Posts Tagged ‘Technology’

Technology innovation that is changing lives

Posted on: October 2nd, 2013 by admin-kablooey No Comments

Technology is only as valuable as value that is perceived by its user. The technology that impacts the future are technologies that people adopt and use. These are the technologies to watch.

There are many of these technologies on my list at the moment but I only have time/space to share two with you.

3D Printing

The next step in printing: 3D printing allows you to print any object with various materials from a digital model. This innovation is fast becoming one of the biggest game-changers in the industry today.

Prototypes to Production
Previously this was primarily used for creating prototypes of projects that would later go into production. According to Forbes, in the next few years we will start to see 3D printing become mainstream. You will be able to fly on aeroplanes that are made up with 3D printed parts. Overall the volume of 3D printed parts (especially where specialised designs are necessary) will increase in the motor, aero and appliance industries.

In addition to changes in the manufacturing industries, we will soon see medicine changing with 3D printing to new bio-materials. This technology will allow medical professionals to design bone replacements exactly to the shape needed to a limb or joint. Organ donor shortages could be eliminated as experiments in soft tissue are underway and printing organs may be a real possibility.

A shift in product customisation
Consumers worldwide are becoming more difficult to please, as they are starting to desire more custom solutions, fashion, and technology. Consumers are becoming more aware that these custom solutions are possible and are therefore demanding them in the market place.

3D printing will help organisations (especially retailers) to provide completely custom products to their customers. A great example of this emerging trend is I recently designed a custom-speced iPhone case online – and then had it shipped to me.

New learning tools
3D printers will help schools provide practical outcomes to theoretical teachings in code and design. Scholars will be able to print out their creations, test them in real life and make changes to the items they create. Further to this, the technology may even become cost effective enough to make it into the home, just like the inkjet printer.

Mobile

There is no doubt that mobile technology is shaping our future. The mobile device has achieved market success and is currently more accessible than running water around the globe. In the last few years we have seen a massive increase of businesses offering services in the mobile arena with mobile banking probably being one of the biggest services creating the most interest. An interesting example in the mobile arena is machine to machine communication (M2M).

M2M uses mobile technology to allow machines to communicate to each other.

According to Wikipedia “If we had computers that knew everything there was to know about things- using data they gathered without any help from us- we would be able to track and count everything, and greatly reduce waste, loss and cost. We would know when things needed replacing, repairing or recalling, and whether they were fresh or past their best. The ‘Internet of Things’ has the potential to change the world, just as the Internet did. Maybe even more so.”

In simpler terms, if we could find a way for inanimate objects to capture data to the internet we would be able to create databases of information of extreme value. In addition, if we could create systems that initiated processes based on this collected data we could manage simple important processes better, and with less human error.

Technology, wearable techA move to wearable tech
We need to understand that the applications we use on our phones may find more convenient homes inside devices that we wear.

Google is about to launch Google Glasses which takes its services into eyewear, and Nokia are looking at similar technology to make the telecommunications experience more natural.

A colleague of mine just ordered his pebble watch which will control his android phone, making it easier to see who’s calling; accept calls; use music applications and a host of other services that we like to have quick access to.

As we consider the future of mobile we really need to break out the box of the mobile phone and explore every single mobile device. Shoes could become better objects to track our running and send that data to the cloud which will in turn, send it back to our phones with a summary of our performance.

Smart Metering
A simple idea with big impact. By utilising the ‘Internet of Things’, you will be able to monitor how water is used, petrol is consumed, the temperature of fridges and many other aspects that normally are difficult to monitor in real time.

A great example of this in the health sector is managing the temperature of blood from donors. This blood needs to be kept at a specific temperature and a change by one degree either way may cause that blood to be unusable. As blood is in short supply it makes sense to do everything we can to ensure nothing goes wrong with the temperature.

M2M communication can monitor the temperature of the fridge and then make necessary adjustments in real time to accommodate any changes taking place.

Building a smarter city
Vodafone have been taking big strides forward in this arena and have been working with Venice to create a ‘Smart City’.

Traffic is managed by machines talking to each other, sending data back and forth through M2M, and finally collected in a central location. The data collected in this location will then be able to provide insight into better traffic management to allow for higher security, environmental improvements and a decrease in traffic congestion.

Parking in pay zones is now managed by sms by allowing people to sms their starting and ending parking times and allowing them to pay through a ‘phone call.’ Meanwhile the administration of parked vehicles by officials can be done with a tablet with online access or any mobile phone.

Local citizens can subscribe to notification services about election news; changes in bus routes; council meetings and a variety of other notice-based services.

These are just a few ways that Venice have been using the internet of things to create a smarter city.

Technology that helps us be more human

In all of these technologies we are beginning to see how technology will continue to solve problems for us in the future. There has aways been a concern that technology will make us less human by replacing our need for personal interaction. In these examples it can be argued that technology is becoming an assistant to our human nature by making life easier and better to help us live longer lives, more conveniently and productively, and hopefully enhancing our human connection instead of replacing it.

Retail and Technology

Posted on: August 22nd, 2013 by admin-kablooey No Comments

There is a unique relationship between retail and technology. Retail chains have long been adopting technology as a means to track customers and gather valuable data. Some retailers have also leant on technology to provide more interesting window displays and shopping experiences. There is however a new element to this relationship, consumers and technology. Consumers today are bringing technology into retail outlets and using it in the purchase experience. An experience that we are no longer in control of. Technology’s relationship with our consumer has empowered our consumer in much the same way that it empowered our retailers.

Two new phenomenons in retail have risen to the fore due to the impact of technology being used by consumers.
1) Showrooming
With the rise in availability of products now online, consumers are able to purchase almost anything using an internet connection. Although this is primarily a developed economy concern, right now it is clear that the rise in e-commerce services in developing economies are creating the same purchase patterns.

Showrooming is the behaviour of testing, touching, experiencing a product on the retail floor and deciding to purchase the product online.

According to the Business Insider consumers are showrooming for the following reasons, in order of preference:

  • Price is better online
  • Planned to buy the product online but wanted to see it first
  • Item was out of stock in-store
  • Would rather have the item shipped to them directly
  • It was not convenient to purchase the product in-store at the time

2) Blended Physical and Digital Experiences In-store

Mobile has disrupted the consumer market in ways we never imagined. The ability to take the internet with us into every single aspect of our lives has meant that consumers have become more savvy shoppers.

Primarily through a mobile smart phone, consumers are researching your products in-store and comparing them with your competition. I have personally tested this process to see how easy it was and ended up buying a book for my kindle from amazon – standing inside a bookstore.

Essentially the impact of mobile has taken showrooming to a new level by incorporating purchase and delivery to a competitor whilst standing in your store.

In the future, consumers will bring more advanced technology in-store that will give them quicker and more convenient access to this power of information.

Retailtechnologytrends.com laid out some interesting ideas about how consumers will use Google Glasses which are due to launch at the end of 2013.

Competitive purchasing – With the right SDK, apps like Amazon, or RedLaser can enable wearers to scan items by pulling them off the shelf and looking at them. The glasses can recognize the barcodes and return search details on comparable prices elsewhere.

Mobile Self Scanning – Google Glass could be used to port to a mobile app for users to scan their groceries as they go through the store, and then they could checkout with Paypal or some other mobile payment solution.

How do we take back control?

The business that seems to be winning with consumers are those that are providing technologies that compliment this purchasing style. The old analogy “if you cant beat them, join them” rings true in these scenarios.

With the example of Google Glass, retail outlets can use the same technology to improve customer loyalty by using information collected about the customer, and that information can then be shown only to the eyes of the store staff in order to best serve the client without the client seeing the information.
John Lewis designed a brand specific mobile app for their customers to use that allows customers to scan products, search for products and purchase – allowing customers to choose the purchasing experience that suits them. The app also provides additional product information that is not always available on the shelf in the store.Other examples are where retail outlets have created complimenting online stores that are mobile friendly and may even come packaged in their own mobile app. These services increase the chance of “showrooming purchases” still being purchased from the store. Utilizing GPS information from the device may even allow retail chains the ability to track the location of the purchase and attribute it to the nearest retail outlet.

When looking at the disruptive change taking place, it is important not to get caught up in the hype and to focus on key trends that will help you design a more robust customer experience.

Here are my three suggestions to win your customer back:

Think Mobile First

The mobile disruption has made it clear that every retail outlet wanting to engage their customers and claim a higher percentage of sales from showrooming, need to ensure that they have a mobile platform that provides the best value to the client – in service and purchasing tools.

Understand the social shift

When thinking about mobile also understand that new technologies in GPS, Augmented Reality and others will make it easier to capture information on purchase behaviour.

Social media coupled with mass usage and mobile distribution has bought people into the purchase experience that you cannot see or influence with the in-store design and atmosphere.

It isa well known revelation that consumers trust their peers more than they trust the company they are buying from. In the social media shift those recommendations are just a few clicks away.

Remember it’s a blended experience

This is vital. I don’t believe that digital or online stores will do away with retail outlets or shopping centres. There is still a large social and consumer benefit to shopping. Instead we need to understand that the shopping experience is more complex thanks to technology. The winners will be those who provide a blended physical and digital experience that surpasses its competitors.

War: The Ultimate Disruptive Force

Posted on: June 24th, 2013 by admin-kablooey No Comments
American troops prepare to land on Omaha beach

American troops prepare to land on Omaha beach

Unless you have been locked in a cupboard it has been very hard to not be aware that the 69th anniversary of the Normandy Invasion of German occupied France on 6th June 1944 has recently passed us. Next year will probably be the last significant year of remembering D-Day that veterans will be able to attend. The Normandy Invasion was and still is the biggest seaborne invasion to ever take place. It was a truly remarkable feat to land 156,000 troops in one day and to defeat the enemy without the modern wonders of technology and communication that we have today. There are many military words that are in common business usage today; campaign, tactics, and battle, to name a few. We can also look to the events of nearly 70 years ago for examples of disruptive change that were exploited by one side to the detriment of the other, with the principles easily transferred to examples of business disruption.

 

 

TECHNOLOGY

General Sir Percy Hobart

General Sir Percy Hobart

Every business needs to keep abreast of new technology. The American and particularly the British and Commonwealth forces took full advantage of the most up to date technology around.

  • Hobart’s Funnies. General Sir Percy Cleghorn Hobart of the 79th Armoured Division, not only had a fabulous name he also had a fabulous mind. His “unconventional’ ideas about tank warfare had unfortunately fallen foul of his superiors and by 1940 he had been dismissed and was languishing as a Lance Corporal in the Local Defence Volunteers. Winston Churchill however heard of this and reinstated him with Hobart eventually finding himself in charge of the 79th with the remit to assemble a unit of specialist and modified armour. The armour that was created by June 1944 was a real mix of ingenuity and British eccentricity. There was; the Sherman DD tank that could “swim” in the water, the Crocodile a modified tank that was a flamethrower, the Crab that had a flail fitted to detonate and clear mines, the AVRE which was a tank that could destroy concrete bunkers. The list goes on with various armoured vehicles capable of carrying bridges, filling ditches, laying a road, ploughing minefields, bulldozing obstacles, etc,etc. These “Funnies” contributed massively on the day overcoming problem after problem. The Americans however were not so taken with them and apart from using the DD tanks (with poorly trained crews) they ignored the new technology and paid dearly on Omaha beach with soldier’s lives.
  • Mulberry Harbours. It was recognized that it was too dangerous to initially attack a harbour, but harbours would be required to unload men and materials. With fantastic ingenuity and the help of British engineering companies, two floating harbours called Mullberries were made and towed across the channel and moored off of the invasion beaches. The Germans believed that the Allies would have to attack a harbour when they invaded and thus wasted massive resources in improving the defences of harbours all along the coast from Norway to Spain.
  • Higgins Boats. One of the unsung heroes of innovation was an American called Andrew Higgins. He invented the LCVP (landing craft, vehicle, personnel), which was a flat-bottomed landing craft that could deliver 28 fully armed men or a vehicle directly onto the beach. Eisenhower was quoted as calling him “the man who won the war for us”

 
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A powerful example of how technology is changing the retail industry

Posted on: July 13th, 2011 by admin-kablooey 2 Comments

I love it when clever people come up with simple ideas that change the way the world works. This example we will look at today is a subway advertisement that turned a South Korean subway into a supermarket.

The execucution is so simple. Life size banners that display supermarket brands with QR codes on each item. Scan the item and get them delivered to your door by the end of the day. The idea was sparked by the need to create more sales without opening more stores. After extensive research into the market Tesco was able to see the opportunity to utilise smart phone technology to increase its online sales potential.

The consumer will take to this idea because the technology is so simple (in virtualsupermarketsubwaySouth Korea at least) for them to use. The concept works becuase it relies on redundant QR code technology to execute it.It also works because it make an intangible internet experience tangible through the physical advert.

This example from Tesco paints a clear picture of the shifts that retailers are going to face in the future:

  1. The retail industry can expect powerful competition from online sales channels. Especially if these channels are connecting with consumers in such tangible ways, like in subways while I wait for my train.
  2. Brands are still important to consumers. Make sure you make those brands visible to the consumer. Note that there are still a number of juices to choose from displayed on the “shelf”.
  3. Convenience is king! Make sure this new buying method fits into my life and don’t let me down. The delevery to my home is important because if I have to fetch the product then I may as well shop at you store – or somebody elses!
  4. Shelf space is a concept that does not have to stay in stores or on a website.

Technology Free Night

Posted on: January 20th, 2011 by admin-kablooey 5 Comments

I normally write my Thursday blog post on a Wednesday evening – with the TV on in the background, and checking Facebook, my RSS feeds and Twitter intermittently. This won’t be happening tonight though – Wednesday has been declared ‘Technology Free Night’ in our home, which means no TV, no laptops, and no sneaky checking of Facebook on the Blackberry either.

Just as much as we talk about avoiding the email avalanche, I believe it’s also important to recognize the technology overload that we face on a daily basis, and just how easy it has become to be addicted to not only checking email, but also instant messages, Facebook, Twitter etc.

What impact is this constant connectivity having on us – and are our electronic devices keeping us apart from the ones that really matter – our family?

My solution is to introduce ‘Technology Free Time” into our lifestyle to try and find the balance between the benefits that technology can bring to our lives both professionally and personally, against the element of disconnect and distraction from our family and downtime.

Fear not if at first you are asked by members of your family whether there is an ‘app’ for this –  I have researched some useful tips on how to get started on ‘Technolgy free times’ that should hopefully help taking the first step.

  • Start off with short periods of technology down-time. Understand that your life won’t cease because of the break in connectivity, and realize that as with any other addiction, you may experience a period of withdrawal and anxiety!
  • Choose your time well – for us Wednesday night is a good night to start as I don’t miss Grey’s Anatomy (Monday’s) and what used to be Brothers and Sisters on a Thursday! My anxiety levels may have been slightly higher if husband had insisted on either of these other nights.
  • Try leaving your cell phone at home one day of the week, probably best on a week-end as we don’t want to lose customers due to our technology free mission. Apparently you’ll feel a sense of release not having the phone on you. (Again – remember point 1 regarding the anxiety levels at first)
  • Hire a virtual assistant – not sure about this, but it does make sense and opens a whole new topic of ‘jobs’ that our children will be doing that was never a part of our vocab even.
  • Give your family advance warning so that they can prepare mentally for this!
  • Prepare some activities for the technology free time – especially when starting off on this challenge. Activities like hosting a games evening, or call the baby sitter and take your spouse out to dinner on a school night, cook dinner together, read a good book, build a puzzle!
  • Let technology help you disconnect. Use Facebook, Twitter or email to tell friends and family that you will be offline. Have emails sent to your inbox in batches.
  • Make the bedroom a media-free zone!

Would love to hear your feedback or any suggestions you have to make our technology free night a success!

Technology for a better virtual work environment

Posted on: November 25th, 2010 by Jude Foulston 2 Comments

The following tools are some of what the TomorrowToday team use, which enable us to work more effectively in our virtual office environment.

Skype is a well-known tool used by many individuals and businesses to communicate over the Internet. The beauty of Skype is that with just an Internet connection, you can connect with other Skype users either via voice or video for free.  Sign up here for a Skype account.

Bantam Live “provides a “social CRM” workspace for business teams to collaborate internally and build relationships across the web. Often called “Facebook for business teams” this online application fuses social media communications with applications, content, and data for people to get work done.”

TomorrowToday uses Bantam Live to share information internally on our daily activities, update the team on new deals, manage our contacts and assign tasks to team members – all via a real-time activity stream. The tool is simple to use, saving us time and helping us to connect as a team and with our clients on a daily basis.

Dropbox is a tool we use to store and share documents online, but at the same time keep the documents on our local computers. You don’t have to be online to access the documents, but will ensure the most recent version of a document is kept online in the Dropbox folder. This tool is great for when more than one team member is working on a document, or if you work off more than one computer (e.g. a Mac and ipad).

Dropbox also keeps a backup of all documents, including previous versions.

GoToWebinar is a little similar to Skype where the team connects via the Internet, but this application allows us to hold an online meeting/ presentation with a larger number of people present. It shows the hosts computer screen to those attending the Webinar, making it ideal for presentations or demonstrations. You can host a Webinar for up to 100 people. It takes a bit of practice, but certainly a great tool to have in the bag.

Google Calendar is an application that our team couldn’t exist without. Google Calendar allows the team real time access to all our presenters diaries, allowing us to either view or update the diaries depending on access rights. This is critical to our business as it means the sales team is able to respond immediately to any client requests. Any updates made to the calendars are updated immediately with no (or rather extremely minimal) risk of double bookings.

All of the above come with applications for smart phones, so connecting you with your team even when you’re on the move.

Do let us know if you have any tools that you suggest could make our lives easier within our virtual environment, we’d love to hear what’s working for you.

TIDES of Change: the five trends disrupting business in the next 5 years

Posted on: December 3rd, 2009 by Graeme Codrington 9 Comments

Updated in May 2010

Download a copy of this article in PDF format – right click here. The contents of this article can be presented as a keynote or a workshop for your team. Contact our UK or South African offices to find out how.


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As the world slowly emerges out of recession over the next few years, it will become increasingly clear that this was more than just an economic downturn. Disruptive forces are significantly reshaping the world of work. Some of these changes have been brewing for a decade or more – and now this recession has exacerbated their influence and speeded up their effects. Companies that have survived the downturn need to shift their focus to surviving the upturn. We are not ever going to “get back to normal” – a new normal is emerging for everyone, everywhere.

The most successful companies will be those that find ways to be strategically responsive. To do this, it is important that everyone – at every level of the organisation – has an understanding of the forces that will be shaping the next decade. Some key trends that were already vaguely evident a few years ago have now been catalysed by the downturn, and will fundamentally change the way we work, the rules of the game and the methods by which companies will gain and retain competitive advantage in their industries. When your people understand this, they can contribute meaningfully to your company’s success. You can develop these insights through regular analysis of your environment and strategic conversations throughout your organisation with all of your people. Their understanding will help them buy into your vision and strategies. And it is also essential for problem solving, creativity, innovation and the proactive identification of opportunities and threats in your industry and marketplace.

There are at least five key drivers of disruptive change that every organisation in every industry and sector needs to track. These are the T.I.D.E.S. of change. (It’s a corny acronym, I know, but hopefully it will help with both remembering the framework, as well as making it easy to use on a regular basis in team meetings and informal conversations throughout your organisation). Here then are the key drivers of disruptive change in the next decade, and some questions to ask yourself and your teams as you plan to respond to them:

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