Life-Size Hologram for Speakers, Educators, and Entertainers

We’ve seen it in sci-fi movies, television series, and the music and entertainment world. Now, you’re going to see it on the lecture circuit and more!

We’ve seen it in sci-fi movies, television series, and the music and entertainment world. Now, you’re going to see it on the lecture circuit and more!

With the help of holographic telepresence pioneer ARHT Media, I now offer the opportunity for organizations worldwide to have a life-size 3D hologram of myself beamed in anywhere in the world to deliver a live presentation, interacting with the audience via monitor as if I were physically there while being in an ARHT Media studio.

In the audience location, an ARHT Media tech will set up and run the equipment conveniently for the meeting or convention planners, and given that there are many ARHT Media locations globally, travel costs are very reasonable regardless of where the meeting is located.

We can also pre-record a customized presentation for the client using the special ARHT Media equipment and send it with the technician and holographic projection equipment to the audience location, eliminating both the need for a high bandwidth connection and any logistical conflicts on my end.

My goal is to greatly exceed clients’ meeting expectations while maintaining the integrity of my in-person presentations by being interactive and customized to the specific audience and industry. Before I delve into the benefits this technology has to offer, let’s first discuss ARHT Media.

CEO Larry O’Reilly is a successful global business development executive who transformed the IMAX brand from a museum theater experience to a billion-dollar global commercial distribution channel for IMAX and Hollywood films. O’Reilly and ARHT are also impacting service industry professionals in the medical field, the government, and more. While the bar is raised every day in the world of technology, let’s think for a second about how this could impact other industries.

It’s safe to say that holographic telepresence represents an increasing Hard Trend shaping the future of the presentation and performance industries, but how does it disrupt other industries?

A Positive Disruption

Take the education field, for example. Currently, at universities, professors teach three courses a semester, with additional courses taken on by adjuncts. Holographic telepresence makes it entirely possible for a professor to teach the same course multiple times over simultaneously with a life-size hologram beamed into an overflow lecture hall, and the disrupted adjunct could go into business for themselves, beaming themselves into college classrooms around the world as needed.

Consider an industry that is always disrupted: music. As of today, streaming services offer infinite residual income per listen, with the new issue being the microscopic amount the artist receives. Therefore, artists live on the road, selling merchandise and performing constantly. How could a band or entertainer be more anticipatory in their thinking on how to deal with the struggles of today’s music industry?

Imagine a world where they could mix live performance with holographic telepresence, performing live for select dates and as a hologram for others. Some may prefer all holograms due to illness, age, or other factors, performing live from their own studio to anywhere in the world while interacting directly with the audience in real time.

Aside from alleviating the travel woes, consider the cost savings. It costs a lot to put on a performance. The artist could capitalize on this technology financially by way of making ticket sales to hologram shows less expensive, depending on the setup; merchandise could come down in cost, and they could keep more of what they deserve for writing music we all love.

Of course, much like any innovative technology, the question remains: Will it be as good?

The Experience

Being a public speaker myself, I understand that many people reading this right now may be skeptical of how this technology would be received, or think their presentation would be less visceral if it wasn’t in person. Believe me, nothing is more powerful than being somewhere in person; however, the reality is it is an impossibility to be everywhere at once, and with the growing demand for instant gratification in the world today, how does an entrepreneur offering an in-person experience stretch themselves thinner than they already are?

The answer is holographic telepresence coupled with human performance, and this is the perfect example of the facilitation of capitalizing on being human in a more time-conscious way. When a client wants me to deliver a keynote speech at an event, I now offer several options, as I mentioned above, including my regular live presentation. Being known as a technology futurist and disruptive innovation expert, I demonstrate said expertise in my actual delivery of the presentation via holographic telepresence technology.

The world is always evolving, and technological disruption has always occurred; we are just noticing it now more than ever. However, if you pay attention to the hard trends that are shaping your industry, both inside and out, you’ll start to anticipate what’s to come and capitalize on new, game-changing opportunities.

Learn More

A Life-Size Hologram is an impressive way for Daniel Burrus to deliver his keynote presentation. Please contact our office to bring Daniel’s Hologram Keynote to your next event.

Positive Disruption using Hard Trends and Soft Trends

Strategies based on uncertainty come with high levels of risk, but strategies based on certainty dramatically reduce risk and produce superior results. This is the difference between Soft Trends and Hard Trends.

If you don’t like a Hard Trend, there isn’t a way for you to change it. However, if you don’t like a Soft Trend, you can easily change it to your advantage. I’ve discussed the three digital accelerators responsible for today’s rate of exponential change, transforming every business process in a short amount of time. This is a Hard Trend, while a Soft Trend would be whether you will transform your business processes.

Knowing where to find certainty makes the future more visible. For example, let’s say you want to start a smart watch company. The smart watch business is already filled with competition; however, by using Hard Trends, you can stack the deck in your favor.

Using the certainty provided by demographics, you can create a successful watch business based on the demographic Hard Trend of aging baby boomers and their parents. Simply design a watch for people who are 70 and older — and keep in mind the fact that it will likely be their children who buy it in an effort to keep their parents healthy and safe.

You could design the watch with sensors to detect blood oxygen levels, blood pressure, pulse, temperature and much more. If the wearer falls, the accelerometer in the watch will activate an alarm and send a text message to his or her caregivers. The watch’s GPS and digital assistant will help a wearer with Alzheimer’s get home — and, more importantly, make it possible for caregivers to find him or her from anywhere.

By using the certainty of Hard Trends, you can see new opportunities to create winning products in industries that may already seem saturated.

Next, let’s look at an example of a technological Hard Trend using speed and bandwidth to grow sales. Domino’s Pizza is using a voice-activated personal assistant to increase the speed and efficiency of ordering pizzas. The app even has a “pizza tracker” that allows you to follow the process of your pizza, from creation to delivery. They’ve taken this technological Hard Trend a step further and have created a partnership with Ford Motor Company, making it possible for you to order your pizzas directly from your Ford! With these simple steps, Domino’s has gone from being just a food company to a technology company.

Today, it seems I hear more and more people complaining about government regulations. But what these individuals are missing is that these same governmental regulations are actually Hard Trends that offer visible opportunities. Take the case of the state of California’s requiring nonfiction reading for first through third graders, with a two-year window to comply. I recently met a savvy entrepreneur who capitalized on this new law. She contacted the largest school districts in the state to see if they were interested in getting help meeting this reading requirement. The districts were very interested, which made it easy for her to secure outside funding to develop and supply the online reading products schools need to comply with the new state law.

This entrepreneur took the Hard Trend of a seemingly impossible-to-navigate governmental regulation burdening teachers and administrators and created a new business opportunity out of it. In part thanks to having guaranteed sales by partnering with the large school districts, she cornered the market and successfully developed and supplied the online reading products by the required deadline.

Remember, strategy based on certainty has low risk and high reward. Base your strategies on certainty, on the known future ( the Hard Trends), as well as on the Soft Trends you can manipulate, and you will build something that will not only survive but even thrive in the years ahead.

Merely hoping that disruption is not on your horizon is not a strategy; it is avoidance. Paying attention to a certainty is a strategy. If you don’t make this perspective shift today, it will be far more difficult to lead from behind tomorrow. As dizzying as the pace of change has been these past few years, that pace will only increase.

It’s not uncommon to limit yourself by focusing on all the things you don’t know and all the things you can’t do.

Instead, create the habit of starting with a list of all the things you do know and all the things you can do! Every time you run into something you aren’t certain about, focus harder on the certainties involved.

Turn Disruption and Change Into Opportunity and Advantage with my latest book The Anticipatory Organization. 

The Dangers of Legacy Thinking

Every successful company and organization inevitably must confront a powerful question:

Is what got us to where we are helping us move forward or holding us back? Your company or organization may be thriving, but is this record of success sustainable and can you keep going?

Every successful company and organization inevitably must confront a powerful question:

Is what got us to where we are helping us move forward or holding us back? Your company or organization may be thriving, but is this record of success sustainable and can you keep going?

Maybe you’re noticing kinks in your armor or a drop-off in your sales. You’re thinking and acting as usual, but something is misfiring.

This is what I refer to as “legacy thinking.” If left unchecked, legacy thinking can pose enormous obstacles to your continued success—or worse.

Legacy Technology—Dangerous but Also Diverting      

Legacy thinking has a better-known cousin—legacy technology. The issue of legacy technology is old news—in more ways than one.

As you probably know, legacy technology refers to old forms of technology that are simply no longer optimal. This includes everything from software, operating systems or almost any technology once groundbreaking but now well past its prime.

The issues reach beyond outdated technology. Trying to get by with legacy technology can be very expensive, from the cost of operating the systems themselves to paying people to make certain nothing goes wrong, an inevitability. For example, Delta Airlines’ entire fleet in the United States was temporarily grounded because of computer problems—the second shutdown over a period of six months also shutting down the carrier’s website and mobile apps.

A more serious example occurred last year when the British bank Tesco shut down online banking after 40,000 accounts were compromised.

Those major headaches do not mean legacy technology is a problem in and of itself—it can cause a dangerous comfort in legacy thinking.

Legacy Thinking Defined

Like legacy technology, legacy thinking refers to thinking, strategies and other actions that are outdated and no longer serve you to the extent that they once had. This can be problematic if legacy thinking accounted for much of the success you’ve been able to achieve.

Many organizations can point to business principles, strategies and other ways of thinking that underscored success. One example is agility—the ability to respond quickly to changing events and market conditions. Reacting as quickly as possible helped many organizations climb to the top of their industries. Being agile, both internally and externally, seemed like a bulletproof way to approach things.

However, we are now in a period of transformational change. Whether products, services or the marketplace, change is not slowing down, which means legacy technology is becoming outdated faster as well.            

The same is occurring with legacy thinking. As the rate of change increases, even the most agile of organizations will be hard-pressed to keep up—let alone leap ahead with new ideas and innovations—and agility will likely prove to be less effective.

Take that reasoning and apply it to other forms of thinking and strategies that may have served you well in the past. Are they moving you forward or holding you back? If they’re more a hindrance, that’s legacy thinking. 

Legacy Thinking—Changing Your Thinking Changes Your Results

The first thing to understand about legacy thinking is that it isn’t necessarily all bad. Overcoming legacy thinking doesn’t mandate erasing every strategy, idea or leadership concept you ever used in the past. Instead, identify those ideas and strategies that continue to serve you well while pinpointing others that may have worn out their value.

Agility in and of itself is not something to be completely discarded. There will always be fires and other immediate issues that warrant an agile response. However, it’s no longer the silver bullet it once was.

Consider other forms of legacy thinking. For instance, maybe you or some others in your organization are hesitant to embrace new technology critical to your future growth and success. I saw this firsthand when I worked with a major retail organization. Many key figures on the leadership team didn’t embrace the company’s commitment to technology and other elements of the future. Mobile apps, internet shopping and other innovations made the company’s future seem bleak.

To remedy the situation, management made lateral moves with some individuals so their attitude wouldn’t hinder the company’s vision, while others were tasked with identifying strategies, ideas and tools that would serve the company’s progress well. The result was twofold—not only did the company effectively separate elements of harmful legacy thinking from their workflow, but those once-hesitant executives saw firsthand how powerful those tools and ideas could be. They were walked into the future—and they liked what they saw.

The next time you’re considering the dangers of legacy technology, include the pitfalls of legacy thinking. Just as old software shut down an entire airline, legacy thinking can cripple your organization. Don’t forget that there’s always the opportunity for an upgrade in the way you think and act.

Redefine and Reinvent Your Career Before It Leaves You Behind

Going forward, the one and only thing you can depend on is transformation. Technology-driven business process transformation is a Hard Trend; it will happen, and it is happening now! However, the truth of the matter is that actually utilizing this Hard Trend to redefine and reinvent your business or your career is a Soft Trend; some will do it and prosper, others will not. For those who want to use the forces of change and transformation to grow and prosper, this article is for you.

We are no longer in a period of rapid change. We have now entered an amazing inflection point where true transformation happens. For example, we changed how we listened to music and catalogued our media when we went from CDs and floppy discs to all our smartphones holding music, photos, files, email and access to information. Technological change transformed our processes in these industries.

Going forward, the one and only thing you can depend on is transformation. Technology-driven business process transformation is a Hard Trend; it will happen, and it is happening now! However, the truth of the matter is that actually utilizing this Hard Trend to redefine and reinvent your business or your career is a Soft Trend; some will do it and prosper, others will not. For those who want to use the forces of change and transformation to grow and prosper, this article is for you. It is crucial to understand that you can’t go backward, and you can’t stand still. You can’t keep doing what you’ve always done and expect to thrive, even if you are improving at that rhetorical process. The only way to survive and thrive is to continuously reinvent and redefine everything you are doing.

Redefining and Reinventing

Transformation is an accelerated and magnified force of change. Redefining and reinventing is a way of harnessing that wild force and applying it to a product, a service, an industry, or a career. Redefining and reinventing mean seizing the opportunity to rewrite your own history—before digital disruption does it for you.

Lee Iacocca and Hal Sperlich reinvented an entire marketplace back in 1983 when they redefined the family station wagon with an entirely new automotive category—the minivan—that would continue to dominate for the next quarter century. At the time, station wagon sales were not growing, even though baby boomers were in their prime childbearing years and the nation was bursting with new families. Why? Because even though baby boomers needed a set of wheels with substantial family room, they did not want to look and act just like their parents.

A Powerful Strategy

Fast forward to more recent times. Basic minivans are not as cool to the next generations having families, as Generation X and millennials grew up riding in their parents’ minivans, and history tends to repeat itself: they do not want to look and act just like their parents, either! Now automotive companies produce what is called the crossover—sporty alternatives to minivans capable of safely and conveniently hauling both families and large purchases from the store. As it was a stroke of flash foresight with baby boomers, it occurred yet again, based on the Hard Trend of Generation X, millennials, and their needs (along with the eternal insight that people don’t want to look or act like their parents).

Reinventing has always been a powerful strategy. But in the past, corporate and product reinvention was an option; today it is an imperative. Today, we live in a unique context, where an absurd amount of processing power and bandwidth exists and has completely transformed our concept of stability. In the past, stability and change were two contrasting states: when you achieved stability, you did so despite change. Today change itself has become an integral part of stability. You can achieve stability only by embracing change as a continuous and permanent state.

But even change itself has changed. Information and new knowledge now travel around the world at the speed of light while technological innovation occurs almost as fast as the speed of thought. In this new frontier of vertical change, you cannot just reinvent now and then: to survive and thrive you must be redefining and reinventing yourself, your business, and your career continuously.

If you are a business, you are faced with an urgent question every day: Are your customers learning and changing faster than you are? Because they are changing and learning fast—and if you are not already designing and providing the solutions to the problem they are going to have next week and next year, you are already behind the curve. This truth spans industries and size, no matter if you are an individual, a small business, or a multinational corporation.

The question is whether we will become more anticipatory by paying close attention to the Hard Trends shaping our industries, or wait until we are inevitably disrupted by technology-driven change. Apple, Google, and Amazon are good examples of Anticipatory Organizations, and the results speak for themselves. Will you join them?

Eager for more insights? Find them in my new book,The Anticipatory Organization, now available for the price of shipping.

Dematerialization—A Pathway for Innovation

The ability to make products and features smaller is called dematerialization. Dematerialization is a key strategy for innovation and improving what we utilize in business and society.

The ability to make products and features smaller is called dematerialization. Dematerialization is a key strategy for innovation and improving what we utilize in business and society.

Technology is ever-changing and constantly improving. The ability to reduce the amount of material it takes to build the physical things that accomplish digital tasks is revolutionary and, likewise, growing as fast as the industries they serve a purpose in.

A Perfect Dematerialization Example

Wearable technology—which in recent years has increased in speed and memory while becoming one of the smallest computer devices in our lives—is a perfect example of how quickly dematerialization has improved modern technology. Smart watches, among other wearable digital devices, are the current example of how computers have shrunk and ultimately become more integrated in our lives because of how easily they can be worn and ignored until needed. They are lighter, more portable, more economical (in terms of the materials it takes to produce them), and softer in environmental impact.

Prior to the abundance of wearable technology, tablets and smartphones slowly put laptops and desktop computers to shame, as even the most portable laptops used to be several inches thick and weigh six or seven pounds. The market for a smaller, streamlined personal computing device brought us the iPad and the Microsoft Surface; however, today, wearable devices use a fraction of the material and accomplish far more than their ancestors—and cost far less. Plus, your main personal computer—the computer you use the most—had become your smartphone, which was something portable, multipurpose, and a device that supplied you with far more beneficial features than any computer you have used in the past.

Transformation

 A different example associated with wearable technology and smart devices is the progression of recorded music. Decades ago, record players and in-home audio systems were the only means to listen to recorded music. Eventually, car radios came along, where you could hear music while you travel. Soon after, the emergence of cassette tapes and compact discs brought the creation of portable CD and tape players, and the early ‘90s saw the dematerialization of bulky sound systems down to mini-boomboxes to bring outside while you played basketball.

Steve Jobs and the iPod yet again revolutionized and dematerialized recorded music players by allowing you to have thousands of songs in your pocket, though even those were clunky when they emerged. As streaming services displaced CD sales, smartphones and wireless headphones yet again made listening to music at the gym or on a bicycle ride even simpler, though you’d often have to strap the smartphone to your bicep. Finally, wearable technology now allows the same streaming technology paired with wireless headphones, making listening to music anywhere while doing nearly anything completely possible.

Whatever your company has, you can make it smaller—that is, if you want to. On the other hand, we don’t necessarily want to make everything smaller, and dematerialization doesn’t necessarily mean miniaturization. For example, we have the capacity to make our cars much, much smaller, but we may not necessarily want that for all models. Smart cars and some fully electric vehicles can benefit; however, a Ford F250 becoming the size of a Chevy Volt will take away from the hauling capabilities.

So how do you make something lighter without shrinking it completely? Dematerialize components of it, as seen in the newer models of Ford’s GT500. Its components have been dematerialized and are now lighter, making it faster than the Dodge Demon in a quarter mile, while not needing as heavy of an engine. Same size car, faster than ever before.

Ask yourself, “What would we want to make smaller? What would add value by making it smaller?” Take a look at just about everything you have related to your products and your services, and always consider the pros and cons of what you can dematerialize.

Learn about the Eight Hard Trend Pathways to Innovation and how you can identify and develop game-changing opportunities in my latest book The Anticipatory Organization.

Bitcoin’s Highs and Lows: Where to Next?

Since the critical acclaim of Bitcoin and digital currencies in 2017, there has been a lot of talk about its future. Bitcoin was the first digital currency to attract mainstream attention, and after that, 2018 was less than glamorous, with the price plummeting. Are cryptocurrencies a thing of the past already, or a Hard Trend of the future?

Since the critical acclaim of Bitcoin and digital currencies in 2017, there has been a lot of talk about its future. Bitcoin was the first digital currency to attract mainstream attention, and after that, 2018 was less than glamorous, with the price plummeting.

Are cryptocurrencies a thing of the past already, or a Hard Trend of the future?

A Bitcoin Overview

Cryptocurrency uses peer-to-peer technology, similar to the file-sharing technology of the early 2000s. Bitcoin was the first cryptocurrency, it being virtual and decentralized. This means no one is in charge of it and it isn’t backed by the government. Bitcoin’s value is protected only by a distributed network that maintains its ledgers and protects its transactions by means of cryptography.

The concept behind Bitcoin first emerged in 2009 by an anonymous programmer (or programmers) using the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto. A single Bitcoin is today valued at $8,204, while the market cap is now at $145.66 billion.

Every Bitcoin is connected to an address and every Bitcoin is sent or received by a digital wallet attached to the address. Names aren’t associated with the transactions, creating a system that is wholly transparent while remaining functionally anonymous.

Bitcoin: A Soft Trend?

What exactly can you do with Bitcoins? It’s digital currency, so saving or spending them seems to be the immediate answer. However, in order to spend them, individuals and, more importantly, businesses must accept your Bitcoins. While a growing number of businesses accept Bitcoin, such as Overstock.com, most popular merchants and service providers including Amazon do not.

Let’s first discuss my Hard Trend Methodology and the differences between Hard Trends and Soft Trends to assess Bitcoin’s longevity.

A Hard Trend is a trend that will happen and is based on measurable, tangible, and fully predictable facts, events, or objects. They are future facts that cannot be changed.

A Soft Trend is a trend that might happen and is based on an assumption that looks valid in the present, and it may be likely to happen, but it is not a future fact. Soft Trends can be changed.

While Bitcoin itself grew in popularity, its future success is still a Soft Trend. During 2017, Bitcoin was treated by many as more of an investment than actual currency and likewise faced backlash when it was used for illegal online transactions.

However, the concept of cryptocurrencies is a Hard Trend, and here’s why:

Cryptocurrency: A Hard Trend

Cryptocurrencies are here to stay, including the underlying technology (blockchain) that enables them to function. Cryptocurrency, as well as blockchain, represents a radically new idea in finance: a decentralized system for exchanging value. Due to its open-source nature and its copyright-free core program, there will always be room for improvement. Programmers around the world have already developed military-grade encryptions and new ways to trade, thus stabilizing the prices.

Cryptocurrencies exist as mere entries in a blockchain-enabled accounting system. That system acts as a transparent public ledger that records transactions among “addresses.” Owning cryptocurrency isn’t analogous to having paper money in your pocket. Instead, it means a personal claim to an address, with your own password, and the right to do with it as you see fit. Over time, this will increasingly disrupt traditional models and global currencies, playing a role in a number of future digital transformations.

The Future of Currency: Digital Payments

Imagine you want new shoes, and your favorite shoe store accepts some form of cryptocurrency. If you don’t already possess cryptocurrency, you purchase some from a crypto-currency kiosk or an online exchange and assign it to your online account, known as a “wallet.”

When paying for your new shoes, you open your “digital wallet,” which is unlocked with passwords and/or biometrics, and the currency network is publicly informed that you’ve transferred $100 worth of cryptocurrency to the store. This happens fast, and there are almost no fees and no personal information divulged. Compare this with the slow debit or credit card counterpart, often with a third party involved. The benefits become more clear.

Other Cryptocurrencies

Bitcoin was the first digital currency, but not the last. A large number of cryptocurrencies now exist, and the list is expanding. Litecoin, for example, was launched back in 2011 on the same blockchain as Bitcoin and was meant to improve it. Ethereum was created in 2015 by Vitalik Buterin and is a blockchain-based platform that can be used for developing decentralized apps and smart contracts. The list of cryptocurrencies is actually quite large and, as I said earlier, growing. And the enabling technology, blockchain, is being applied to a rapidly growing number of industries creating both disruption and new opportunities.

In Conclusion

Bitcoin versus the technology category of cryptocurrency gives us a clear example of the difference between Soft Trends and Hard Trends. Cryptocurrencies will continue to evolve and integrate into our economy and everyday life, as will the enabling blockchain technology, making cryptocurrency a Hard Trend, while the future success of individual cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin is a Soft Trend: It may or may not have a bright future. When you’re able to distinguish between the Soft Trends that might happen and the Hard Trends that will happen, you will dramatically improve your ability to understand and manage risk as you become more anticipatory.

Learn how to accurately manage risk with my latest bestselling book The Anticipatory Organization.

Use Anticipation to Turn Disruption Into Opportunity

For the longest time, cable television was a miraculous technology that not everybody had in their homes, mostly because not everybody could afford it. Now, not everyone has it in their homes because YouTube TV, Sling TV, and other new, emerging technologies have disrupted the broadcast industry. So why didn’t Spectrum think of it first? Why did they become the disrupted and not the disruptor?

For the longest time, cable television was a miraculous technology that not everybody had in their homes, mostly because not everybody could afford it. Now, not everyone has it in their homes because YouTube TV, Sling TV, and other new, emerging technologies have disrupted the broadcast industry. So why didn’t Spectrum think of it first? Why did they become the disrupted and not the disruptor?

At some point, Spectrum and many others established a cash cow — a product or service that generates the majority of your income and profits — and got comfortable building a successful business around it while protecting and defending it. The fact that most of us are all busy, focused, and needing to meet or exceed our quarterly numbers keeps us from looking far enough ahead in our industries to see disruption.

In order to thrive in this time of exponential change, it is imperative to actively scan far outside of your industry looking for new ways to disrupt yourself first. When you discover a new technology or disruptive technology-driven trend, it is important to separate what I call the Hard Trends that will happen from the Soft Trends that might happen.

Anticipating disruption before it happens defines whether you’ll be the disrupter or the disrupted, using predictable Hard Trends to create the new cash cows that will disrupt your competitors and grow your future.

Another reason so many companies fail to see disruption is that the strategy most often invoked is to protect and defend the status quo. The amount of time and money organizations spend protecting and defending their current cash cows is astounding, as in the past, this was a valid strategy producing good results. However, digital disruption is different, as it tends to be game-changing with a low cost of entry.

A key to success for an established company that’s facing early-stage disruption is to adopt a strategy of embrace and extend. Spectrum continues to spend millions on bringing in customers for cable, Internet, and phone packages, mostly campaigning on the grounds that you can’t watch sports without cable. Unfortunately, Spectrum and other cable providers saw Internet TV like YouTube or Sling as a Soft Trend, much like Blockbuster viewed Netflix, that could be protected and defended against. It was definitely a Hard Trend. YouTube and Sling have conquered broadcast sports and are quickly leaving Spectrum in the dust.

The assumption that disruption won’t happen to you and your business is dangerous. Today, there are many industries still ripe for disruption. Taking the time to look outside of your industry at the Hard Trends shaping the future will amaze you. Understanding that digital disruption will happen to you if it has not already happened is important.

Ask yourself if you are looking inside and outside of your business. What are your blind spots? What fundamental assumptions about the “way things will always be” do you operate on? And what are you doing to become your own disruptor?

What is a hotel? What is a taxi? What is a bookstore? Companies like Marriott and Barnes & Noble, and even government agencies like New York’s Taxi and Limousine Commission, thought they knew the answers to those questions, and Spectrum and other cable providers are currently thinking the same way.

What do you think you know about your industry?

The connectivity of the Internet has changed so many industries. The emergence of Netflix, Hulu, and even Spotify for music has not only revolutionized the entertainment media industry and consumers’ consumption of said media, but it has also closed up some of the loopholes that fostered piracy of content. They are problem solvers, and now they are solving the problem of customers having to pay exorbitant fees to companies like Spectrum and DirecTV to merely cling to one favorite sports channel.

If these cable providers offered a cost-effective alternative with a price and framework similar to YouTube TV’s, they would be using this current disruption to their advantage. But is it too late for them? Are the days of cable as we know it over? Better yet, will Spectrum shrink exponentially until it’s merely an Internet provider? If so, it’d be foolish to ignore the possibility that a more affordable means of accessing the Internet is on the horizon as well.

Letting your ideas about consumers calcify and ceasing adapting or anticipating is when you start inadvertently digging your own grave, no matter how outlandish the disruption may seem. Believing that your business is immune to changing circumstances is the common thread between all disrupted organizations. The fundamental assumptions of so many industries have turned out to be wrong.

You need to become your own disruptor, your own best competition. Don’t get comfortable. Disrupt yourself, or someone else will.

Which technology innovations could be a game-changer for your industry? Learn how to tell with my latest book The Anticipatory Organization.

Disruptive Breakthroughs in 3D Printing

2019 is looking to be a big year for new, disruptive technology. The business sectors that will be most dramatically affected will be healthcare, manufacturing, construction, transportation, aerospace, and life sciences. One industry that is always growing and shows no signs of slowing is 3D printing. It is going to continue to be hugely disruptive to every industry — including yours.

The newest 3D printing technology enables the use of dozens of different materials simultaneously in one print run. Materials range from biological filament and living tissue to chocolate, rubber, metals, plastics, clay, and wood fiber.

We have reached the point where 3D-printed electronics can be successfully integrated with multiple materials and complex shapes. In short, we have entered a world in which many things can be 3D printed — right in front of you. And now the speed at which printing can occur is where we are headed next.

The newest types of 3D printers are up to 40 times faster than original additive manufacturing machines released in the past five years. These astounding devices can reduce production timelines of very functional pieces of equipment from days to mere hours. The possibilities are endless.

A known 3D printing example in the medical field is dental implants or 3D models of teeth orthodontists use to determine the care needed for braces. Likewise, the mechanical design process of 3D printing will become more autonomous in the coming years, taking elements from pre-existing designs to create new ones.

Using 3D printing, sophisticated engineering projects like printing a car can be designed, built, and brought to market faster than ever, rather than the typical year or multiyear-long development cycle. This concept is being referred to as 4D printing, where time is a factor in the process. But with all this shortening of what used to be long-term projects, many fear that this means sacrificing quality to the machines. This is not true.

When breakthrough technologies arrive, they do notsimply replace older ones. We integrate the old and the cutting edge to create new value, and that in turn alters how we relate to the older technology without erasing that older technology completely. Transformation is seldom a simple case of new tech replacing old tech.

3D printing has not and will not fully replace traditional manufacturing; it will instead be integrated with it to provide even more value. Jobs of years past will be repositioned in new ways to work alongside 3D printing in manufacturing, especially given the speed at which 3D printing increased coupled with the importance of the parts 3D printers are creating. This increases the need for employees to review and ensure quality of the items created.

Technology-Driven Change Coming to a Market Near You

We’re about to witness an explosion of new applications. Rapid prototyping, as well as personalized manufacturing, has allowed manufacturers to innovate with new materials and new designs. The spectrum of products from 3D printers has reached household goods, jewelry, clothing, human implants, jet engine parts, and much more to come. Mainly, healthcare has become one of the bigger ones in the past five years.

I’ve spoken a lot about the Hard Trend — a future fact that is inevitable — of the aging baby boomer population. Personalized medical devices will fit better, perform better, and perhaps reduce medical costs, enabling us to replace everything from pacemakers and pins to old organs with new organs created out of organic tissue. Even replacement bones have been 3D printed recently. These are good examples of a technology that will help us meet the needs of a generation getting older.

But the technology and processes have been refined in the past few years — in 2019, they will become even more disruptive in multiple industries. 3D printing truly excels in its ability to enable personalization. This ability to economically create a very limited run of widgets or entire devices — down to a single part run — is what makes 3D a truly disruptive technology. Add in the sheer speed of the process and you have a technology that will drive change.

It’s your turn — how do you envision using 3D multi-material printing? Don’t fall into the trap of seeing this as overhyped, a fad, or something that’s just going to go away. Instead, ask yourself: How do the potentials of this technology excite and inspire you? What will you make of it? And how will it disrupt your industry so you can learn to be more anticipatory?

If nothing else, 3D printing has closed the gap between imagining something and building it.

Which technology innovations could be a game-changer for your industry? Learn how to tell with my latest book The Anticipatory Organization.

Marketers Must Learn to Anticipate Content Trends

Every company, regardless of size, knows they must advertise if they are to grow. Yet with all the money that is being spent, it is increasingly difficult to get your message to the right audience. This is where it pays to be anticipatory. Using the systemic method outlined in my Anticipatory Organization Model, you can ready your organization for the disruptive transformations ahead.

Do you remember when MTV was the best way to get in front of the teen and young adult audience? Once mobile technology became popular, it didn’t take long for that age group to be on the move.

In no time, videos were streaming on iTunes. Though teens continued to watch, viewership dropped. Then came instant messaging, followed by social media. For a time, Facebook gave advertisers their niche audience of young consumers congregated in one place.

That is until Snapchat and Instagram came along.

To add to the challenges of the last couple of decades, smart speakers are now in about one-quarter of U.S. homes, and podcasts are gaining popularity. In fact, about 50 percent of households now say they listen to podcasts, with a majority of them joining the trend in just the last three years.

According to whypodcasts.org, 38 percent of listeners are age 18-34, and 64 percent listen on their smartphones.

What’s Next in Target Marketing?

As technology-driven change changes direction, it is easier, and far more profitable, to change direction with it. “It’s easier to ride a horse in the direction it is going.” That’s what my grandfather told me as a little boy working with him on his farm in Texas.

Every company, regardless of size, knows they must advertise if they are to grow. Yet with all the money that is being spent, it is increasingly difficult to get your message to the right audience.

This is where it pays to be anticipatory. Using the systemic method outlined in my Anticipatory Organization Model, you can ready your organization for the disruptive transformations ahead.

Three Hard Trends and Two Tech Trends to Watch

In my work as a technology and business futurist, I have found the most effective way to approach becoming an AO is to focus on demographics, government regulations, and technology. In addition, it is always good to know which consumer technology trends will stick around. I call these Hard Trends (as opposed to Soft Trends, which may come and go).

  • Demographics drive opportunity. There are nearly 80 billion baby boomers in the United States. Not a single one is getting any younger—a definite Hard Trend.

  • Government regulation is a constant. As a general rule, will there be more or less government regulation in the future? Of course, there will be more, and that’s true regardless of the industry or organization. That’s also a Hard Trend.

  • Technology will continue to grow. From the ever-increasing functional capabilities of our smartphones to the growing use of 3D printing, technology is inevitably going to become more functional, more sophisticated, and more widespread. That’s another definite Hard Trend.

  • Multi-layered media is here to stay. According to research, our attention spans are shorter than ever, and consumers demand instant gratification and quick fixes—not a litany of product features and benefits.

Today, content channels such as social media, Apple Watch, and Google Home provide the perfect vehicles for interactivity at any time, in any place, and with any person.

  • Consumer attention is likely to stay at a premium. At least for the foreseeable future, multi-layered media is here to stay. Consumer attention remains at a premium.

Advertisers know the harsh reality: Running an ad on a major television network and supplementing it with web banner ads is no longer a guarantee of reaching the audience.

If you use my Hard Trends Methodology to look ahead to the future of marketing, you’ll be able to anticipate the fast-moving innovations to come. New devices are likely to be developed, and their connectivity doesn’t show signs of slowing any time soon.

Learn to be anticipatory—start with my book, the Anticipatory Organization, available on Amazon.com.

Beyond Bitcoin: The Future of Blockchain Technology

Unlike bitcoins, blockchain development has showed no signs of slowing down and represents a Hard Trend that will continue to grow. The rapidly evolving technology of blockchain holds enormous promise for game-changing disruption across any number of industries and fields.

Bitcoins were introduced in 2009 to great fanfare. Although there had been predecessors, Bitcoins were framed as the first form of cyber currency.

Shortly after Bitcoins were introduced, I labeled them a Soft Trend—one whose future was looking good, but not a future certainty. I also labeled cyber currency a Hard Trend that would continue to grow, predicting that there would be many more cyber currencies.

Since then, I’ve seen no need to change either designation, as there are now more than 100 different cyber currencies. At the same time, as Bitcoins struggled to gain widespread use, blockchain—the technology Bitcoin transactions are handled with—were growing.

Unlike bitcoins, blockchain development has showed no signs of slowing down and represents a Hard Trend that will continue to grow. The rapidly evolving technology of blockchain holds enormous promise for game-changing disruption across any number of industries and fields.

O’Reilly Media presciently noted in early 2015: “The blockchain is the new database—get ready to rewrite everything.”

Blockchain Explained—Security in Numbers

A blockchain is a system of decentralized transaction records. This means a transaction is created without any input from a controlling entity. A blockchain also employs cryptography to keep exchanges secure, incorporating a decentralized database, or “digital ledger,” of transactions that everyone on the network can see. This network is a chain of computers, needing exchange approval before it can be verified and recorded.

The Game-Changing Opportunity in Financial Transactions

Roughly $20 billion in gross domestic product is currently held in blockchain form, according to a study by the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council. However, projections show blockchain use will increase significantly in the next decade as banks, insurers and technology firms embrace the technology to boost transaction speed and security, and trim expenses. This is already taking place, for example, with Swiss banking giant UBS and banks such as HSBC, Santander and BBVA, which launched corporate venture funds to make equity investments in financial technology companies.

More Than Just Money

The future of blockchain is exciting. Outside of its use solely in financial transaction applications, it can transform several other industries. Other examples include:

  •      Data Storage—Current storage services using cloud technology are centralized around a single provider. A blockchain lets users store data and information via a decentralized platform, improving security and lessening reliance on any one provider.
  •      Voting—A blockchain voting network is inherently more reliable than paper or electronic ballots, since changing one vote would require changing multiple votes simultaneously. A blockchain voting network has already been used—Denmark’s Liberal Alliance employed a blockchain for internal voting back in 2014.
  •      Military Use—The U.S. Department of Defense and NATO are actively investigating the use of blockchain. Among other applications, they’re interested in messaging platforms capable of transferring information by way of a secure decentralized protocol.
  •      The War on Terrorism—In May 2015, the Isle of Man implemented the first government-run blockchain project, leveraging it to create a registry of digital-currency companies operating on the island. The system also counters money laundering, helping prevent terrorist financing since the flow of money can be traced specifically to the source of the transaction.
  •      “Smart” Contracts—The idea behind a smart contract is that it self-manages the fulfillment of the agreement and is verified programmatically via the blockchain instead of a third party. Two or more parties agree on terms, program those terms into the blockchain, and allow for payments and other transactions once those terms are fulfilled and validated by the blockchain.
  •      Regulation—Because a blockchain cannot be changed without a majority of participants agreeing to do so, the underlying technology might be used in place of a variety of regulations, such as those mandated by Know Your Customer (KYC).
  •      Identity Management—Labeled the first comprehensive blockchain-based identity service, Onename allows users to create tamper-proof digital identities for themselves called Passcards that replace conventional usernames and passwords.
  •      The Music Industry—In October 2015, Ujo Music unveiled a working example of how blockchain-based technology would allow consumers to purchase registered works directly. We can also pre-solve the problem of legalities, where artists publish policies on how their music may be used to avoid legal action against misuse.

More Reasons for Excitement

Blockchain use is largely restricted to private forms of transactions, but when looked at in an anticipatory way of thinking, blockchain could be used for anything that requires proof of identification, the exchange of goods or verification of contract terms.

One executive involved in the development of blockchain summarized its potential in a framework we can all appreciate: “‘Check it on the blockchain’ will be the phrase of the twenty-first century. It will be as commonplace as people saying ‘Google that.’”

When it comes to blockchain, get ready to rewrite everything.

The Risks of Sticking with Legacy Technology

Legacy technology is like that old pair of jeans you wore as a teenager. “They are comfortable” was always your answer to any inquiry.

Legacy technology is like that old pair of jeans you wore as a teenager. “They are comfortable” was always your answer to any inquiry.

Move that anecdote onto a larger stage and you have a fairly accurate picture of why many organizations hold on to legacy technology—tools that are long outdated: comfort.

In a world of exponential change, legacy technology is trouble. Continuing to use outdated technology of all sorts is costly beyond the financial spectrum.

Legacy Technology Defined

A definition of legacy technology describes the term as “an old method, technology, computer system or application program, of, relating to, or being a previous or outdated computer system.”

This particular definition frames legacy technology in a negative light. There’s no getting around the fact that legacy technology is pervasive.  

In more recent news, several organizations have experienced setbacks from legacy technology:

  • Last year, Data Breaches compromised 15.1M patient records with 503 incidents.
  • In late 2016, British bank Tesco shut down online banking in early November after 40,000 accounts were compromised, half by hackers for fraudulent purposes. Andrew Tschonev, technical specialist at security firm Darktrace, stated: “With attackers targeting everyone and anyone, today’s businesses cannot safely assume that it won’t happen to them.”
  • In July 2016, Southwest Airlines canceled 2,300 flights when a router failed, delaying hundreds of thousands of passengers. The same issue grounded 451 Delta Air Lines flights weeks later.
  • In November 2015, Orly Airport in Paris was forced to ground planes for several hours when the airport’s weather data management system crashed. The system was Windows 3.1.

Bad PR? Yes, but Much More Than That

Reputations are important, and high-profile incidents like these don’t create great headlines. But the reasons to move on from legacy technology stretch further:

Data breaches. As Tesco discovered, legacy technology is open to cyber crime. Vendor support is often nonexistent, which limits valuable upgrades. Furthering security risks, advantages of improvements in security measures are not easily accessible for old systems.

Expensive functionality. Revamping outdated technology can be an expensive proposition, but running outdated technology increases operating costs also. Old hardware versions lack modern power-saving technology and the systems’ maintenance is expensive.

Compliance penalties. Depending on your industry, legacy technology may not be in compliance. In the medical industry, outdated software will fail to meet compliance standards, such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), resulting in severe financial penalties.

Customer loss. No matter the industry, offering outdated solutions and ideas derived from equally outdated technology will prompt customers to look elsewhere for better answers.

Unreliability. Many organizations hold on to legacy systems in the belief that the systems still work. If that’s not the case, consider what happens when something goes wrong, as seen in the detrimental examples above.

Perception issues. Leaders need to be aware of the message they’re sending to their employees. Consider how a younger employee who’s comfortable with technology might react to coping with the limitations of legacy technology. Aside from lost productivity, they may consider a new employer more willing to invest in current infrastructures.

“No” Can Be More Costly Than “Yes”

Replacing legacy technology is not entirely devoid of downsides, the most obvious being cost. Other deterrents include legacy replacement projects failing or the time and cost involved in system testing and end-user retraining.

But the question remains: Are you and your organization comfortable with the old, or are you identifying the Hard Trends that are shaping the future and embracing the new? Are you anticipating the need to invest and upgrade before tragedy occurs? There’s not one organization in the examples provided that doesn’t wish to go back and pre-solve the problems of outdated systems.

Before making any decisions, assess both Hard Trends and Soft Trends that affect your organization and industry. Consider the positive and negative impacts that replacing legacy systems may carry both internally and externally. Be certain that every element for the new system serves a well-defined business goal, now and in the future.

As I emphasize in my Anticipatory Organization Learning System, saying yes can be expensive, but saying no could be catastrophic.

Augmented Reality Defined with Opportunities

Now that the Three Digital Accelerators have improved enough to enhance smart glasses, consumer use will increase. Imagine walking down a busy street in New York City searching for the perfect slice of pizza. It would benefit you to be wearing AR glasses that can quickly scan the area for a highly recommended restaurant per consumer reviews. Wearing the technology rather than having your eyes divert to your phone is faster and safer.

Several years ago, I started using an augmented reality (AR) app for my smartphone whenever I ventured into the mountains. It was quite useful; I could point my device at any mountain to see information overlaid on the image. When I moved my device around, the information changed to correspond with what I saw.

Google Glass was an early example of AR glasses. However, the Three Digital Accelerators(computing power, digital storage and bandwidth) I first identified in 1983 as the drivers of predictable exponential change were not advanced enough when this product emerged, and miniaturization of components had not reached the level needed to make the glasses look like regular glasses.

While few consumers tried them, Google Glass opened the eyes of entrepreneurs to see future possibilities. Surgeons used Google Glass to watch a patient’s vitals without taking their eyes off the surgical area, warehouse workers used them to locate products needing boxing, and universities used them to enhance student engagement in science lab classes.

The Future of AR

Now that the Three Digital Accelerators have improved enough to enhance smart glasses, consumer use will increase. Imagine walking down a busy street in New York City searching for the perfect slice of pizza. It would benefit you to be wearing AR glasses that can quickly scan the area for a highly recommended restaurant per consumer reviews. Wearing the technology rather than having your eyes divert to your phone is faster and safer.

I envision that the earpiece of your AR glasses will act as a rheostat, allowing you to fade the information in or out. As a keynote speaker, wearing a pair of AR glasses that allow me to see the names of audience members would be helpful, and by adjusting the fade control, turning off the information as needed will be helpful. This does not exist – yet. One of the principles I teach is “If it can be done, it will be done, and if you don’t do it, someone else will.”

It’s clear that practical uses for AR are ripe with opportunity. After acquiring smart glasses lens manufacturer Akonia Holographics in August 2018, Apple has been working on AR products. This positions the company to positively disrupt the industry, along with Microsoft and Facebook, which are working on AR glasses of their own.

Outside the US, Chinese technology giant Huawei is creating its own version of smart glasses. Its latest device, the Mate 20 Pro smartphone, already utilizes augmented reality apps predominately, but the company suggest that AR glasses are definitely in the works.

The company will bring more AR experiences to the Mate 20 Pro so its customers can use AR more widely before releasing its smart glasses. By better perfecting the user experience, they are pre-solving predictable problems, following one of my core principles.

Outside of AR, Huawei is a serious player in consumer electronics. It recently displaced Apple as being the world’s second-largest smartphone maker, expanded its digital products and even ventured into the world of smart speakers.

In comparison with virtual reality (VR), AR is developing faster for several reasons.

1)   VR requires the user to be cut off from the real world in order to be fully immersed in a virtual world,while AR allows the user to see the real world simultaneously.

2)   VR requires time-intensive graphic programming in order to create a photo-realistic 3D world, limiting the ability to attract the talent needed to grow as fast as AR.

3)   VR headsets are cumbersome compared to AR glasses.

Augmented reality represents a new platform for launching game-changing products and services. If you want to profit from this fast-growing industry, focus on being anticipatory by identifying the Hard Trends that are shaping the future and their related opportunities to lead change.

If you would like to learn how to become more anticipatory in the new world of augmented reality, be sure to pick up my latest book The Anticipatory Organization today!

Solve Problems and Innovate as an Anticipatory Leader™

Anticipatory Leaders™ understand that we are at a unique point in human history, filled with waves of disruption and opportunity. We are doing things today that were impossible just a few years ago. If you look at the Hard Trends that are shaping the future, you can easily see that we will be doing things two years from now that are impossible today. That means the old rule, The Big Eat the Small, is being replaced by a new rule, The Fast Eat the Slow.

Anticipatory Leaders™ understand that we are at a unique point in human history, filled with waves of disruption and opportunity. We are doing things today that were impossible just a few years ago. If you look at the Hard Trends that are shaping the future, you can easily see that we will be doing things two years from now that are impossible today. That means the old rule, The Big Eat the Small, is being replaced by a new rule, The Fast Eat the Slow. They know this new reality is driven by the exponentially increasing rate of technology-driven change. Many wonder why so many established organizations of all sizes are moving so slow. The answer is simple: they think they are moving fast. But in this new era, they’re actually moving slower than they realize.

Young professionals are aware their organization’s pace is too slow as their mindset is less historical. They have looked around and seen others outside of their industry moving much faster. The best and the brightest of the younger employees often see the older leaders in their organization as almost fearful of making a bold move.

Anticipatory Leaders leverage the complementary strengths and weaknesses of all generations to enable the organization to move forward faster. They combine the wisdom and experience of the older employees with the out-of-the-box thinking and awareness of new technology that the younger employees have to accelerate innovation and growth. They use the confidence that comes from the certainty of Hard Trends to jump ahead quickly with low risk. They know that not moving faster and bolder is the bigger risk, and that if they don’t take advantage of new technological capabilities, someone else will!

Here is a big insight that Anticipatory Leaders know: trying to keep up in today’s world will only keep you behind. The reality is that the company you are trying to keep up with is not standing still. It is most likely ahead because it is anticipatory and moving far faster, keeping a good distance ahead of you. It embraces the fact that in a world of exponential change, advantage comes from jumping ahead of the change curve with the confidence that comes from high levels of certainty, and not relying on reacting quickly after the disruption or problem happens.

When we think of innovation today, we tend to think of the big innovations that disrupt industries or create a new product or service line. This type of innovation doesn’t happen very often in traditional organizations, and often has long time frames from ideation to implementation. In addition, only a small percentage of all employees will be involved in the process. Anticipatory Leaders go beyond reactive innovation, even fast, reactive, agile innovation, and empower employees with two new types of anticipatory innovation: Everyday Innovation and Transformational Innovation.

Everyday Innovation empowers all employees to implement inventive solutions to everyday problems by providing easy-to-use methods for rapid problem-solving. This includes applying Problem Skipping and the Law of Opposites, as well as keeping their opportunity antenna up to look for potential problems to pre-solve before they happen. It’s amazing how innovative people can be when they know a few basic principles and are empowered to take positive action immediately.

Transformational Innovation involves identifying the Hard Trends that are shaping the future and using them to become a positive disruptor, jumping ahead with the low risk that comes from certainty and the knowledge that if you don’t do it, someone else will.

If you would like to go beyond agility and become an Anticipatory Leader, pick up a copy of my latest bestseller, The Anticipatory Organization: Turn Disruption and Change Into Opportunity and Advantage, and consider our online Anticipatory Leader System.

Using Mobile Apps to Transform Business Processes

Although mobile applications are commonplace today, most consumers think “personal use” when they think of apps. We all understand that there is an app for our favorite social media site or a card game app we can kill time with while waiting, but in what other ways can apps be leveraged, and who can benefit from them?

As our need for just-in-time information flourishes, our reliance on traditional technological processes has decreased significantly. The shift from personal computers to mobile devices has picked up now more than ever. It is difficult to determine whether stationary computers will vanish into obscurity; however, there is no doubt that mobile devices are here to stay. Our reliance on these ingenious pieces of technology is overwhelming. Tremendous time and energy are saved through the use of a mobile device, as we can access information anywhere with ease.

The expansion of new types of tasks that are carried out using mobile devices has arrived. Smartphones can solve nearly every need of their users, from providing detailed directions anywhere around the globe to enabling access to the cloud at all times. We take these benefits for granted as the opportunities provided by our devices become more and more integrated into our everyday lives.

The information that we seek is not freely floating on our devices. Mobile applications are the key to the success of these devices, as they provide a gateway to our needs as consumers. Whether it’s the weather forecast, the highest-rated local coffee shop, a traffic report, or a stock market update, it’s an app that provides the answer.

At just over one hundred billion, the number of app downloads around the world to date is astonishing. And this number is expected to grow even further in the coming years.

Although mobile applications are commonplace today, most consumers think “personal use” when they think of apps. We all understand that there is an app for our favorite social media site or a card game app we can kill time with while waiting, but in what other ways can apps be leveraged, and who can benefit from them?

The answer is businesses.

I have seen businesses of nearly every size begin to see the potential behind creating an app for customers. Retailers can now move even further online to adjust their business model to the changing times. Transportation services have created apps that convenience users by helping them navigate routes and times, all while providing pricing. Some financial institutions allow their customers to scan and digitally deposit checks from their smartphones. These applications are beneficial; however, they are far from the only practical mobile business apps.

Mobile applications for business processes are now more prominent when it comes to how businesses run from day to day. Applications created specifically for the operational side of an organization have gained traction. The benefits of employing an app for use on a mobile device to transform a business process begin with the very reason we use apps in the first place: convenience.

For example, instead of handwriting notes on data or inventory while out of the office, an application that allows data to be entered on the spot by typing or talking removes an otherwise lengthy process. That saved time can then be better spent visiting clients and prospective customers, providing convenience in an otherwise tedious operation.

Another example of a mobile app for a business’s internal use is one that facilitates mobile sales. For deals that close quickly or unexpectedly, organizations can have contracts signed electronically, no matter where a meeting may have taken them. Presentations and data can be displayed at a moment’s notice if needed, as well. Data on previous deals made with a customer can be easily accessed while heading to meet with him or her.

Mobile apps can streamline processes, including supply chain, purchasing, distribution, or maintenance processes, so that a business can run as productively as possible. With information available on demand via mobile device from one accessible location, organizations tend to increase productivity and identify areas that need further improvement, which can reduce cost inefficiencies while increasing revenue.

Communication and collaboration are improved through mobile apps for business processes, as employees begin to more clearly understand roles and discuss the discrepancies highlighted by the application. Employees instantaneously become more productive, as time is saved through the assistance that mobile applications provide.

Business applications can be purchased and modified by organizations, or designed from scratch to fit the unique needs of a business. By creating a mobile app tailored to its business, an organization gains a competitive edge from having something unique in its industry. There are dozens of businesses that specialize in creating mobile apps to fit the unique needs of their customers.

The ways in which mobile applications can be used is seemingly endless, and right now, mobile apps for business processes represent a growing Hard Trend that every organization should address, as such apps can streamline internal processes. If productivity and effectiveness are your long-term goals, ask yourself how you can use mobility to improve every business process.

Innovation leads to disruption, not being disrupted. Learn more with my bestselling book The Anticipatory Organization. I have a special offer for you.

Pick up your copy today at www.TheAOBook.com

5 Sales Strategies Not Found in How-to Books

How do you break through to the next level of sales and become an anticipatory salesperson? Here are six strategies you won’t find in most how-to sales books.

As a salesperson, you’re trained to ask customers what they want in terms of your product offerings. That’s wise advice but it’s incomplete. If you only ask customers what they want and then give it to them, you’re missing the biggest opportunity that has ever come in front of you – the chance to sell innovation.

Technology allows us to do things that were once thought impossible. While it is important for salespeople to ask customers what they want and then deliver on it, all that will do is keep you in the game – not ahead of it.

Chances are your competitors are asking customers the same questions, they’re getting the same answers, and they’re providing the same solutions.

So how do you break through to the next level of sales and become an anticipatory salesperson? Below are six strategies you won’t find in most how-to sales books.

1. Follow the Golden Rule of Sales

The Golden Rule of Sales is to give people the ability to do something they currently can’t do but would want to do if they knew it was possible. In other words, the Golden Rule is to help your customers be anticipatory. It’s called the Golden Rule because it’s much more profitable than simply giving clients what they ask for.

The key is that you have to look a little bit further into your customers’ predictable needs based on where they’re going. Only then you can see unmet needs and new opportunities.

2. Get Comfortable Around Technology  

One stumbling block in selling technology can be that the end user is awkward with new types of technology and related products. But another stumbling block could be that you, as the salesperson, are unfamiliar or uncomfortable with the tech-driven solution you could be selling.

This is where the value of a time travel audit, one of the core components of my Anticipatory Organization Model, can prove essential.

3. Practice Anticipatory Selling

Anticipatory selling offers enormous opportunity for those who recognize that the very nature of sales is shifting and, further, that there are strategies to leverage that change.

One key strategy of anticipatory selling boils down to something I call a pre-mortem. Unlike a postmortem, which is an examination after the fact, a pre-mortem is focused on anticipating objections, problems and issues before they occur – and, from there, presolving them before the sales process even begins.

4. Raise the Bar on Trust  

You need to shift from being a vendor to being a trusted advisor. A vendor simply supplies a product. A trusted advisor supplies true advantage.

When you seek that higher ground and become a trusted advisor, your clients trust you more.

Remember that the future is all about relationships. Relationships are all about trust, and you gain trust by earning it. So never teach people to distrust you by stretching the truth or hiding some pertinent information. To differentiate, you need to raise the bar on trust.

5. Commit to Finding the Customer’s Truest Needs

When you focus on redefining what you already have, you can take your current offering and leverage it to new levels. That’s when you become a sales leader. It’s not because of some fast-talking sales pitch, it’s because of your commitment to your customers and their true needs.

So focus on relationships, trust and truth, and you’ll be able to give your customers tools and solutions they never dreamed possible. As a result, both you and your company will attain new levels of success and realize the profit potential you always knew existed.  

Want more tips for anticipatory selling? Get my book The Anticipatory Organization: Turning Disruption and Change into Opportunity and Advantage, available now at www.TheAOBook.com

Pop Quiz, Monday with Matt Cooper at Skillshare

The Pop Quiz, Monday is a fun little exam that we love to give to savvy business owners. The examination is not a surprise after all since the interviewee already knew about the questions in advance. However, we can always pretend and have fun with the scenario of a young entrepreneur sitting in class nervously biting on their pencil. They are ready to take a pop quiz on a chapter that they were supposed to read the night before. Instead, they played Metroid all night on their SNES (Oops, this was me in high school). The real purpose of the pop quiz is that this is a fun way to introduce business tips from real-world experiences that you can not learn in a classroom. We want to thank our entrepreneur for being a good sport and volunteering their time to answer a few questions to help our community grow from their knowledge.

I want to introduce you to our guest today who will be taking our Pop Quiz Monday.

Can you please tell everyone your name?
Matt Cooper

Matt Cooper
Photo credit: Matt Cooper

What is your job role?
CEO of Skillshare

Tell us about your company?
Skillshare is an online learning community for creators. With 5 million members and 20,000+ classes, we’re on a mission to connect curious, lifelong learners everywhere — and build a more creative, generous, and prosperous world.

What do you love most about your job?
Building and working with a great team. When you have a great group of people, who are aligned toward the same goals which then go out and get it done day in and day out.

What motivates you to get up every day and go to work?
Skillshare is making a very clear difference in people’s lives, and it also happens to be an amazing business. It’s really hard to find a company that can offer both a clear impact on the world and some really fun business challenges.

How do your co-workers inspire you?
We have a lot of very smart, very motivated employees that will do whatever it takes to move the company forward. I’m always inspired by the really clever approaches our team finds to solve difficult problems.

How do you have fun at work (team building, pranks, etc..)?
We have quarterly business reviews that we always pair with a team activity to get everyone out of the office together — like a mullet, business up front and party in the back. Our best activity so far, in my opinion, was our company talent show. We have some very talented people at Skillshare and a few that aren’t talented at all but make up for it with stage presence. 😉

Day to day, I’d say Slack is our primary source of entertainment. There’s nothing I love more than an employee with great Giphy game.

What are some of the challenges of your job?
The hardest issues are always the people issues, and when there are a lot of pressing business demands, it’s easy to not stay on top of some of them. We all have a lot going on personally and professionally and as the company expands the challenges of keeping the employees happy, motivated and challenged day to day to expand as well.

What are some lessons learned from a past project that you can share with us?
If I had one piece of advice for any founder or CEO, it would be to focus on the team around you. When you have a great executive team (like I do), you and the company have a lot more capacity to focus on the most impactful opportunities.

What advice would you give to someone who is starting in your industry?
You should join (or start) a startup because you love the grind, not because you want to get rich. Startups are a little like being an actor — you may end up as Tom Cruise, but statistically, you are more likely to be “Guy at Bar #3”. You should do it because you love building things and fixing problems and you love the journey more than the destination.

Thank you for taking our pop quiz today. You get an A+ for effort. You can learn more about our interviewee and their business by visiting them on the web:
www.skillshare.com
@skillshare (on Twitter and Instagram)

Pop Quiz, Monday with Kobhi Nanthakumaran

The Pop Quiz, Monday is a fun little exam that we love to give to savvy business owners. The examination is not a surprise after all since the interviewee already knew about the questions in advance. However, we can always pretend and have fun with the scenario of a young entrepreneur sitting in class nervously biting on their pencil. They are ready to take a pop quiz on a chapter that they were supposed to read the night before. Instead, they played Metroid all night on their SNES (Oops, this was me in high school). The real purpose of the pop quiz is that this is a fun way to introduce business tips from real-world experiences that you can not learn in a classroom. We want to thank our entrepreneur for being a good sport and volunteering their time to answer a few questions to help our community grow from their knowledge.

I want to introduce you to our guest today who will be taking our Pop Quiz Monday.

Can you please tell everyone your name?
Kobhi Nanthakumaran

Kobhi Nanthakumaran
Photo credit: Kobhi Nanthakumaran

What is your job role?
Founder/CTO

Tell us about your company?
Founder and CTO of both Blockchain Fortress and R3TRUST

Blockchain Fortress (BCF) is a professional services company focusing on Security Tokens Offerings (STOs), DApps and Smart Contracts. We have a team of experienced individuals who specialize in the application of blockchain technology. Blockchain Fortress is the successor behind $100million + projects such as BRED (blockchain real estate development), and Peblik.

R3trust is a product-focused company that has several products on its roadmap. Currently, R3trust has a crypto purchase platform (buyplatform.com), a software wallet (Sphinx) for iOS and Android, as well as a prototype hardware wallet concept that behaves as your go-to crypto safe cold storage.

What do you love most about your job?
I am a firm believer in doing what is right for the world and our future generations. There are several socioeconomic issues in the world that Blockchain technology and bring drastic improvements to. First on that list is banking for everyone everywhere.

As an early adopter of cryptocurrencies; I have been able to watch the developments and progression in the blockchain space. Using my core background in cybersecurity, I can provide companies and startups with a unique perspective on their application of blockchain technology.

What motivates you to get up every day and go to work?
I work with industry leaders in several verticals to take advantage of blockchain technology. From Stock exchanges, money remittance, banking, real estate, and compliance; there is never a dull moment!

How do your co-workers inspire you?
I chose very carefully who I spend my time with outside of work – same rule applies for who I work with!

My co-workers are key individuals I can rely on to fill roles I cannot take on. We all share the same visions and ideologies making for a well informed and uniform decision for all projects I work on.

How do you have fun at work (team building, pranks, etc..)?
Pranks! Game & Beer nights (lan games), Off-site team building workshops. I work with a fun bunch!

Most of us are also 420 friendly 😉

What are some of the challenges of your job?
Blockchain and cryptocurrencies are still at an infant stage in its life. Therefore, regulations and compliance rules are not clearly defined. There are several definitions in the space that are up for dispute.

All of this ends up becoming a challenge when it comes time to execute specific tasks. It is definitely not for the faint hearted – we face several roadblocks and work closely with rules makers and lawyers to always find a way to make things work.

What are some lessons learned from a past project that you can share with us?
Always play in a new space with due diligence and be ready to take corrective actions. When spearheading a new space with multiple parties involved; there are going to be boundaries you will hit and need to adjust your course. Be ready and willing to adjust your sails! You’ll need a good crew with you.

What advice would you give to someone who is starting in your industry?
There is a lot to learn, paths to pave and a ton of amazing people to meet. Be ready to hit the ground running.

On a more specific note:
-Learn all the basics of how blockchain works
-Look at your current industry or industry of interest and see if there is an application
-Bounce your ideas off people in the industry
-Take part in community events
-Be ready to learn on the go.

Thank you for taking our pop quiz today. You get an A+ for effort. You can learn more about our interviewee and their business by visiting them on the web:
https://www.vnkconsultinggroup.com/about-us/
www.blockchainfortress.com
www.r3trust.com
https://www.instagram.com/kobhi09

Shaping the Future of A.I.

One of the biggest news subjects in the past few years has been artificial intelligence. We have read about how Google’s DeepMind beat the world’s best player at Go, which is thought of as the most complex game humans have created; witnessed how IBM’s Watson beat humans in a debate; and taken part in a wide-ranging discussion of how A.I. applications will replace most of today’s human jobs in the years ahead.

Way back in 1983, I identified A.I. as one of 20 exponential technologies that would increasingly drive economic growth for decades to come. Early rule-based A.I. applications were used by financial institutions for loan applications, but once the exponential growth of processing power reached an A.I. tipping point, and we all started using the Internet and social media, A.I. had enough power and data (the fuel of A.I.) to enable smartphones, chatbots, autonomous vehicles and far more.  

As I advise the leadership of many leading companies, governments and institutions around the world, I have found we all have different definitions of and understandings about A.I., machine learning and other related topics. If we don’t have common definitions for and understanding of what we are talking about, it’s likely we will create an increasing number of problems going forward. With that in mind, I will try to add some clarity to this complex subject.

Artificial intelligence applies to computing systems designed to perform tasks usually reserved for human intelligence using logic, if-then rules, decision trees and machine learning to recognize patterns from vast amounts of data, provide insights, predict outcomes and make complex decisions. A.I. can be applied to pattern recognition, object classification, language translation, data translation, logistical modeling and predictive modeling, to name a few. It’s important to understand that all A.I. relies on vast amounts of quality data and advanced analytics technology. The quality of the data used will determine the reliability of the A.I. output.  

Machine learning is a subset of A.I. that utilizes advanced statistical techniques to enable computing systems to improve at tasks with experience over time. Chatbots like Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, or any of the others from companies like Google and Microsoft all get better every year thanks to all of the use we give them and the machine learning that takes place in the background.

Deep learning is a subset of machine learning that uses advanced algorithms to enable an A.I. system to train itself to perform tasks by exposing multi-layered neural networks to vast amounts of data, then using what has been learned to recognize new patterns contained in the data. Learning can be Human Supervised Learning, Unsupervised Learning and/or Reinforcement Learning like Google used with DeepMind to learn how to beat humans at the complex game Go. Reinforcement learning will drive some of the biggest breakthroughs.

Autonomous computing uses advanced A.I. tools such as deep learning to enable systems to be self-governing and capable of acting according to situational data without human command. A.I. autonomy includes perception, high-speed analytics, machine-to-machine communications and movement.  For example, autonomous vehicles use all of these in real time to successfully pilot a vehicle without a human driver.  

Augmented thinking: Over the next five years and beyond, A.I. will become increasingly embedded at the chip level into objects, processes, products and services, and humans will augment their personal problem-solving and decision-making abilities with the insights A.I. provides to get to a better answer faster.   

A.I. advances represent a Hard Trend that will happen and continue to unfold in the years ahead. The benefits of A.I. are too big to ignore and include:

  1. Increasing speed
  2. Increasing accuracy
  3. 24/7 functionality
  4. High economic benefit
  5. Ability to be applied to a large and growing number of tasks
  6. Ability to make invisible patterns and opportunities visible

Technology is not good or evil, it is how we as humans apply it. Since we can’t stop the increasing power of A.I., I want us to direct its future, putting it to the best possible use for humans. Yes, A.I. — like all technology — will take the place of many current jobs. But A.I. will also create many jobs if we are willing to learn new things. There is an old saying “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” With that said, it’s a good thing we aren’t dogs!

Start off The New Year by Anticipating disruption and change by reading my latest book The Anticipatory Organization. Click here to claim your copy!

His name is Christian Viñas…

Hi, my name is Christian Viñas, age 21 years old, currently residing in the Philippines, and one of the new(est)? writers here on TheStartupGrowth.com. I was invited by TheStartupGrowth.com when they privately messaged me on my LinkedIn account. I found that there’s great opportunity by joining in as a guest author, so I did. That’s how my Christmas weekend went. 

Anyway, I like chess (hence feature image), badminton and bowling. I spend most of my time binging on movies/documentaries available on Youtube/any other streaming platform. Either that, or I’m working as part of a tech team three bus rides away from our house. Oh yeah, I write for WhenInManila.com, too. (WhenInManila.com is also a startup here in the Philippines and its main focus is on Filipino lifestyle, food, and travel advice.)

I’m excited to contribute to this community, but I feel like an introduction could be my better move. Ease it in, as they say. I’ll probably give insight on how to handle business matters once or twice a month, since I’m kept busy by my immediate work with the family.

With that out of the way, I hope that what I can add up . I can promise you that, ’cause I never even told anyone what the first rule of Fight Club is…

Cheers and here’s to a good 2019 to all of us!
woman and man toasting drinks
Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

Your Customers Aren’t Bots!

While Chat Bots continue impressive development through exhaustive AI endeavors, deep machine learning, etc., they will never replace the power of a real engagement between people. 

pexels-photo-1447235.jpeg

….and they never will be. Your customers are living, breathing, feeling decision makers who sometimes need assistance to make the best purchasing decisions to meet their needs, and at all times, need a way to resolve their dissatisfaction when their experiences fall short of their expectations – and your promises.

Enter the Chat Bot – and sometimes, exit your customer.

While Chat Bots continue impressive development through exhaustive AI endeavors, deep machine learning, etc., they will never replace the power of a real engagement between people.  And, don’t get your underpants in a bundle worrying about personas, and boomers, or millennials, and so on.  It’s just about communications that work for your customers, not communications that work only for you.

So, if your solution (in whichever industry) is designed, launched and marketed brilliantly, you likely won’t lose a customer to the bots-sphere.  If, on the other hand, you’re the ultimate iterator, you will probably lose a few on the way to your desired business zenith.

10 Practices to Retain Your Customer:

  1. Structure your chat bots to respond to technical directions, not sales.
  2. If your bots are supported by real agents, make sure your agents don’t communicate like bots, and that their sentence structure is positive to customers, not negative.
  3. Make sure your design is so clean that no one can tell when your chat bot transfers to an agent – keep those transitions seamless.
  4. Don’t interrupt your customer’s inquiry with a greedy effort to cross sell them.
  5. Offer a way to your customers to elevate their inquiry if your bot design doesn’t resolve their inquiry.
  6. If your elevation protocol is to merely transfer your customer to another bot or agent, you’re missing the point of elevating a customer complaint.
  7. Don’t use phony introductory statements in your bot structure about how you’re going to do your best to resolve your customer’s concerns – it’s insulting – you’re instant messaging while hiding behind the veil of technology.
  8. Display your scoreboard of effectiveness – if you end your chat sessions with customer surveys, have the courage to post the responses – no one believes you care, so it’s just another insult.
  9. Make sure your customers in queue are aware of their wait time – not how many inquirers are in front of them, but how long they’re going to have to wait – in minutes.
  10. If the wait time exceeds your inquirer’s expectation, give them another option.

Most important?  Don’t fool yourself into believing your bot platform is a great solution – it’s not.  It’s a way for you to avoid direct contact with a customer and every customer knows it.  The customer will forgive a brand’s reluctance to a point, but when they need an answer, or a solution, they’re going to support those brands that support them.

Pop Quiz, Monday with Peter Saddington

The speed of execution wins. The faster you build, the quicker you experiment, the quicker you will make mistakes, fail, and learn. The key to making informed decisions is to have as much data at your disposal as possible.

The Pop Quiz, Monday is a fun little exam that we love to give to savvy business owners. The examination is not a surprise after all since the interviewee already knew about the questions in advance. However, we can always pretend and have fun with the scenario of a young entrepreneur sitting in class nervously biting on their pencil. They are ready to take a pop quiz on a chapter that they were supposed to read the night before. Instead, they played Metroid all night on their SNES (Oops, this was me in high school). The real purpose of the pop quiz is that this is a fun way to introduce business tips from real-world experiences that you can not learn in a classroom. We want to thank our entrepreneur for being a good sport and volunteering their time to answer a few questions to help our community grow from their knowledge.

I want to introduce you to our guest today who will be taking our Pop Quiz Monday.

Can you please tell everyone your name?
Peter Saddington

Peter Saddington
Photo credit: Peter Saddington

What is your job role?
Product at YEN.io

Tell us about your company?
YEN.io is the world’s first MEX (meta-exchange) which combines the power and features of a social network with multiple cryptocurrency exchanges.

What do you love most about your job?
The #cryptonation and the cryptocurrency community as well as bleeding edge technology in the blockchain.

What motivates you to get up every day and go to work?
We are changing lives every day by building the tools for them to participate in the next generation of finance: Bitcoin.

How do your co-workers inspire you?
I work with my best friends, which makes it a great joy to work and to play with them. Their honesty is what inspires me to grow myself, challenge myself, and shoot for the moon!

How do you have fun at work (team building, pranks, etc..)?
I work directly with the community at YEN.io, behind the scenes with content creators for our shared YouTube channel, DecentralizedTV (www.dctv.show), and entrepreneurs who are building cryptocurrency applications for the YEN platform or cryptocurrency in general.

Engaging with the community on such a deep level, daily, is the most rewarding thing about my work!

What are some of the challenges of your job?
We’re never building fast enough. We have made seven cryptocurrency applications in the past two years, and we need to develop more!

What are some lessons learned from a past project that you can share with us?
The speed of execution wins. The faster you build, the quicker you experiment, the quicker you will make mistakes, fail, and learn. The key to making informed decisions is to have as much data at your disposal as possible.

For example, The only way to truly understand your customer is to build features quickly and get feedback as to whether they like or dislike it.

It hurts to spend time on features that don’t work.

What advice would you give to someone who is starting in your industry?
The crypto industry is one of code. Learning to code will be a skill that the world desperately needs! Begin today! There are many great free resources like CodeAcademy.com and TheBitcoin.Pub.

Thank you for taking our pop quiz today. You get an A+ for effort. You can learn more about our interviewee and their business by visiting them on the web:

www.YEN.io
www.github.com/yenio
www.twitter.com/bitesizebitcoin

Selling Innovation – The Spark

Every innovation is born from a spark of creativity.  The spark can be for an entirely new product concept, refinement of an existing product, or radical re-design of a something that is already in the market.  The spark can come from years of experience in a particular industry, a dramatic personal experience, or just creative brilliance.  The one place a spark of innovation cannot come from is a vacuum. 

This is part of an ongoing series based on the highly rated book Selling Innovation, a guide to structuring a complete start-up revenue capture process.  The book is based on a day-long workshop held at the MIT Enterprise Forum in partnership with Microsoft.  Sections of each chapter will be shared here on The Startup Growth Blog.  Download the complete eBook, blog readers get a special 25% discount with code JA49Y.  

The Spark

Every innovation is born from a spark of creativity.  The spark can be for an entirely new product concept, refinement of an existing product, or radical re-design of a something that is already in the market.  The spark can come from years of experience in a particular industry, a dramatic personal experience, or just creative brilliance.  The one place a spark of innovation cannot come from is a vacuum.

  • “Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan Press On! has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”  ― US President Calvin Coolidge

Innovation is a process, a collection of concepts fused together over time, refined and refined again until the optimal set of features delivers just the right value to a customer at a price they are willing and able to pay and which makes profit for the seller.

Serial innovators know that the first spark of innovation, while compelling at the moment, seldom reflects the final product that successfully penetrates the market.  Bringing an innovation to market takes time, focus, resources, and persistence.

There are many great inventors in the world today, but only a few great innovators.

Insight and Innovation

There is a difference between an innovation and an invention, however.  An invention is a new technological breakthrough.  An innovation is a better way of doing something, a way to break or disrupt a current paradigm.  It can be a technological break-through, a process improvement, or a new object.  But no matter how clever, if it sits on the shelf or gets studied by a very small group of people it may be more of an invention than an innovation.

If you are going to become a successful innovator you must first start by identifying a high-value problem, and then build a solution that solves it.

There is no shortage of would-be entrepreneurs who believe they have created a new and unique invention.  No one needs a better mousetrap, but everyone needs a better way to solve the problem.  If you built the most effective mousetrap in the world but  found that sales of cats had virtually eradicated the household mouse problem, what is the value of your innovation?

When you‘re ready to start designing an innovation, you want to think about the larger market, so you can assess its impact in the next larger context than the one you are currently playing in.  This is the framework you will need to explain your innovation to others and eventually to sell the innovation in the market.  It enables a person reviewing your innovation to evaluate it with some familiar points of reference.  It helps your prospective buyer grasp how your innovation will solve their problem.

Understanding the context of your innovation is also important to the future selling process because it is the first indicator of optimal target market, level of receptivity, and frame of reference among potential users.  If you create a totally new, different, unique innovation that has never come before there is no frame of reference users can draw upon to make a buy decision.  While the iPhone was a disruptive innovation in the mobile phone and software industry it didn’t compare to the disruption caused by the introduction of the telephone into the consumer market in the early 1900’s.  Likewise, a Prius is an innovative new type of hybrid vehicle, but it’s still a car that takes you from point A to point B.

As you move from creation to sales, the context in which you created your innovation will be critical to convincing investors, customers, and even prospective employees of the value of the innovation and buy into your vision.

How you sell your product or service will be impacted by the foundation of your innovation.  Some products are borne from years of experience in a specific industry that yields a keen insight into a need in the market for a new or better way of doing things.  Other products come from blue-sky thinking; from an inspiration into what people might want, use, or enjoy that is radically different from anything they have experienced before.

How do you know when your initial spark is more of an invention or an innovation?  When innovations are born from a specific market need, descriptions tend to be value statements that reference the problem being solved.  Efforts to sell an invention often focus on descriptions of features and function of the product.

  • What are the changes in market dynamics that your innovation addresses?

Selling Innovation

This is the first in an ongoing series based on the highly rated book Selling Innovation, a guide to structuring a complete start-up revenue capture process.  The book is based on a day-long workshop held at the MIT Enterprise Forum in partnership with Microsoft.  Sections of each chapter will be shared here on The Startup Growth Blog.  Download the complete eBook, blog readers get a special 25% discount with code JA49Y.  

Introduction

By John Harthorne, founder & CEO of MassChallenge

The world needs innovators and entrepreneurs who can sell.

Entrepreneurs are our value creators and problem solvers. Their nimble, high-growth companies create most of the world’s highly innovative technologies and groundbreaking solutions. More often than not, it is a startup that first determines how to extract energy from high altitudes, or from the ocean’s waves, or even human waste. More often than not, it is a startup that first figures out how to teach kids math using basketball or how to build the most intuitive mobile games. They build off-road wheelchairs, grow farms in freight containers, track migraines with cell phones and draw clean water out of slightly humid air. Take any problem in the world, and you can be certain that numerous entrepreneurs are working tirelessly on solving it, and that a few of them will end up revolutionizing a long-established industry.

Startups are also creating jobs. Early-stage ventures are responsible for virtually all net job growth in the United States, as confirmed by The Kauffman Foundation: “Net job growth occurs in the U.S. economy only through startup firms.”  Since 1977, established firms have lost 1 million net jobs per year, while startups in their first year added an average of 3 million jobs in aggregate. This trend has spawned scores of innovation centers and business plan competitions as governments, educators and the private sector world-wide work towards supporting this critical part of local economic development.  We need job growth, we need it now, and startups are the solution.

But launching a startup is difficult. Many innovations never get to make that impact and generate those jobs because too many innovators struggle to find the right resources before running out of time.  To succeed, entrepreneurs need access to advisors, talent, suppliers, lawyers, office space, equipment, funding, and other resources. Most importantly of all, though, startups need customers.

Customers are almost always the single best source of funding and growth. Customers are demanding. They force you to build what they want, rather than investing in the development of a large, complex “science project.” They keep your company alive and focused and, if they like your product, they buy more. Customer money is the cheapest, most productive form of capital on the planet.

Innovation can provide solutions to many of the world’s most challenging problems. Selling that innovation is what reifies the founding vision, establishes the desired impact and initiates serious growth.

The world needs entrepreneurs and innovators, and they must be great at selling their innovation.

Silicon Valley is Actively Supporting Emerging Economies, like Nigeria?

SV-NED hosts the Acting-Consul General for Nigeria House, New York NY. After pledging support to the United Nation 2020 Development Goals.

Femi 42 Student (left), Denise Williams SV-NED, Jane 42 Student, Acting-Consul General Nicholas Ellas Esq., Chief Temitope Ajayi & Ola Hassan SV-NED (right).

WhatsApp Image 2018-11-21 at 9.59.08 PM
Ola Hassan Founder Ola’s Exotic African Coffee & Tea (left), Chairman & CEO Chief Temitop Ajayi and His Excellency Acting-Consulate General, Nicholas Ella Esq., Nigeria House, New York, NY (right).

WhatsApp Image 2018-11-21 at 6.42.49 PM
Lesley Toche Founder/CEO Nextplay Events

SVNED with Mayor of San Francisco, London Breed
Acting-Consul General Nicholas Ella Esq. (left), Mayor of San Francisco London Breed, Chairman/CEO SV-NED Chief Temitope Ajayi (right).

The Salinas Valley’s rich and fertile agricultural ground is nestled between the Sierra /Santa Lucia mountains and the Pacific Ocean. California Ag value is over $60B annually, and Salinas Valley Ag value is over in Crop grown in the valley are some of the best in the world.

3x Mayor of Salinas Dennis Donohue, VP of Church Brothers True Leaf Farms Francis Adenuga and SVNED
3x Mayor of Salinas Dennis Donohue (left), Acting-Consulate General Nicholas Ellas, Chairman/CEO Chief Temitope Ajayi, and Francis Adenuga VP Technical Service Church Brothers -True Leaf Farms (right).

Dean of Hartnell College and SVNED
Acting-Consulate General Nicholas Ella Esq (left), Francis Adenuga VP Technical Service Church Brothers -True Leaf Farms, Dean Clint Cowden of Hartnell College, Chairman/CEO Chief Temitope Ajayi & Denise Williams SV-NED Team (right).

Church Brother and True Leaf and SVNED
Hayden D. Williams III (left) and Chairman CEO Chief Temitope Ajayi SV-NED Team, Acting Consulate General Nicholas Ella, and Francis Adenuga VP Technical Service Church Brothers -True Leaf Farms (right)

The product harvested and processed are distributed across the US and internationally to Canada, Mexico, South America, Europe, and Asian countries. The 3-day Economic Summit hosted by SV-NED was put to a close with an award presented to the Acting-Consulate General and SV-NED from the top Elected City Officials of Salinas, CA. The award was presented by the 3x Mayor Dennis Donohue to the Consulate General of Nigeria House, New York NY.

3x Mayor of Salinas, Church Brothers True Leaf, SVNED
Francis Adenuga (left), Dennis Donohue, Chief Temitope Ajayi, Acting -Consulate General Nicholas Ella Esq, and Denise Williams (right) at the Church Brothers True Leaf Headquarters