Monthly Archives: January 2010

Is Mush actually mush – or is he right?

Have you seen Jaron Lanier’s article in the Wall Street Journal on January 8th? What do you think of his viewpoint? Do you agree? I have underlined the most controversial bit…….

Here’s one problem with digital collectivism: We shouldn’t want the whole world to take on the quality of having been designed by a committee. When you have everyone collaborate on everything, you generate a dull, average outcome in all things. You don’t get innovation.

If you want to foster creativity and excellence, you have to introduce some boundaries. Teams need some privacy from one another to develop unique approaches to any kind of competition. Scientists need some time in private before publication to get their results in order. Making everything open all the time creates what I call a global mush.

There’s a dominant dogma in the online culture of the moment that collectives make the best stuff, but it hasn’t proven to be true. The most sophisticated, influential and lucrative examples of computer code—like the page-rank algorithms in the top search engines or Adobe’s Flash— always turn out to be the results of proprietary development. Indeed, the adored iPhone came out of what many regard as the most closed, tyrannically managed software-development shop on Earth.

Actually, Silicon Valley is remarkably good at not making collectivization mistakes when our own fortunes are at stake. If you suggested that, say, Google, Apple and Microsoft should be merged so that all their engineers would be aggregated into a giant wiki-like project—well you’d be laughed out of Silicon Valley so fast you wouldn’t have time to tweet about it. Same would happen if you suggested to one of the big venture-capital firms that all the start-ups they are funding should be merged into a single collective operation.

But this is exactly the kind of mistake that’s happening with some of the most influential projects in our culture, and ultimately in our economy.

Digital collectivism might seem participatory and democratic, but it’s painting us into a corner from which we will have to concoct an awkward escape. It is strange to me that this isn’t more obvious to many of my Silicon Valley colleagues.

The U.S. made a fateful decision in the late 20th century to routinely cede manufacturing and other physical-world labors to foreign competitors so that we could focus more on lucrative, comfortable intellectual activities like design, entertainment and the creation of other types of intellectual property. That formulation still works for certain products that remain within a system of proprietary control, like Apple’s iPhone.

Unfortunately, we were also making another decision at the same time: that the very idea of intellectual property impedes information flow and sharing. Over the last decade, many of us cheered as a lot of software, music and news became free, but we were shooting ourselves in the collective feet.

On the one hand we want to avoid physical work and instead benefit from intellectual property. On the other hand, we’re undermining intellectual property so that information can roam around for nothing, or more precisely as bait for advertisements. That’s a formula that leaves no way for our nation to earn a living in the long term.

The “open” paradigm rests on the assumption that the way to get ahead is to give away your brain’s work—your music, writing, computer code and so on—and earn kudos instead of money. You are then supposedly compensated because your occasional dollop of online recognition will help you get some kind of less cerebral work that can earn money. For instance, maybe you can sell custom branded T-shirts.

We’re well over a decade into this utopia of demonetized sharing and almost everyone who does the kind of work that has been collectivized online is getting poorer. There are only a tiny handful of writers or musicians who actually make a living in the new utopia, for instance. Almost everyone else is becoming more like a peasant every day.

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Managing IP and Open Innovation

One of the biggest challenges in an Open Innovation environment is the management of intellectual property. Indeed, IP management is a real inhibitor to companies implementing OI – the IP challenges seem somewhat overwhelming. Indeed, I will shortly be teaching IP Management with a specific innovation focus to students at the University of Sydney.

A recently published article address some if these issues. It says that the key is:

  • to understand the benefits of embracing these models of IP development;
  • to have executives and board members agree on and commit to a clear business plan with respect to same; and
  • to have the right people in place to execute the plan.

Different models of collaborative IP development are
used today, including:

  • participation in R&D consortia;
  • collaboration between different companies for a
  • variety of strategic reasons;
  • collaboration with universities and other public
  • research institutions; and
  • the ‘open science’ model, where IP rights become
  • superfluous as access is generalised and data is
  • shared with little or no limitations.

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The Case for Backshoring – Returning to the Fold

For years, the NCR Corporation simply followed the pack. Like many other large U.S. manufacturing companies, in the past couple of decades the maker of automated teller machines (ATMs) relied heavily on offshoring and outsourcing to trim factory costs. By making much of its equipment in cheaper offshore locations in the Asia/Pacific region, and by hiring Singapore’s Flextronics International Ltd. to make other equipment, NCR could slash hundreds of millions of dollars in plant expenses and be reasonably certain that its ATMs met quality standards.

But recently, NCR has rejected this strategy — at least to a degree. In 2009, the company decided to move its most sophisticated lines of ATMs from its plants in China and India, and from a Flextronics facility in South Carolina, and instead manufacture the machines in Columbus, Ga., not far from the NCR innovation center, where its new technology is on display. The reason: The company was concerned that outsourcing distanced its designers, engineers, IT experts, and customers from the manufacturing of the equipment, creating a set of silos that potentially hindered the company’s ability to turn out new models with new features fast enough to satisfy its client banks. “I think you’ll see more of this occurring,” says Peter Dorsman, NCR’s senior vice president in charge of global operations, who says he has been contacted by dozens of U.S. companies studying whether they should make similar moves. “You’ll see a lot more people returning manufacturing to America.” Read entire report.


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New Accenture Study on Globalization released at World Economic Forum

A combination of intensified globalization brought on by recent turbulence in the global economy and the acceleration of new information technologies is driving companies and governments to look for new business models to meet increased demands for efficiency, competitiveness, short-term agility and long-term growth. This is one of the key findings of a study released today by Accenture at the World Economic Forum.

According to the study (download here), based on a survey of more than 400 business leaders globally as well as a year-long field analysis of business and technology developments, such maturing technologies as cloud computing, mobile communications and collaborative computing will offer companies the “hidden wiring” required to compete in a multi-polar world, one in which emerging markets are challenging the traditional strengths of more mature economies.

Throughout the global economic crisis, emerging markets have demonstrated resiliency and weathered the storm as well as — if not better than — more mature markets due to strong local growth, highly competitive cost structures and an ability to serve customers at low price points. This challenge has not been lost on the executives polled by Accenture: 88 percent conceded that their companies have not done enough to develop effective strategic responses to the new disruptive business environment.

When asked which factors will have the most significant impact on their business over the next five years, 41 percent of the executives surveyed said it would be the growth in size and reach of new players in emerging markets, followed by an increase in IT capabilities (35 percent) and slower economic growth in developed markets (27 percent). Respondents also said that the most significant challenges raised by future developments in information technology would be managing complex networks of suppliers, business partners and customers (37 percent), followed by protecting proprietary information and data (28 percent) and competition for technologically and analytically skilled employees (27 percent).

The study, “From Global Connection to Global Orchestration: Future Business Models For High Performance Where Technology and the Multi-polar World Meet,” finds that in the aftermath of recession, new economic value will be created through a combination of the effective use of new technologies and strategies to address the dynamics of globalization. Business leaders surveyed by Accenture highlighted the growth in size and reach of new market players from emerging markets and the increased capabilities that new information technologies provide as the two developments that will have the most significant impact on their business over the next five years.

“Together, these forces are accelerating the need for companies to master five competitive and interdependent dimensions of business: new consumers, talent, innovation, capital, and resources,” said Mark Foster, Accenture’s group chief executive, Global Markets and Management Consulting. “Our research shows that high performers in both developed and emerging markets are looking to leverage information technology with a certainty and pace that will give them the flexibility to adapt their business models and stay ahead of the competition as new economic circumstances arise.”

According to the study, economic power shifts between companies and individuals and between national economies are becoming more common, creating greater business complexity with more people to buy from and sell to, as well as more competitors. At the same time, this complexity is fostering more ways to create economic value. Accenture has identified six market-shaping interactions that have the ability to create new economic value:

— Co-production with customers. Companies are finding more opportunities to engage with customers and suppliers in such areas as co-producing products and sourcing ideas as a part of the innovation process.

— New bridges between producers and consumers. Intermediaries are using technology to build new bridges between producers and consumers, helping companies extend the markets they serve, particularly in emerging-market economies. Nearly sixty percent of business leaders surveyed for the study said that greater consumer connectivity would have a significant or very significant impact on competition in their industries over the next five years, with the proportion even higher among business leaders from emerging markets compared with those from developed markets (68 percent compared with 56 percent)

— New forms of business-to-business (B2B) commerce. New forms of B2B activity are becoming technologically possible, advancing the promise of “e-markets” first discussed a decade ago. Hong Kong-based Li & Fung, for example, has used information technology to transform itself into a global, horizontal provider of services traditionally performed internally by retailers and wholesalers — services such as supply chain management, production and operations. This is an especially powerful trend that is helping make cost structures more variable in a volatile world.

— Consumer-to-consumer content. Technology is enabling like-minded consumers to form clusters of cooperative structures that span multiple countries and regions in order to share information, evaluate products and services and conduct purchases. Accenture’s research reveals that 57 percent of executives believe the growing bargaining power of knowledgeable consumers will significantly affect competition in their industries over the next five years. Business leaders in emerging markets are especially alert to this trend, with 67 percent expressing this view, compared with 52 percent of executives in developed markets.

— Peer-to-peer production. Individuals can form groups that provide products and services to reduce the market power of existing suppliers or to exert greater control over the way a product or service is produced or consumed. International peer-to-peer microfinance platforms are making possible new forms of lending to small entrepreneurs in high-growth economies.

— Cooperative consumption. The growth of social networking and digitization enables consumers to form clusters that boost their bargaining power. Shanghai-based, founded in 2003, which sells everything from paint to ceiling lamps, now has 1.6 million members. has 300,000 unique visitors a day on its website and produces approximately 30,000 transactions a month during group buying events in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and elsewhere.

According to Foster, in order to create new forms of economic value and growth, companies can take advantage of any or all of these new combinations of production, collaboration and consumption to reshape their business models ahead of the competition.

“Responding to the newly complex and competitive ecosystem will require businesses to re-evaluate the roles they have played and the sources of value that they have followed traditionally,” Foster said. “However, organizations also have a great opportunity to harness these new market forces to their advantage to optimize, extend and transform their business models.”

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Cisco Launches 2nd I-Prize Global Innovation Contest to Find Next Potential Billion-Dollar Idea -> Cisco News

Cisco Launches 2nd I-Prize Global Innovation Contest to Find Next Potential Billion-Dollar Idea -> Cisco News

SAN JOSE, Calif., Jan. 27, 2010 – Cisco today announced the launch of the second I-Prize contest, an open global innovation competition in which entrepreneurs worldwide can collaborate and submit their proposals with the potential to be Cisco’s next billion-dollar business idea. Following last year’s competition, which drew nearly 2,500 entrants, this year innovative thinkers will have access to an expanded portfolio of Cisco® collaboration solutions to build on as they share their ideas with other participants around the world. The winning team will be eligible for $250,000 in prize money.

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Organizations call for greater open innovation to advance sustainability

Announced at a CEO breakfast at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, a number of high profile organisations – Best Buy, Creative Commons, IDEO, Mountain Equipment Co-op, Nike, nGenera, Outdoor Industry Association,, 2degrees, and Yahoo! – called on other corporations to join them in committing to opening up their IP to fast-track the development of innovative solutions to sustainability challenges. The 10 founding partners of GX share a commitment to the power of open innovation and collaborative networks to fuel sustainable innovation by making their patented technologies available for research and licensing.

By making private intellectual property visible and usable, the aim is to accelerate the development of green innovation. The launch of GX is the first step in a journey towards more sustainable innovation, and the more companies that post their IP the faster the journey. More information can be found at

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