Tag Archives: Microsoft

Is A.I. The New Buzzword?

the best a.i. is still human intelligence

Kevin Kelly is quoted as saying that “The business plans of the next 10,000 startups are easy to forecast: take X and add AI”. Indeed, and 2017 may well be the year A.I. becomes a buzzword because just about every new product and service is pitching it as a strength and point of differentiation (more on that below).

To Manage for Innovation is to Manage for Progress not Stability

progress and stability are mutually exclusive

Something extraordinary happened to the human species over the past two centuries: Economic growth transformed everyday life and changed poverty from a near-universal condition to a limited problem. The technologies that enabled this change emerged largely in Western Europe. Why there  and not, say, in China?

The Washington Post explores why the industrial revolution didn’t happen in China in a fascinating interview with economic historian Joel Mokyr.

It’s hard to get excited about incremental ideas

Most of what is called innovation is incremental in nature. Meaning, an improvement on something that already exists. This is innovating within a known box. Microsoft is company that is the poster boy for this type of behavior. It’s a shame because they invest a lot of money on R&D but not much of its inventions become innovations.

Except for the XBOX and Kinect, in the last decade or so, many of its products have been plain vanilla copies of other products that reached the market first. Why the XBOX? Because it was a product of intrapreneurship within Microsoft.

Right now intrapreneurship is a hot topic and a rich source of potential advantage for corporations. In a recent Innochat session we touched on some of the points about intrapreneurship: Being an intrapreneur.

Large consultancies have also taken notice, as recent study by Accenture about developing an entrepreneurial culture found that:

You must own change before it owns you

Back when I was an IT Consultant, I knew that “preparing for what might be” was my “one thing”, and it just came natural for me. And today, one of the cool things about the work I do is I get prepare my clients with “what if’s” all the time.

Most don’t like it because they don’t want to consider that their business might change. They want to keep things the way they are. This is not unusual. It is actually the every day norm for those of us who are in the business of shaking things up.

3 Ways to help customers win

“It’s not enough that we win; all others must lose.” – Larry Ellison

Heard this one yesterday. I’m all in for competition, but business isn’t about war (at some point I used to think like Genghis Khan too). It isn’t about beating competitors just for the heck of it. I find this focus on competing to beat competitors ridiculous.

The focus SHOULD be on the customer winning.

benchmarking against the competition is stupid

Another reason why benchmarking against competitors is stupid

benchmarking against the competition is stupid

One of the problems of measuring an organizations innovativeness is R&D spending. If you ask people: Who’s more innovative between Apple and Microsoft? They’ll say Apple. Yet if we measure them based on patents and R&D spending, most people don’t know what they’re talking about. Microsoft blows Apple out of the water on R&D.

Yet, the reality is that Apple is more innovative than Microsoft.

Spending huge on R&D does not equal innovation.

You can spend all you want on innovation, but you can’t guarantee success. In fact, the most innovative companies are not necessarily the biggest spenders, according to Booz & Company’s recent global innovation study. What matters instead? The ability to build the right innovation capabilities to connect with the overall business strategy and other critical capabilities.

But what the heck does that mean?

These lists make for good conversation, but they also prove to be worthless if not approached with objectivity. Why?

As Jason Cohen points out, organizations (and humans) have an unhealthy fixation to emulate #1:

We tend to fixate on whoever is #1, in business as with sports, tacitly assuming that the contest is mostly skill and therefore the tournament has selected the rightful leader. But I’m not so sure we know that skill/luck proportion. I’m not so sure we can assume the contest (marketing, sales, product) and tournament (the marketplace) picks #1 based on repeatable, codify-able skill-set. Same with #2 or anyone else.

That number #1 is dictated by a system, a market, not people. On top of that, if you give people a list of the most innovative companies; they’ll want to emulate #1. It’s that simple. We’re suckers for it.