beginning to recognize the urgent need to partner with smaller startups that have the technology capability to enhance their more traditional offerings.

So the “catch 22”, as we see it in this context, lies in the request for proposal (RFP) / request for quotation (RFQ) process that cities use when looking for new technologies and solutions to meet existing needs. In most RFP’s and RFQ’s there is a statement that says “we are open to new ideas and technologies that will provide services to enhance the process or reduce the cost of providing those services”. However, buried deep within the RFP, under terms and conditions, is a sentence that also states “any company proposing a solution must have been in existence for at least 3 years, provide a list of existing clients and show financial capability to support the project through its anticipated life.” How many startups do you know that can meet these criteria?

The real drawback of this is that true innovation is unlikely to come to a city near you at any time soon. Of course there are ways around this dilemma but most of these are not straight forward. The technology scouting service we provide at KeySo Global can help by offering new and innovative startups the hybrid solution of partnering with more established companies so that together they can leverage the digital components needed for a thriving smart city infrastructure.

The process of scouting, filtering, evaluating and on-boarding technologies is crucial to an organization’s future success but it can be challenging as well as time and resource consuming at a time of restricted budgets. The option that we offer is to partner with a team that has successfully performed similar roles and created transformational processes at Motorola, Sony Ericsson and TRW. We offer a unique blend of experience, insight and proven processes to achieve this outcome. Our strategic review process and implementation framework enables us to rapidly partner with clients to successfully find, evaluate, acquire and on-board innovative technologies. A significant aspect of our approach is to help the startup and the established company understand one another’s’ mindsets. We use the “two weeks analogy” to help frame the fundamental differences in perspective of the two:  two weeks to a startup can mean life or death whereas to a large company it’s just a meeting!

Contact us  for more information and to find out how we can help accelerate innovation.

Steve Bell, President, KeySo Global

 

Wealthy in a Virtual Nation State

Friday, May 24th, 2013

Having lived and worked outside of England, my home country, for a total of 23 years – in Germany for 8 years and most recently for 15 years in the US – I’ve come to appreciate that the concept of the nation state is a very unique and real phenomenon but that most people don’t understand exactly what it is or how the digital world is forcing it to change.

A nation state is defined as a political unit consisting of an autonomous state inhabited predominantly by people sharing a common culture, history and language, and this concept dates right back to the treaty of Munster, Germany in 1648. Today, however, television, the internet and the expansion of mobile communications are forcing increased globalization of culture and language to occur, and as a result the original concept of the nation state is being constantly challenged and, in some cases, eroded.

If, like me, you have been fortunate enough to live and work in multiple countries, you cannot help but appreciate that each one has its own national workplace culture.  In a Financial Times article earlier this year about the cultural challenges faced by foreign CEOs, Rob Goffee of the London Business School identified that a key ability is to understand how to adapt without abandoning ones original values:  “the skillful executive balances who they are with where they are”. This has become especially relevant as an increasing number of executives from my home country are relocating to head up US based companies, and a wave of UK start-ups are crossing the Atlantic in search of broader market opportunities.  But just because we speak the same language doesn’t mean that it’s all smooth sailing!

From an early age,  Americans are taught self-advocacy and a strong emphasis is placed on self-belief. We Brits, on the other hand, are known for our self-deprecation (even extending to our sense of humor) and this can be a challenge for us in the US workplace. As Alex Kelleher, founder of Cognitive Match, was recently quoted as saying in an article in the Financial Times: “the market here (in the US) definitely likes the confident, self-assured “winner” approach… and while sometimes self-deprecation can be seen as endearing, it may not be ideal in a competitive environment over here”. I couldn’t agree more! I’ve come to realize that, in an increasingly globalized world, it’s very often the small, subtle cultural nuances that still exist but tend to be overlooked when businesses think about relocating, hiring or partnering overseas.

I was also reminded of an article by Adam Haslett that appeared in the Financial Times in 2010 where he identified that, as a Brit living in the U.S., he had “always felt a pessimist among optimists in the U.S. and as an optimist among pessimists in Britain”. In the past, I myself have experienced a sense of not belonging to any one specific nation, of being almost “mid-Atlantic”. Today, however, with the rapid and widespread growth of digital technologies across geographical boundaries, I now find myself experiencing a new phenomenon of living in a “virtual nation state” where language, cultures and political philosophies merge, and openness of thinking is the currency of success. I feel wealthy; not in financial terms, but because of the breadth of knowledge and the degree of perception and understanding I’ve acquired from experiencing different cultures, both first hand and “virtually”. The enviable challenge that I face is how to share this “global mindset” and enlightened world view with people who can make a difference. Perhaps self-deprecating humor really is the way forward!

Having worked in a variety of geographical areas across the globe, we at KeySo Global have acquired the flexible mindset needed to understand and adapt to the different business cultures that we have been part of. We are eager to share our experiences with you and help you guide your business through the often turbulent waters of overseas expansion. For more information contact us at info@keysoglobal.com.

Steve Bell, President, KeySo Global

Digital Awareness – a Critical Component for Success

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013

A key pillar of our work at KeySo Global is the belief that digital technology has significantly impacted and changed the digital lives of every one of us, and that systems and business models are consequently having to adapt to meet multiple stakeholders’ expectations.

Business models are dynamic and unique, and are a reflection of historic development, management personalities, economic and business environments, customer and channel requirements as well as resource, assets and technology. As much as humans like stability, no business model stays the same, no matter how perfect it seems at the time.  In their 2001 book entitled “How Digital Is Your Business” Adrian Slywotzky and David Morrison compared the brilliance of the Dell business model with competitors like HP, Compaq and, at that time, struggling Apple. Dell spent limited amounts on R&D, leveraged a choice board for consumers to design their own PC, and outsourced manufacturing to Taiwan and distribution logistics to FedEx; this was seen as a virtue at the time when compared with HP, Compaq and Apple. Technology and a successful business model don’t guarantee success if a company doesn’t keep up with consumer need changes or fails to innovate. The focus that Apple placed on user experience changed the game; in recent news we’ve seen how Dell’s business model is now struggling to compete against the growth of smartphones, tablets and cloud services – particularly those of Apple.

Being aware and responding to developments around you is a significant and important part of senior management responsibility. We strongly advocate the interaction with external resources that will bring a different perspective to a business. Utilizing “thought leaders” or tools that allow the current situation to be viewed from a different vantage point can greatly strengthen a company’s thinking and focus. As the saying goes “no single event makes a trend” but the search, listing and assembly of data from multiple sources can enable companies to recognize emerging patterns and opportunities, particularly in complementary industries where competitive shifts in business models could be applicable.

Over the last few weeks I’ve observed in the news a number of noteworthy events that will, I’m sure, impact multiple industries. I’ve listed these below, together with what I believe are the broader implications for business.

Recent news events:

  • Online clothes shopping hit 10% of U.S. sales.
  • Macy’s overall sales increased by 11.7% and their online sales increased by 48.9%.
  • H&M and Inditex – European fashion retailers – are reported tochange their in-store clothing range every two weeks.
  • 15% of shopping malls will close in the U.S. over the next five years.
  • Amazon’s fourth-quarter sales were down but their margins increased.
  • Netflix develops streamed original content (House of Cards) targeted at “cord cutters” abandoning cable and satellite TV.
  • Traditional Procter & Gamble partners with crowd sourcing venture capitalists “Circle Up” for new ideas and innovation.
  • BSkyB in the U.K. introduces advertising based on localized demographics and TV program choice.

Digital implications for your business:

  • smartphones and tablets have changed consumer behavior patterns i.e. online couch shopping and mobile price comparison
  • traditional T.V. advertising is losing its effectiveness
  • the digital consumer expects broader and more frequently refreshed product lines
  • digital business models enable diverse competitive offerings
  • traditional business models now embrace crowd sourcing and funding

If they haven’t already done so, these implications and others like them are likely to impact your business model. My message here is that you need to become aware of digital change and be prepared to do something about it. Have you checked to see if neighboring industries and competitors are already responding to the urgent need to adapt? The big question is – are you? Are you ready to take the first steps towards adopting a digital strategy, one that will strengthen your competitive position in today’s digital marketplace?

We at KeySo Global can help. To discuss how you can structure a digital strategy innovation session, contact us at info@keysoglobal.com or visit our website www.keysoglobal.com

Steve Bell, President KeySo Global

Can Small Innovators Take Center Stage at CES?

Saturday, January 12th, 2013

I’ve just returned from Las Vegas where, as an analyst, I attended the largest International Consumer Electronics Show ever. Having walked not only the 1.92 million square feet, or 37 football fields, of exhibition space but also the 1.6 miles between the Venetian and the LVH Convention Center every day, it quickly became apparent that it was going to be impossible for me to get to see all of the 3,250 exhibitors with their 20,000 new products.

In an exhibition of this size, three very different methods of announcing products and demonstrating innovation have had to evolve. The first approach that flagship brands adopt is to create a “wow factor” for their product reveal to keep it top of mind. Here the product is placed center stage on massive booths, features at the center of elaborate and expensive keynotes, and is the focus of high visibility “invite only” press launches and parties, examples of which have been hitting mainline media all week.

The second method of product announcement is to facilitate one of the many closed door discussions that take place in ritzy hotel suites across Vegas; high ranking company execs are ferried back and forth to meetings by retained limos, and a bizarre and almost ritualistic protocol determines who meets with whom, according to status. Whatever the end result, these movers and shakers have a full dance card for the entire time they are in Vegas and have little or no opportunity to see the third, and in some ways most interesting, type of product exhibition.

Here an ecosystem of small domestic and international manufacturers and innovators prevails. Their products and developments are displayed in the hope that the right buyer, scout, analyst or media representative will serendipitously stumble upon them. These displays are not the fancy booths of the larger players but are instead the pop-ups you find at the Venetian or the periphery stands in the big halls of LVH through which, sore feet allowing, you sometimes wander.

So if innovation is at the heart of CES, as their press release suggests, then maybe a rethink of the conference and exhibition format is needed in order to expose this tertiary ecosystem of small innovators, and enable them to become the powerhouse of growth for tomorrow’s consumer electronics industry.

Steve Bell, President, KeySo Global   

For additional perspectives on this year’s CES contact me at steve.bell@keysoglobal.com or at 847-478-1633. Visit our website at www.keysoglobal.com

Consumer Electronic Trends to Watch – Live Report from CES in Las Vegas

Monday, January 7th, 2013

Shawn DuBravac,  Chief Economist and Director of Research for the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) identified in his keynote address at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas yesterday four critical trends that will shape the future of the consumer electronics industry.

The Post Smartphone Era

Penetration of smartphones in the U.S. has surpassed the 52% mark but more significantly tablets have doubled their penetration in just 12 months, moving from 22% to 44%. In today’s digital world where multiple devices are commonplace in every household, these effectively act as hubs. They are mechanisms for accessing additional technologies, from door locks to health and fitness applications, and act as “second screens” for controlling security, domestic appliances, cars and TV’s. DuBravac referred to smartphones and tablets as “viewfinders into our digital lives”.

The Age of Algorithms

Prior to 2001 most information captured was analogue. With the continual reduction of cost for processing and sensors, more and more devices now have the capability to collect, communicate and share information digitally. In the U.S. there will be 350 million IP addressable devices sold in 2013 and about 1 billion worldwide. In reality, the cost curve of technology is enabling the “sensorization” of devices. The challenge in the future will be curating the enormous density of data-strings that will be generated as sensors proliferate.  Participating at this year’s CES are a record number of automotive companies, reflecting the growing interest of the industry in the role of sensors and connectivity. The fact that the Google car drove 300k miles last year and that Audi, Lexus, Ford and several others are focusing on this area of technology is an indication of how significant it could become. The Chairman of Continental has said that a driverless commercial solution is possible by 2025. In this age of algorithms, data is the new currency which raises ever more concern about security and privacy.

Contextual Connectivity

In recent years, the mood of the industry was captured by the advent of smart TV’s that could connect to the internet. Now the focus is on using intelligence received from sensors to make the interaction between the smart TV and the consumer more relevant and appropriate. One example is the use of cameras that monitor who is watching a program to ensure that appropriate advertising is screened when children are present; another are glass panes in store windows that display information tailored to the individual who is walking past that store, based on their smartphone details shared via social media, store card check-ins or through NFC payments.

Changing the Flow of the Story

The prevalence of “second screens” indicates that we are becoming digital omnivores who consume secondary information while watching a primary screen or previews prior to selecting a program. With household penetration of tablets and smartphones hitting 1.4 per household in the U.S. in 2012 (compared with 2.9 TV’s per household), the second screen is a real phenomenon.  In fact sales of small screen TV’s have declined 20 to 30% in the last 3 years. The concept that engagement starts on the second screen means that the paradigms for use-case scenarios are rapidly changing and need to be understood by the content providers, networks and advertisers. The story may not start on the big screen but when it reaches it the challenge is to maintain engagement and interaction on the second screen. Interestingly, sales of jumbo screen TV’s for main living spaces are on the increase in the U.S.

What becomes evident from these trends is that consumers’ rapid adoption of technology into their digital lives is changing their expectations and forcing business models to adapt accordingly. It appears that, even in the consumer industries, many large companies are being slow to respond and the bulk of innovative ideas and add-on products are being generated by hybrid start-ups.

Steve Bell, President, KeySo Global

www.keysoglobal.com

Catalyst Technologies and their Global Impact

Thursday, September 20th, 2012

In this third blog we look at the implications of the catalyst technologies we identified in our last blog, and determine why they have become so important. In his book “What Technology Wants” Kevin Kelly identifies that “the ever thickening mix of existing technologies in a society create any supersaturated matrix charged with restless potential”. We have written extensively about the digital world which is the combination of technologies that are shaping our world and digital life which is the effect that these technologies are having on everyday life. Kelly again reinforces our perspective when he says that we as a society are “symbiotic with the technology” and that as fast as we invent technology, we change our behavior and become dependent upon it.

Instant Markets

The current global economic turmoil did not come about by accident, but is in fact a consequence of today’s society being able to instantly communicate and share information. In other words society has changed behaviors and has become increasingly dependent on converged technologies. The use of internet trading platforms, for example, with Twitter users virally sharing the latest snippet of information is compounding the application of sophisticated trading algorithms (flash trading). The fact that the U.S. is now leading the way in the deployment of 4G mobile Internet makes the realities of the 2008/2009 Wall Street collapse pale into insignificance as the next wave of technologies facilitate “anytime, anywhere, anyhow” trading and speculating based on viral information.

Controls Lag

More recently the global LIBOR banking scandal, on top of the Euro crisis, points to the fact that we as an international society are struggling to come to grips with and learn what control mechanisms will work in this volatile and real-time world. Compounding this is the problem that we have not yet come up with a common language to document the necessary global beliefs and values that are required to guide policy regulation, monitoring and correction of this 24/7 digitally trading world.

Inextricable Interdependence

The U.S. has struggled to interpret the current rapidly changing and unpredictable global situation, mainly because it finds it hard to accept the fundamental changes that have been occurring on its own soil. A recent Financial Times article identified that the U.S. is now significantly more interdependent on the global economy than it was 31 years ago, at the outset of the shift to Digital Renaissance 2.0.

At that time, in 1981, the U.S. was a relatively closed and self-sufficient economy as measured in terms of trade of goods (import/exports) as a percentage of the U.S. gross domestic product. U.S trade represented only 21% of GDP and was made up of 10% exports and 11% imports. By 2012 this had grown significantly to approximately 32% of GDP – exports accounted for 14% of this and imports 18% – putting the U.S. on a par with the global average as an open economy.

Consequently the U.S. belief in self-reliance and independence now needs to be replaced with the realization, not only in terms of stock market indices but also as an economic reality, that it is inextricably tied to the Euro crisis, the emergence of the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) and the struggles in Africa.

Collaboration & Knowledge

The original Renaissance in Europe resulted in the disappearance of principalities and kingdoms, and ushered in the emergence of a nation state, which was followed during the industrial age with the emergence of overlapping market states. The question is how will the world evolve and will market states be the future societal organization? There are a number of theories about the organization of society going forward (Philip Bobbitt, David Ronfeldt, are two such theorists and this article compares their position with those of others). Regardless of which theory prevails, it is highly likely that in the world of Digital Renaissance 2.0 networking, collaboration and knowledge will be critical components of its underlying architecture. It also seems probable that global communities, digitally connected and potentially proactive, will coexist alongside and within hierarchical organizations, both in government and also in industry.

Ren 2.0 Man – Techno Artisan Craft Society

Digital Renaissance 2.0 was founded upon four enabling technologies and was exponentially accelerated by the catalyst technologies that released the restless potential of other technologies, such as cloud computing and Web 2.0. Ren 2.0 is now embracing a raft of emerging technologies, like NFC, voice recognition and kinetics, which are giving rise to business models not previously conceived. For instance 3-D printing is enabling designers / entrepreneurs to create new product concepts from digital files more rapidly and cost effectively than ever previously thought possible. Coupling this capability with global internet access and mobile commerce, Ren 2.0 now allows others to market this product concept globally.  Personalized products for the “market of one” are created by transmitting customized product specifications to printers anywhere on the planet and in close proximity to the consumer. To a large degree these hybrid technology and commerce systems facilitate the reincarnation of the craft society that got lost in the industrial age. These techno artisan craftsmen are in many respects the Digital Renaissance 2.0 men/women of the new digital era who are living, working and trading in global communities of trust, practice and purpose.

In prior blogs we have discussed the concept of “digital agents of change” and shown how critical this role has become in today’s digital business world. In some respects we all now need to become digital agents of change for the global society, or to use the words of Mohanda Gandhi “we must be the change we wish to see in the world”.

Steve Bell, President, KeySo Global

www.keysoglobal.com

Which 3 Digital Technologies became Catalysts for Change?

Friday, August 31st, 2012

So what exactly have we recognized as being the three catalyst technologies or products that emerged in the year 2007? Below is an overview of each of these and highlighted are the main factors that we believe have influenced their evolution and subsequent relevance today.

WiMAX

WiMAX was an early 4G technology that started the move of the U.S. market to wireless broadband; it is often likened to “Wi-Fi on steroids”. The fact that Sprint and Clearwire, a startup that was supported by Google and Intel, could deliver blisteringly fast mobile Internet service forced AT&T and Verizon, the two largest U.S. carriers, to accelerate their deployment of 4G LTE. This development meant that standards needed to be agreed upon and formalized, and that network equipment manufacturers needed to accelerate production in order to provide for these large customers.

Having AT&T and Verizon focus on a single frequency (700 MHz) made it easier for device manufacturers to accelerate their development of 4G Internet products and deliver consumer-ready devices. The fact that some of these device manufacturers had been working on WiMAX devices in cooperation with semiconductor providers meant that they could accelerate products based on the WiMAX chipsets that almost 80% matched LTE.

Subsequently, both Sprint and T-Mobile have also either invested in or announced plans to build a 4G LTE network on top of their existing systems. What this means is that for the first time all four large U.S. carriers are offering mobile Internet services utilizing the same technology as the rest of the world, enabling global interoperability and roaming.

The iPhone

The second catalyst product was the iPhone which has received much acclaim for its elegant design and simple user interface. The real essence of the catalytic change that the iPhone initiated, however, was a shift in the consumer paradigm of a mobile device being used solely for communication to one that enabled interaction. The iPhone allows users to connect easily on-the-go and to share information, content, pictures and video simply and effortlessly. When it was first released, users found the interface to be so effortless that data volumes climbed exponentially and severely disrupted the AT&T network that had not been designed for large data capability! This forced AT&T, as well as other mobile operators, to rethink the entire concept of network architecture to include Wi-Fi as an offload mechanism. It also resulted in AT&T acquiring Wayport, and in the process becoming the single largest operator of Wi-F in the U.S.

Not only did the iPhone change the existing consumer paradigm and network architectures, it also broke the carrier stranglehold on its relationship with the subscriber. The iPhone was and still is provisioned via iTunes, which had previously been the domain of the mobile operator. This relationship with the subscriber, initiated at the time of purchase, was then solidified through the introduction of the app store and ultimately the iCloud. Apple effectively took the existing mobile business model, tore it up and replaced it with a hybrid that established a stronger bond with the consumer based on end-to-end user experience. The impact of the iPhone’s innovative design, end-to-end system, business model, user paradigm and elegant packaging of an everyday technology has had a tsunami-like impact on RIM, Motorola and Nokia, as well as on major mobile operators around the globe.

The Amazon Kindle

The third catalyst product that has been an instrumental agent of change is the Amazon Kindle. This device did for a 500-year-old product concept, the book, what the Walkman or iPod did for music. Best sellers are now cheaper and easier to obtain via the Kindle which provides on-the-go access to the world’s largest library/bookstore. This simple to use, low cost device made the mobile Internet transparent to the user by incorporating the cost of access into the price of the book. Amazon achieved this by creating a blanket connection relationship with AT&T for global access. The fact that the Kindle e-Reader automatically creates a relationship with Amazon means that loyal subscribers are a natural evolution. Proof that this technological revolution is affecting the literary world is evidenced by the number of large bookstores, such as Borders in the U.S., that have closed, and Barnes & Noble swiftly producing their own e-Reader, the Nook.

The iPhone and the e-Reader together have evolved into an instant-on class of device – the tablet – that satisfies the mobile consumer’s need to instantly connect, be entertained and informed. While small enough to remain portable, smartphones and tablets facilitate sharing, learning, creating and interacting using wireless broadband connectivity (3G, 4G and WiMAX) and these in turn have become indispensable parts of our everyday digital lives.

Steve Bell, President, KeySo Global

www.keysoglobal.com

 

What Spawned the New Digital Renaissance 2.0?

Saturday, August 25th, 2012

This article is the first of a trilogy in which we share some of the more intriguing aspects we have uncovered about digital technologies and the dynamic impact they are having on our business and personal lives. This first blog examines the unique origins of the new age Renaissance – what we call Digital Renaissance 2.0™ – and its impact on today’s global economy.

Previously, we identified the four “enabling technologies” (cell phone, PC, Internet, Walkman) that rocked the world and pointed out that they all emerged on the scene around the same time – 1981. We also pinpointed 2010 as a “year of convergence” when 3G, 4G and the Cloud all came together. It was only recently, however, that it became apparent to us that 2007 was the year that the “catalyst technologies” facilitated this convergence and, with it, the advent of the new digital age.

My colleague, Steve Benton, and I coined the expression Digital Renaissance 2.0™ (Ren 2.0™) to capture the concept that a fundamental shift is occurring in the way that information is now being accessed and shared. In the original Renaissance era, the enlightenment of Europe occurred due to the introduction of the printing press which led to the democratization of books.

During Ren 2.0™ the Internet has led to the democratization of information, now freely available to everyone – anywhere, anyhow and anytime – and as a result, the collective knowledge held by society is expanding exponentially, both actively and passively. The Internet has enabled information to become much more “transparent” as silos of data are shared between continents, countries and corporations, and on a significantly broader basis. This in turn has facilitated the global cross-pollination of ideas and concepts on a scale never seen before.

The four enabling technologies referred to above evolved rapidly and converged to facilitate the emergence of the Mobile Internet age. In our paper “Introduction to Digital Life Renaissance” (contact us to obtain a copy) we determine that this change is occurring at an unprecedented pace and show how it is touching all aspects of society, as well as governments and global economies.

The magnitude of these digital world changes in economic terms is captured in a chart we compiled that shows the global economy growing from less than $10 trillion in 1981 and accelerating to over $60 trillion by 2010. In a recent blog article in the Economist it was identified that between May 2011 and 2012 the global economy generated $65 trillion of trade (GDP), and that by September 2013 it will add a further $10 trillion to achieve a global GDP of $75 trillion.

The case can be made that global saturation of cellular and expanding penetration of mobile broadband access are primarily responsible for this rapid, worldwide distribution of information, which in turn is fueling economic growth at an unprecedented rate. Concurrently, this transformation is impacting the lives of individuals in developing and developed countries, and their awareness and expectations are growing as they become more exposed to vast amounts of new, previously inaccessible, information. As human behavioral patterns and methods of interaction change, so do their needs and requirements, which in turn are generating an abundance of new business and service opportunities.

It is our belief that the reinforcing cycle of continued innovation, based on the application of new digital technologies, is facilitating an increasingly interconnected planet which will, in turn, strengthen economic growth and favorably impact our digital lives.

Look out for our next two blogs in this series and find out exactly what the “catalyst technologies” are, what their significance is today and the powerful impact that they are going to have on our business and personal lives going forward.

Steve Bell, President, KeySo Global

www.keysoglobal.com

Mobile Industry Trends and Beyond

Saturday, August 4th, 2012

 

 

The mobile industry is a global business that generates $1.5 trillion in revenue every year, approximately 1.5% of the world’s GDP. Throughout its 30 year history the industry has become ever more inextricably intertwined with the global economy. The World Bank estimates that for every 10% increase in mobile penetration the GDP in developed countries increases by 0.6%, in developing countries by 0.8% and for low income countries GDP increases by 1.4 %.

The bottom line is that wireless communications are impacting our personal and business lives because the physical networks are, in the words of President Clinton, “facilitating networks of collaboration and cooperation” that make boundaries transparent between countries, industries, societies and cultures. As the connected world shrinks in a virtual sense, possibility expands in a real sense as boundaries blur and new and previously unforeseen opportunities emerge globally. It is against this background that it becomes critical for industry leaders to make themselves aware of the emerging mobile trends and the implications they have on the global economic landscape, and more specifically on their own businesses.

Emerging Mobile Trends

  1. Mobile technology is disrupting business models and consumer habits, not just within Telecoms but also neighboring industries. The medical, utility, transportation, education and banking industries are all experiencing a shift from simple communication to total connectivity anywhere that mobility facilitates. Some are embracing the opportunities that this brings faster than others, resulting in significant redistribution of wealth along multiple value chains. Industry structures will most likely change as companies look at horizontal and vertical integration to acquire “Super Stacks” of intellectual property in order to exert increased control over their business model.
  2. Over the Top (OTT) Communication Services, easily downloaded from “App Stores”, are encouraging consumers to explore different ways of communicating, wherever they are and with whom they want, across multiple platforms. Voice has become just another bit of data in the new networked world. Consequently there is gradual recognition that mobile operators do not have a monopoly on the provision of voice over their networks; this could ultimately be the end of the existing subsidy model for phones and smartphones.
  3. Network architecture is being rethought to handle the masses of data resulting from the unprecedented growth in uploading and sharing of video from mobile phones. The traditional asymmetric network design has been found wanting and has forced a more symmetric heterogeneous networks (Het-Nets) structure that encompasses multiple technologies, spectrum and access capabilities, including offload to Wi-Fi. This frantic scramble by operators to provide the vision and reality of “anywhere – anytime – anyhow connectivity” has a significant cost implication at a time when the industry economics are in flux.
  4. Clouds of Things” captures the convergence of five rapidly developing vectors of technology: the Internet of Things, Hybrid Clouds, Big Data, Artificial Intelligence and Augmented Reality. “Clouds of Things” will provide intelligent management, control, utilization and distribution of resources. This convergence of capability will be driven by the needs of smart cities as the increasing flight to urbanization continues. It is forecast that by the year 2016 thirty percent of the global population will be living in cities.
  5. Smart connected homes are becoming a reality as embedded and “black box” connectivity become simple to use and install, or come as part of a home automation package from cable companies, utilities or security firms. This will allow enhanced and remote management of all of the connected consumer electronic devices within a household. Smart home management will be facilitated by personal tablets and smartphones linked to augmented reality and will inevitably result in peoples’ social behaviors adapting and changing.
  6. The Mobile Wallet, utilizing Near Field Communications (NFC) technology, could revolutionize online and offline commerce as it is currently understood. This technology appears to be closer to reality in 2012 than ever before and is being deployed in millions of smartphones by multiple manufacturers.  However, in the developed markets there is need for systems and infrastructure change in order to handle mobile wallet transactions; this requires the agreement of many parties with vested interests, many of which are not yet aligned. Unless the complex industry value chain (retailers, card issuers, banks, mobile operators, internet intermediaries to name but a few) can meet consumers’ expectations for “elegant” mobile solutions (simplicity of use, privacy and security) then adoption by users will be inhibited.
  7. Smart devices, together with consumer adoption of “there’s an app for that”, revealed the enormous power and flexibility of the mobile internet. Beyond web apps, HTML5 is the next evolution of the mobile web. It is a comprehensive app development platform that can be used on multiple browsers and phone operating systems. Businesses providing services and content are attracted to HTML5 to overcome the following issues: the fragmentation of Android across an increasing number of device manufacturers and Apple app store economics that takes 30% of each app transaction while restricting these businesses access to their own subscriber information.
  8. Seamless connections management software, with varying degrees of capability, will soon become common place on devices to meet consumers’ expectations for simple, elegant, lower cost access everywhere across the world. It will also enable operators to load- balance across increasingly complex networks using multiple technologies and spectrum. This software will also help operators address the challenge that IT managers face in aligning Bring Your Own Device (BOYD) requirements with corporate security needs.
  9. Green ownership philosophies and government policy are focusing attention on ecological and energy saving issues. It is forcing a rethink of the total cost of ownership calculation for networks and, by default, the cost of consumer and enterprise services. This calculation becomes more complex now that it has to address an increased number of factors: the traditional economic pressures that are compounded by the exponential rise in data traffic, the increasing expectation of customers for access anywhere, as well as the impact of environmental pollution and concerns about energy efficiency.
  10. Mobile discovery will increasingly become the focus of mobile marketing specialists in the same way that SEO is an integral part of internet marketing today. Addressing the abundance of apps, services and information is a new type of problem. Mobile operators are complicating this situation by starting to mine vast amounts of subscriber data. They are blending this intelligence with offerings from a rich ecosystem of service and content providers, and creating unique personalized propositions for consumers that are targeted by location and context. With this diversity of offering, the challenge for small businesses and app developers is how to stand out in this operator and app store dominated environment? This is the emerging art and science of mobile discovery.

For more information about any of the above contact us at +1847-478-1633 or info@keysoglobal.com

Steve Bell, President, KeySo Global