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By now, you have heard, read and seen more about the Cloud than you probably ever wanted. And, for those of you who live in corner offices - you are almost certainly wondering why everyone keeps bothering you with something that surely belongs in the dark realms of your IT department. But from Amazon's new self-serve super computing platforms, Google's low cost enterprise productivity tools to Apple's vision for online entertainment - the Cloud is a business revolution that no CEO can ignore. Here is your cheat sheet on the top 5 strategic issues that you need to know about.
Why do some companies survive and others simply crumple? And stranger still - for star-crossed giants such as Yahoo, RIM and HP - why did major investments in innovation not save them from being blindsided by the future? In my view - it is all a problem of scale. Big leaders favour big solutions for big problems. But just the like the Higgs Boson, sometimes in order to understand how dramatic transformations happen, you have to start by looking for things that are very small.
I don't like boats. I get sea sick easily and my worst nightmare is being caught out in the middle of the ocean in a storm. When that happens my original plans - however grand - go straight out the porthole. Business leaders face a similar dilemma. You can spend a weekend retreat discussing the far future, but on Monday the only scenario that counts is the immediate future of cash flow, customers and competitors. So how do you reconcile two distinct timelines which require radically different strategies for attainment? I call this paradox the 'Dual Horizon Problem'.
As a coffee aficionado, I never thought the day would arrive that I would love an automatic coffee machine. But it’s true. I love my Nespresso machine. I bought my first in Hong Kong when I struggled to find a decent coffee anywhere on the island. And I’m embarassed to say, I sometimes even choose hotels based on whether there is a similar machine in my room. But if Nespresso, owned by Nestle, represents the past triumph of applying the Gillette ‘razor and blade’ business model to beverage consumables - it also points to the present failure of appliance brands to capitalising on their captured consumer base.
You have met the Borderless before. They manage the key customer relationships for an emerging market, they are the creative directors of an edgy youth consumer brand, they are entrepreneurs launching a global technology start-up, freelance graphic designers with an international client base, trend scouts for an upscale fashion retailer, and the odd rapacious private equity cowboy. For the Borderless, residency is a tax rather than a lifestyle question. Multiple passports, offshore banking, and an intimate understanding of the hubs and spokes of international connections - the Borderless are like packets of data hurtling through the global network. Their creed is best expressed by Ryan Bingham in ‘Up In The Air’, when he declared: “The slower we move the faster we die. Make no mistake, moving is living”. So now you know who they are, the real question is what motivates a lifestyle of perpetual motion?
Understanding the future of technology used to be a simple science. You kept an eye on scientific journals, visited the odd corporate R&D lab, and kept a close watch on the price/performance curves that indicated the falling price of computation. These days, unfortunately, the greatest source of disruptive innovation often comes from consumers themselves - which is why some of the world's largest companies are investing in specialist research divisions run by savvy anthropologists. One of the most influential of these new breed of innovation gurus is Genevieve Bell - who is the chief anthropologist at Intel Corporation.
There was a game I used to like to play when I first started traveling. When I arrived in a new city, I'd set out with a map, a notebook and a coin. Rather than follow a plan, I'd delegate all choices to a coin toss. Heads, turn left. Tails, walk into that book store. Heads, walk three blocks and then take the first left. A flick of the wrist, sunlight catching shiny metal on a downward arc - a decision made. As I recorded my random adventures on my map - a new world would gradually render into being, like one of Calvino's Invisible Cities. I thought about those maps the other day when one of my clients asked me how they should embed innovation into their culture. Chance has always been a willing mistress to creativity - but could it also play midwife to innovation?
© 2013 Tomorrow Limited