Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Evolution of the Digital Work Environment

We are all aware of the Evolution of Man:

Here are 2 videos which outline the evolution of the Digital Work environment from  Xerox's vision in the 1990s to Microsoft's vision for the 2020s.

It is interesting to observe which elements of the future have clearly morphed from the original vision, which ones got dropped by the wayside and the ones which are totally new. Here goes:

XEROX (vision framed in 1990s: Digital Desk by Pierre Wellner)

MICROSOFT (vision framed in 2011: Productivity Future Vision )

Addendum (12/7/2011)

On the same topic here’s an interesting article from Businessweek ca. 1975 predicting how the “office” will look in 1995 – “The Office of the Future".
Here's what another blogger says about it:
It predicts the paperless office. My favorite quote comes from the head of the (then) newly formed think-tank in Palo Alto known as PARC, George E. Pake, who says “… that in 1995 his office will be completely different; there will be a TV-display terminal with keyboard sitting on his desk. “I’ll be able to call up documents from my files on the screen, or by pressing a button,” he says. “I can get my mail or any messages. I don’t know how much hard copy [printed paper] I’ll want in this world.”
Full of quotes like this, the article may seem comical in retrospect – however, it’s worth a read.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Frugal Innovation/Jugaad #5: Reebok goes Frugal

Check this out. Reebok plans to roll out a $1 shoe for the "bottom of the pyramid":

Still in the planning stages, but is already being described as a "win-win situation for the poor." and  "the move is likely to be viewed as a social initiative that could positively influence the company's brand."

What would be interesting is to see if India's poor will really covet a $1 shoe or would shoes continue to be an aspirational purchase for which they are ready to save and pay more to flaunt their favorite brand. Maybe that's why it is being positioned for the "rural" poor rather than the urban poor. Urbanites I guess are more likely to equate lower price with lower status.

Tata has discovered the fickle mindedness of those at the bottom of the pyramid when to their surprise and chagrin the $2000 Nano car was not "flying off the shelf" at the pace they thought it would.

Also, the $1 shoe will be going head-to-head (or will it be feet-to-feet) against a tough competitor - the $0 shoe ("bare feet").

While on the topic of shoes, attended an Entrepreneurship themed conference where a panelist, local self-made entrepreneur I.C. Shah recounted the old shoe company salesmen story in his own inimitable style. Here's the gist of it:

Multinational shoe corporation sends 3 hot-shot salesmen to India (in the 1950s) to scout the market and report back. The first one wires back " Nobody here wears shoes, No market opportunity". He was promptly called back and fired. He now mans the shoe sale counter at a departmental store. The second wired back "Nobody here wears shoes, immense market potential". The person retired as Head of the International Business Division for the corporation. The third wired back "Nobody here wears shoes. I have tied up with someone here to make them and can supply some back to the corporation at a fraction of the current purchase cost". The third one now has vacation homes in Bali, Aspen, Jamaica and St. Tropez. He has people making shoes for him in India, Vietnam, Bangladesh, China.......  He's the "Entrepreneur"

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Business Intelligence Chronicles Part 23: BI gets "Sixth Sense" Revisited

DeepakSethSpeak: The Business Intelligence Chronicles Part 17: BI gets "Sixth Sense"

Looks like it is time to revisit the above blogpost. See what a technology giant like Microsoft has up its sleeve as far as leveraging the user-interface technologies of the future. Came across this interesting video:

A phone nobody can buy.......yet

based on Nanotechnologies, the phone is flexible and bendable,  reacts to gestures or flex/bend, and provides electro-tactile feedback.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Frugal Innovation/Jugaad # 4

Today was a Jugaadoo delight day, as I came across not 1, not 2 but 3 fantastic tales of Frugal Innovation/Jugaad.

It all started off when a friend forwarded me a chain mail about the experiences of the renowned filmmaker Shekhar Kapur as he  finds a hole-in-the-wall shop to get his expensive Blackberry repaired. Not only did he save a ton of money he left with a new found sense of admiration for India's pioneering innovative and entrepreneurial spirit : A Blackberry addict discovers grassroots enterprise in India

Let's see if he makes this the theme of his next artistic endeavor, it's been some time since Kapur dazzled us with his portrayal of Elizabethian intrigue and splendor.

As I was meandering through the search results for my search of the authentic source of the Shekhar Kapur story came across the interesting story of "Nano Ganesh"  from The Economist , a frugal innovator's solution to a common problem plaguing Indian farmers - how to start and stop their irrigation pumps remotely, his solution " – a mobile-phone adaptation that triggers irrigation pumps remotely – is saving water in India and helping more than 10,000 farmers avoid several taxing, dangerous long walks a day."

The trifecta was when I came across "Gogola" :

Innovation in its own way   

So this innovator is using the brand recognition of Google to drive people towards his own product - Gola - an Indian shaved ice concoction leveraging his location in a tech park frequented by Google savvy techies. I wonder if the Google attorneys will go after him for Trademark infringement/violations.....

If you come across any more, please pass them along.........

Friday, November 18, 2011

From the Finger Lakes to the World : "Think Globally, Act Locally"

Kudos to the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council for finalizing its list of 10 projects for submission to Gov. Cuomo as contenders for a share of approximately $1 billion in state economic development funds. Being first off the bat compared to other regions indicates a strong focus and commitment on part of the team tasked with putting this together.

The list though exemplary still appears to be slightly conservative and run of the mill. The projects listed are ones which would normally appear in any wish-list of projects for the area. I was under the assumption that by framing this sanction of funds in the form of a competition, Gov. Cuomo is looking for revolutionary out-of-the-box ideas to kick start the economy.

One of the biggest global macro-economic trends is the current and projected growth of BRICS economies (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) compared with the slow or stagnant growths in rest of the World. What we need at all levels of our own economy (national, state and local) is to figure out ways to tap in the growth and revenue streams of these booming economies. At a local level it may translate into helping local small and mid-sized companies gain footholds in these countries or expand their presence there. The big companies have already got a presence in these markets. The smaller companies may need a little boost. Germany has already proven such an approach works, as reflected by its growing economy (in contrast to the moribund economies of rest of Europe) fueled by exports by its mid-sized companies to these emerging markets.

So I would love to have seen projects which focus on leveraging the strengths of our local small and mid-sized businesses (which have been the linchpin of the local economy even as the big players shrunk) and couple them with the burgeoning demand of goods and services abroad. Perhaps a project which funds an initiative to help small and mid-sized Finger Lakes region businesses become bigger players on the world arena . This could be in terms of facilitating more active collaborations with overseas chambers of commerce, hosting trade delegations, participation in trade shows abroad, crafting appropriate promotional material etc. We have to look beyond Europe where the traditional trade linkages of this region have been.

Growth in the future is likely to be determined by how outward focused we are rather than inward looking. We have to "Think Globally, Act Locally" to profit from global trends.

Update: The article got published in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle:

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Xerox the "rich neighbor" of Steve Jobs and Bill Gates....

The influence of Xerox PARC on Steve Jobs’ creativity has been much publicized in the reporting after his demise. Here’s another take on the role of Xerox, this one includes another technology stalwart – Bill Gates. This comes from an article by Malcolm Gladwell in the New Yorker “TheTweaker-The real genius of Steve Jobs” :

In the nineteen-eighties, Jobs reacted the same way when Microsoft came out with Windows. It used the same graphical user interface—icons and mouse—as the Macintosh. Jobs was outraged and summoned Gates from Seattle to Apple’s Silicon Valley headquarters. “They met in Jobs’s conference room, where Gates found himself surrounded by ten Apple employees who were eager to watch their boss assail him,” Isaacson writes. “Jobs didn’t disappoint his troops. ‘You’re ripping us off!’ he shouted. ‘I trusted you, and now you’re stealing from us!’ ”

Gates looked back at Jobs calmly. Everyone knew where the windows and the icons came from. 

“Well, Steve,” Gates responded. “I think there’s more than one way of looking at it. I think it’s more like we both had this rich neighbor named Xerox and I broke into his house to steal the TV set and found out that you had already stolen it.”

Jobs was someone who took other people’s ideas and changed them. But he did not like it when the same thing was done to him. In his mind, what he did was special.

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