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The Chief Marketing Officer is Dead

The Chief Marketing Officer is Dead | Innovating in an Age of Personalization |

The CMO position is dying for four reasons:

1] Most CMOs are not really immersed in marketing activities. By this I mean understanding, creating and delivering value to the customer. Too many CMOs focus on PR and communications rather than products or pricing, so as not to invade the space of the Chief Innovation Officer or the CFO.

2] CFOs have become more powerful because of tough trading conditions and short-term pressure from financial markets. The CFO is also winning the race to the very top—most CEOs now have a finance or engineering background, and few come from sales and marketing.

3] Marketing impact is often hard to measure. Marketing is more art than science. It's hard to know whether all those millions of dollars spent have led to an increase in real sales. And when a downturn comes, the marketing budget is often the first to be cut.

4] Nobody has a clear idea of what marketing is. Ask 20 senior managers in any company what marketing is, and you’ll get 20 different answers. By contrast, most people would agree on a definition of finance or production.

Instead of feeling sorry for themselves, CMOs can take the following practical steps to reclaim some of their lost power:

1] Get rid of the CMO title, because nobody understands it. Create the new title of CCO – Chief Customer Officer. This person must be the voice of the customer in the organization, taking views and messages from the market and spreading them internally. More and more companies have a CCO or a senior executive with a similar title, from to the Washington Post.

2] Get the CEO to be the CMO. Chief executives can drive the customer-centricity agenda better than anyone else, because they can shape a company's culture and drive the recruitment of customer-oriented people. Having the CEO as CMO also sends a strong message throughout the organization that the customer is front and center and that marketing is everybody's job.

3] Get the CFO on board too. Doing this requires taking some of the fuzziness out of marketing. CCOs need to be financially literate and produce hard numbers that show the return on investment from marketing.

4] Use customer knowledge to build influence. With backing from the big two in the C-suite, CCOs can use their customer knowledge to influence discussions of product design and pricing, and make a company's offerings more sensitive to the market.

Back in the 1950s, the management guru Peter Drucker wrote that a company has only two key functions – marketing and innovation – and that all other functions should support these. Sadly, paying attention to the customer is less and less common these days. The CCO can be the first step toward reversing this trend.

So – goodbye to the CMO, hello to the CCO.

Linda Holroyd's insight:

Long live the CCO!

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Tech Perspectives For the Next 15 Years: And Why They Matter Urgently

Tech Perspectives For the Next 15 Years: And Why They Matter Urgently | Innovating in an Age of Personalization |
The communications industry is undergoing a massive transformation. It is so fundamental; it will affect every person and every business on the face of the planet in the next 10 to 15 years. You can look at it as the third wave, comparable with the way railroads, automobiles and planes transformed life in the 20th century.

Every application of BSS/OSS will move from legacy to one global, virtual, seamless IP world, based on IP and wireless. The internet that emerged as a mass medium in the 1990s wasn’t designed for this, and at the moment we’re only applying quick fixes. We need networks and an internet that are designed for sextuple play – that is quadruple play (phone calls, broadband, IPTV and mobile), plus sensory-based services (for example, applications in medicine and construction), plus financial services.

These two new categories cannot tolerate latency in the networks, nor packet loss. Real-time and reliable are the key words here. We now need to be thinking how we change the internet to support these types of functions. The thinking in the 1990s was that the core network should be dumb, with the intelligence around the edge.

Top 10 Technology Trends

1. IP networks must be ready for sextuple play, including sensory, gaming and IOT based devices.

2. Security requirements must move from a reactive, defensive 3P model (Proactive, Predictive, Preventative) onto the offensive – otherwise there will be problems of biblical proportions.

3. All future IP services will be designed for three screens – mobile, TV and PC.

4. Wireless internet access will be big – driving better modes of mobility with Wi-Fi and 4G+/5G, achieving explosive growth.

5. Sensor networks will proliferate – machine IP addresses will overtake host computers.

6. Video requirements especially around Ultra High Definition video signals will drive future IP network design and architecture, including use of SDN and NFV based services.

7. Broadband wireless will be common – locality is now important for presence and advertising – not routing.

8. Access speeds will no longer be bottlenecks and we will have access routers or switches at 10Gbps, and data will be symmetrical down and up link. New services will start generating billions for service providers worldwide.

9. Privacy becomes consumers’ biggest concern as technology gets closer to realizing services (think of the movie Minority Report).

10. Next generation speech recognition and natural language understanding will redefine the human machine interface.

This was a big move from decades of engineering, where the intelligence was in the core public-switched telephone network, and the end devices were dumb – corded and cordless phones. This was a kind of IP bigotry, and it was clear to me that we would be storing up security problems of biblical proportions if we followed this line of thinking.

In my mind, the best solution was intelligence in the core and at the edge in the form of smart devices and, over the last decade, this has happened with the great proliferation of smartphones which are getting cheaper and becoming more and more available to the masses all the time. This too has introduced more security issues: attacks on networks used to be against the core and Microsoft Windows, now criminals are targeting Apple and apps.

Cyber crooks have become more sophisticated in other ways, too. The code they used was sloppy and it was a kind of carpet-bombing approach. Now it’s more like stealth fighting; the challenge is to detect what’s going on and the only way we can do that is to deploy technologies like deep packet inspection.

We haven’t yet seen any indication of the real force of cyber warfare that lies ahead, where personal information is the target. We live in a world where Apple offers over 1M applications, there are 200,000 Android apps, not to mention all the other app stores – and another 5,000 are appearing daily. Taking a reactive approach to security is of no use – the damage is out there and has been done.

We need to be predictive and proactive, and concentrate on protecting individuals’ private information. There are now more wireless devices in use worldwide than toothbrushes, and people use them for just about everything. We need to acknowledge that and act. Action is needed regarding the provision of bandwidth to keep up with demand too.

We are moving into an era of high-definition everything and we’ll need 4G and 5G networks to provide the necessary quality of service and reliability. If people are unhappy with one service provider, they’ll churn. Lots of network operators are not investing enough in the provision of bandwidth to meet this situation and things are only going to get worse when they start losing customers as well.

Operators need to think of cheap ways of offloading traffic from their networks – I call this off-hauling. It might be in the form of Wi-Fi, a 4G network or infrastructure provided by somebody else.

There is also another major source of traffic on the horizon. After more than a century of heavily text-based communications, we’re moving into a new era of speech communications propelled by huge advances in speech recognition. It’s an area where the rate of innovation is five times that of any other area of IT and communications, and it’s going to transform the way we talk to each other.

In the next decade to 15 years, if I’m talking to someone in Italian and they are an English speaker, we’ll have simultaneous translation at both ends, so the issue of a language barrier affecting communication will disappear. CxO level executives need to be thinking about all these issues (as shown in the diagram below).

My objective is to help operators become more profitable in sustainable ways. If they do not take these issues on board, they will be left with nothing but infrastructure. They need to move away from thinking about themselves as primarily infrastructure providers and instead, see AND act like software companies. Right now, they haven’t got the expertise to do so. They need to address that issue urgently, laying the foundations for what’s coming now.

In the 1990s, operators concentrated on data mining. Since the turn of the century, they have focused on business intelligence, based on that data, but it is not generated in real time. They need to move on, building knowledge from their many sources of intelligence in real time, otherwise when a major virus hits the computer, it's game over.

At the moment, 50 million terabytes of traffic are generated every day (50 exabytes). We are already getting to the stage where databases are getting bigger and bigger, and eat up storage. We desperately need to come up with ways of compressing data while preserving its information value. Again this is a source of great concern that will soon become a pressing problem.

Dr. Eslambolchi

Linda Holroyd's insight:

If scalability and infrastructure issues get addressed one by one, security and privacy and efficiency will become primary concerns

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Did Crummy Weather Tech Force the Politicians' Blizzard Error? | David Kirkpatrick | LinkedIn

Did Crummy Weather Tech Force the Politicians' Blizzard Error? | David Kirkpatrick | LinkedIn | Innovating in an Age of Personalization |

Could better technology have prevented today's shocking decision-making blunder by Governor Andrew Cuomo and other political officials about winter storm Juno that led to a total economic shutdown across the Northeast United States?

The answer is probably yes. Weather prediction technology in the United States is dangerously antiquated. And overly-timid federal U.S. governmental spending and political considerations are preventing the system from remaining state-of-the-art.

The politicians ordered a total shutdown of public transportation systems including roads and mass transit across New York and much of New England. They feared an impending winter storm. While far-Eastern New England did get heavy snows, virtually no unusual weather materialized east of New Haven. But the economic consequences of this shutdown are surely huge. We will hear numbers in coming days, but the cost could easily go into the billions. Companies across the region were forced to shut down, unnecessarily, it turned out. Given New York's centrality to the U.S. economy, the ripple effects will be gigantic.

In deciding to order the shutdown, the politicians relied on the predictions of the U.S. National Weather Service. But the systems that underlie weather prediction for the U.S.--including computers, satellites, and human staff--are increasingly inadequate.

Weather forecasting today depends on supercomputers to crunch massive amounts of information about highly complex systems. But as this article from last Octoberpoints out, purchasing new supercomputer capacity for the Weather Service has been delayed, probably for political reasons. Money for a new computer was allocated by Congress, but the Obama administration delayed spending it. The purchase was to be from IBM, which then sold that business to China's Lenovo. Apparently, rather than buy the computer from a Chinese company, the government did nothing. Much-smaller countries like the UK and Korea now have many times the computing capacity of the U.S. in their weather supercomputers. As the author writes, "The U.S. is rapidly falling behind in the computational resources necessary for high quality numerical weather prediction."

That's not all. One of the key data sources for those computers is satellites. Here again, the U.S. is falling behind. While the U.S. has a large number of satellites in orbit, that's largely because many have lasted far longer than was expected. Andthere have been major delays in completing and launching the next generation of satellites. As that same Popular Mechanics article puts it, we have "a broken system that...leaves America at risk for losing access to reliable weather data." Here's a 2013 PBS Nova article on the problem entitled "Going Blind: The Coming Satellite Crisis". And here's yet another scary article.

As if that weren't enough, funding threatens the very ability of the Weather Service to do its job. In a New York Times op-ed essay last October entitled "Our Failing Weather Infrastructure", author Kathryn Miles wrote of "understaffed forecasting offices" and "radar that crashes, broken wind-detection devices, failing satellites and budget constraints that prevent them from utilizing tools like weather balloons." Miles, who wrote a book called Superstorm: Nine Days Inside Hurricane Sandy, adds that the Weather Service in 2013 "put in place a hiring freeze and cut off funding for forecaster training and equipment maintenance." That was largely because of the famous Congressionally-driven budget "sequestration." After Hurricane Sandy, the Department of Commerce did a study of the Weather Service and found what Miles says was "'a severe staffing shortage' in its technology and science branch, which is responsible for everything from software development to communicating watches and warnings." Yikes!

My 22-year-old daughter, who got a day off when her own employer completely shut down today, just walked to our window on New York's 14th St. and said "Jeez, it's just a completely normal day out there." How that happened is something we should all worry about. A total economic shutdown by politicians seldom happens, and should certainly not be based on inadequate science and data. Yet that's what happened.

Failure to stay technologically abreast with other nations radically impairs our country. We've seen that failure in our education system, and now we see it in our weather-prediction systems. The economic cost of falling behind, as in the Juno winter storm debacle, is huge.

Linda Holroyd's insight:

Economic shutdown for the Juno winter storm that fizzled

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Yahoo Was the GE of the Internet

Yahoo Was the GE of the Internet | Innovating in an Age of Personalization |

Much has been made of the PayPal mafia. Without a doubt, Elon Musk, Peter Thiel,Max LevchinJeremy StoppelmanReid HoffmanKeith RaboisChad HurleyRoelof Botha, et al, are the most impressive group of company creators and investors to exist.

There is an argument to be made about another group, the trailblazers who were responsible for turning Yahoo into the largest Internet company in the world circa 1998-2003. During this period, Yahoo was the breeding ground for the best and brightest cross-functional leaders on the Internet. These “Yahoo Bosses” have been indispensable as the critical managers who have stitched together the fabric of what makes today’s leading Internet companies and the Silicon Valley ecosystem thrive.

Born in a trailer on the Stanford University campus 20 years ago, Yahoo is the archetype for hyper-growth, global, multi-billion-dollar companies born on the World Wide Web.

Yahoo is the company that created the blueprint for what is possible on the Internet. Born in a trailer on the Stanford University campus 20 years ago, Yahoo is the archetype for hyper-growth, global, multi-billion-dollar companies born on the World Wide Web.

The invention of Jerry Yang and David Filo blazed a trail that made it possible for the world’s greatest enterprises to come to life at blazing speed.

If not for Yahoo, it would have been difficult for there to be a Google, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, PayPal, Uber, Pinterest — you name it. Yahoo’s emergence was fast and furious. “The men and women who joined Jerry and David’s Guide to the World Wide Web had no training for what they were building. It all happened in real time, and many of the roles, responsibilities, functions and best practices were made up on the fly.

The GE of the Internet

Many years ago, I had the good fortune of working for Jeff Weiner, who has become one of the top managers in the world. At one of his staff meetings back in 2003, I said to him, “Yahoo is the GE of the Internet.” He gave me a puzzled look, a wry smile, and without a word, made my statement seem like the ramblings of a madman. Many years later, I saw him again, and he brought up that comment. I was blown away that he remembered it, but more floored when he said, “You were spot-on with the GE comment.”

Building the first special Internet company prepared the folks who toiled in the trenches at Yahoo to know exactly what to do when they left Yahoo to help create the next phase of special companies. Before Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Groupon, Zynga, YouTube, Dropbox, Pinterest, Yelp, Cloudera and many more of the rare unicorn companies that exploded in the past decade, their founders and investors called upon a special breed of managers to help … the Yahoo Bosses.

Jerry Yang — the big boss — and his early gang

Every manager mentioned in this post had the good fortune to work closely and interact with Jerry Yang. Yang was a great founder, evangelist, strategist and mentor, and has served on the boards of Yahoo, Cisco, Alibaba, Workday, and Stanford University. He cared deeply about Yahoo, and expected anyone who ran a business or function at Yahoo to compete ferociously.

There is only a handful of truly visionary founders, and when you get to work, collaborate and go to battle alongside one of them, you are exposed to a level of greatness that helps shape you as a manager. The Yahoo Bosses were among the first generation of managers in the Internet age to have this experience.

Yang was also aware enough to bring in the best possible managers when Yahoo was started. Tim Koogle, Yahoo’s early CEO; Jeff Mallett, the first COO; Farzad Nazem, CTO; and Tim Brady, the third employee after Jerry and David, were the best management team of any of the first-generation Internet companies. Following the dot-com crash, when Yahoo needed a different type of leader, Jerry lured old-school media mogul Terry Semel to lead the company.

The startup factory

When we think about the fabric of what makes Silicon Valley most special, it is the startup itself that creates the massive market disruptive force resulting in a world-changing company. The process of creating a startup was institutionalized in a boot-camp-like incubator at Y Combinator, which was founded by a special person within the startup ecosystem, Paul Graham.

Graham was brought into Yahoo when his startup ViaWeb was acquired. He taught the founders of Airbnb, Dropbox and many other special companies how to do what made Yahoo special, and how to avoid those things that eventually got Yahoo into trouble. Along with Graham, brilliant engineer Trevor Blackwell and Geoff Ralston, who led the communication business and served as Yahoo’s chief product officer, have been instrumental in building Y Combinator into the world’s preeminent startup factory.

Today’s best CEO grew up at Yahoo

Regardless of the organizational function, whether it is in finance, HR, legal, sales, engineering, product management, investing or building the next big thing, Yahoo’s managers knew how to operate on the Internet. Yahoo circa 1998-2003 was definitely the GE of the Internet.

LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner is the best non-founder operating executive at any Internet company. Reid Hoffman hand-picked him to shepherd his social network through its growth phase, and along that journey, Weiner tapped former GC Mike Callahan to be his legal lieutenant; Ryan Roslansky to break LinkedIn into thecontent gameShannon Stubo to manage corporate communications; Joff Redfernas the product lead for mobile; and many other talented Yahoos.

Today, LinkedIn is thought to be one of the best-run global companies, and according to Glassdoor’s 2014 CEO Survey, Weiner tops the list, ahead of leaders at Intel, Starbucks, Facebook, Apple, FedEx and Ford.

C-level proving ground

When recruiters and venture capital firms are tasked with bringing the right CEO, COO, GC, CMO or CFO to help a startup become a real company, the managers who grew up at Yahoo are frequently on the short list of execs they seek. These same Yahoo Bosses are also being asked to join the boards of some of the world’s most important companies.

Facebook, of course, owes much of its success to the brilliance of its visionary founder. But before Mark Zuckerberg teamed up with Sheryl Sandberg and figured everything out, some of his most important hires were former Yahoo bosses. His first outside hire to help lead the charge on the product team was Doug Hirsch, former head of products for Yahoo’s entertainment group. When he needed the best possible ad sales chief, he brought on Mike Murphy, who would lead sales efforts and eventually become the company’s chief revenue officer.

Another key department that had to have truly world-class talent was the finance organization.The perfect person to fill the CFO role was Gideon Yu, a bright young star at Yahoo, where he was treasurer. Upon leaving Yahoo, he first made a quick stop at YouTube as CFO, then went on to be a partner at Sequoia Capital and finally landed at Facebook as CFO.

Yu brought along with him many talented executives, including Cipora Herman, who eventually became the treasurer and is now CFO at the San Francisco 49ers. Katie Mitic was brought in to figure out mobile for Facebook, and, since leaving, has joined the board of eBay and Restoration Hardware while getting ready to launch a new startup.

There are only a handful of truly visionary founders, and when you get to work, collaborate and go to battle alongside one of them, you are exposed to a level of greatness that helps shape you as a manager.

Before Beats Music was sold to Apple for $3 billion last year, the company brought inIan Rogers, a visionary media executive who ran Yahoo’s music division, to be its CEO. His predecessor, Dave Goldberg, was picked to be CEO of SurveyMonkey; he has guided the Monkey through spectacular growth and value creation, with the latest round valuing the company at more than $1.35 billion, a near order-of-magnitude increase from when he took the reins.

Katie Jacobs Stanton is another who has had a meteoric rise following her experience as the head of products for Yahoo Finance. Directly after Yahoo, she joined Google to help it build a respectable offering within the finance vertical. After proving herself to be an innovative leader at both Yahoo and Google, she was recruited by both the Obama administration and the State Department to help the government better leverage technology. She is currently the global head of media for Twitter.

Joining her at Twitter is Mike Gupta, who held senior roles within Yahoo’s finance department, became Zynga’s CFO before jumping over to Twitter as CFO, and now heads its strategic investments with a war chest of nearly $4 billion.

When recruiters and venture capital firms are tasked with bringing the right CEO, COO, GC, CMO or CFO to help a startup become a real company, the managers who grew up at Yahoo are frequently on the short-list of execs they seek.

The following companies have a combined valuation of more than $40 billion. Each one called upon a Yahoo Boss to take on a significant operating role. When Airbnb needed someone to deal with the huge regulatory hurdles that would make the company worth $10 billion, it went to Mike Callahan’s team, and chose his trusted lieutenant Belinda Johnson to be general counsel. Greg Coleman, who was responsible for Yahoo’s global ad sales efforts, has been called in to be the No. 2 executive at The Huffington Post, which sold to AOL; and at Criteo, which recently went public; and is now the president at BuzzFeed.

When storied venture firm Kleiner-Perkins needed a CEO to come in to pre-public Chegg and ready it for its IPO, John Doerr and his partners called upon Yahoo’s ex-COO Dan Rosensweig to become CEO. Vish Makhijani is currently the president at Udacity, a promising startup that is disrupting higher education. He also was COO at Zynga, and an important executive at Russia’s Yandex. When young Matt Mullenweg needed someone to help him grow WordPress, he brought Toni Schneider in as the CEO of Automattic. Schneider helped grow the platform to a place where 25 percent of all websites are now powered by the WordPress platform.Dan Finnigan is CEO of Jobvite. Dave Mandelbrot is the No. 2 executive at Indiegogo, and is leading the company through an impressive growth spurt. Paul Levine, who led the charge on Yahoo’s local business, serves as Trulia’s COO.

After Yahoo, Brad Garlinghouse, a popular executive and author of the famed “Peanut Butter Manifesto,” served as president of AOL’s applications and commerce division and serves on the board at Tim Cadogan, who ran the global ad business for Yahoo, is now CEO at OpenX, one of the top ad-tech companies, and a board member at publicly traded Acxiom. Chad Dickerson, former head of Yahoo’s Developer Network, was brought in to be the CTO at Etsy, and now serves as its CEO as the company readies for its IPO.

One of Yahoo’s mobile executives, David Ko, grew into the COO role at Zynga and is now president and COO at Audax Health. Phu Hoang, considered by many to be one of the best early engineering managers on the Internet, co-founded and serves as CEO at the exciting big-data company Data Torrent.

Dropbox recently interviewed scores of the world’s best CMOs in its search to find the right person to head its marketing efforts.When the dust settled, the last person standing was Julie Herendeen, who spent many years in top product roles at Yahoo.

Herendeen’s husband, Eckart Walther, founded CardSpring, which was recently acquired by Twitter. Another husband who has made good is Cipora Herman’s husband, Vlado, who served as Yelp’s CFO and is now CFO at one of Andreessen Horowitz’s most exciting enterprise software companies, GitHub. Shazam just announced its unicorn status, raising money at a $1 billion valuation — CEO Rich Riley, who ran Yahoo’s small-business division, is leading the company through significant hyper growth.

I had the good fortune of serving as CEO at SideStep and as president/COO atGroupon, both roles made possible because of the training I received as a general manager working over the years for Jeff Weiner, Greg Coleman, Phu Hoang and Tim Brady.

Yahoo leaned in before it was popular.

Yahoo leaned in before it was popular. Many of the Yahoo Bosses were women, none more talented and sought after then Sue Decker.

Decker was brought in as Yahoo’s CFO and promoted to president; since leaving the company, she has served on the boards of Pixar, Berkshire Hathaway and Costco. When Vivendi needed someone who could bridge traditional and social media, they tapped Stanton from Twitter.

And when companies like SolarWinds and Zynga need the counsel of one of the earliest architects of monetization and business-development functions, they rely upon Ellen SiminoffCaterina Fake, who co-founded Flickr, built and sold Hunch to eBay after her tenure at Yahoo, serves as chairman of the board at Etsy and is working on a discovery startup called Findery.

Google has more data collected than just about anyone. In order to deal with the risks and challenges that went along with their attempts to compete with Facebook, the best person on the Internet for privacy and policy was Anne Toth, who invented the position during her career at Yahoo. She has since left Google and is figuring out privacy and compliance issues for Slack, a company that Marc Andreessen calls the fastest-growing enterprise service he has ever seen. One of the early product leaders at Uber, Frederique Dame, worked on Yahoo’s first forays into social. is having a huge social impact by employing a new model for nonprofits; guiding the company through its innovative approach is Jennifer Dulski, president and COO. The CMO at Virgin America is none other than the leader of Yahoo’s Buzz Marketing efforts, Luanne Calvert. And when Martha Stewart Living, Nintendo,, LifeLock, and 24-Hour Fitness needed to round out their executive ranks, they called upon Wenda Millard, Cammie DunawayLorna BorensteinHilary Schneider and Elizabeth Blair, respectively.

Functional leaders

As Microsoft continues its renaissance, Steve Ballmer went after the development executive that many consider the best in the world, Qi Lu, who is now in charge of the most important units within Microsoft. Lars Rabbe, former CIO, went on to fill the same role at both Intuit and Skype. Dave Nakayama, a very early engineer, was brought into Amazon to lead its digital music efforts to counter the juggernaut that Apple created with iTunes. Lee Brown, one of the industry’s top sales executives, took on the top sales jobs at both Groupon and Tumblr.

Google is building its entire development efforts for YouTube around Venkat Panchapakesan, who built many of Yahoo’s core infrastructures. One of the functions that was created and arguably perfected at Yahoo was business operations. Within the matrix org at Yahoo, Jeff Weiner tasked Andrew Braccia andMatt Heist to build a group that could sit between the business units and the centralized finance organization. Heist went on to be COO and CEO of High Gear Media, and many of his team members can be found leading either the biz ops or finance functions at some of Silicon Valley’s best companies: Allen Shim at Slack,Steven Trieu at Quora, Robby Kwok at TellApart, and Danny Moy at both Zynga and Candy Crush creator

The Yahoo innovators

Not to be completely outdone by the PayPal mafia, Yahoo had its own group of mobsters creating innovative special companies from scratch.

Jan Koum and Brian Acton, two of Yahoo’s most talented engineers, created WhatsApp, and recently sold their baby to Facebook for $22 billionStewart Butterfield, who created Flickr and spent a few years at Yahoo, pivoted his game company into one of the industry’s more promising enterprise-productivity companies with Slack.

Amr Awadallah has helped usher in the cloud era with Cloudera, now valued at $3 billion, and was incubated at Accel, where early Yahoo ops executive Andrew Braccia is a managing director. Albert Lee, who was a product lead on Yahoo’s Auction business, co-founded MyFitnessPal, which was recently funded by Accel and Kleiner Perkins.

Julian Farrior, another alumnus of the Auctions team, built one of the first successful mobile gaming companies, Backflip studios, selling a majority stake to Hasbro in an exciting nine-figure deal. In the physical world, former Yahoo Shopping exec Michael Landau launched the Drybar. Pasha Sadri has built Polyvore into one of the most interesting social curation engines, and is now an engineering lead at WhatsApp. And funding the next great companies are VCs at Accel; Andrew Braccia, Greylock;James Slavet, Index; Dominique Vidal, Sutter Hill; Mike Speiser, Google Ventures;Ken Norton, Comcast Ventures; Michael Yang, AME Cloud; Jerry Yang, Morado Ventures; Ash Patel, Code Advisors; Mike Marquez, Mosaic Ventures; Toby Coppeland Simon Levene; and spreading the magic to India is Prashant Mehta at Lightbox.

The first great Internet company served as the breeding ground for the Web’s first wave of leading executives.

The Yahoo Bosses can be found across all functions and in leadership positions at the most important Internet companies and VC firms. The first great Internet company served as the breeding ground for the Internet’s first wave of leading executives — in fact, the talent pool ran so deep that I have easily failed to mention scores of world-class managers. It takes a pioneering platform company to provide the leadership talent for an industry. Yahoo was the first of the Internet era to do so, and it will be very exciting to see what happens as the diaspora from Facebook, Twitter, Google, Uber, Airbnb, etc., spread their wings over the coming years.

Linda Holroyd's insight:

Credit to Yahoo for all it's done to forge the way - watch for where Yahoo will go next

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Un-Track Yourself: What We're Losing When We're Quantifying Everything

Un-Track Yourself: What We're Losing When We're Quantifying Everything | Innovating in an Age of Personalization |
Put the body-monitoring tool down, turn around, and slowly walk away. Just because something is measurable doesn’t mean you should measure it, especially if there’s no guarantee it will improve your quality of life.

I’m not a technophobe—far from it. These days, I juggle many professional balls, so I gladly rely on my arsenal of technology almost as much as I depend on food, water, and air. The world has changed, the means by which we communicate have advanced, and there’s nothing I can do to change that—nor would I want to.

But just as there’s an app for everything, there’s also an emerging trend of shiny, new tools that can track our fitness, productivity, health, and even happiness. It’s all part of the Quantified Self (QS) movement, which posits that we can live better through tracking and analyzing data about ourselves.

Data love

Those of us in the business world have been conditioned and encouraged to think in quantitative terms. “What are the numbers? What are the metrics? What’s the bottom line?” This makes sense: How can we know if a product or service is producing a profit, capturing market share, or qualifies as a success story without numbers to capture progress or signal failure?

And so we crunch numbers, fill spreadsheets, and choose a set of performance indicators. In the marketplace, you can only manage what you measure, or so the maxim goes. And the marketplace has long expanded into our personal lives. This is why the QS movement is becoming popular; it’s an enticing proposition to know that you can now learn formerly unknowable things about how you work, sleep, and exercise by affixing a tool to your body and hitting the power button.

Mood sensors, happiness meters, and socio-metric analyzers like Meeting Mediator that monitor social dynamics in meetings have arrived in the workplace and enhance our desire for perfecting our performance. We have even begun to delegate the most intimate aspects of our lives to data-tracking services: from flirting to dating to break-ups—there’s an app for it. There’s even one for recording (and enhancing) our performance in bed (aptly called “Spreadsheets”).

Smaller lives

While the ambitions of the QS movement are impressive, I want to caution us not to place too much focus on measuring multiple aspects of ourselves to achieve an unreachable nirvana of human optimization. We are not robots, and neither are we a problem seeking a solution. There is much more to the human experience than how our bodies perform and how we handle tasks at work.

We are greater than the sum of all our data. We have emotions, seek to fulfill our curiosity, look for diversion, and possess big dreams. All these elements imbue us with our very human, and I would argue, our immeasurably romantic traits that we carry with us into failures and triumphs. It’s this part of ourselves that we draw on—and replenish—when we have the serendipitous encounters and moments of enchantment that allow us to feel truly alive. But when we tip the scales of balance by adopting a strict regimen of data tracking in a never-ending quest for self-improvement, we turn inward, leaving ourselves less open to the people and opportunities that give our existence its sharper edges.

Big data is making our lives smaller. The more data points at our disposal, the less we often know. More numbers don’t necessarily lift us from a state of dissatisfaction to one of cheerful fulfillment. That last part is up to us.

Feel more alive

Only the examined life is worth living, the ancient Greek philosopher Socrates famously remarked, but it is important to remember that we can examine it without quantifying it. In business and beyond, we can manage what we can’t measure, and in fact we do it every day.

To claim a life worth living, I recommend unplugging from your tools and your carefully cultivated matrix of data. Instead of tracking how many calories you torched during a workout, concentrate on the movements you make, what burns, and what doesn’t—are you able to get out of your head and let go of earlier stresses? To be truly open and present for moments that will bring you what tools can’t track—joy, laughter, happiness, wonder, and love—it is necessary to be attuned to the world around you. What will make you feel more satisfied? Six-months of sleep data, or a belly laugh with a co-worker?

Monitoring tools will prove you are alive, but they won’t make you feel more alive. You may have a healthy blood pressure reading, find that you are happiest in early Friday morning meetings, or discover that your nightly sleep stats are to be admired and envied. But none of that data will make you more fulfilled for long—it just makes you more knowledgeable. You will maximize and optimize but lose the romance of getting to know.

The quest for a contented life does not conclude with a month’s or year’s worth of data and a series of impressive graphs. It requires paying heed to your humanity, and mine. It involves the labor of love, working with no certain outcome, the thrill of not knowing what’s going to happen the next day at work. It means performing in a slightly new role every day and trying yourself out in one lifelong leap of faith. It requires looking up from your gadgets to observe the world around you with fresh eyes.

There is no app for that.

Linda Holroyd's insight:

Know where the data fits into your life

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Steve Jobs actually predicted the demise of the tech industry

Steve Jobs actually predicted the demise of the tech industry | Innovating in an Age of Personalization |

We know two things somewhat conclusively in this argument:

To quote Varsity Blues: "Things change, Mox."

And for the tech industry, the thing that could kill it was actually predicted in 1995 by its greatest icon, Mr. Steve Jobs. 

Follow the bouncing ball:

  • I read this article on Forbes today about "The No. 1 predictor of career success."
  • That article doesn't teach you that much about career success, admittedly, but it does contain a quote from Steve Jobs in a 1995 Wired article.
  • That quote? Here we go: "Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn't really do it. They just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while; that's because they were able to connect experiences they've had and synthesize new things. And the reason they were able to do that was that they've had more experiences or they have thought more about their experiences than other people. Unfortunately, that's too rare a commodity. A lot of people in our industry haven't had very diverse experiences."
  • To wit, look at some of the experiences in Jobs' own life -- and what they potentially led to:
  • Now think about today's tech world: it's quite insular. Look at LinkedIn job stats, or read this article. (Or this one.)
  • Think about Mark Zuckerberg, one of the "tech titans" to come in the wave after Jobs. He basically created Facebook at 22 or so. So even if he pulls a Bill Gates and walks away sometime in his 50s to pursue other things, stillessentially all he's known is the Silicon Valley tech world, that culture, those types of jobs, those types of experiences.
  • There are more and more people probably thinking that way -- despite the cost of living in SF, there's a population boom. Those people are (likely) predominantly entering the tech industry, and doing so young.
  • There's no "living on an apple orchard" or "taking a calligraphy class" for these people.
  • Without an experiential base, topics like "curiosity" and "synthesis" becomeharder to pursue.
  • Without diverse experience / curiosity / synthesis -- essentially, in a world made insular -- the creativity and the functionality of the product will decline. As it declines, other nations and other industries can rush in to fill the tech industry void.
  • A doomsday scenario? Of course. Would this take years to play out? Naturally. But Steve Jobs, way back in 1995, may have pinpointed the exact thing that will bring down the industry where he made his fortune.

That creates a whole different doomsday scenario, to boot.

Linda Holroyd's insight:

The creative shall inherit the world

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The Genius of Google’s Invisibility

The Genius of Google’s Invisibility | Innovating in an Age of Personalization |
It’s been said that the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.

Google is not the devil - far from it, actually. But they’ve pretty much accomplished the same thing: although we use Google every day for nearly everything, it is almost as if it doesn’t exist.

And that’s intentional.


I’ve been reading the book What Would Google Do by Jeff Jarvis and some parts I’ve found particularly fascinating. For example, Jarvis said that when Google was first created, it didn’t care about making money. Instead, all it cared about was getting as many people to use it as possible.

That strategy remains the key to Google’s success. They, to this day, care first and foremost about getting more and more people to use Google, regardless of how much money they are making off of them. In fact, they purposely keep their prices low and market-driven, so there is little opportunity for competitors.

Jarvis argues that Google’s plan is to extract as little money as possible from as many people as possible. Google is sort of like that scam in the movie Office Space (although, Google is anything but a scam), where they make one-tenth of a cent on every transaction in the world.

And that adds up to a lot of money.

Here’s the thing, though. Yes, charging as little money as possible and continually building cool products is going to attract a lot of people.

But, to keep them, Google needs to become invisible. And it has executed that perfectly.

Understanding Google’s Invisibility

When you go to Yahoo’s or AOL’s homepage, it is littered with articles and advertisements and everything else. They are busy sites that you instinctively have an opinion about, positive or negative.

When you go to Google’s homepage, it is just a search bar, some sort of Google Doodle that is rarely controversial and a bunch of white space. You don’t really have an opinion about it – it is basically displayed as just a tool, no more interesting than that.

In Google Chrome, you don’t even have to go to the Google homepage. You just type in the term in the address bar and it Googles it for you, and you almost forget you are using Google at all.

The actual search results themselves are mostly just the results and white space. Again, there is almost no branding on it at all, nothing more really than the information you’re looking for.

Google could make billions and billions of dollars selling ads on any of those pages. And yet they don’t, because they don’t really want you to have an opinion about Google.

They just want you to use it.

On top of all of that is the way Google's properties are built to embed into other sites. A lot of times you are seeing Google products while on another site – through Google ads, Google maps or its video service, YouTube – and yet you don’t even realize yet. Yes, you know it is a Google property if you really were to think about it, but you just don’t really think about it.

Why Be Invisible?

If people have any opinion about Google, it is generally that it is a cool company that builds crazy stuff. Few people I talk to have much to say about Google’s core function - the search engine - and yet they use it all the time.

That’s how Google remains so popular. If people had really strong opinions about it – even if they were good opinions – other companies could take advantage. Instead, by just sort of fading into the background, people use Google almost by default.

Of course, Google is smart by continually improving itself and building new, cool products (or buying new, cool products), so it remains a great search engine. But they do all of that without ever rocking the boat, with the aim of becoming more and more a part of your day while also sinking ever-deeper into the background.

Google’s goal is to become like breathing; just a necessary function for accomplishing what you need to do. You don’t think about it, you don’t really talk about it; you just instinctively do it.

And it’s succeeding.

Linda Holroyd's insight:

Attract a lot of people, charge a little to each, then be invisible

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How Technology Will Eat Medicine | Vivek Wadhwa | LinkedIn

How Technology Will Eat Medicine | Vivek Wadhwa | LinkedIn | Innovating in an Age of Personalization |

The most significant announcement that Apple made in 2014 wasn’t a larger-sized iPhone. It was that Apple is entering the health-care industry. With HealthKit, it is building an iTunes-like platform for health; Apple Watch is its first medical device. Apple is, however, two steps behind Google, IBM, and hundreds of startups. They realized much earlier that medicine is becoming an information technology and that the trillion-dollar health-care market is ripe for disruption.

My prediction is that 2015 will be the year in which tech takes baby steps in transforming medicine. The technologies that make this possible are advancing at exponential rates; their power and performance are increasing dramatically even as their prices fall and footprints shrink. The big leaps will start to happen at around the end of this decade.

The health devices that companies such as Apple, Microsoft, and Samsung are developing are based on MEMS sensors, which are one of the exponential technologies. These enable the measurement of things such as heart rate, temperature, blood pressure, and activity levels and can feed data into cloud-based platforms such as HealthKit. They will be packaged in watches, Band-Aids, clothing—and contact lenses. Yes, Google announced in January that it is developing a contact lens that can measure glucose levels in a person’s tears and transmit these data via an antenna thinner than a human hair. In July, it said that it was licensing the technology to Novartis, enabling it to market it to people with diabetes.

We will soon have sensors that monitor almost every aspect of our body’s functioning, inside and out.

Advances in Microfluidics are making possible the types of comprehensive, inexpensive diagnostics that Theranos is developing. In a single drop of blood, it can test for things such as cancer, cholesterol, and cocaine. Newer technologies coming from nanobiophysics will soon make Theranos obsolete by providing immediate analysis at the point of care, rather than in a laboratory as Theranos does. One of the most promising of these, from Nanobiosym, is Gene-Radar, a portable nanotechnology platform that uses biological nanomachines to rapidly and accurately detect the genetic fingerprints of organisms. It will enable the detection of diseases such as HIV and Ebola and deliver the results to a mobile device within minutes—for a hundredth of the cost of conventional tests.

By combining these data with our electronic medical records and the activity and lifestyle information that our smartphones observe, Artificial Intelligence-based systems will monitor us on a 24 x 7 basis. They will warn us when we are about to get sick and advise us on what medications we should take and how we should improve our lifestyle and habits. Watson, the technology that IBM developed to defeat human players on the TV show Jeopardy, has already become capable of diagnosing cancer more accurately than human physicians can. Soon it will be better than humans are in making every diagnosis.

With the added sensors and the apps that tech companies will build, our smartphone will become a medical device akin to the Star Trek tricorder. Indeed, there are already ten finalists for the $10 million Qualcomm XPRIZE to build a device that can "diagnose patients better than or equal to a panel of board certified physicians". Watching one of these, Scanadu, in action, I have little doubt that we will see many revolutionary technologies by the time XPRIZE winners are selected in early 2016.

With health data from millions of patients, technology companies will be able to take on and transform the pharmaceutical industry—which works on limited clinical-trial data and sometimes chooses to ignore information that does not suit it. These data can be used to accurately analyze what medications patients have taken, to determine which of them truly had a positive effect; which simply created adverse reactions and new ailments; and which did both.

And then there is the genomics revolution. The cost of sequencing a human genome has fallen from $100 million in 2001 to about $1000 today and will likely cost as much as a blood test by the end of this decade. What this means is that the bits and bytes that make up a human being have been deciphered; for all intents and purposes, we have become software.

Genome analysis is already being used to guide the treatment of cancers of the brain and the breast. Eric Green, director of the National Human Genome Research Institute, explained to me that a decade ago, scientists focused on using DNA-sequencing and computational technologies to interpret the genome and understand its biology. Now they are using them to improve diagnostics, medicines, and clinical practice. Green predicts that, before long, doctors will tailor treatment for diseases on the basis of an individual’s genomic information. This is what becomes possible by understanding the correlation between genome, habits, and disease.

That is why Google and Amazon are competing to offer a repository for genomics. They are charging practically nothing ($25) to store your genome—so that they can peek at the data just as they peek at your emails and web searches.

Google is, as well, developing nanoparticles that combine a magnetic material with antibodies or proteins that can attach to and detect cancers and other molecules inside the body and notify a wearable computer on the wrist.

Entrepreneurs’ ambitions extend, however, far beyond diagnosing and curing disease.

Craig Venter, who was a pioneer of genomic sequencing, announced, in March, that he was starting a company, Human Longevity, to develop cell therapies using genomics to extend the healthy lifespan of humans. And Google has made a significant investment in a company called Calico to research diseases that afflict the elderly, such as neurodegeneration and cancer. It wants to understand ageing and, ultimately, extend life.

In an emerging field of synthetic biology, which allows the “writing” of DNA, researchers are creating new organisms and synthetic life forms. Entrepreneurs have developed software tools to “design” new organisms. As scary and risky as this may be, they are “designing” new drugs, therapeutic vaccines, and microorganisms. They hope to completely eradicate deadly diseases.

Tissue-engineering and 3D-printing technologies are beginning to merge and make possible the “printing” of personalized organs and modification of the human body. Imagine exoskeletons and bionic enhancements of strength, vision, and hearing as we saw in the ’70s TV series The Six Million Dollar Man. This too is becoming possible.

Perhaps the greatest leap of all is being attempted by Google. It is learning how the human brain works. One of its chief scientists, Ray Kurzweil, is bringing to life the theory of intelligence expounded in his book How to Create a Mind. He believes that we will be able to enhance our intelligence with technology and back up our brains to the cloud.

2014 marked an inflection point in the technology curve for medicine. It isn’t yet clear which technology advances will indeed affect humanity and which will be nothing more than cool science experiments. What is clear is that we have entered an era of acceleration and that there is much promise—and peril—ahead.

Linda Holroyd's insight:

Prediction: Tech and IT will take baby steps to transforming medicine in 2015

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Top 20 Reasons For Startup Failure

Top 20 Reasons For Startup Failure | Innovating in an Age of Personalization |
It is an interesting graph as it was made after dissecting over 100 top startup failures.

1. No market need - If there is no demand or do you not know how to create demand, than no amount engineering talent will solve this. Selling demand to something that does not exist yet is a skill in itself (selling faith while knowing you can deliver).

2. Run out of cash - this can happen in three ways. You didn't raise enough cash to begin with, the results didn't happen before you ran out of cash or you scaled prematurely. The whole point of the bootstrapping phase is to test and gain clarity in a new unknown area, while keeping expenses as low as possible so you can still be in the game when you can execute the clarity. You don't want to run out of cash before you can fully execute what you have learned in the startup phase.

3. Not the right team - there is nothing worse than working with the wrong people. It is a horrible way to spend your time. Note that you CAN'T change people. You may be able to train them +/- 5 to 10% in either direction but you can't fundamentally change a person. Getting the people that naturally exhibit the personality traits for the success in the role is the only way to create a great team. These sort of teams create 1000% returns with a lot less effort. In these sort of teams, people want to work together and enjoy each other's company.

There are a myriad of ways for a startup to fail and there are also a number of ways for a startup to succeed. For success, a large part is up to the founders simply continuing and not getting too caught up in the emotional drama while adapting to whatever new information/situation presents itself. Than once a solid business model is built, execute without holding back:).

Graph sourced from CB Insights:
Linda Holroyd's insight:

Make sure that there's a market need before you start the business!

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25 Technology Trends for 2015 - 2016

25 Technology Trends for 2015 - 2016 | Innovating in an Age of Personalization |

Hello from CES 2015! I've joined tens of thousands of brands, geeks, startups, investors, and technology enthusiasts from around the world to see what the future, or this year, holds for consumer electronics.

While in Las Vegas, I'm also presenting at Brand Innovators "Mega Trends" event at the Four Seasons. I was asked to share some of the biggest trends that brands and consumers need to know heading into the new year and beyond.

This list represents technologies and trends that I'm paying attention to and also high level thoughts around them. It's not complete. There's more to add on each topic of course. But this list is definitely worth exploring and I also invite you to share your ideas and the technologies you're watching.

1) Social Media 1.0 is dead.

Social media becomes part of a digitally transformed ecosystem Real-time and content marketing becomes more sophisticated and portable Social becomes key hub for shaping customer experiences Social connects the Zero Moment of Truth and the Ultimate Moment of Truth

2) The future of search and SEM also lies outside of Google

More than 88% of consumers are influenced by other consumers’ online comments. Customers are also starting searches in places such as Youtube, Pinterest and also in apps directly.

3) Messaging apps become the new social media

4) Asia and other foreign competitors will compete to gain share and push messaging forward

5) Notification windows introduce a thin layer for rapid engagement.

Apps such as Yo, while a novelty at first, will redefine what an app is and will kidding.

6) Chinese innovation is going to disrupt the U.S. from the outside in and the inside out

7) The Internet of Things is a hot and beautiful mess until it becomes the Internet of Everything

By 2020, the number of devices connected to the Internet is expected to exceed 40 billion.

8) Wearables will struggle to find their place in everyday life.

The Apple watch will start create a rising tide. Wearables are all over CES, but most are single purpose, redundant, cute or just plain useless. They need a killer app!

9) Virtual reality experiments with killer apps for consumer and vertical markets.

10) Focus on the kids! Generation Z is mobile first and mobile only and they’re nothing like Millennials

11) Youtube, Vine, etc., represent “a” new Hollywood

Youtubers and Viners and the financial ecosystem emerging to support them is reminiscent of Hollywood in the early 1900s. More kids can name online celebrities than they can traditional movie and music stars. To capture attention, advertising and content will require an entirely new approach.

12) Cyber security becomes paramount to prevent the next #Sonygate

13) Some companies are still greedy and believe the internet should not be open for the sake of profitability. This will impede innovation.

14) Music streaming will continue to undermine the music business and artistry. Artists will fight back.

15) Wall Street becomes influential again forcing brands to trump customer experience for revenue

16) Crowd capitalization accelerates disruption…everywhere.

17) There are 163 cryptocurrencies in circulation. Bitcoin is widely known. Though its market cap is down, The Bitcoin Stack will revive the movement. h/t Joel Monegro and Fred Wilson.

18) Mobile payments early today, but will soon skyrocket

In late 2013, just 6% of US adults said they had made a payment in a store by scanning or tapping their smartphone at a payment terminal. It will go up to 8% this year. Apple's introduction of the Apple Pay will be the key factor that will drive this percentage up.

Mobile payments are already gaining traction. Nearly 15% of Starbucks customers already pay with their phones. And, 60% of consumers use their smartphones to pay because of loyalty benefits.

19) The Sharing Economy is really about renting or borrowing. Everything will become “on-demand.”

New supply will stimulate new demand. Mobile platforms combined with geoloco will continue to bring everyday people and businesses together to do interact with trust and efficiency serving as facilitators.

“Technology has made renting things (even in real time) as simple as it made buying things a decade ago" – Fred Wilson

20) New enterprise drone management platforms change the game for logistics

21) Cyber Warfare: Political battles will play out in the 5th dimension.

22) Your privacy is Gone: It was traded for perceived security and also better customer experiences.

23) Big data and beacons: Connect online, in-app, and in-store experiences. Also opens the door to new forms of engagement.

- Footfall, visits online, visits through apps

- Regency and frequency of visits, behaviors and transactions

- Brand affinities

- Favorite products

- Demographics

- Location

- Loyalty program utilization

- Service quality, queue and abandonment

- Capacity planning and resource utilization

Beacons provide businesses with endless opportunities to collect massive amounts of untapped data, such as the number of beacon hits and customer dwell time at a particular location within a specified time and date range, busiest hours throughout the day or week, number of people who walk by a location each day, etc. Retailers can then make improvements to products, staff allocation in various departments and services, and so on.

24) Webrooming becomes more common than showrooming (69% to 46% respectively), according to Harris poll

- Millennials prefer webrooming

- Amazon remains #1 destination for both showrooming and webrooming

- Emerging connected in-store experiences link online and offline, leveraging both

25) Mass personalization and full funnel marketing suites reset vendor landscape and change how brands “think” and work.

New adtech companies will focus on strategy + programmatic context, content AND ads.

Optimized mobile affiliate tracking capabilities.

Publishers will offer in-house capabilities for behaviorally programmatic targeting of premium advertising.

Omni-Channel finally becomes mainstream. Brands must think like their customers to create seamless omni-channel shopping experiences that keep customers engaged at all stages.

Linda Holroyd's insight:

Great numbers and projections reported by someone who attended CES

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10 Tech Trends Poised To Dominate In 2015

10 Tech Trends Poised To Dominate In 2015 | Innovating in an Age of Personalization |

In a world of constantly emerging new technologies, what trends will have the biggest impact on our lives? There are numerous predictions about which technology will be the most transformative and game changing. We picked the top 10 based on their potential to create disruptive change in 2015.

1. Internet of Things

The Internet of Things (IoT) describes a landscape in which everyday physical objects connect with the Internet. When an inanimate object receives a digital footprint, that object becomes significantly more powerful as it can be shared and connected with people and places near and far. The IoT is shifting the way we use products. Canary is an all-in-one home security system that includes sensors and an HD video camera to monitor air temperature, quality, and sound. The systems employs machine learning to determine “normal activities,” sending you alerts through the Canary mobile app if these patterns change.

2. Predictive Analytics

If businesses could tell the future based on data they currently have, would they modify the way in which they did business? Of course they would. Organizations are using predictive analytics to extract specific information from mass data in order to anticipate future behavior patterns. Not only does this enhance business intelligence, but it also gives businesses the chance to identify risks as well as untapped opportunities. The biggest reason why businesses fail to employ predictive analytics is their lack of great data. After all, you can’t predict the future if you don’t know how consumers are currently spending their time and money.

3. Artificial Intelligence (Machine Learning)

Machine learning is a marriage between algorithms and data. In particular, it is a science in which computers are trained to analyze and interpret data without being explicitly programmed. With so much of our daily activities monitored through cell phones and internet searches, big data is transforming artificial intelligence, and specifically machine learning. Big brands like Google, Netflix, and Amazon use machine learning to provide recommendations based on your search history or recent online activity. Machine learning can be so complex that it powers driverless cars, or so simple that it completes sentences as you text.

4. Nanotechnology

Nanotechnology exists in a world so small that we cannot see it with the naked eye. Yet it has the potential to reshape our society on a grand and global scale. For starters, nanotechnology has the power to transform the automated self-assembly process. This has enormous potential for vertical industries, including retail, healthcare and energy. Imagine if nanotechnology decreased the cost of making computers by half; reduced drug manufacturing by three/fourths; or got rid of our dependence on fossil fuels?

5. Wearable World

Wearable technology provides consumers with the ability to gather and analyze extremely intimate data about their daily habits. Wearable devices also provide a convenience factor that attracts many buyers. For example, smart watches relay alerts from email and social media, share breaking news, as well as provide detailed information on the amount of steps you’ve taken in a day. They offer a connectedness coupled with independence, allowing users to look less at their cell phone. Wearable technology isn’t new by any means, but it is certainly evolving. With fashion as important as function, wearable devices will become a seamless part of our lives.

6. Mighty Batteries

Technology is advancing our world, but how far have we truly come if we still rely on wires and chords to power our devices? The National Institute of Standards and Technology announced earlier in 2014 that they were developing batteries from sodium-based, complex metal hydride. Not only would this make batteries more stable and powerful, but it could also make them cheaper. Improvements in battery technology will change the way electronics are designed and built.

7. Ambient Proximity

It’s not where a promotion is that matters; it is how close the promotion is located to you. Thanks to enhancements in ambient proximity technology, devices like beacons allow smartphone owners to interact more easily with their surroundings. Beacons are small transmitters using Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) that push information back and forth between two connected devices in close proximity. Under Armour uses beacons to analyze how shoppers behave in their store, while Apple relies on beacons to increase their mobile payments.

8. Urban Mobility

The transportation industry has undergone massive disruption as innovation in urban mobility alters the way we travel. In particular, ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft allow people to pay for and arrange a ride through a mobile app, eliminating the need for physical cash. Additionally, bicycle-sharing services like New York’s Citibikes, Washington D.C.’s Capital BikeShare, and Austin’s B-Cycle offer eco-friendly alternatives to driving. As more consumers adopt environmentally friendly ways of living, urban mobility will continue to experience massive change.

9. Fast-Laning

Accelerating checkout options is key for brands that want to enhance a shopper’s experience. No matter how great your product or service, you’ll upset and potentially lose customers if they are forced to wait in long lines. Panera Bread offers self-service machines where customers can bypass lines to order and purchase their meals. Not only are diners able to customize their meal by specifying exact preferences, but Panera also rewards them for using the self-service machines by giving them a free cookie. Through apps, both Taco Bell and Starbucks offer customers the option to order and pay for their items prior to picking them up.

10. Social Payments

Consumers enjoy convenience. We’re more connected than ever through mobile apps. Thus, the emergence of social payments seems quite fitting given how often we use social platforms. Snapchat recently launched Snapcash, an easy way for friends to exchange money within the text feature. How easy? By simply typing a dollar sign (S) followed by a specific amount of money, you can send cash to friends, Another messaging app called Line released Line Pay, allowing users to purchase items and transfer money within the app. Additionally, some restaurants are adopting social payments so that diners can conveniently split bills.

BeyondCurious is an Innovation Consultancy. Learn more at

Linda Holroyd's insight:

Great summary of technologies to watch

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Obamacare’s little-known side effect: spurring innovation

Obamacare’s little-known side effect: spurring innovation | Innovating in an Age of Personalization |

When historians look back on the United States’ Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), President Barack Obama’s controversial 2010 health-care reform, we predict that they will not devote much attention to its regulations, its troubled insurance exchanges or its website’s flawed launch.

Instead, we think that they will focus on how “Obamacare” encouraged a wave of innovation that gradually tamed the spiraling costs of a dysfunctional system, even as millions of previously excluded Americans gained access to health insurance.

Innovation is probably the least discussed aspect of health-care reform. Yet it is crucial to “bending” the sector’s cost curve, because it enables the delivery of quality health care in cost-effective ways. Obamacare has provided powerful new incentives for such innovation.

From 1980 to 2010, U.S. health-care spending grew almost twice as fast as the economy, rising from 9.2% to 17.4% of GDP. While many factors contributed to this surge, most experts agree that the single most important cause was a fee-for-service system that rewarded health-care providers for billing as many services as possible, rather than for keeping people healthy and treating their illnesses efficiently.

The ACA has been changing that, by establishing myriad new incentives to foster efficiency in health-care delivery — for example, by reducing costly and unnecessary hospital infections and readmissions, and by adopting electronic health records. Most important, the ACA is providing incentives for the creation of “affordable care organizations,” “bundled payment systems,” and other delivery innovations to encourage better coordination of care, especially for patients with numerous chronic conditions. Such patients are among the 10% who account for an estimated 64% of overall health-care costs.

Obamacare is an example of how government can promote innovation to address major societal challenges by providing goals, directions and incentives, rather than by dictating solutions.

Around the U.S., providers, insurers, non-profits and local governments are responding to the ACA’s incentives. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (which provide health insurance to pensioners and the poor) has just announced its second round of grants — $665 million to 28 states, three territories and the District of Columbia — to encourage innovations in health-care delivery.

Of course, it is still too early to declare victory, but Obamacare seems to be working. According to a recent analysis by the Council of Economic Advisers (CEA), about 10 million people gained health-insurance coverage in 2014 as a result of the ACA, the largest increase in coverage in four decades. But the real surprise is that growth in health-care spending slowed dramatically from 2010 to 2013, to roughly the same pace as GDP growth. This represented a sharp break from the previous half-century; indeed, this period was characterized by the slowest growth in real per capita health-care spending on record.

To be sure, the ACA is only one factor in this promising trend; growth in health-care spending often slows in the wake of an economic downturn. But Medicare spending, which is not affected by recessions, has slowed along with private health-care spending. In a recent study, the CEA concluded that the ACA’s Medicare reforms account for a significant share of the slowdown.

The ACA is an example of how government can promote innovation to address major societal challenges by providing goals, directions and incentives, rather than by dictating solutions. The government plays a role akin to that of a venture capitalist providing seed money and financial support to foster innovation.

In this scenario, different players — Medicare and Medicaid, state and local governments, private insurers, physicians, and social entrepreneurs — collaborate to hammer out effective solutions that can be scaled with government revenues. For example, responding to the ACA’s incentives and flexibility, Arkansas and Oregon have launched bold experiments to revamp Medicaid, in part by rewarding health-care providers who deliver better outcomes and keep patients healthier.

In Camden, N.J., Jeffrey Brenner, a family doctor, has pioneered strategies to reduce hospital stays by “super-utilizers,” a small share of Medicaid patients who are frequently admitted for expensive acute care. Brenner mapped “hot spots” around Camden, and sought to find out why people in some areas ran up such huge bills.

The problem was not fraud. It was an absence of coordinated medical care, especially basic primary care, and a lack of attention to people’s underlying risk factors. The most expensive 1% of patients, those with a tangle of issues, accounted for 30% of Camden’s public health-care spending.

Brenner’s Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers, founded in 2003, received its first funding from a philanthropy, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and a private insurer, UnitedHealth UNH, -1.71% The remarkable success in Camden has prompted the foundation to fund similar experiments in Boston, Cleveland, Cincinnati, western Michigan and Humboldt County, California. Now the government is providing additional support, with grants to similar programs in Maryland, Colorado, Pennsylvania and North Carolina.

Oregon has entered into a pay-for-success bargain with the federal government. The state will receive $1.9 billion over five years to revamp its Medicaid services along the lines of Camden’s approach. Oregon will get the money only if its per-person Medicaid costs climb substantially more slowly than other states’. At the moment, Oregon is on track.

Arkansas has moved 20 different “episodes” of health-care delivery (including hip and knee replacements, pregnancy, colonoscopies, asthma and congestive heart failure) from fee-for-service to paying for quality outcomes. The results so far are promising, not just by reining in costs, but also by better aligning service delivery with best practices.

The government can spur innovation by offering incentives that tap many different players’ strengths. In health care, that means taking advantage of the purchasing clout of Medicare and Medicaid, the risk-taking of social entrepreneurs and philanthropists, and the dynamism of markets and private business.

And health-care reform is just one example in which government can deliver what the public wants by setting goals, encouraging creativity and providing the resources to scale up what works.

Twenty-five years from now, we hope that historians look back on the ACA as the start of a new era of public-private collaboration to develop innovative solutions to complex social problems, and, thus, to restore trust in government itself.

Laura Tyson, a former chair of the U.S. President’s Council of Economic Advisers, is a professor at the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley, a senior adviser at the Rock Creek Group and a member of the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on Gender Parity.

Lenny Mendonca is a former director of McKinsey & Co.

This article was published with permission by Project Syndicate — “Obamacare and Effective Government.”

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8 mobile enterprise trends to look out for in 2015

8 mobile enterprise trends to look out for in 2015 | Innovating in an Age of Personalization |
It’s that time a year when every thought leader, analyst, reporter, and startup chief executive starts making predictions for the upcoming year’s trends. Considering that I live in the mobile enterprise world, I realize that attempting to make industry predictions in such as fast-moving environment is fruitless. Instead, I think it might be worth listing to some intriguing thoughts that might cause people to reflect on their current approaches to the mobile enterprise.

2014 was a wonderful year for enterprise mobility. Emergence of new trends, acquisitions, funding, crazy partnerships, critical mass milestones, initial public offerings, and other developments put the enterprise mobility ecosystem in the news every single week this year. As this industry matures, we should expect great movements in 2015. While I always considered following industry analyst predictions down to the letter a quick path to failure, we are seeing strong signs on some developments that might influence 2015 in the mobile enterprise. If you find some of these predictions very polemic, well, I think that’s the only worthy way of making predictions. Here are my top five:

MDM investments might become irrelevant
Mobile device management (MDM) has been at the center of enterprise mobile infrastructures in the past few years. Most enterprises today have implemented some sort of MDM initiative to support increasingly popular programs such as bring your own device (BYOD). However, as enterprise mobile solutions mature, more sophisticated requirements, such as application management, data privacy, or application auditing, are becoming increasingly relevant, compared with traditional MDM solutions. In that sense, in the next year enterprises might realize their MDM deployments are highly irrelevant to support the next wave of mobile solutions and will need to invest in newer solutions.

The enterprise mobile market start to consolidate
2014 saw significant M&A activity in the enterprise mobile market. Google’s acquisitions of Divide and Appurify, Red Hat’s acquisition of FeedHenry, and Progress’ acquisition of Telerik were some of the most notable transactions of the year. We should expect this activity to continue and even increase in 2015, bringing an inevitable level of consolidation in the enterprise mobile space. As a result, many existing standalone offerings in the market might be consolidated as part of bigger enterprise mobile suites.

Strong funding activity will point out the winners
As the enterprise mobile market matures, we are starting to distinguish clear frontrunners in the categories. With a lot of venture capital funds being deployed in the space, we should expect the market leaders in each category to be able to raise meaningful funding rounds that will help them accelerate growth and distance themselves from the competition. Additionally, we should expect to see many tier-one firms investing more aggressively in the space.

The Series A crunch impacts enterprise mobile startups
The past couple of years have seen large amounts of VC activity in the enterprise mobile space. As a result, many startups have been able to raise small seed and series A rounds.

However, only a small number of those startups have been able to achieve significant traction to be relevant in a series B or growth round model. This scenario can be seen as a microcosm of the Series A crunch phenomenon we witnessed in the consumer market in the early part of the year. As a result, in 2015 we should see enterprise mobile startups running into challenges in raising new rounds in order to keep executing and, therefore, becoming increasingly irrelevant or easy targets for acquisitions.

Mobile security becomes relevant
With the growing focus on cybersecurity infrastructure, enterprises should start investing more aggressively in security technologies for the different parts of their enterprise mobile infrastructures. In that sense, we should see areas like mobile malware detection, mobile data privacy, and mobile app auditing becoming more relevant in the enterprise.

Based on that phenomenon, we should see enterprise software incumbents debuting mobile security solutions as well as mobile security startups raising solid rounds in order to compete in this rapidly changing, demanding space.

Mobile middleware solutions become mainstream
Integration with enterprise systems remains the No. 1 challenge of building agile enterprise mobile infrastructures. Solutions like mobile backend as a service (MBaaS), platform as a service (PaaS) or even application programming interface (API) gateways have successfully provided components that can address the integration of mobile apps and line-of-business systems. While until recently these types of solutions have have been seen as a fancy capability embraced by sophisticated IT shops, enterprises are waking up to the fact that implementing mobile applications without an underlying middleware infrastructure is a recipe for failure. As a consequence, in 2015 mobile middleware will likely become a mainstream element of enterprise portfolios. In that sense, we should expect to see the integration capabilities provided by MBaaS and PaaS platforms converged onto more generic mobile middleware platforms.

We move from mobile analytics to true data science
In recent years, mobile analytics solutions have emerged in the enterprise. They can provide traditional reporting capabilities for the analysis of operational and user behavior in mobile apps. While these solutions are certainly relevant, enterprises are getting more interested in having a deeper level of understanding of user behavior in mobile applications, which is a problem that gravitates more toward machine learning and data mining.

Areas such as user behavior prediction or auditing remain mostly untapped in the mobile enterprise. As a result, we should expect to see the first platforms that extend the current mobile analytics capabilities by applying data science to the data produced by mobile applications. These solutions can manifest themselves as extensions of existing mobile analytics stacks or as brand new platforms that bring the power of data science to the mobile space.

The Internet of things won’t be a thing in the enterprise
The Internet of things (IoT) is definitely destined to have a strong presence in the modern enterprise. But we believe we’re just now seeing the first generation of enterprise platforms in the IoT space and that we should expect these solutions to become mainstream in 2015. We expect 2015 to be a year of experimentation for IoT solutions in the enterprise.

While most experts conceptually agree that areas like mobile device management, real-time analytics or complex event processing are going to be important in industrial IoT deployments, the complete set of features of those solutions will only be determined after the first cycle of production IoT deployments. In that sense, 2015 will bring us the first flavors of IoT enterprise platforms — but they won’t yet enjoy mainstream adoption.

Jesus Rodriguez is a cofounder and chief executive of enterprise mobile application platform KidoZen.
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This Is Why 2015 Could Be The Year Of The Podcast

This Is Why 2015 Could Be The Year Of The Podcast | Innovating in an Age of Personalization |

I’ve been an avid podcast listener for the past six years. Podcasts have been a major source of new information, insights and inspiration across a range of topics that interest me.

They’ve transformed hours of otherwise tedious commutes in cars, taxis and planes into pockets of immersive listening that have been educational, motivational, and entertaining.

I’ve also sat on the other side of the earbud as a podcast producer. For the past three years, I’ve churned out nearly 60 episodes of a program on Chinese business and economic trends that has been downloaded nearly a million times in 190 countries.

Podcasts are not new: they’ve been around for well over a decade now. In 2006, the addition of podcasts to iTunes proved to be the tipping point that led to an explosion of new podcasts and the introduction of millions of new listeners. Today, iTunes houses over 250,000 podcasts.

Podcasts are reaching more and more people. According to Edison Research, about 39 million Americans, or 15 percent of the over-12 population, listened to a podcast last month, up from 12 percent in 2013 and 9 percent in 2008.

And the field is still wide open. The quarter-million podcasts available today pale in comparison to the nearly half billion English-language blogs, or the four million hours of videos uploaded to Youtube each month.

A number of recent trends and developments indicate that 2015 could be a breakout year for podcasts. But before I cover some of the recent developments driving the supply side of the equation, let’s first take a quick look at what’s behind the explosive growth in consumer demand for podcasts.

Why we love podcasts

There are a number of reasons why podcasts are a unique medium for consuming content—and why we love them so much:

Multi-tasking: Podcasts are on-demand audio that allow you to consume content while you go about living your life. You don’t need to be tethered to a chair, eyes glued to screen, to listen to your favorite podcast. You can listen while you jog, do the laundry, or perform a multitude of tasks that you can't do while reading a blog post or watching a video.

Mobile: Podcasts go wherever I go. I can listen to them whether I’m stuck in traffic in a taxi in a tunnel underneath the Huangpu River in Shanghai, waiting in line to board a plane in Tianjin, or driving to work in Taipei.

On-demand: With podcasts, you can listen to whatever you want, in whatever sequence you want, and whenever you want. Granted, blogs and video are also forms of on-demand content. But when combined with the multi-tasking and mobile elements described above, podcasts are truly unique.

Pushed. Thanks to the magic of RSS feeds, podcasts appear on my podcast app as soon as they are published. A little red dot at the top-right of the podcast icon is enough to alert me to a new episode waiting for me.

Global. I can stream or download the same podcasts as anyone else in the world, regardless of where I am. At the end of 2012, Apple launched the iTunes store in an additional 56 markets, bringing its global reach to 119 countries. While alternative platforms do exist and are growing — Soundcloud, Stitcher, and several other smaller applications — Apple iTunes remains the 800-pound gorilla in this space, with 85% of total podcast downloads flowing through its massive directory.

Podcasts are free! Enough said.

And here’s why podcasts are going to get better and be even easier to access in 2015

Demand for podcasts is hot. But the supply side of the equation has a number of equally exciting trends and developments that are expected to push podcasts deeper into the mainstream:

Low barriers to entry for new content producers

Like the blogging and video revolutions that have enabled millions of people to become content publishers, podcasting has similarly low barriers to entry. Anyone with a laptop, microphone and free audio editing software can record and publish a podcast that can reach thousands of listeners around the world.

Availability of training material is moving the needle on quality

Of course, the price of such easy access to the tools of production means that the quality of what is being published ranges all over the map. More podcasts do not necessarily lead to better podcasts. The quality of podcasts available today ranges from the very good to the truly amateur. But an abundance of training material is helping to move the needle on quality. More and more professional podcast producers are sharing their experience, techniques, and tips, both for free and for a fee.

In his new podcast, The Podcast Method, Dan Benjamin dives deep into both the creative and technical aspects of producing a top-notch program. Several successful podcasters also offer extensive training courses for which they charge a fee.

Alex Blumberg, former producer and reporter for the award-winning radio show This American Life, and now producer of the hit podcast Startup, offers an in-depth video course on “powering podcast storytelling” on CreativeLive.

Professional producers are raising the bar on quality

Professional radio producers have been developing new podcasts and repurposing their radio content as podcasts for a long time. But in 2014 we saw a number of professional players take podcasts to a whole new level. The viral podcast hit Serial, a spin-off of This American Life, is probably the most buzzed-about podcast of all time. With an average 2.2 million downloads per episode, and more than 20 million downloads in total — from just 12 episodes — Serial has permanently exploded the myth that podcasts are a niche format.

Content producers are monetizing

Podcasts may be free for devout listeners like myself, but that doesn’t mean they don’t make money for the ones who produce them. More and more podcasters are monetizing their content in a number of ways, including good old-fashioned advertising. Adam Sachs, CEO of Midroll, a podcast advertising company that places commercials in more than 150 shows, told The Financial Times that he charges rates of between $20 and $30 per thousand impressions (calculated on a projected number of downloads per episode) — about five times the cost for traditional radio advertising.

Some podcasts are supplementing — or circumventing altogether —  traditional corporate sponsorship by leveraging crowdfunding platforms such as Kickstarter and Patreon to build listener-supported models. Roman Mars, the host and creator of the award-winning podcast on design and architecture, 99% Invisible, has raised $1.16 million in Kickstarter campaigns.

Even if podcast producers don’t monetize their shows directly — and many still don’t — they are translating brand awareness into powerful lead magnets for products and services they sell on their websites and in off-line channels.

The upshot of all this: the fact that podcasts are generating revenue will attract more players to join the fray, and encourage investment in higher quality content. Greater competition will likely push more marginal players to either up their game or withdraw.

The final frontier: car dashboards

They’ve conquered the desktop. The’ve conquered smartphones. And in 2015, podcasts will conquer the “final frontier” of distribution: car dashboards. Apple and Google are busy signing deals with automakers to get their systems — Apple CarPlay and Android Auto — onto the dashboards of new models rolling off the lots. It’s a game-changing move that will bring podcasts to millions of new — or otherwise infrequent — listeners.

What do you like about podcasts? Do you think 2015 will be the year of the podcast? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

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I love podcasts and look forward to seeing more selection and variety in 2015!

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Can long-term global growth be saved? | McKinsey & Company

Over the past 50 years, global economic growth was exceptionally rapid. The world economy expanded sixfold. Average per capita income almost tripled. Hundreds of millions of people were lifted out of poverty. Yet unless we can dramatically improve productivity, the next half century will look very different. The rapid expansion of the past five decades will be seen as an aberration of history, and the world economy will slide back toward its relatively sluggish long-term growth rate.

Global growth: Can productivity save the day in an aging world?MGI’s Richard Dobbs, James Manyika, and Jaana Remes explain why global economic growth is destined to slow unless governments and business find ways to increase productivity.

The problem is that slower population growth and longer life expectancy are limiting growth in the working-age population. For the past half century, the twin engines of rapid population growth (expanding the number of workers) and a brisk increase in labor productivity powered the expansion of gross domestic product. Employment and productivity grew at compound annual rates of 1.7 percent and 1.8 percent, respectively, between 1964 and 2014, pushing the output of an average employee 2.4 times higher. Yet this demographic tailwind is weakening and even becoming a headwind in many countries.

The net result is that employment will grow by just 0.3 percent annually during the next 50 years, forecasts a new report from the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI)—Global growth: Can productivity save the day in an aging world? Even if productivity growth matches its rapid rate during the past half century, the rate of increase in global GDP growth will therefore still fall by 40 percent, to about 2.1 percent a year (Exhibit 2). Our new normal would then be economic growth slower than it was during the past five years of recovery from the Great Recession and during the energy-crisis decade of 1974 to 1984. Per capita income and living standards, in both the developed and the emerging worlds, will rise more slowly. 

The employment challenge

Global employment growth has been slowing for more than two decades. By around 2050, our research finds, the global number of employees is likely to peak. In fact, employee headcounts are already declining in Germany, Italy, Japan, and Russia; in China and South Korea, they are likely to begin falling as early as 2024. While there is significant scope for policies that boost labor-market participation among women, young people, and those over the age of 65, that will be far from easy. Employment growth could double, to 0.6 percent, in the countries we studied: the G19 (the G20 without the European Union as a composite member) plus Nigeria—economies that account for 63 percent of the world’s population and 80 percent of global GDP. But that will happen only if each gender and age group, throughout these countries, closes the employment gap with the high-performing economies. In any case, even a doubling of employment growth won’t fully counter the erosion of the labor pool.

So productivity growth must drive the expansion of GDP in the longer term. Indeed, it would have to reach 3.3 percent a year—80 percent faster than its average rate during the past half century—to compensate fully for slower employment growth. Is this possible? Actually, our case studies of five sectors (agriculture, automotive, food processing, healthcare, and retailing) found scope to boost annual productivity growth as high as 4 percent, more than enough to counter demographic trends.

The productivity solution

The world isn’t running out of technological potential for growth. But achieving the increase in productivity required to revitalize the global economy will force business owners, managers, and workers to innovate by adopting new approaches that improve the way they operate.

Our study found that about three-quarters of the potential productivity growth comes from the broader adoption of existing best practices, or catch-up improvements. The remaining one-quarter—counting only what we can foresee—comes from technological, operational, or business innovations that go beyond today’s best practices and push the frontier of the world’s GDP potential. Efforts to improve the traditionally weak productivity performance of the large and growing government and healthcare sectors around the world will be particularly important.

Business must play a critical role: aggressively upgrading capital and technology, taking risks by investing in R&D and unproven technologies or processes, and mitigating the labor pool’s erosion by providing a more flexible work environment for women and older workers, as well as training and mentorship for young people. In an environment of potentially weaker global economic growth, and definitely evolving growth dynamics, executives need to anticipate where the market opportunities will be and the competitors they will meet in those markets. Above all, companies need to be competitive in a world where productivity will increasingly be the arbiter of success or failure.

The past half century has been a time of extraordinary economic expansion. Yet without significantly boosting the one engine the world economy still has—productivity growth—this period may prove to be a historic anomaly. Our report has identified ten enablers that could lift global GDP growth closer to its potential by increasing transparency and competition, creating incentives for innovation, mobilizing labor, and further integrating the world economy. But all this will be hard. Only sweeping change by the private and public sectors—and a smarter approach to growth—will overcome the forces that now threaten global economic prosperity.

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McKinsey report identifies ten enablers that can lift global GDP growth closer to its potential: by increasing transparency and competition, by creating incentives for innovation, by mobilizing labor and by further integrating the world economy.

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What is the Definition of Success?

I thought I was done with the hard work of being a human being. I sold my first company for $15 million.

Phew! That was hard. I thought after that that I was done. Time to drink and do everything else that is bad.


Got a few people pregnant. Lost all my money. Lost my home. Done!

This happened to me a few times. I sold a company in 1998. I sold a company in 2004. I sold a company in 2008. Wasn't this my goal in life?

Each time, I felt like I no longer needed to keep up the facade of being healthy. I was now a success. No longer did I need to work for success. I WAS success.

But then...bad. And once-friendly faces would stick out:

"I knew it!" or "I told you so!" or just "I hate you and will make you punish!"

People will not hesitate to punish you.

So many people on their own layers of hell, eager to see someone fall past them so they know, beyond certainty, that there are hells deeper than the one they find themselves in.

So what then, is success. Because it is not money. And it is not some physical achievement. It's not a book written, or a reward received or a job completed or a promotion anointed.

Here are the stages of success that I think exist. I can easily be wrong. This is what works for me now.

Success has no definition. It's a myth. No microscope can dissect it.

Stages of fake success:

– GOAL. You've created something of so much value to the masses that the value gets reflected back to you.

People look up to you. Money is showered down. This feels like success. It really does feel real good. Like super-cocaine. Success crack.

But, one might say, donuts can be perceived as creating value for the many. So many people might get pleasure from your donuts that your "success" knows no bounds.

In the long run donuts make you sick.

So this definition might be suspect.

– HAPPY. You're happy with spouse, job, place, your private creative achievements.

You wake up and the birds sing. You're happy.

But we all know we age. People die. Creativity always carries on its back the weight of the criticisms all too eager to pile on. So this success is fleeting and hence suspect.

– HEALTHY. I always advocate a daily practice: every day attempt to improve just 1% along physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual pillars.

But I'm afraid. Something can always go wrong.

What can go wrong to the people I love today? What anonymous strangers will reach out and attempt to strangle me today?

I get almost every day letters from someone who promises to get me for implanting a chip in his brain and controlling him with secret technology.

Is it success if we are physically emotionally mentally spiritually healthy? If we improve those areas by 1% each day?

I think that's closer. But I still don't know. What's wrong with "no improvement". Why do we put the guns to our heads to improve?

Such pressure!

– PRESENCE. Most of my life I time travel.

I've spent much time in the future analyzing the possible alternatives and being afraid of everything bad about to happen.

I've also spent valuable hours in the past, replaying, rewriting, regretting.

"But you have to focus on tomorrow," people say, "so today you can best prepare for it."

I'm staying in a house right now where the owner has a cute pad of "Lists" - every day she writes her to-do, grocery, bucket, life, etc lists.

But no matter how many items are on our list, we can only do one thing at a time. The rest is just possibility.

I can worry about fifteen things, but worrying will only weaken my energy for today, and do nothing to solve the problems of tomorrow. No matter what those problems are.

– FREEDOM. Some of us are in prison. Some of us are in man-made prisons, Every excuse is a brick or a chain.

"It's too late." "I have no time" "I have no education" "I have no connections" etc.

Some of us are in self-imposed prisons, "if I don't do THIS then I've FAILED".

We're the only jailers of these prisons. The doors are always open.

We open the doors by lowering our expectations. We walk out the doors when we realize how easy it is to exceed those expectations.

In a universe filled with a trillion galaxies and a trillion more years, there is no anointed goal that, when accomplished, will cause you to shout, "Success!"

Doing the best we can this moment is success. It brings about all the other stages of success described above.

The only way to have a successful tomorrow, and a successful life, and a successful legacy, is having a successful moment right now.

I can't claim to do it. I try and usually I fail. Success is not meant to be every second. Else, how would you know what to compare it to.

Be gentle to yourself. You're a little baby and someone needs to cradle you and whisper to you and love you.

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The do-or-die struggle for growth | McKinsey & Company

The do-or-die struggle for growth | McKinsey & Company | Innovating in an Age of Personalization |
Growth is once again top of mind for business executives. As they turn their attention from improving the operational performance of their companies to making those companies grow again, many of them will follow the standard message: consistently strong, value-creating revenue growth lies within reach of major corporations that pursue best practice in strategy, marketing, operations, and organization.Or does it? Execution and fundamentals are certainly vital, but growth, particularly for the largest companies, requires more than best practice. At the median annual revenue level of today's Fortune 100—about $30 billion—a corporation would in effect have to create a $2 billion company each year to sustain 6 percent top-line growth. Can investors and capital markets reasonably expect that kind of performance? How do some companies achieve it?

To explore the particular challenges of revenue growth in big corporations, we studied the performance of about 100 of the largest ones in the United States, in 17 sectors, over the two most recent business cycles. Almost a third of the companies managed to increase their revenues at a rate faster than the growth of GDP over the second cycle, from 1994 to 2003, while at the same time delivering shareholder returns above those of the S&P 500 index. The relatively large number of high performers here might indicate that the odds for companies aspiring to grow are decent, if not for a sobering fact: 90 percent of these companies were concentrated in just four sectors—financial services, health care, high tech, and retailing.

It isn't surprising that they are overrepresented. These sectors as a whole, or markets and segments within them, offer favorable growth environments supported by established trends: aging populations, rapid product or format innovation, deregulation, and consolidation. What's striking for large growth-minded corporations is just how crucial it is to have this kind of favorable wind at their backs when they try to achieve strong growth.

Looking across the two economic cycles also revealed the critical role of top-line growth. Large companies that trailed GDP for an entire business cycle were five times more likely to be acquired or otherwise go out of business than were faster growers. Eventually, companies that don't increase their revenues run out of ways to drive earnings and shareholder returns. Even if a company finds a way to create shareholder value, slow-growing companies remain attractive acquisition targets.

These findings have broad implications for management. The first is that large companies need to pay at least as much attention to top-line growth as to increasing the bottom line. While cost improvements can drive earnings and shareholder value in the near term, companies that raise their total returns to shareholders (TRS) without achieving top-line growth have the worst long-term odds of survival. Many companies that struggle to grow do indeed face a "grow-or-go" situation.

Second, where to compete is just as important as how. The choices a large company makes today about its portfolio mix and where to place its bets will shape its growth trajectory over the next five to ten years. Unless the company enjoys the advantages of fast-growing pools of revenues and profits or has ample opportunity to consolidate, growth that just keeps pace with GDP will be difficult to sustain, even if execution is great.

That vital top-line growth

Our research focused on 102 US public companies: the top 75 in 1994 revenues and the top 75 in 1994 market capitalization. We tracked these companies over the 1994–2003 business cycle and segmented their growth performance by revenues (including acquisitions and divestitures) and TRS, which encompasses both share prices and dividends. The median compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for revenues was around 5 percent, corresponding to nominal GDP growth over the period. At 11 percent, the median annual growth rate of TRS was roughly equal to that of TRS for the S&P 500 index.

We labeled companies whose top-line growth outpaced GDP and whose TRS outperformed the S&P 500 as growth giants and those that achieved above-average TRS growth but trailed in revenues as TRS performers. The unrewarded companies increased their revenues at a rate faster than the median but weren't rewarded with corresponding TRS growth. The challenged companies underperformed on both measures.

Thirty-two companies occupy our growth giants category, and most of them—20 percent of the overall sample—achieved double-digit revenue growth over the period while outperforming the S&P 500 on TRS (Exhibit 1). That accomplishment struck us as particularly impressive, even if more than half of these companies used acquisitions extensively1 to drive top-line growth.

Although we found a positive relationship between the growth of revenues and of TRS over the ten-year period, exceptions abounded. Companies that increased their revenues at a rate faster than the growth of GDP were 60 percent more likely to outperform the S&P 500 index. But nearly 20 percent outperformed it despite sluggish top-line growth. In fact, the median TRS performer increased its revenue by only 3 percent but, like the growth giants, boasted average TRS growth of 16 percent.

As might be expected, the TRS performers compete mostly in slower-growth industries, such as consumer goods, engineering and construction, and utilities. The keys to their ability to create value were good execution, cost controls, and savvy portfolio management—all of which generated strong earnings growth. Many of these companies sold or exited lower-margin businesses and bought or entered higher-margin ones. Half of the TRS performers increased their earnings at a rate at least twice that of their revenues, and 37 percent pursued major divestiture programs.2

Next we asked what might happen over the longer term. How would the TRS performers and the growth giants cope in a subsequent business cycle? Could they maintain their momentum for an additional five or ten years? And what of the challenged and unrewarded companies—could they turn their TRS around, or did another outcome await them?

To find out, we chose a slightly different sample and a longer time horizon. With the same method we used for our first sample, we identified the 100 largest US public companies in 1984 and then followed their performance over the business cycles of 1984–93 and 1994–2003. When we segmented the performance of these companies during the earlier business cycle, only 20 percent made the grade as growth giants (Exhibit 2, part 1).

We then tracked the companies from each quadrant into the 1994–2003 cycle, examining patterns of survival and TRS performance. The correlation between the future survival of a company and its past revenue growth—but not its TRS—was striking. A company whose revenue increased more slowly than GDP did was five times more likely to succumb, usually through acquisition, than a company that expanded more rapidly (Exhibit 2, part 2). Past TRS performance, by contrast, was a surprisingly poor indicator of corporate survival.

Past revenue growth was also a superior predictor of future TRS performance. Almost half (45 percent) of the growth giants sustained their outperformance in both top-line growth and value creation through the 1994–2003 cycle, and nearly two-thirds continued creating value at a high rate. Even the unrewarded top-line growers from the previous decade had a better than even chance of surviving and outperforming during the 1994–2003 cycle (Exhibit 2, part 3). It was the challenged companies and, above all, the TRS performers that had the worst odds.

The reason is straightforward: most TRS performers from the 1984–93 cycle competed in slower-growth industries, such as utilities and telecommunications, which consolidated during the subsequent one. Most of those that weren't acquired continued to struggle with revenue and earnings growth. Unless these companies embarked on a successful acquisitions program or shifted their business mix, they couldn't capture enough gains from reducing costs or restructuring in their existing businesses to compensate for the lack of top-line growth.

Companies that don't increase the top line eventually hit a TRS wall and often become targets for acquisition. Even the largest companies may therefore find themselves grappling with fundamental grow-or-go decisions.

Where to compete

How does a large company achieve and maintain strong growth? Our analysis of the 32 growth giants in the 1994–2003 sample reveals a sobering reality: good execution is required, but being in the right business at the right time is almost always a prerequisite as well.

The tailwind factor

Four sectors—financial services, health care, high tech, and retailing—collectively accounted for half of all large companies in our sample but for nearly 90 percent of all growth giants in the 1994–2003 cycle (Exhibit 3). The overall economy grew at a rate of 5 percent during those years. Meanwhile, financial services, supported by deregulation, increased borrowing, and the trend toward broader participation in equity markets, grew by 7 percent. So did high tech, propelled by the innovation and information revolution of the 1990s; high-tech services grew even more robustly, at 9 percent.

Health care expenditures grew by 7 percent as a result of innovation and an aging population. Most of the health care growth giants, such as Johnson & Johnson, Eli Lilly, and Pfizer, were concentrated in pharmaceuticals, which expanded even more quickly—by a 12.5 percent CAGR from 1994 to 2003. A similar story unfolded in retailing, which expanded by only 4.5 percent as a whole but much faster in segments where growth giants competed. Wal-Mart Stores' format innovations in the late 1980s, for instance, boosted growth in the overall discount-store segment, to the benefit of followers like Target. In the home-improvement segment, Lowe's, another growth giant, revamped its store format and capitalized on the do-it-yourself craze that The Home Depot created in the 1980s.

Since most growth giants had the benefit of a favorable growth environment, more than 70 percent of them (23 in all) succeeded in generating impressive financial results by exploiting opportunities in their existing businesses. Most of these companies focused on incremental product innovations or consolidation or on the geographic expansion of a business model or a series of products within the United States. For the 3 growth giants lacking a tailwind, consolidation in the core business was the preferred strategy.3

Breakthrough innovations—new products, retail formats, supply chain models, and so forth that change the competitive game or produce a distinct competitive advantage—were unusual for large companies. We found only four growth giants that developed such innovations during the 1994–2003 cycle and used them as the primary driver of growth. All of them were new products from R&D-intensive industries that experienced a tailwind: technology and health care. None of the growth giants owed their achievements to reinventing the business model. While radical innovations of this kind have propelled companies (such as Dell) from relative obscurity to the Fortune 100, they are rarely pursued or executed successfully after companies become large.

Not all growth giants stuck to their knitting; the other 30 percent (nine in all) extended the scope of their portfolios by building or acquiring new businesses or expanding into global markets.4 Except for the diversified conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway, all of the growth giants entered adjacent customer or product markets or focused on internationalizing a successful business model or series of products. Seven of the nine companies used acquisitions to enter new markets.

But success in building businesses was about more than acquisitions or customer and product strategies. The companies that excelled at it had either truly distinctive capabilities or operational assets that created a real competitive advantage in the new arena. Johnson & Johnson and Medtronic, for example, use acquisitions to enter new product spaces but drive organic growth by leveraging excellent product development and commercialization capabilities and superior relationships with doctors, hospitals, and other customers. Of the nine business builders, eight took advantage of industry momentum by building or acquiring new operations in health care, financial services, or technology.

Only one growth giant built a big new business without the backdrop of a rapidly growing market: Wal-Mart, which used its network of stores, its brand, its supply chain expertise, and a format innovation to enter the relatively slow-growing US market for perishable grocery products. The other business builders may or may not have been looking for the next favorable business environment. Creating a new business, however, not only gave them opportunities to behave and grow like an attacker but also provided moderate diversification if the prevailing favorable winds were to shift in the core business.5

The experience of the large companies that we followed across the 1984–93 and 1994–2003 business cycles shows how difficult it is to grow without a tailwind. Although almost half of these companies maintained their status as growth giants through the two cycles, all except Wal-Mart had or built new businesses in health care or financial services—sectors that were hot in both cycles. Similarly, most companies in the challenged category from 1984 to 1993 lumbered along in industries that were then growing slowly: automotive, defense, oil, and utilities. Twenty percent of the challenged companies (7 of 37) managed to become growth giants during the next cycle, but a favorable environment was important: five of the seven growth turnarounds took place in industries whose conditions improved dramatically. Only 2 companies moved from our challenged category to become growth giants without substantial growth in demand. Both were grocery chains that relied heavily on consolidation, investing at least 80 percent of their 2003 market cap in acquisitions over the period.

Catch the wind

When large companies face slow-growing markets and have few options for consolidation in their existing businesses, opportunities to change the growth trajectory are limited. The best approach is to reposition the portfolio of businesses, customers, products, and geographies to create a mix with a higher potential for growth.

In 1994, for example, ITT Industries was a diversified conglomerate with holdings ranging from hotels to defense electronics. It then decided to concentrate on two segments—defense electronics and fluid technologies (pumps, mixers, and valves)—that seemed likely to grow and were well aligned with ITT's capabilities. The rest of the portfolio was spun off, and these divestitures not only created substantial value for shareholders but also gave the remaining parts of ITT a strong operational focus in segments with favorable growth conditions. In 2003, the company's revenue had reached only 70 percent of its 1994 level, so ITT wasn't a growth giant by our criteria. It did, however, increase its annual TRS by 18 percent during this portfolio transition, and the remaining businesses are growing rapidly, by an average of 18 percent over the past three years.

IBM's turnaround strategy also focused on the portfolio, although the company did less pruning and put greater emphasis on building new businesses. Management believed that IBM's brand, customer relationships, and engineering skills could propel growth in the emerging IT services market. From 1994 to 2003, the company's largely organic growth in services ranged from 15 to 20 percent, and the proportion of its corporate revenue from services, starting out at 25 percent, rose to almost 50 percent.6 These strong growth prospects have been a major driver of the company's TRS—almost 22 percent a year during the sample period.

Viewed over the course of ten years, the top-line growth performance of ITT, IBM, and other companies that transformed their portfolios was characterized by divestitures or strategic decisions to exit businesses with relatively low growth potential. These transformations created considerable shareholder value and gave such companies a better position to increase their revenues and TRS in the next cycle.

Grow or go?

When a large company faces a headwind in its existing businesses, consolidation and efforts to transform the portfolio are its most plausible ways to grow. Even so, these are not without risk.

Consolidation strategies have a better chance for success when a company can show that it has "earned the right to buy." Do its operating margins and returns on invested capital (ROIC) compare favorably with those of its industry peers? Has it created value through mergers and acquisitions in the past? The answers to these questions—as well as the industry's readiness for consolidation—have a direct bearing on whether buying makes more sense than selling.

M&A skills and sound operations are part of the picture for any company that considers transforming its portfolio. But it is even more important to place the right bets on where to compete. A company must not only figure out which markets are likely to be attractive but also have a realistic view of its own capabilities. Are any of them powerful enough to confer a competitive advantage in a new geography, product, or customer segment—or even a different sector? The importance of having a real competitive advantage holds whether an entry strategy calls for organic growth or acquisitions.

The bar for distinctive capabilities is high. A company may believe that it has them in logistics or the supply chain, for example. But are they so strong that customers of other companies will switch? Will these capabilities support a price premium or allow the company to maintain operating margins that competitors can't match? If the answer to all of these questions is no, the capabilities don't provide a true competitive advantage; they are merely things the company does well.

For companies struggling to increase their revenues, a high bar to investments in new capabilities, markets, and growth seems particularly well justified. One-third of the 37 challenged companies from the 1980s chose to sell before 2003. As a group, the sellers performed well, realizing median compound annual TRS growth of 19 percent from 1994 to the time of sale, as compared with only 11 percent for the median survivor in the challenged category. In other words, unless your company has a reasonable chance of turning itself around, don't dismiss the "sell" option too quickly.

As a company becomes larger, the question of where it should compete becomes more critical. Choosing the right battlegrounds means matching its distinctive capabilities to the businesses, customers, products, and geographies where profitable growth is most likely to occur and acting on those insights before it's too late. A company that struggles with growth may have few distinctive capabilities. Building or acquiring new ones that can stimulate growth surely ought to be explored—as should the possibility of selling.

About the authors

Sven Smit is a director in McKinsey's Amsterdam office; Caroline Thompson is a consultant andPatrick Viguerie is a director in the Atlanta office.

Linda Holroyd's insight:

88% of growth giants came from 4 industries: high tech, health care, financial services and retail/wholesale

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What made Churchill so great?

Winston Churchill, so often quoted and studied, is arguably the greatest leader of modern times, possibly of all time. But why exactly? His story is so 'familiar' that it's easy to overlook some of the key learning points.This post tries to tease them out.

Yesterday (Saturday 24th January 2015) was the 50th Anniversary of the death of Winston Churchill. In the last week the UK media has been full of reflections, tributes, pictures and video footage. Two programmes in particular - one on radio and one on TV - have captivated and moved me, and I suspect many others too.

On Friday morning I listened on BBC Radio 4 to a 30 minute programme about Churchill's grave. If you don't know the answer to the following question it will surprise and may even astonish you, and it immediately tells you something essential about him - Where is he buried?

Churchill was born into an aristocratic family on 30th November 1874 in the magnificent Blenheim Palace, just outside Oxford, His father was Lord Randolph Churchill, 3rd son of the 7th Duke of Marlborough, and his mother Jennie Jerome was the daughter of an American millionaire. When he died Churchill was given a state funeral on 30th January 1965, said to have been greater than that afforded to a monarch, and with good reason. He saved the United Kingdom, and thus eventually freed Europe from the appalling tyranny of Nazism, by standing alone as leader of free world against the might of Hitler's Third Reich during the critical (and desperate) 19 months from his appointment as UK Prime Minister in May 1940 until the Americans entered World War II following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7th December 1941.

The chosen circumstances of his burial speak volumes about his character and values. He refused to be buried at Westminster Abbey in London, the traditional resting place of great British leaders and war heroes. Instead he lies with members of his immediate family in a simple grave in the churchyard at Bladon, a small village 2 miles from Blenhein Palace. In fact his grave is so unremarkable that you would not know it was there unless someone directed you to it.

Friday's Radio 4 programme interviewed local people in Bladon and others whose lives have been affected by Churchill. One is businessman Martin Long, who has set up a series of businesses including the well-known (in the UK) insurance company Churchill, named after his hero. He described how, as an 11 year old schoolboy in London, struggling academically, he discovered in 1961 that Churchill, then aged 86, had also done badly at school. Interviewed in the churchyard close to Churchill's grave, his voice cracking with emotion, Long said that Churchill had been a lifelong source of inspiration to him. He has studied the great man's life in depth and regularly makes the pilgrimage to Churchill's home, Chartwell, in Kent, and the graveyard in Bladon. The presenter of the programe told us that over many years Long has amassed a remarkable collection of Churchill memorabilia.

Even more moving was last night's superb 2 hour programme Guy Martin's Spitfireon Channel 4 television. For two years (2012-14) motorbike racing champion Guy Martin worked with a specialist team at the Imperial War Museum in Duxford, south of Cambridge, to rebuild a Mark 1 Spitfire aircraft, N3200, coded 'QV', which crashed on Dunkerque beach in Northern France in 1940. The pilot, Squadron Leader Geoffrey Stephenson, managed to evade capture for days and made his way to Brussels where he sought refuge in the US Embassy. Unfortunately the Americans refused him entry because they were still 'neutral' in 1940 and did not want to offend the Germans, so he turned himself in as a prisoner of war. He was so troublesome to the Germans in captivity that he was eventually sent to legendary POW camp Colditz, where he was reunited with his great friend the literally (not alcoholically!) legless air ace Douglas Bader and spent the rest of the war unsuccessfully trying to escape. Sadly he later died testing a new jet fighter in the USA in 1954.

Winston Churchill and the Supermarine Spitfire were arguably the two greatest British icons of World War II, which would have been lost without either. Together they were instrumental in preventing a German invasion in the so-called Battle of Britain, Britain's 'darkest hour' as Churchill called it, in the Summer and Autumn of 1940.

The story of the expert reconstruction and rebirth of Spitfire N3200 and it's eventual first flight last summer in front of Geoffrey Stephenson's two daughters was astounding and deeply emotional. I defy anyone not to be moved, or to be in love with this superb aircraft having watched the programme. Whilst the Spitfire was, as the programme stated, a brilliantly manoeuverable gun platform and therefore in brutal reality an instrument of death, it remains the most beautiful evocation when in flight of moral courage and the perpetual fight against evil. Many of its pilots were ridiculously young, some as young as 19 - still boys. My son turns 19 next month and it is incredible to imagine kids of his age risking all - many sadly dying horribly and violently - to save the free world in the skies over southern England in 1940. Churchill had it so profoundly right when he uttered those immortal words:

"Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few".

The test pilot who flew N3200 on its maiden flight last year captured the spirit of this fabulous machine when he quoted a US pilot who once said:

"In America we get into a fighter plane, but you put a Spitfireon".

So what lessons do I take away from the 50th Anniversary commemorations of Churchill's death juxtaposed with the restoration of one of the exceptional aircraft that came to symbolise the eventual defeat of Nazi Germany?

  • Churchill and the Spitfire capture the essence of the indomitable human spirit. They make me proud to be British (as opposed to what makes me ashamed of it) and determined to fight for the truth and for freedom. The problem is that this fight goes on every day, in all walks of life. Hitler and his evil cronies may have become hackneyed cariacatures of big, bad bogeymen, but the reality is that the spirit of oppression, bullying, contempt, cyncism, hatred, exploitation of others, lust for and abuse of power, narcissm and sociopathy is to be found everywhere, including throughout so-called 'free' Western societies! What makes it insidious is that many privileged, wealthy and powerful figures in Western democracies see and tout themselves as bastions of freedom, as long as it doesn't inconvenience them!
  • You cannot have truth without honesty and integrity. Sadly these are abused, overused and underpractised words. The majority of us pay lip service as long as, as I say, it doesn't cause us discomfort. However, underneath we think we're too clever and sophisticated to need to conform like sheep to these quaint, old-fashioned notions. In so doing we make precisely the same colossal error as the generations before us and, no doubt, the generations to come.For the truth exists, and unfortunately it is often unpalatable. It is also often complex and multi-faceted - one person or one group's truth is another's lie, or mortal threat. But there is always deeper truth, and it tends to be threatening to those who feel they have something to lose if it gets out.
  • When 'the rubber hits the road' most of us are found wanting, unless the threat we face is mortal like Britain's in 1940. Otherwise we tend to resemble the rich young ruler in Jesus's parable, for whom entering the Kingdom of Heaven was more difficult than a camel passing through the eye of a needle because much as he valued in theory the ideas Jesus put forward he could not bear to give up what he had. Let's be clear - you do not have to be a Christian to understand the point of the parable - the secret of happiness and fulfilment is not how much money, status or fame you've got. It's why I've adopted my favorite Churchill quote as the underpinning core of my business behaviour, to be found in my business email signature:
"We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give"
  • Intelligent giving of oneself, one's time and one's talents in the service of others is cathartic because, as neuroscience now clearly shows, our brains are wired for it. It is how we collaborate and thus best advance ourselves as a species. The majority of people in authority are scared - scared they'll be 'found out', that they'll be humiliated, that somehow they'll lose their privileges and status. So instead of encouraging others they try to suppress them to prevent them being a 'threat'.
Above all Churchill possessed two timeless qualities - wisdom and moral courage - which he was able to bring to bear when it mattered most, whatever his many and serious shortcomings.

He was also humble, generous in spirit, truth-seeking, fun-loving, unifying, witty and error-prone. This is an intoxicating package - a sure-fire winner! He was utterly human, 'warts and all', yet utterly inspirational. This is the inevitable paradox of outstanding leadership. The problem we all have is that our childlike primeval instincts tell us our leaders should be perfect - they never are.

Two of Churchill's other personality traits are worthy of note. Firstly he was, to use one of my key words of the moment, contrarianIn other words he knew his own mind and did not follow the herd or toe the party line. At times his contrarian behaviour infuriated his colleagues, his allies, his friends and his family, but he never wavered. Without this vital personal attribute he would never have become Prime Minister in Britain's darkest hour and led her to eventual victory in World War II. Secondly he humbly understood his weaknesses (which no doubt contributed to his regular bouts of depression) but crucially also his strengths. One of his greatest strengths was his ability to write and speak most powerfully, in a way that motivated, inspired and encouraged vast numbers of people.

The greatest leaders are those who put others ahead of themselves. Think of it this way - they act like loving parents, not spoilt, selfish and opinionated teenage playground bullies. What's so remarkable about that, and why on earth is it so rare for goodness sake??!!

Churchill understood profoundly well the need to combine three elements espoused by that Ancient Greek font of perennial wisdom - Aristotle. You cannot have one without the other two. They are:

  • LOGOS - the 'word', in other words the facts and the data. In World War II Churchill famously set up a group outside normal reporting circles called the Statistical Office, to feed him raw, unfiltered, unsanitised facts about the progress of the war, which was not at all good during the first 2 years
  • ETHOS - character, integrity
  • PATHOS - emotional connection with others, a genuine concern for them and interest in their well-being.

It's a devilishly simple formula.

So how about you? Can you get your camel through the eye of the needle?!"Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen." Winston Churchill
Linda Holroyd's insight:
Act like the loving parent: practice LOGOS, with a focus on facts and data, ETHOS, with a focus on character and integrity, and PATHOS, to create an emotional connection with others
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Healthcare Is Headed Down A New Road With New Rules In 2015

Healthcare Is Headed Down A New Road With New Rules In 2015 | Innovating in an Age of Personalization |

The Top Trends Shaping the World of Healthcare

Every year I sit down with our team of healthcare futurists to carefully choose the right cards and place our bets on what we can expect to see in the coming year. It’s always both a terrifying and exciting experience because at the end of the year, you can always go back to validate what trends our team was able to key in on and the degree it shaped the events of that year, and, yes, even identify what might have caught us by surprise.

Without getting into a deep retrospective, unequivocally the rate and scale to which the Ebola pandemic spread was an unforeseen game-changer for 2014. In terms of predictions that came to pass, our team really was honed in on some of the major players that would become involved in mega multi-billion dollar M&A transactions, a trend that should continue into 2015. However, I believe there is plenty of time to look back at 2014. But for now, onwards into 2015. Here’s what you can expect this year.

  • Landslide Acceptance of Private Exchanges
    We expect growth of nearly 300% for 2015 in terms of the number of enrollees who will select their health plans through private healthcare exchanges. While and the clunky roll out of the public insurance exchange got all the attention in 2014, the real action is in the private exchanges. While reports of employers dropping healthcare benefits for their employees en masse following approval of the Affordable Care Act were more hype than reality, businesses are definitely looking at making significant changes to the types of plans and defined contributions they make available to their employees. Negotiating options through private exchanges is fast becoming one of their primary means to accomplish that goal. Serving approximately 2.5 million enrollees in 2014, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, many more businesses are expected to buy into the model over the coming years.
  • Employers Incentivizing mHealth
    As a carrot on the other end of the stick that is employers pushing a greater degree of the healthcare cost burden to its employees, we project as many as 70-80% of large businesses will soon or already provide employees vouchers or discounts for mHealth products and service platforms by the end of 2015. The obvious rationale behind these initiatives is that employers are hoping their employees will have greater awareness about their health and take more preventative measures to avoid more acute outcomes. For example, in 2014, energy giant BP America purchased 25,000 Fitbit devices for North American employees in order to encourage a healthier lifestyle.
  • Consumers Spending Out of Pocket on Health & Wellness
    Just this week (January 20), the FDA put out new guidance on where it believes the delineation exists between clinical wearables that fall under the regulatory scrutiny of its agency and those geared to more general well being and healthy living. It’s a preliminary guidance report that is not binding in its statements, but we believe this preliminary release speaks to the agency’s expectations for the explosion of new wearables that will be launched and used by consumers in 2015. We project consumer out-of-pocket spending on non-clinical health, wellness, and self-disease management technologies and services to grow by 60-70% from 2014. High-profile launches like the Apple AAPL +0.54% Watch and its hyped Health Kit are among a confluence of factors that make 2015 the year wearables and mHealth-centric applications reach significant mass.
  • Boom or Bust for Wearables
    While seemingly contradictory to our previous prediction, we see the market as being over saturated with me-too products with similar functionalities, lacking a distinctive value proposition to the consumer. As our analysts walked the halls of the consumer electronics show (CES) this past month, they were amazed at the number of product developers with wrist-wearable products that tracked similar metrics and lacked a distinctive value proposition for consumers. Traditional dynamics of consumermarkets dictate that the market will contract over the next year, settling on only a handful of developers with distinct feature sets and capable of catering to defined user segments. In context of our previous prediction, what we are saying is that there will be more business for fewer companies. In either case, smart investors know the real money is in the apps ecosystem.
  • E-commerce Giants Take First Steps in Healthcare
    In their quest to be everything to everyone, Alibaba and Amazon have truly disrupted the traditional business model for a wide spectrum of markets and industries. While they currently have some minor services geared toward healthcare customers, we believe that 2015 is the year both companies introduce dedicated services around healthcare. Capable of servicing both institutional organizations as well as individual customers, the traditional healthcare supply chain is about to witness a new breed of competition. In a more patient-centric healthcare model, it is possible these types of retailers are better suited to meet the needs of customers.
  • Healthcare Hacked
    It is almost inevitable that a high-profile healthcare stakeholder will experience a significant data breach on the scale of high-profile attacks we have witnessed byTarget TGT -0.63% and Sony in recent history. Industry watch groups have long pointed out that many hospital networks continue to rely on outdated software systems, have less than robust redundancies in their security measures, and lack a coordinated strategy across all its departments and personnel. The influx of new mobile technologies and connected medical devices are only further straining the limits of existing security measures. According to the Identify Theft Resource Center, attacks on hospitals and other healthcare organizations accounted for 42.4 % of all major data breaches in 2014. The Department of Health and Human Services estimates that the top breaches could have affected nearly 7.4 million individuals in some form or another. Despite these red flags, either due to bureaucracy or costs, many care networks are highly susceptible to outside attacks.
  • Cognitive Analytics Becomes Commercial
    Healthcare analytics and cognitive computing markets are expected to grow by 27% in 2015 with the commercial launch of several SaaS modules that, to date, had been only in academic or pilot use.Issues preventing prior use such as cost, product maturity, scalability, and demonstrated track record are now at a point enabling commercialization. The most high-profile participant is, of course, IBM, which in 2014 announced access to customers of the Watson analytics engine for specific B2B initiatives. The ability to process natural language and unstructured data offers a functionality to healthcare analytics that is currently not addressed by more dedicated HCIT vendors.
  • Opportunity Meets Promise in India
    India will continue to see growth in private-sector healthcare delivery despite investments made by the government in public health, as there is an under served population for which the government needs to develop healthcare access. With the largest CAGR expected in HC expenditure up to 2020 at 19.8 percent, India is expected to become the third-largest in APAC in terms of total HC expenditure; the private sector is expected to continue to increase share from the current 65% as more investments pour into private primary care services, diagnostic services and hospitals from within the country and international investments.
  • Chinese Competitors Stake Claims in Global Markets
    By offering capabilities and functionalities at price points 20-30% lower than their other global competitors, Chinese medical technology and healthcare IT manufacturers establish a significant footprint in fast-growing emerging markets. Chinese manufacturers of medical imaging and other capital equipment have already begun to chip away at the share of larger multinational corporations based in the US, Europe, and Japan. Similarly, it’s is projected China will lead the tech disruption in APAC, with its share of the APAC healthcare IT market forecasted to grow from 21% in 2013 to 32% by 2020.

I’d love to hear what you are expecting for 2015. Maybe around this time in 2016 we can get together and compare notes to see how we did.

The article was written with contribution from Frost & Sullivan Advanced Medical Technologies Principal Analyst Venkat Rajan.

Linda Holroyd's insight:

Interesting predictions for 2015 - role of wearable, employers, consumers, private exchanges, opportunities in India and China

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Global CEOs Rank United States #1 For Overseas Growth

Global CEOs Rank United States #1 For Overseas Growth | Innovating in an Age of Personalization |

Good news for the United States—PwC’s just-released 18th Annual Global CEO Survey shows that global CEO confidence in the US as a market for growth is increasing.

In the last quarter of 2014, PwC surveyed 1,322 CEOs in 77 countries. In particular, we surveyed 103 US CEOs, interviewing 28 of them for in-depth discussions. We'll share more insights over the next few days, but for today, I want to focus on the big picture view of what we’ve learned. 

First, for the first time in five years, foreign CEOs said they are looking to the United States more than any other market for their companies’ growth this year. Thirty-eight percent of foreign CEOs chose the United States, with China coming in at 34%, Germany at 19%, the UK at 11%, and Brazil at 10%. Given the respective economies, this isn’t surprising. We started the survey over three months ago, and I suspect the numbers would be higher if we re-ran the survey today. 

Let’s look at the facts: the US economy is getting stronger while the other major economies are struggling greatly or weakening. US employment keeps growing as the labor market’s slack appears to be lessening. In addition, lower oil prices are boosting consumer spending, outweighing the negative impact on the US energy sector. These lower prices are putting more money in consumer pockets and keeping overall inflation down. And, given 1.5% core inflation, the Federal Reserve will likely continue to keep rates low for some time to come.

On the other hand, the world’s other economies are facing major challenges. The Eurozone is confronting potential recession and deflation, as is Japan. China’s expected growth rate of 7%, while more than twice that expected of the United States, is actually problematic. Seven percent is a hazardous slowdown for a country facing the challenging transition from an investment-led to a consumption-led economy. Thus, the stage is set for the United States to be the world economy’s growth engine in 2015.

Second, US CEOs are confident about their companies’ futures. Forty-six percent are “very confident” about their companies’ revenue growth this year. Not surprisingly, therefore, they are investing in their future prospects: 59% plan to expand headcount in their organizations over the next 12 months. Notably, 67% believe there are more growth opportunities today than there were three years ago, while 60% believe there are more threats to growth today than three years ago.

This is a crucial finding. Risks and opportunities are rising side-by-side. The US recovery is gaining adherents, but markets are also changing. CEOs know that where their organizations are today is not where they will be in three years. This latter point brings us to the third key theme.

US CEOs have their eyes open, identifying actual and potential challenges, threats, and disruptive trends. When it comes to business threats, cybersecurity, technological innovation, and talent shortfalls led the concerns. Of course, different sectors have different challenges, and CEOs must focus on those most likely to confront them and their business partners.

Generally, forty-five percent of US CEOs were extremely concerned about cyber threats, including data security (with another 42% somewhat concerned); 34% were extremely concerned about the availability of key skills (with another 44% somewhat concerned); and 26% were extremely concerned about the speed of technological change (with another 40% somewhat concerned).

When speaking to US business leaders, I often hear their concerns about finding and retaining top talent—a concern that CEOs around the world share. Globally, 28% of CEOs are extremely concerned about the availability of key skills, with another 45% somewhat concerned

It's noteworthy that our 2014 Family Business Survey shows a similar concern around talent among family business leaders. This survey, our seventh study of family businesses globally, is based on telephone and online interviews with key decision makers in family businesses in over 40 countries worldwide. We have additional insights about talent that I'll focus on in a future piece.

Finally, US CEOs are aggressively addressing the challenges they see in a variety of ways. One key strategy CEOs are contemplating is working with a more diverse network of partnerships. For example, 42% are at least considering engaging in joint ventures, strategic alliances, or other forms of informal collaborations with competitors, and 39% with firms from different industries.

As notable as these partnerships are, the reasons behind them are even more revealing. US CEOs today know partners can be more than a sales conduit. Twenty-eight percent ranked access to new technologies as their top reason for engaging in partnerships, and 20% ranked strengthening innovation as their top reason.

As with challenges, opportunities and how best to seize them can be very sector-specific. Moreover, a company’s ability to take advantage of opportunities requires more than recognizing them and acting now. In many cases, a company will need to have taken steps years ago to position itself advantageously today. 

Overall, this year's survey tells a story about CEOs who are resilient and moving ahead, even in an environment that is more volatile and unpredictable. We'll have more insights to share around the risks and opportunities they are focused on as they put their plans into action in 2015.

Linda Holroyd's insight:

Foreign CEOs are looking to US markets and US CEOs are confident, aware and proactive

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How 2015’s Top Tech Trends Will Change Your Life

How 2015’s Top Tech Trends Will Change Your Life | Innovating in an Age of Personalization |
Just because there won’t be any hoverboards or flying cars at CES 2015 (as Back to the Future predicted) doesn’t mean there won’t be plenty of life-changing technology. Our devices are more interconnected—and more personal—than ever before. The “Internet of Things” has finally hit the mainstream. The cloud provides a limitless space for storage and streaming. This burst of new technology will lead to changes in habits—how we consume media, how we make decisions, and what we expect from brands. And when habits change, marketers need to adapt.

In 2015, being connected will mean much more than just searching on smartphones.“Connected life” platforms — one of the top three tech trends in our new infographic — are becoming more popular than ever. Your appliances, thermostats, and smoke alarms probably aren’t connected now, but soon enough they will be. If you’re looking for a new car, you’re not just choosing a color and trim package, you’re picking a mobile operating system, too. Consumer interest for these platforms is bigger than ever; in 2014, people watched 1.6 million hours of video about connected car platforms on YouTube.

Soon enough, smart products won’t be limited to just cars and appliances, they’ll be everywhere, for everything. Smart frisbees? Sure. Smart slippers? Why not! Smart paper towels? Okay, that might be a stretch. But maybe not.

What do all those devices connect to? Our smartphones. They’re the hub for our connected objects and the remote controls for our lives. This is all driving towards a more personalized web experience—an “Internet of Me.” Whereas the web used to be the same for everyone, it can now be tailored to us as individuals, using data to create unique experiences. Just think about how much easier life is now that your phone knows your location. If you’re looking for a product, you can see if it’s in stock nearby. If you call a car service, it knows where to pick you up. (In fact, one in five Google searches are related to location.) That’s just scratching the surface of what’s possible. The more data your smartphone has, the smarter it’ll be, the more it’ll simplify your life.

As our products and services get more personal, they’ll get faster, too. The ever-increasing “Speed of Life” is our third top tech trend for the year ahead. Online or off, we can now get information and services in the exact moment we want them. When you’re watching Game of Thrones and NEED to know the name of that actor, you can find out right away. Same-day delivery services are becoming more popular. So are lightweight HD cameras like GoPro, which let us capture the moment in the moment. And drones—remote control flying vehicles, often equipped with cameras—are becoming a true “consumer” electronic. (They're no hoverboard, but not far off.) As a result, consumers expectations for fast, simple, and easy interactions will be higher than ever.

These big trends will make 2015 an exciting year for marketers. They will challenge all of us to examine what we are doing today and ask ourselves: Are we there for our customers in the moments that they need us? Are we getting smarter and better with each interaction? Are we optimized for speed in everything we do? And most importantly, are we thinking about how we can use technology to reimagine our business? Because if we aren’t, someone else is.

Linda Holroyd's insight:

Connectivity, Smart phone as hub, Personalized services and deliveries at the Speed of Life: watch it all unfold for us, courtesy of Google

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The 7 Ultimate Soft Skills Of Truly Successful People

The 7 Ultimate Soft Skills Of Truly Successful People | Innovating in an Age of Personalization |
Colleges and job training programs tend to focus on the hard skills you need for a particular career — how to use specific tools and programs, the knowledge needed to complete your tasks — but there are other skills, so-called “soft” skills that are perhaps even more important for a truly successful career.

In fact, there’s nothing soft at all about soft skills; they can be difficult to master, but if you do, you’ll be employable in practically any field. No matter what your industry, position, or current employment, the following seven skills are vital to success in any chosen field.

1. High EQ

EQ stands for emotional intelligence quotient, and your emotional intelligence determines how well you relate to other people, your ability to put yourself in other’s shoes, and your ability to build rapport. It’s important when you’re managing or working with a team, in networking, in understanding workplace politics and really any time you need to interact with a co-worker or client. In other words: it’s invaluable to develop these skills. You can improve your EQ by mindfully practicing putting yourself in another’s shoes, for example, to practice empathy and understanding.

2. Communication Skills

You might have the most brilliant ideas in the room, but if you aren’t able to effectively communicate those ideas, you’ll never get anywhere. Being able to communicate clearly is vital to working with managers, teams, and clients. You can start improving your communications skills by studying the words and phrases you should never use, and paying more attention to what you say.

3. Decision Making

A decisive person is going to be desirable in any position, at any level, and the ability to make decisions is especially important the higher up you climb on the ladder. Taking forever to decide, procrastinating by doing unnecessary research, or avoiding making decisions altogether aren’t a good way to get ahead anywhere. Practice being decisive and demonstrating your decision making abilities to get ahead.

4. Integrity

Integrity at work means owning your mistakes, doing what you say you’re going to do when you say you’re going to do it, acknowledging when new information means you’re wrong, and being willing to say, “I don’t know.” People will respect and trust a person much more who has a reputation for integrity than someone who never admits he’s wrong or always puts the blame on others.

5. Drive

Having drive doesn’t have to mean working 80 hours per week or volunteering for every extra project. Instead, demonstrating that you have drive could mean consistently working hard while you’re at work. It could mean having the initiative to continue your education in your field or go the extra mile for a project. It demonstrates that you’re committed to your work, and that’s very attractive to employers and managers.

6. Focus

Maintaining focus is an extremely important skill, whether we’re talking about focusing on a single task at hand or on your long-term objectives. It also means not getting sidetracked by “shiny object syndrome” or by what seems easy or expedient.

7. Balance

Perhaps most importantly, the key to a successful career in any job is maintaining a healthy balance. Only you can determine what makes a healthy balance for you, but it’s vital to balance your career with those things that will make you truly happy.

These are my picks for the top seven skills that are essential to career success, but they’re certainly not the only ones. What soft skills would you add to the list?

Linda Holroyd's insight:

A great list of soft skills you can develop in yourself and help develop in others

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What The Best Brands Will Do In 2015

What The Best Brands Will Do In 2015 | Innovating in an Age of Personalization |
For nearly two decades, since the beginning of the dot-com boom, the “Era of Code” has dominated Silicon Valley. But that era is ending, as a new economic growth cycle of hardware begins to assert itself in the form of wearables, watches, mobile health, autonomous cars (Tesla recently announced that all their new models already have “auto-pilot”), drones (both consumer and military), 3-D printing (everything from houses to body parts), and a revolution in sensors—all connected by the “Internet of Things”. The consensus seems to be that, in 2015 the buzz, and the VC money that goes with it, will shift from social media to intelligent devices. This is a dramatic move away from the social-networking revolution that largely derived its value from the aggregation and concentration of data to a new paradigm of designing and building the hardware to realize the promise of this new “Internet of Things” world.

In my opinion, it’s about time. For too long we’ve stopped designing and building new products that revolutionize industries and provide real value and real jobs. It’s not that I don’t see the value of a social network but it always seemed to me that social-media companies developed products that were nice to have but, for the most part, hardly essential unless you’re looking for a job or a long lost college friend.

The revolution has already started with mechanical and electrical engineers returning in droves to Silicon Valley. Tesla is making cars in Palo Alto. BMW, Mercedes, Samsung, Nissan and General Electric have all established research and design laboratories. Medical-device companies are flocking in and being started or acquired at a blistering pace as the new wearable technology market heats up.

The most successful companies in the next decade will focus on connecting the virtual and physical worlds. Google has already anticipated the trend with driverless cars, Google Glass, robots and, with its $3.2 billion purchase of Nest, thermostats as one of the “connected energy” components in what will no doubt be a portfolio of connected products designed to save energy by monitoring and controlling our environment with more intelligence. The rest of the world will quickly follow thanks to the “connectedness” of the world that the last decade of software has created.

In 2015 we can all look forward to the same kind of “monstrous hype” so many dismissed when companies like Google, Facebook, and Instagram hit billion dollar valuations in just a few years. This next revolution will be the “wearable’s revolution” led by those long touted medical gadgets that keep a constant watch on your blood pressure, glucose level, sleep, and food intake, and tell you if trouble is on the way.

If history is any indication, Silicon Valley is well positioned to lead this next revolution in technology with two of the big survivors leading the way; Apple who has always made devices and Google who is rapidly acquiring their way to leadership in the new “connected world’ they helped to create. Most important, Silicon Valley and the San Francisco Bay area remains the world's center of venture capital: the total valley (including San Francisco) venture investments this year (2014) exceed the rest of the country combined, according to the investment-analysis firm CB Insights.

In 2015 I predict we’ll see the valuations for wearable’s companies rise dramatically and perhaps even see the first >billion-dollar valuation for a wearable medical device startup in history. Silicon Valley investment will drive the growth of these valuations as they solve some of the significant challenges still remaining to make these devices worth owning and worth using. Like they did with software for search and social networks, Americans will again regain the lead in technology products that can deliver on the promise of these profoundly complex technological challenges -- challenges that entire industries and, in some cases our own government have, at least so far, failed to overcome.

There will be significant challenges to this revolution in the next few years too. Health care systems are already facing the barriers of integrating consumer technologies and medical devices into antiquated, often proprietary, and frequently obsolete software and hardware. They must now figure out how to integrate entirely new business concepts like Software as a Service (SaaS), measurement of patient outcomes, and more effective management and dissemination of “best practices” into their medical delivery systems. The regulatory environment, especially in the U.S., needs to be reformed to effectively utilize these new devices and the software that drive the Internet of Things in our health care delivery systems. Perhaps most important, this new “wearable revolution” needs a visionary leader who can articulate a unifying vision; like a reincarnation of David Packard (HP) or Robert Noyce (Intel) who helped lead Silicon Valley through their birth as a technology world capital.

It may also be time to look beyond California to the spirited technology hubs in Salt Lake City, St. Louis, or Austin where technology job growth has skyrocketed in double digits for years now. If even a small part of the cash now flowing into investments in Silicon Valley begins to look for a home outside the SF Bay region, the next regional technology leader could change quickly. That’s already started as well with Tesla locating their latest battery development and production “gigafactory” in Nevada. No matter what happens – or where, the next revolution has already started - Happy New Year!

Linda Holroyd's insight:

Era of code integrates hardware - 3d printers, wearables, sensors, drones . . .

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What The Best Brands Will Do In 2015

What The Best Brands Will Do In 2015 | Innovating in an Age of Personalization |
2014 is over and smart marketers know that they need to get ahead of the trends and anticipate relevant new products and services. If not, they will be devoured by their competitors.

Some of my marketing and brand forecasts heading into 2014, such as the sharp growth of the shared economy, came true sooner than expected: Airbnb is now valued more than $13 billion (vs Hyatt Hotels $9 billion) and Uber more than $18 billion. Other predictions, such as top brands’ push for being best in retail or the digital transformation, are under way and gain momentum by the day.

Now, let´s jointly look at what I think can be some of the most important focus areas of top brands in 2015:

Being Best in Focusing
Whenever I speak with chief marketing officers and marketing directors it becomes quickly obvious that many struggle with how to tackle digital marketing, how to develop a holistic content marketing strategy, and how to implement the tons of new ideas. As a consequence, in 2015 the best marketers will clean up the house and focus on selected big bets. Major projects and concepts which fit best with their brand´s DNA and core values. Going "Back to Basics" will be a key trend in 2015: To re-evaluate the target audience, determine what works and what doesn’t, re-prioritize and be smart about resource allocation and investment.

Being Best in Shifting Marketing Investments into Mobile and Digital
In its most recent ad spending report, Zenith Optimedia reduced their 2015 marketing spend forecast by 0.4 points to a +5.3% growth; anticipating weaker growth for traditional media and for Europe and Japan. Strong digital media growth will be mostly fueld by mobile advertising which is expected to grow by an average of 51% a year between 2013 and 2016.

Being Best at Justifying Marketing ROI
Also in 2015 brands will have to challenge themselves on how to measure marketing ROI, how to maximize marketing impact in consumer and business-to-business settings, how to adopt best practices for customer lifecycle management, and how to implement state-of-the-art segmentation techniques. More than ever the challenge will be to measure the ROI of their investment in content marketing. Yesterday it was about fans and likes. Today it's about social reach and page views. And in 2015 it will be about attention, engagement, desire, and how these affect the company's sales and reputation. Leading brands will have the right software tools in place to plan and to track. You might want to check out e.g. Wingify´s A/B testing platform – calledVisual Website Optimizer - which is for people even if they don’t have HTML or coding experience (like me).

Being Best at Meeting The Audience
Top brands constantly analyze the communities and geographies where their audience is. In most Western countries you would need to be in Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Depending on your business also in LinkedIN (a must channel for B2B marketing), Pinterest, and Youtube. In other countries, e.g. in China, sites and services like Sina Weibo, RenRen, or Pengyou should be covered. And yes, don´t worry too much about Google+ in 2015. In summary, don´t rush into every new social network. Instead find the right ones for you, i.e. evaluate carefully where your current and potential customers are and might go to. 

Therefore smart marketers will make sure to be in all relevant interest-based networks (as opposed to Facebook-style people-based networks). Depending on your product consider sites for cat lovers, for cooks and food lovers, or sites likeFitocrazy for fitness junkies. You could even build your own social network (possibly in cooperation with other companies), e.g. by using Tint which is a self-service platform that allows organizations to create social hubs in minutes. Tint aggregates, curates, and displays any social media feeds anywhere. According to Mary Meekerand her famous Internet Trend Reports the 4 Ps have been supplemented by the 3Cs: Content, community, commerce. 

The following rising social media sites and apps every top marketer should watch:Ello (the hippster social network which promised to never sell user data, currently still in Beta and invite-only), Yik Yak (exchanges fully anonymous posts with people who are physically nearby), WhisperBubbly, Heard, and WeChat. To find out more on how to grow your brand and your business via social media go ahead and read thesocial media industry report

Being Best at Saving Customers´ Time and Responding ASAP
Top brands and companies will offer more "order ahead“ functionalities and superefficient services allowing their customers to save time. In hotels e.g. many guests want to skip the front desk. Therefore an increasing number of hotels will introduce a digital check in allowing their guests to use their smartphone as the room key. Hyatt, Hilton, and Starwood hotels are already testing some of these services. Another example is Starbucks which announced that it will introduce for the first timeMobile Order and Pay in stores in 2015. This will enable customers to place orders in advance of their visit and pick them up at their selected Starbucks location. Imagine not having to wait any longer in-line for 15 minutes for your Caramel Machiatto!

Social media created a consumer with short-term thinking. And best marketers – with lots of data at their hands – are capable of faster adaption, shorter lead times, and real-time communication. Marketing champions will answer within an hour and not within a week or a day. In Edelman’s Brandshare study of 15,000 people worldwide the number one most important behaviour indicated was a brand’s ability to respond quickly to concerns and complaints; with 78% of consumers saying it’s important but only 17% feeling brands do this well. The gap is particularly pronounced in the areas people value most – responsiveness, involvement and conviction. 

Being Best at Addressing New Consumers Entering the Marketplace
The Millennial generation - aka Generation Y and with most researchers using birth years ranging from the early 1980s to the mid 1990s – according to a 2014 report by The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) chooses brands that are better aligned with their own morals and values. And because Millennials are social media and mobile users, the impact of their brand choices and feedback is greatly amplified and accelerated.

Then there is Gen Z. A name used for the cohort of people born after the Millennial Generation, i.e. born roughly between 1995 and 2010. They carry a large influence and buying power. Gen Z demands complete personalization, expects instantaneous validation, and looks for affirmation from their peers. For example national retailerClaire’s Inc. developed their Best Friends Forever (BFF) jewelry offerings, grew their social media databases, and engaged their “tween” girl target by appealing to Gen Z´s sense of creativity and individuality. Read the whole case study here.

Being Best at Generating Engagement and Creating Emotional Bonding
An excellent example is Nike´s Find Your Greatness campaign which touches all of us because it’s such a positive inclusive message. One of the campaign´s best commercials is The Jogger featuring 12-year-old Nathan from London, Ohio. Telling us that greatness is not beyond his reach, nor is it for any of us. It´s a memorable ad which reasonates with consumers as it delivers a personally meaningful message. It both links back to the brand´s values and at the same time it represents beliefs which go beyond the brand and its products. 

Top brands will use tools like Digital Platform GPS which can optimize placements and resolve issues related to native advertising and shorter consumer attention spans. Metrics will move away from counting the number of views, sharing, and likes, toward real engagement. Brand consultancies like Brandkeys have developed specialized systems that provide brands with predictive and strategic findings that can increase ROI, sales and profitability.

Also the ability to craft visual stories that inspire emotion and spark the movement will help companies get noticed and amplify their message. For example via Visual Storytelling. If you’re looking for a book that will give you inspiration for creating a visually based marketing campaign using a wide variety of social media platforms, then I recommend you the book The Power of Visual Storytelling by E. Walter and J. Gioglio. 

Being Best at Practicing a Human and Transparent Communication Style
Leading brands will interact with their audience with respect and not just post and think that´s it. They exchange with their customers in a consistent and regular manner, answer quickly and clearly their questions. These brands will give an accurate and real time picture of what they are doing in the interest of the consumer, at any given time. They define e.g. content marketing as not being advertising. They focus on building relationships in a simple and straightforward manner. Taking the Classroom to the Streets is an excellent example for such a campaign, even executed with a small budget. I also see more and more companies applying human and humorous elements. A good laugh or the vulnerability of silliness is a convincing way to earn trust and loyalty. Wren, a small L.A. clothing label , with "First Kiss" did a three-and-a-have-minute video showing strangers being asked to kiss on camera. Showing deep emotions and human vulnerability it was – and even if you did not like it – affecting, fascinating, and touching. And by the way, it got 5 million views in its first day, and has close to 100 million to date. 

Another good example: In honor of Earth Day on April 22, NASA has invited everyone to take part in a Global Selfie and submit a photo via Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Flickr, and Google+. Finally an image was built using 36,422 individual photos.

Being Best at Caring in a Sincere Manner
Most of today´s consumers do not express their protests in the streets anymore. They´re voting for or against a brand at the check-out of both offline and online stores. In other words: Top brands will supplement their big and often anonymous Corporate Social Responsibility projects with more localized, individualized, and personalized initiatives. Marketers will need to keep adding “purpose” to their brands and products. In 2015 consumers want to balance more than ever consumption with ethical concerns. Initiatives like Small Business Saturday or Giving Tuesday as a natural corrective to Black Friday and Cyber Monday will gain further momentum.

Top brands will need to find a way to get involved now and not to be left out. They will need to support people to find their individual strengths, skills, and ways to improve their behaviour and way of life. Either by offering special services and trainings which go beyond the pure product or by granting personalized incentives or rewards that motivate customers to continue with their efforts. A good example is theHeadspace meditation app. As a user you can map your journey, track your progress, and get rewards as you go. You can even buddy up with friends and motivate each other along the way. Foodtweeks is another superb example for combining business with supporting relevant causes. Every calorie you trim with Foodtweek will be donated to a local food bank and becomes a nutritious calorie for a hungry family. 

Being Best at Applying New Marketing Technologies
Too many companies think in terms of digital marketing. Instead, they should be thinking in terms of marketing in a digital world. The best marketers in 2015 will consider themselves also as marketing technologists. As someone with heavy digital acumen and a passion for technology, data, and analytics. Without doubt, 2015 will be the year digital measurement finally comes of age. Smart brands have already formalized their efforts across organizations as well as marketing and IT departments. You might want to check out the following course about strategic data-driven marketing. For additional good courses to acquire e.g. data science degrees for a fraction of cost of business schools have a look at these excellent MOOC(Massive Open Online Courses) courses. 

Another very useful source of information can be found here. Companies like Google are also offering some helpful seminars and tools with its Analytics Academy or itsAnalytics Premium tool. The very best brands, however, will go beyond analytics in 2015 as they´ve understood that analyzing is only a descriptive exercise. Benchmarking is fundamental to understanding what’s happening today. But to outperform your competitors you need something that will help you produce the right content moving forward. These brands will use social media analytics and competitive intelligence platforms like Unmetric which are able to compile data in minutes, analyze marketing efforts and compare them against the competitors that matter. Armed with this information and specific data-driven creativity tools such marketers will be able to plan and create content that will set their brands apart. As a top-notch marketer you should also know Kenshoo which offers one of the most advanced predictive marketing softwares encompassing campaign creation, audience targeting, bidding and budgeting, measurement, training and support.

Being Best at Marketing New Consumer Technology
Visual communication will be a main trend in 2015. Just think Instagram or YouTube for videos. However, and what a surprise, YouTube is not the only traffic-generating place where you can upload your videos. I recommend also the following ones to upload and distribute your video content: Vimeo (fast growing!), Flickr (not only for still images), BreakDailymotion, and Vine.

Another trend is the further rise of messaging apps. The most popular ones are:WhatsApp (still the dominant leader), Slack (very popular among young businesses),Snapchat (alhough there were privacy concerns), Kik (popular among teens), and Japanese Line (popular among celebs, allowing voice calls over the internet, etc.). 

Video blogs and videos will continue to gain significant more share versus print and text blogs. Already today more than 5,000 companies use e.g. Brightcove to publish and distribute online videos to websites, social networks, smartphones and tablets. 

Simple, clean, and single-purpose apps which are easy and fast to use will be another major trend to watch in 2015. Even Facebook looks to further unbundle its experience into single-use applications like messaging, photography, contact management, location services, etc. Foursquare has already broken itself up by having launched Swarm some months ago. Other multi-brand and multi-product companies should seriously think about how best to develop unique apps for each of them. Saying that, marketers must carefully review their core user base, analyze their behaviors, needs, and wants. And only then define their (mobile) app and content strategy: single-use app, multi-purpose apps, and/or hybrid apps.

Artificial Intelligence (AI), virtual reality, and wearables represent another three key technologies in 2015 for top brands to follow and possibly to shape. In regards of AI many leading brands – and not only the usual suspects like Google, Amazon, Facebook, etc. - will take their first serious steps with machine learning and will invest in robotics. With giant eyes and a childlike face Softbank´s Pepper humanoid robot that can read and react to human emotions will help to sell Nescafe coffee in Japan. Also other companies e.g. in the hospitality industry will use cutting-edge technology to create unique guest experiences by offering drone delivery service like at the Casa Madrona hotel in Sausalito or the robot A.L.O. as a concierge at the Aloft Hotel in Cupertino, California. 

Even if in 2015 AI might be embraced only by the very elite of the top brands, progressive marketers should already now think about using tools which are powered by AI such as e.g. Conversica which is one of the very few automated software solutions that can contact, engage, nurture, qualify and follow-up with leads without the need for human interaction.

With developments such as a cardboard DIY headset from Google and theSamsung Gear VR coming soon, I expect that also virtual reality will get closer to the mainstream in 2015 than ever before.

Finally, wearables like fitness trackers (e.g. those from Jawbone and Fitbit), fitness-tracker and smartwatch hybrids like the Gear Fit and Microsoft Band, smartwatches like Samsung Gear SMotorola Moto 360Pebble, or the soon to come iWatch of Apple collect data and zapping it off wirelessly to the Internet and all major social networks. Regardless if it´s agood thing or not, it will happen and as a marketer you better know what to do about it.

Being Best at Offering Easy Mobile Payment Solutions
With Apple, Amazon, Google, Facebook, Twitter, and many more working on it the mobile wallet will get significant traction in 2015. In addition, there are other powerful new kids on the block which top marketers need to have on their radar; like Venmo,SinglePointSquare or Level Up. Although at this stage the endgame isn’t exactly clear, for sure we will also see major social networks trying more aggressively to handle financial transactions in 2015. Click here to get the latest mobile payment influencer study.

Being Best at Embracing the Sharing Economy 
All leading and ambitious brands will need to be part of it. Full stop. Even, if it´s only to try it and to learn from their experiences to further develop their main products and offerings. The sharing economy has arrived in a big way and is here to stay. The internet of things will also become the internet of sharing things. Although in some countries some old-fashioned and backward looking politicians and lobbyists try to stop some Peer-to-Peer sites with sometimes obscure legal means, by now most of us have taken an Uber ride or stayed at an Airbnb place. 

In 2015 the sharing economy will enter the next level. First, existing players will diversify their offers. Ride-sharing service Lyft e.g. launched Lyft Line mid of 2014. Currently available in three US cities, users can share a ride with others going the same way, and pay up to 60% less. There will be a national roll out during 2015. Second, third party companies like Breeze – only founded in 2014 and backed byMarc Cuban – will build an ecosystem around existing sharing economy companies. Breeze e.g. offers customers flexible access to vehicles they can use to support jobs as drivers for Uber, Lyft, etc. Denver-based Evolve is doing something similar by offering marketing and booking services for homeowners and offering travelers a simple booking experience. Third, the sharing economy will spread into all areas of life. Think of companies like Simplist which helps you find experts across all of your networks. And fourth, it is expected that membership and subscription models will continue to grow in 2015 such as book subscription services like Kindle Unlimited,ScribdOyster or video streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, Google Play, etc. To get more info, data, case studies, etc. on the pulse of Mesh and the sharing economy click here

Being Best at Data Security
Remember Target, Home Depot, eBay, Sony... All of them – and many more companies – were hacked. Customer data is a key asset for both companies and for their customers. Unfortunately, still too many companies are treating customer data with woefully inadequate protections. As "The Internet of All Things" matures, consumers will expect greater security. The time is now to apply a strict security strategy and to to have contingency plans in place. Moreover there is a severe need to cooperate e.g. with specialized companies like Security Scorecard which provide insights into the security posture and key risks of a company and its business partners to proactively tackle cybercriminals.

Being Best at Setting up own in-house Incubator and Accelerator ProgramsAlready in 2010 Pepsi launched PepsiCo10 an incubator program that matches technology, media and communications entrepreneurs with PepsiCo brands for pilot programs. Other leading brands like Coca-ColaDisneySiemens, etc. followed. In the majority of cases, however, these models use the traditional principle that the sponsoring company provides expertise and guidance and allow the emerging new venture to create and develop its own brands and products. In 2015, however, top brands will start to run in-house incubators of "start-ups“ to assist with the development of new products and services which are at the core of their businesses; instead of just considering a "start-up“ as an opportunity to develop new technologies or improved processes. Also small companies which are tied down by a shoestring budget can use sophisticated software programs and services like HubSpot´sJumpstart to build or expand their online business in an incubator-style. Jumpstart gives you 30+ marketing tools starting at €64 per month.

Being Best at Internal Communications
In 2015 top brands and companies will focus more than ever on internal communications as a marketing asset. They will communicate frequently and broadly with all key stakeholders to explain the brand´s vision, ambitions, and strategy. The more innovative, dynamic, and disruptive they are, the more they need to get employees, suppliers, and partners involved and engaged. The very best brands will create brand ambassador programs centered around their own employees or customers. By assessing a company’s core values and cultivating a workforce that lives up to those values, these brands create a culture that promotes loyalty, strong customer service, and fun. One of my favorite examples is Zappos which is magnificent at giving its employees freedom to develop and to act as an ambassador e.g. by talking on behalf of Zappos in front of customers, key vendors or industry events.

Being Best at Building A Brand Ecosystem
In the age of mobile content consumption people no longer simply "listen“ and "read." They "monitor" and "scan." They make a decision in the blink of a moment as to how valuable a piece of content is, how much time they should give to it, and ultimately whether they buy a product or not. As a result, an organization must craft user experiences that befit the environment in which readers will discover, read, and share. Best brands will continue to create a common brand experience across the digital experience on- and offline. Building a meaningful community, i.e. an ecosystem around the brand. Crafting the right pathway to the product or service that a specific user needs and wants. A good example is the MINI - Chase The Paceman campaign which ran in the UK this year.

Being Best at Morphing Departments 
The markets are turning more complex. Top companies and brands will push hard to continue overcoming functional borders within their organizations. They will break up traditional silos and insist on bringing people together from various departments. They will morphe the marketing and sales function into one as both are the critical customer-facing departments. The CMO will have to apply a holistic and integrating mindset and to convince her teams, peers, and CEO for support such an approach. All in order to improve and exceed at serving the customers. As expressed by Doug Warner from the opposite perspective: "In the world of Internet Customer Service, it´s important to remember your competitor is only one mouse click away.“

Being Best at Keeping and Recruiting Top Talents
Big corporations will face more trouble than ever retaining and finding top marketing talents. Increasingly those will reject corporate treadmill careers and instead prefer becoming their own and independent boss via feelancing, partnering with creative boutique agencies, or working for crowdsource brand-building platforms like Colossal Spark or eyeka

Final Thoughts

In the end it’s still the brand that matters. Also in 2015, and facing a more competitive environmnet than ever with highly demanding and sophisticated consumers, brands will need to continue to differentiate themselves and to clearly stand for something relevant, emotional, and meaningful to consumers.

There is no reason to wait only for top brands to make this happen. Neither now nor in 2015. Every marketer can take over ownership, pay attention to what looms ahead, plan early her moves, put herself into the driver seat, and make it happen. 

What do you think? Which marketing trends do you see for 2015? What will the best companies and brands do in your opinion?

Andreas von der HeydtHead of Kindle Content at Amazon

Linda Holroyd's insight:

To remain the best brands in 2015, you must be so good at so many things!

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5 Reasons 2015 Will Be Your SMB’s Biggest Year Yet

5 Reasons 2015 Will Be Your SMB’s Biggest Year Yet | Innovating in an Age of Personalization |
Jan 1 2015 By Heike Young 
Experts are predicting that 2015 will be the year of the podcast, the year of mobile (again), the year of solar power, and the year of the millennial customer. Why not the year of your small business?

2015 is a blank slate offering plenty of opportunities to grow your customer base. In fact, it’s an incredible time to be a small business because today’s complex, multi-channel world demands agility and individualized customer attention, which come more easily to small businesses.

Get ready to feel optimistic. Here are five reasons why 2015 looks especially promising for small business owners.

1. Every industry is ripe for disruption.

Customers are increasingly willing to change old patterns and embrace new ways of living. Take taxis or food delivery, for example. What used to be an obvious action (pick up the phone and call a cab or restaurant) is now an endless list of options: request a ride on one of several ride-sharing apps, use a food delivery website, or even digitally hire a personal assistant. In general, people are becoming more comfortable with changing the way they do things—and they like it. This new mindset is helpful for your small business, as your potential customers are likely curious to test something new.

2. The contractor ecosystem is hitting new heights.

Need an app developed? A website redesign? A technical guide that explains how to use your product? The contractor and freelancer ecosystem is booming. According to a recent Forbes article, “Current estimates put the number of freelance workers at 53 million, or about 33% of the domestic workforce—a number that is expected to grow to 50 percent by 2020.” Some of today’s most skilled workers are actually choosing to be freelancers because of the flexibility this lifestyle offers. This is great news for small businesses that may need short-term experts, but can’t bring them on full-time.

3. In 2015, the number of mobile connections will surpass the global population.

Mobile devices yield huge benefits for small business owners. They bring more ways to reach customers, more ways for customers to reach you, and more convenience for both parties. GigaOm reports that we’re on track to meet 100% mobile penetration by 2015, meaning that the number of mobile connections will surpass the number of people on earth. With ApplePay quickly expanding reach in 2015 (including a presence at gas stations), 2015 brings countless ways to benefit from a more mobile world.

4. Big media is no longer the best way to reach people.

Podcasts, smartphone apps, text messaging, and social networks are only gaining in popularity, while traditional media outlets like TV and print must find new ways to keep up. Developing a presence on up-and-coming channels can come at a smaller price tag than expensive old-school ad campaigns, and audiences on these networks are ready to listen at any time. Even if you do decide to run ads, a highly targeted Facebook ad campaign still costs less than a commercial or ad on most traditional outlets.

5. The “buy local” movement is accelerating.

In 2015, small is strong. On the American Express-hosted Small Business Saturday in 2014, 88 million consumers shopped at small businesses, a 14.9% increase from 2013. Also on Small Business Saturday, US consumers spent $14.3 billion with independent retailers and restaurants—a 2.1% increase from 2013. Increasingly, customers are passionate about shopping local not only during holidays, but also year-round: foodies take pride in local restaurants. Etsy users prefer shops in their area. People want to support small businesses—so make it easier for them to know your story and join in.

These trends and many more point to 2015 as a banner year for entrepreneurs. Of course, we can’t know what the next twelve months have in store. But if you keep a close focus on customers and remain agile enough to keep pace with these trends, you’ll be on your way to plenty of success to report this time next year.

Linda Holroyd's insight:

Every industry is ripe for disruption. Contractor ecosystem evolves. Mobile grows again, social media for all, buy local rules

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Seven Turning Points To Watch For In 2015

Seven Turning Points To Watch For In 2015 | Innovating in an Age of Personalization |

Accountability is a good thing. Here are my predictions for 2014 and how they played out. Last year I called for: 1) continued progress for the U.S. economy, 2) acceleration of healthcare reform, 3) beginning of similar reform in higher ed, 4) big data impacting many sectors, 5) tech/media/fashion converging, and 6) robotics becoming pervasive. Looking back, I would say that the economic forecast was right on; healthcare reform went slower than I expected because of the botched federal exchange roll-out; higher ed reform is accelerating; big data is having various impacts [but that was a softball prediction]; slow roll-out of smart watches is beginning a tech/media/fashon convergence; and robotics became pervasive in interesting ways.

We poll the NAV partners annually about the new, new things of the year past. My partners chose remarkably compelling flying drones such as the DJI Phantom II [a type of robot]; self-driving features in cars foreshadowing robotic cars; Uber becoming a juggernaut and a verb (e.g., “we going to Uber-ize primary care”); the first-generation smart watches; and the new crop of phablets (iPhone 6/+, Note 4), which take smart phones across a threshold, making them a truly useful connected computer in the pocket.

What will be the key turning-points in 2015? Here are seven to watch for:

1. Mobile computing will be the dominant platform, and desktop machines will become legacy technology. This is already true for the leaders, e.g., Facebook and Apple, with Google GOOGL -0.85% close behind. Mobile as a medium is already eclipsing many traditional media (see chart above). In 2015 phablets will make this a turning point. They make the mobile web truly usable by combining the web capabilities of a tablet with the connectivity and app capabilities of a smart phone, all in one pocket-able device. And phablets will quickly be ubiquitous.

2.  Consumers and businesses will choose their cloud partners. The cloud is an ecosystem with many interlinked parts, e.g., consumers use the cloud for back-up, file sharing, messaging, file and settings sync across devices, and audio and video conferencing. The cloud is built into mobile and desktop operating systems. The major vendors (Google, Microsoft MSFT -1.23%Apple AAPL -1.95%) are building out complete cloud offerings. As they do so consumers will choose a primary vendor: interoperability benefits and pricing incentives will make this unavoidable. Businesses may stay longer with best-of-breed cloud services for different needs, but consolidation incentives will affect business too. So 2015 will be the year of the land-rush in the clouds [apologies for the mixed metaphor]. It’s no surprise that you see an ad for IBM’s cloud every time you turn around in an airport.

3.  Equity markets will level off, leaving investors hungry for alpha.Equities have had a great run since 2009, but equity valuations are now high by historical standards. The price war between the OPEC and Texas will halt earnings growth for energy companies, a key stock market sector. And investor enthusiasm will be dampened by risk factors that are building up globally: Ebola; civil wars in Syria, Iraq, and Ukraine; perpetual chaos in Afghanistan; muscle-flexing by increasingly-powerful China or increasingly-belligerent Russia; the Greek-fired return of Euro-jitters; and sumo wrestling between a Republican Congress and Democratic White House. Valuations for venture exits will level off too, as shown by the New Relic, HortonWorks, and ZenDesk IPOs, which occurred at or below the price of preceding private rounds. This will put the brakes on the late-stage and secondary gravy train in venture capital. Investors will need to reassess their venture capital allocations; hopefully some of them will find the longer-term play in early stage VC to be a good source of hard-to-find alpha.

4.  Robots will be accepted as part of life. Much of Christmas was picked and packed by Amazon’s Kiva robots. Many cars will self-park or station-keep in traffic today, and perhaps you passed Google robotic car in California recently and did not even notice. Part of the movie you watched over Christmas may have been shot with a drone, and soon your roofer may use a drone to examine that chimney cap that keeps leaking.

And, more specifically for Healthcare Business Transformation (where my investing focuses):

5.  Healthcare cost control will accelerate,mostly driven by the government at this stage. Providers are showing they are “coin-operated”, responding to incentives and penalties for control of readmission and the total cost of an episode of care. Start-ups,  e.g. Careport, are creating tools to help manage care transitions and the liability associated with discharged patients. How much this will affect total healthcare cost remains uncertain, however.

6.  We will see how fast medical customers (fka “patients”) learn to behave like consumers. A wide variety of tools for medical customers have been introduced, e.g., ZocDoc for scheduling appointments, GoodRx for deals on prescriptions, GrandRounds for second opinions, or HealthSherpa for buying insurance on None have hit a home run yet. Early signs suggest that changing medical customer behavior is difficult (probably because of the complexity of the healthcare system and the risk to well-being that people see in doing things differently), and the most successful companies are those that sell to sophisticated corporate buyers, like CastLight.  

Linda Holroyd's insight:

Turning Points: Mobile, cloud, equity markets, robots, healthcare, patients become consumers

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