Category: Innovation

Playbook for Innovation

There are numerous definitions; perspectives and understanding exist for innovation in market place. It is educational to listen, analyze and understand various school of thoughts on the subject and most of it is useful. My definition on innovation for a profit organization is:“Innovation is a better or new method to bring efficiency or generate revenue”. As always, since Stone Age, innovation is the back bone for future & future economy and this message was echoed by The President of United States, The Prime Minster of India, major management consultants and chief executives of corporate world. In the recent survey conducted by McKinsey, 84% of executives say innovation is extremely important to their companies’ growth strategy. Strong message and emphasis on innovation from senior political leaders, management consultants and top executives motivates citizen of a nation and members of a corporate world to think and work on innovation. But the real challenge being faced by corporate world is lack of executional leadership capacity and refined steps to cultivate innovation.

In absence of executional leadership capacity,a structure for innovation within a corporate world, the members who would like to invest their time to be innovative, go down on a path which does not provide fruitful result. Innovation initiatives in an organization without a framework nor a structure is similar to the people who tirelessly worked hard, creative, extremely smart who were passionate to develop a flying machine by watching the behavior of birds. They were successfully able to fell down with wings in terms of flying.

In my own experience, I have seen in organizations where innovation program is established by placing suggestion boxes, launching bright idea database and introducing contemporary furnished conference rooms. When an organization is placing suggestion boxes for innovative ideas, the organization culture is too far behind in general communication. The immediate goal and focus of that organization should be to work on basic general organization communication.

“The real challenge being faced by corporate world is lack of executional leadership capacity and refined steps to cultivate innovation”

By just having a bright idea database, the employee who would like to take the organization imperatives and be part of it would come up with ideas which are impossible in reality due legal, regulatory, and compliance reasons. For instance; for an auto finance industry, a bright idea from an employee is to enter mortgage business segment. It is an idea, may be a bright idea but the company may not have license to be in that segment, nor capital to get into that market. Without this key information, employees are going to work very hard and think about the new ideas which are not practically possible to implement.

Playbook for Innovation:

  1. Establish an innovation program office
  2. Develop an innovation framework
  3. Communicate innovation framework to the organization
  4. Manage innovation
  5. Measure innovation
  6. Report innovation

1. Establish an innovation program office:

Make it as one of the performance measure of a strategic objective of a strategy map (strategy). Assign this task to an executive leader who has visionary ideas with executional insights – I called it as “executional leadership capacity”. It is challenging to find an executive leader in an organization with this trait.

2. Develop an innovation framework:

Let the program office develop this framework. The framework is a tool helps the organization to think outside the box within a business context boundary. There are five components to the framework. They are a) Organization change management: Partner with human resource department. Bring necessary training and coaching to the organization that helps members of the organization to think outside the box. Instill during the training that organization is willing to face both positive and negative consequence of each individual who are thinking outside the box. b) Business-IT alignment: Strong partnership with business team is critical for the innovation program office’s success. To accomplish it, identify partner relationship manager or IT ambassadors for each business unit and develop a sustainable bi-directional communication plan to enable fluid ideas flowing between all teams. c) Industry insights: Partner with the business strategy or business development team. Provide a periodic economical and industry data pertains to the business unit to entire organization. The organization must be aware of whom they are competing in the market, what is the market volume, market segment, how the distribution are spread out, what are the growth opportunities in the competitive landscape and etc. d) Business process competencies: Partner with business process management team or business process operation team or the team who manages the business process for the entire organization. This component of the framework should help the reader of the framework to understand how organization makes money.  e) Technology competencies: Identify technologically savvy and curious members in the organization and ask them to study game changing technology trends which are in the pipeline. At this time the game changing technology trends are: big data, mobile computing, social computing and cloud computing. The members must not be nominated by managers, the members of the team must be volunteered who wants to contribute in this domain.

3. Communicate innovation framework:

The framework is a document that contains all the above components. Make the framework available to the entire organization in all possible media and channels. If the organization management training and coaching technique is effective, organization will seek for the framework and keep it for their reference. It is program office responsibilities to keep the framework up to date and make it available to organization. The framework should also be made available as part of orientation training for new hire for both employee and contractor/consultants.

4. Manage Innovation:

It is the program office responsibility to guide organization to differentiate disruptive & sustained innovation combining with traditional and non-traditional approaches.

5. Measure Innovation:

It is the program office responsibility to measure how program office is performing by measuring number of disruptive & sustained innovative ideas submitted, reviewed, rejected, approved, funded, implemented, benefit realized and etc.

6. Report Innovation:

It is the program office responsibility to report all program office performance metrics to IT balanced scorecard to provide a holistic view on the organization performance.

How to use google effectively?

 I created a cheat sheet on tips on how to use google effectively.  Please provide feedback on this cheat sheet.. I’m planning to extend the cheat sheet concept  for IT Strategy, Enterprise Architecture,  Technical interview questions for IT managers, open source, social networking eco systems and etc.

Why do we need a cheat sheet to use google effectively?

There are quite a few documents available in the google help on various operators. Some of the operators like links are not widely used and to avoid the overwhelming information for the users , I created this cheat sheet with frequently used operators.

Google is an effective search engine today and Bing from Microsoft has recently been launched and before Bing’s launch, I had been waiting to study Bing search performance.  On the day it was launched, I was playing around with Bing and searching for the key words like  “Air France”. During the Bing launch week, there was an air tragic when Air France flight from Brazil was missing in the Atlantic. I was searching for “Air France” in the Bing and Google at the same time and you can see the bing search result and google search result.  Even though both the search engine results were trying to sell Air France tickets, Google suggested if I’m looking for Air France Crash.  Contextual search in Google is very powerful and at the same time it provides numerous results back for any popular key words. There are lots of room for improvement to narrow down the results to the users specific query.

To over come it, there is an advanced search option in the google search engine which requires additional input from the users to narrow down the user specific search.  Advanced search option basically translates into what was mentioned in the cheat sheet. The usage of advanced search option may become challenging when you are using it from handheld like blackberry.

The problem we all face today is, google provides too much of information. I call it information over load and it limits the user ability to narrow down the key information the user is seeking for. 

Next generation search engine..

To over come the information over load, WolframAlpha is emerging.  Stephen Wolfram, the CEO & Founder of Wolfram Research is the founder of WolframAlpha.  Any science graduate must have heard the mathematical software Mathematica and Mathematica is from Wolfram Research.  (It is the first mathematical software I know, which solves the problem algebraically. Where as software product like Matlab, Maple, Octave, etc solves the math problem numerically). It is trying to over come the information over load problem when we all users are facing today with google search engine.

WolframAlpha is emerging search engine tries to narrow down to specific search results. Most of the time, it tries to come up with  an exact answer for the search query..

Will it take over Google or will it become a gaint calculator.. Time only can answer this question.. Let us be vigilant,wait and watch it..

Is google’s gmail ready for enterprise use?

Genchi Genbutsu approach for enterprise architect is an apt approach in some cases and this approach is apt for validating the viability of gmail for enterprise use. As a cost saving opportunity, the enterprise email infrastructure is one of the frequently visited area for potential saving  by practical enterprise architects. It is often studied by hiring external infrastructure architect specialist in the email infrastructure area to perform a business case and cost benefit analysis and internal enterprise architects lead that study by providing the necessary internal information. To perform the initial study, generally, it cost enterprise not a negligible money and time.  For an organization of size 10,000 employees, migrating an email infrastructure from Lotus Notes or Outlook to new email infrastructure will take at least 5-6 months (my estimate before I did this project) and requires coordination and training. Before the trigger is pulled to migrate the email infrastructure for cost saving opportunities, the business case and benefit analysis should be strong.

Recently, I lead and managed a team to study the gmail  for enterprise use by following Genchi Genbutsu approach and my results are summarized below.

Team Size: 3
Duration of the project: 6 hours
No. of email users:100
Cost: $5020 ($5000 is refundable if pilot results are concluded as not successful before 30 days)

Steps followed to establish the Google app’s gmail

  1. Tried to use the free gmail for 100 users. Selected 100 users in the organization and tried to create 100 free gmail accounts. Gmail has strong spam protection measures. It didn’t allow to create more than 20 users. gmail is performing lots of user traffic analysis on their side and predicting the creation of multiple users. Even though, we wanted to create  valid gmail viability using 100 legitmate users, google has build intelligence to prevent us creating more ids. Tried quickly to flush the cache in the browser, changed the browser, changed the PCs, changed the sub net still did not work. Google must be analyzing the user traffic by looking into the public ip (ie. web proxy to reach internet cloud) of our network. No customer service or support available for gmail. All the support material are available in the site and forums. No one available to talk to regarding the problem.
  2. Decided to use the google apps gmail to validate it.
  3. Bought new domain from godaddy.com (cost around $10)
  4. Configured the email gate way of the domain in registrar (godaddy.com) site by creating the MX records and setting up the priority. Good documentation available in the google app web site.
  5. In the online, bought 10 ids  from google apps (using google’s checkout)
  6. Used their mass upload of ids to create all 10 ids. CSV file contains the user name, user id, initial password and provision to reset the password after their first login.
  7. All ids were succcesfully created.
  8. Took one id and send and received email.  MX record took around 30-40 minutes to complete the configuration. After 30-40 minutes after the ids were created, we were able to successfully send and receive emails.
  9. Used the same format and added additional 90 ids to the CSV file.
  10. Used google check out to buy additional 90 ids ($4500). Additional 90 ids were not immediately added to the account after successfull completion of the transaction. Waited 40 minutes and tried to reach google check out support. There is no support/help desk number available. No contact information for sales.  I felt, may be, my credit card company is not authorizing the transaction since the amount is considerably large. Called the credit company’s support and found out the transaction didn’t reach the credit card company yet.  Waited for additional 20 minutes and assumed  google checkout is not authorizing consecutive  legitamate transactions in a short time (less than 60 minutes)
  11. Meantime, sent emails to their corporate support email address, google apps support email address, google checkout support email address screaming for “HELP”
  12. Repeated step 3-4 for a different domain and bought 100 ids this time. Transaction was complete and ids were not added to the account.. Got stuck again!!!
  13. Got a call from Google’s check out support. Told them what I wanted and second transaction was cancelled and additional 90 ids were added.
  14. Deleted all 10  ids I used to perform end to end test
  15. Tried to upload the 100 ids at one time.. Failed!!! Tried different combination, removed special character in the password, removed white spaces and few others. Nothing worked and everything FAILED!!!
  16. Tried to upload ONLY new 90 ids at one time. Successful!!!
  17. Once the ids were deleted, it can not be created immediately. It will take 5-7 days to recreate the same id. Strange!!
  18. For those 10 ids, had a different format ‘_’ instead of ‘.’ after the first and last name of the gmail address
  19. Loaded the 10 ids and it worked.
  20. Personalized the first page with company name, logo and etc.

Finding:

  • It took less than 1 hour (once the ID’s are successfully bought) to create all 100 ids.
  • Each id has 25GB mail box size
  • Administrator can manage all users, implement security policy, configure mail relays easily using the gmail console, restrict the traffic and etc
  • Quick training material was developed easily
  • SSL enforcement can be centrally done by the administrator
  • Calendar, docs sharing, chat are part of the gmail
  • It is apt for a small size (less than 1000 employees) company
  • Fast, inexpensive, sufficient email space

Is google’s gmail ready for enterprise (10,000+ employees) use?

Short answer: No

Fuzzy answer: Almost there but not quite yet

Detail Answer:Support is the big concern. I could not talk to any one whenever I had a problem. I understand their support strategy. Provide all necessary information and empower the user to resolve the issues by them self. That is good strategy from google stand point. Not a customer friendly strategy. I had legitimate support issues during the check out and recreating the deleted ids. I had to wait for their support teams mercy whenever I had problem. Google is over analyzing the traffic and stopping the legitimate traffic. I can’t make 10,000+ employees depend on this infrastructure, when there is a problem, we need to wait for mercy of their support team to call us. Here is the screen shot of the 404 error received during the pilot (removed the company logo!!)

 

 gmailerrorConclusion:

Wait for Google’s revised support strategy or ask your 10000+ employees to use free gmail for one or two years for their personal use before you transfer the corporate email infrastructure infrastructure to google app’s gmail.

The next big ideas!!

We are in deep global economical crisis and most of the organization and individual are or will be focused on survival and sustainability. Human mind becomes sharper in survival and it has been proven since the formation of a single cell. Since we are in deep crisis, innovation, operational & cost efficiency, invention are not differentiator but ingredients of survival. Rate of change of innovation & invention will be in rapid phase in next few years. Top three big ideas will emerge in next few years in the modern  industrial world.

  • Stop that photon
  • Wireless power distribution
  • Quantum computers running in the data centers

What are the industrial applications possible if we could find a way to stop the photon:

  • Virtually there is no electronic screen required. That is, television, computer, projectors are not required instead we can project the display in the space. An average cell phone size device can project (around 50-55 inch) with very high resolution in space.

Wireless electric power transmission:

  • Due to the energy crisis and fossil fuel dependency there will be more focus on clean green energy and there will be progress made in that area. However, irrespective of the energy source, energy distribution will be major problem. Entanglement of the electric energy shall enable the electric power transmission with out physical wires. It will provide a foundation to transmit energy from space. It will lay foundation to eliminate the energy crisis permanently.

Quantum Computers

  • It may not be a replacement of electronic (silicon based) computers. It will be like laser to light bulb. We are using light bulbs even after the discovery of lasers. QC will be more powerful and faster. When it is availble for mass data processing in the data center then the availability of data, processing speed of data will increase alteast hundred folds than what we have today.