Today we may debate whether or not a robot will ever be superior to a human. Superiority has many angels. And a robot may not catch all of them. But in the basic work life, it is different. And maybe one robot may not be as good as a human – but a whole range of networked Artificial Intelligence-based robots will outperform us in almost any segment of work on all levels and all industries !!!

 

Our single biggest disadvantage

The vast majority of humans, still today, keep knowledge close to their chest. Sharing of knowledge, experience, and mistakes is not our biggest strength. Sitting in a corner, thinking through the permutations of what happens with a machine in certain circumstances – is our biggest strength. But we know that our brain capacity is not unlimited. As long as we continue to share only if really necessary, think for ourselves, hope we earn special attention for our knowledge – we are in danger that all our jobs get eradicated before we adapt to newer better behavior. Our physical limitations are too weak to stand up against a series of highly developed AI networked technology – whatever we call it.

Cultural Advancement

We are what we got introduced to by our cultural frameworks. Our parents teach us to be humble, not to share our experience unless it is necessary, to experiment for ourselves until we are sure that our experiments are successful. We are conditioned to not talk about things that are still uncertain. Our communication prison is huge. Some cultures however advanced already. And the most interesting thing is that it was actually that very advancement that brought the AI / Robotics technology to life – Silicon Valley. Now some may argue it was elsewhere and so and so already had developed that first version of AI years ago. Well – so sorry to say that, an innovation has absolutely no value unless it is brought to a broader market. “The initial value if any innovation is zero”. Without cultural advancement, we will maintain that widening gap between developed and emerging countries. As long as emerging countries do not embrace more openness, a culture where failure is not just OK but actually good and a key part of learning – the country will remain to be an emerging country.

Artificial Intelligence, biggest driver for human advancements

Humans have one extraordinary ability: humans can adapt to new situations within one and the same generation. No other life form can do that. Big Data is giving businesses who leverage big data a huge advantage over others because they simply know better and faster what is going on. If we learn that networked AI systems will be able to tap into those data and create analysis, able to make decisions and derive strategies from the results, They will be ahead of us and we will essentially do what they suggest. We can’t even verify in time so we simply go ahead and do it. Yes it’s still a tool – but we do what the tool is telling us what to do without even being able to debate it. But we will learn one thing: if we connect our brains we get a whole new edge – maybe beyond our own imagination.

Experiment at Society3 World Innovations Forum

Imagine we do what these AI networks do and network our brains, very simply on a daily base by sharing, communication, analyzing our own mistakes and come to new conclusions every day? The collective intellect when really in action has unknown and incomprehensible reserves. The least we can do is to explore them. And it is almost for free. We only have through some of the old cultural remains overboard. At Society3 this is exactly what is going on right now. Society3 is building a digital layer across the globe that exists to connect people and their ideas, challenges, questions and answers together. http://society3.com We are not here to win a competition with AI-based robots but simply bring human entrepreneurs to a level that has never seen before.

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In my previous two blog posts I shared a base view and two examples. In this post I will share some ways to get to a state of the art level of digitization in your business.

As stated in the previous blog post, computerization or digitization 1.0 started in the 1960’s. With rare exceptions, most businesses are fully computerized. Computers, smartphones, Internet and the corresponding software are simply the underlying infrastructure for digitization. In my follow on blog post, Digitization is a mindset,  I described the effects based on the two examples: Amazon and Uber.

Find out your degree of digitization

The degree of digitization today, can also be seen as a collection of individual and unique competitive advantages. If you like to further explore full digitization of your business you may want to use the following guidance:

  1. Think in degrees of digitization?
    – Digitization is not a have or not have. It is a sliding scale from basic to medium, to good, to excellent
    – Can you identify the degree of digitization in your business?
    – Do you have a customer advisory board you can work with to increase the level of digitization?
  2. Modern Business Culture?
    – Digitization is a mindset and requires a modern, open minded and transparent company culture.
    – Do you have an executive team or business owners who don’t want more transparency and rather keep everything close to their chest?
    – Do you have an old style sales and marketing culture that prefers to deliver information only on request and see it as a special value rather than an obligation to freely provide it such as pricing etc.
  3. What is your logistics integration look like
    – Do you still need to manually enter orders, requests or anything else?
    – Are your customer and business partners able to access any record of their transactions online?
    – Can your customers see the order or return progress at any time online
    – Can your customers access business history with you online?
    – Are there any rewards systems for customer activities?
  4. How deep is your sales channel all the way to the individual consumer integrated in your digital presence?
    – Are your direct customers, business partners, vendors, supplier all the way to the individual end user of your products or services fully integrated in your digital presence?
    – Can any of your customer access their own data easily in your system, maybe change their names, email addresses etc? Can they see the products they have and the services they can acquire?
    – Do your customers have access to all the manuals, service descriptions, pricing, spare parts etc.?
    – Do you have a customer community where your customers can meet and exchange experiences?
    – Do you know if your final end consumer is interested in finding out more information from you?
    – Do you have any form of relationship escalation between the end consumer, sales channels, yourself and maybe suppliers of yours?
    – Are customer rewarded when they mention you online on public networks?
  5. What services, knowledge and information can you provide completely paperless?
    – What is the degree of paperless information flow from brochures, to orders, invoices, or contracts?
    – Do you still require a hand written signature on any document?
  6. How many technological channels do you support today?
    Is all the information available on classic websites, do you support mobile devices, do you have dedicated mobile apps, is information exchange possible via social media?

Competitive Advantage

Each and every act of digitization 2.0 should be considered a unique and individual competitive advantage. If it is not a competitive advantage it is probably just a regular digitization 1.0 measure to run your operation.

Obviously the above are only some samples of obvious digitization measures to increase your degree of digitization and creating unique competitive advantages. True so called “disruptive moments” in your business model, network effects and other topics are rather individual to your specific business case.

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The global race for more innovation is rapidly accelerating – still it is lead by California. Even the east coast states like NY, Massachusetts or other US states including Texas or Florida are still looking at California when it comes to top innovation. And Europe as a whole is far back and so are most of the Asian countries.

Asia the manufacturing powerhouse – not yet the innovation driver

Clearly Asia is on the run for the pole position in the world when it comes to mass manufacturing. Yet, Japan, who was actually the first Asian country with huge manufacturing power, shows a state of saturation, high prosperity and therefor high salary and its competitiveness in production leadership is slowing down. Other Asian countries have a high potential for becoming leading production farms to serve and support the growing population on earth – and with that potential a high potential for more production revenue a high potential for growing prosperity.

Strategic tech innovation still come from the US

However – in the past 30 years – it appeared that the manufacturing power is a very different economic value compared to innovation power. And while Germany, Switzerland, and France boost some of the most innovative technologies outside the US, with their “hidden champions” – it is the US who dominates the global technology space with the most relevant innovations. Relevant meaning technology that if it would be taken away would have a serious impact on the global economy.

Large corporations can’t disrupt themselves

All too often people hope that large corporations can just create an “innovation lab” in order to create innovative ideas – very much like a startup – and bring them to market. But in almost all cases that dream is bursting like a bubble after the innovation was created. When running a 20,000+ people company, each and every employee must run on 90% or better performance in order to be economically viable. If only a few would start experimenting with crazy ideas, the whole corporation me get in trouble. And if an “external” innovation lab brings a new solution into the company, the executive team quickly realizes that the sales organization has no resources to create a market or sell the product into the existing customer base, marketing has no capacity to bring new products to market, support teams are at 110% load and so forth. Corporate innovation is bound to the very same principles like a young startup: permanently under funded, lacking resources, trouble to get initial traction,  difficulties building a brand and a sales force and so forth. Corporations must create very different methods and values to actually make a corporate innovation lab successful.

Government Innovation Programs

Government innovation programs have evolved and we see a huge amount of innovative solutions in many countries. However most of those innovative solutions don’t make it. Billions are pored into startups and great ideas, yet they did not return the investment. An innovation in itself is of zero value. Only of the innovation is successfully brought to market and considered a value for the customer, it begins to create a value for the owner, the participating employees and partners and the economy. Yet, a local product is never bringing a major contribution to the national prosperity. But if the product goes global, the national  contribution to prosperity begins to flow. A country that is self sufficient is probably healthy and OK but never very prosper. A country with a high export rate however creates prosperity from the excess production value. A country with a high export rate from genuine and highly innovative products is the most prosper way for economic growth.

Innovation Economics – We Need To Understand

Here is probably the most interesting aspect of the innovation economics: If 5 countries are highly innovative and 10 countries not, obviously the five countries are much richer than the 10. And in the old thinking of competition, we try to be better (more innovative) then the other countries. But if all 15 countries are highly innovative, all 15 countries are rich and the five countries are richer by serving 15 rich countries than serving only 4 other rich countries and 10 poor countries. Yes, the delta is less and less but the overall economic power grows. Once we accept that model, we no longer keep countries poor or keep people dumb. Instead we keep competing but on a smaller difference. Formula-1 race cars are extremely fast and the winner wins often by a margin of a split second. Unlike 50 years ago where we saw minutes in between – simply because everything was a secret. In Silicon valley we have a spirit of sharing – even the “secret” strategies. Simply because we learned that sharing, openness and transparency is the biggest accelerator of all.

 

 

Five major initiatives for increasing national innovation

Society3 created five major initiatives to increase local innovation power and connect it to a global network to drive a global business:

1) Global Exchange
A global network where people are permanently connected. The exchange / community platform provides users instant access to all members via web, mobile and other services. The objective is to get answer on questions within a few minutes or hours, find new business partners around the globe, compare notes, and open sharing for ultra fast learning from each other.

2) Events & Meetings
While a digital global exchange is the only way to get people from around the world to collaborate and learn from each other fast, people need the personal face to face exchange too. Therefor Society3 and their local representatives conduct national entrepreneurs night events to meet and exchange on a national level and the World Innovations Forum to get together at least once a year on a global level.

3) Innovation Education & Acceleration
Education and acceleration through the accelerator program that we are currently preparing to be delivered online so everybody can participate and soon offline in the countries at local accelerators. Unique about the accelerator is the “knowledge and methods to train what it really takes to create a unique and innovative solution, build a disruptive business model, and bring it to global markets within very fast”. Society3 was named one of the top 100 most influential global accelerators.

4) Global Trading Platform
A new blockchain based trading platform will allow startups and young innovative businesses – even old ones – offer and sell their goods globally at a fraction of today’s cost – but most importantly bridging the gap from a conventional local business to a global business. Lacking the skills and bandwidth to go global is the most significant gap to today’s Silicon Valley’s leadership position.

5) Government & Corporate Innovation Labs Support
Governments and Corporations in over 100 countries are undertaking enormous initiatives to increase their innovation power. At least in the past 20 to 30 years no significant innovation stood out compared to Silicon Valley, which was an orchard just 70 years ago. The Society3 Group developed a methodical approach to accelerate significant innovation development within the respective country. Here the same techniques are applied as in the accelerator program: “Knowledge and methods what it really takes to create a unique and innovative solution, building disruptive businesses, and bring solutions to global markets within a very short period of time”.

Purpose for a global innovation push

Beyond the self serving objective to drive more business as a corporate or country, there is an additional purpose for the global innovation push. In order to eradicate hunger, poverty, and inequality, we as the human race, may want to drive “equality in prosperity” across the globe by creating innovation, entrepreneurship and business development from within the countries rather than external aid. And as a bonus we will see a wave of new innovation from all these different cultures.

 

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Digital is about 60 years old

The world started to go digital in the 1960’s with a big push from IBM. In the 80’s the digital world was developed further by bringing the power of digital to every desktop in form of a PC or laptop. In the 90’s with the rise of the Internet to every home and in the early 2000 years with social media to absolutely everybody and their dog. Digitization also branched out to mobile devices and with the inception of the iPhone computer power was at hand of virtually everybody in every continent by the 2010’s

Our Industry is fully computerized

Businesses obviously ask: “What the hell are they talking about, we have computers we do online banking, we have a website, our machines run with CMC systems, the products are designed with CAD system and the processes with an ERP system.  What is the big push about digital? Even the word digital is more than 30 years old. Right. Modern businesses in most European, US and Asian countries are at that level already. Most businesses have a high level of internal computerization or digitization.

So what is all the fuss about digitization then?

We are fully digital! No – and definitely no – YOU are not fully digitized. Your processes are as old as 30+ years. Your customers do not play any significant part in your processes and the degree of automation that helps customers versus automation that helps your internal organization  is roughly 100:1 in our organization’s favor. So what is digitization then?

I feel sorry but it is a misleading term, that has never been even explained in Europe and is absolutely NOT used in the US. Most of us in Silicon Valley has at least a smile with a sorrow face about Europe. But in the US economy that is actually completely down with no idea how to fix it is thankful for any confusion outside the US to give them time to find ways to fix the country. Unlike in the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s or 90’s where top notch US business people flew to Europe and showed them how to use computers, how to connect them in LANs, how to do e-commerce, how to use the Internet and how to do social media – absolutely nobody come to show us “digitization”. Why? The term does not exist. Google for “Digitization in the US” or “Obama and digitization” you will notice there are only a low number of findings and the content has nothing earth shattering.

Can we call the “digitization” push OFF? Please NO.

Yet there is a reason why Europe needs a weak-up call and the term “digitization” was just a word – unfortunately not explained too well. Compared to the US and now even in super fast growing China, what we call DIGITIZATION is ahead of Europe – again. Why?  Because Europeans follow advice and when reading the explanations that describe digitization or sometimes digitalization, it is so abstract and completely useless that people find their own way into something that is actually 180 degree opposite of the purpose of digitization: completely networked activities. Now – if I describe the term in my way I would do what many others do and at the end we have thousands of interpretations. Therefor I’d rather describe the effects of digitization in our normal day to day lives and in our businesses.

I will do that in the next post.

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Getting innovation to global markets

Bringing innovation successfully to market is key for prosperity

Nations all over the world pour millions and billions into innovation support – yet only a fraction of those inventions are ever seen their markets. Innovation officers consider bringing those innovations to market the sole responsibility of the entrepreneurs who created them. The job is done when an innovation was funded. An estimated 2% of the innovations funded by the European Commission become eventually successful solutions – the rest of the Millions in funding evaporate.

Instead of taking some of the grants to ensure that the major part of the investments in innovation even has a chance to survive – more money is thrown into ideas that all too often already from the beginning have no chance to get anywhere. This frustrating waste of money time and resources drove us to rethink the core values of innovation.

The initial value of innovation is zero

Any invention or innovative product or service has no value just because it exists. Assume, somebody develops a battery in the size of a matchbox that can host 1 Gigawatt of energy for 500 hours. As long as nobody has access to it, there is absolutely no economic value for our society. That power box does not create revenues, it does not create jobs, it does not give business to trade organizations and no added energy to its actual consumer.

Only if that invention is brought to market, it begins to create an economic value to the economy / society it is made available to. And the larger the geographic range is, the higher the value. Social networks have been in existence in very rudimentary forms before Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. But only once the innovation of digital social connections became a user friendly appearance and was brought to large numbers of the population it became of real value. And in almost all cases the value for the company is created when the value for the consumer is created.

Innovation Value

We see a clear correlation between consumer value and innovation value. If we stay with social media media for a moment, we see that correlation in several instances pretty clear. The US social media company LinkedIn started in 2003 and shortly thereafter German competitor Xing. Xing was even able to make it to become the first social media company in the world to do an IPO. However LinkedIn was more appealing to users and was strategically marketed on a global scale. Xing vanished away and LinkedIn dominates that part of the social media tools. The IPO for Xing did not help, the money they gained did not get them to the top. And exactly the same happens in the early phase of a business – when they are still startups.

Switzerland for instance is known for its innovative people and companies. It’s the country with one of the most patents per capita. Yet – in the past 20 or 30 years not a single tech company made it to the top. The innovation was purchased on an very early stage, investors and entrepreneurs chose the quick money over the economic value potential it could have for the country and sold the business, one after the other to companies who mostly siting other countries. The Innovation Value for country of Switzerland is nearly zero because the value creation, job creation, revenue and tax creation is happening in other countries.

Innovation Value and Valuation

Companies like Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Intel, WordPress, and lately Bitcoin dominate the technology related behavior, data usage and providing across the entire planet. All those companies have been considered vastly overvalued and part of a crazy hype. Just a few years later we most realize that the value seem to be OK and even if not, those companies dominate the rest of the world. Recently however the US dominance is broken and another country is becoming the most critical enemy: China. Europeans, Africans, Latin Americans just turn their heads from west to east and now complain about overhyped companies like Alibaba, Baidu, Tencent, Huawei, Xiaomi, Geely and so forth. All those companies shine with their high valuation. And the high valuation in turn attracts investors, talents, consumers and general attention. Only the combination of highly innovative products PLUS well marketed solutions create an economic value for a society by creating large amounts of jobs, revenue and taxes.  And the valuation from far sighted investors is the best indication for the economic potential in the future.

Innovation Value for a Economy / County

A country which does understand that network of value, innovation, valuation, and marketability of their startups and entrepreneurs has a great chance to benefit from the innovation they support, sponsor and fund. For others it is a risk of a large money and brain drain and even worst – like in Switzerland, large sums of money are poured into innovation and those who actually seem to have a great chance to grow are purchased long before the value could provide a return to the donor.

 

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The two founders of Society3 and the World Innovations Forum, Axel and Marita will be visiting ambassadors in 8 countries in Asia, co-organize local “Entrepreneurs Night Events” and explore key challenges and opportunities to increase success rates of entrepreneurs and corporate intrapreneurs.

There is an enormous engagement to increase the level of innovation all over the world. However most societies work isolated from the other and still live in the old paradigm of keeping everything close to their chest, distrusting others and maintain a rather closed mindset. Our mission is to change that.

It takes a special mindset to bring innovation successfully to global markets.

An economy is only as good as their ability to innovate and progress. What was the US in the last century, the UK before that is China today. And while China is the economic leader in Asia right now, other Asian countries like South Korea, Malaysia, or Japan are high on their heels. Yet, bringing innovation to global markets requires a paradigm shift in mindset. Our mission is not to create even more innovations – but bringing the good ones successfully to global markets. Only then, businesses grow, create jobs, and spark new businesses again.

We are visiting Thailand, Nepal, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Mainland China, South Korea and Japan.

Entrepreneurs Nights

Tue Mar 6 Kathmandu, Nepal
Thu Mar 8 Hanoi, Vietnam
Tue Mar 13 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Thu Mar 15 Singapore, Singapore
Tue Mar 20 Hong Kong
Thu Mar 22 Shenzhen, China
Tue Mar 27 Seoul, South Korea
Thu Mar 29 Tokyo, Japan

In each city we will have time to meet with ambassadors, investors, entrepreneurs, sponsors and governments.

We are extremely excited about this tour, meeting many amazing people and sharing our vision of a globally connected innovation meta space that helps entrepreneurs from all corners of the earth to work with each other as if they would sit in the same co-working space.

 

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competing successful with enterprises - Society3

Once in a while I meet entrepreneurs with amazing ideas but they don’t know how they could compete with even the largest enterprises.

I started my first company from scratch with $20,000 and needed to compete with 3 other businesses, each $200 Million to $1 Billion in revenue – 10 years later we were market leader on a global scale ($5B in revenue)

My second company was a little more different

I started my third company right after the bubble burst and competed with two other competitors who had $70 Million and $68 Million cash in the bank from pre bubble rounds – I started with $500,000 – 5 years later we were close to acquire one but let go because the due diligence made clear there is nothing we could gain – being the market leader already.

Here is how we compete:

1) In each case we developed a disruptive business model. We completely went of the beaten path and redefined sales channels or we made payments in very different ways, provided transparency were was none, service integration in the pricing and so forth. It was the market that forced the competition to follow us and compete with us – or loose it.

2) I never competed based on technology, product functions or any of those short term win or loose features. I learned: “The best product never wins”. However we did have great technology because we had great engineers – yet it was not the winning factor in the end.

3) Business is done between people. I knew I can win more customers when I have a nicer team – and I always had a stellar team. :)

In retrospect: all big winners won with a superior business model and amazing teams.

Obviously I don’t know anything about your business and therefor it is hard to make more specific suggestions – but look at your business model and your team before you even spend a millisecond on your product when it comes to competing for market share.

A good read to make sure you can handle such a problem is the question to find great founders

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There is a concept called MVP – Minimum Viable Product.

Even though the name kind of says it all, the concept “MINIMUM” – “VIABLE” – “PRODUCT” indicates that there are as few features as possible, it must kind of work and it is a product – most entrepreneurs interpret MVP as the early iteration of a product they want to build. But that is definitely not the case. Let me explain it in more details:

1) MINIMUM VP
An MVP is supposed to demonstrate your core functionality that shows how your product is different from others. And as such focus exclusively on the core mechanism and process of the new solution. If you build a self driving car, it would be perfectly OK to use an old VW beetle that may have no lights and only one seat. But if it is perfectly self steering – you made a great MVP. Try to implement as little features as possible. Every “nice to have” feature destructs unless it is absolutely necessary to show the core idea.

2) M VIABLE P
Be aware that the MVP will only be used by early adopters and need to be seen by investors and other key people. They are typically smart enough to abstract the concept and imagine where you want to take it. It just needs to show the core feature in a very solid way. It need to work over and over again. The function needs to be robust enough that anybody can envision you build the whole concept in a beautiful way later on. Equally important, let the users experiment with it BEFORE it is ready. You will want to learn as much as possible from those users to build the final product after their feedback. Redoing a product is not only much harder but a rather “ready” product may mislead users to a behavior they may not be able to articulate their pain – rather leave it open in an MVP.

3) MV PRODUCT
Make sure that you have a well thought out business model that is actually the disrupting part of your solution. EVERY business model is reflected in the MVP. If the business model is lame, your MVP will not be too catchy wither. Make the PRODUCT reflect your business model.

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