Tag: 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.

Google Workshop

Fifteen years ago, seeking for useful information in a public domain  was a challenge and where as today, we have the opposite problem.  IMG_0161There are lots of information available on any topic. 

The social networking sites enables the right  information  come to us instead of we seek for it.  But still, filtering the information is a key challenge.  We more often go to search engine like google  for information and filtering techniques in the google helps us to receive the most relevant information quickly.

Recently, I wrote a  job aid/reference  on “How to google effectively” and there are few beneficiary of that document personally stopped by my desk at work and thanked me  for that  job aid. That was signficantly modified by other team members in the organization and published to the entire organization.

We decided that live demonstration on utilizing google search engine using  the job aid  would  give more clarity on usage.  A work shop was scheduled and opened up  to entire organization with the limit of 40 users and it  filled up almost immediately.   I  conducted the work shop to the signed audience from business and IT area on how to google effectively using google keywords  like file type, site, define, “wiTHin qUoTeS”, and etc.

I took a simple scenario (#1), search for presentation material in educational institutes containing our company name. Run the scenario as a novice search engine users and showed the total number of relevant documents returned by google was around 1.2 million documents. Used various google key words and step wise demonstrated how the results can be narrowed down and eventually reached 9 most relevant documents.  In scenario (#2), demonstrated  how to search effectively to understand the basic definition of crowd sourcing, scenario (#3) was to find the patterns registered in core business. Had few more scenarios and explained, in high level, how google works using their pagerank algorithm and the required knowledge level for internet marketing group to increase pagerank of our web sites and eventually to increase the number of potential customer visits to our web sites.

IMG_0164A scenario (#n) given by an audience on how to search satellite images of a used car dealership in America. The scenario is so broad and the criteria required refinement before we jump into  search of  ocean of information.  The criteria was narrowed down just to Michigan. The results  returned as a map data (kml extension file) and these files read by free software like google earth. The kml extension files contained locations of all used car dealership in Michigan with the satellite images. Since I didn’t have google earth installed in my laptop , I could not demonstrated the results back to the audience. The purpose of the write-up is to display the results of the kml extension file and  raise the question if google should consider to directly read the kml extension file in their google maps.

carskml

Future AAS

Cloud computing is in the horizon. The topic has come to architects and strategist for a consideration and discussion.  It is not in the research paper any more. It is viable to any enterprise as a technological innovative solution  for cost efficiency, speed and agility.

At this time, I should say, all the enterprise architects, strategist and IT leaders are familiar with SaaS model. Salesforce.com is a prime example of a successful SaaS model and the trust index for this business model has transformed to trust worthy due to its success.

A successful business model is always twicked and fine tuned for an another business model in a different market segment. Saas is not an exception. SaaS concept has been extropolated to other areas and there are quite a few “Aas” prolifirated so far. Here are the few..

  • Infrastructure As a Service (IaaS)
  • Platform as a Service (Paas)
  • Database as a Service (Daas)
  • STorage as a service (STaas)
  • E-mail as a Service (EaaS)
  • Desktop as a Service (DEaas)
  • ERP as a service (ERaaS)

and this list is expected to grow. IaaS and Paas sounds the same but there is a subtle difference between IaaS and PaaS. PaaS provides a platform with a set of APIs to develop applications. GoogleApp engine is a prime example of PaaS whereas Iaas provides a stack of hardware infrastructre like servers, database, network, web server, application server and etc.

Amazon is a leader in the cloud computing space. No surprise that Amazon made lots of money in the tough economy but also they projected better outlook in future. Amazon stock would become like apple or google stock.

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.

Out of box ideas for Big 3 – Strategist view

American auto industry in the brink of collapse and Deutsche bank slashed the GM target price to zero. Big three (Chrysler, Ford, General Motors) actively looking for government aid and president elect is committed even before election to assist to maintain the American iconic auto industry.  All big three need immediate cash to survive but need products and customers to sustain. They will survive for now if government provides assistance, will they sustain?

Here are my out of the box sustainability ideas to keep the icons alive:

  • Ask U.S Government to provide defense contracts to manufacture big trucks, small trucks & jeep
  • Send the highly paid sales VPs to meet the defense ministers of countries like Israel, Saudi Arabia, Finland, Norway and etc to get defense contracts to manufacture trucks and jeeps
  • Big three should collaboratively compete. Follow Nash equilibrium. Let Chrysler only make minivan & jeep, Ford only make truck and GM only make SUV & Sedan.
  • Ask U.S government to subsidize gas price for next 2 years. That is the price of gas will be fixed as $1.50 for next 2-3 years.
  • Establish American Auto Research firm (like Routeone) with the goal of producing a blue print to manufacture 80 miles per gallon car in 2 years. (WE CAN DO IT!! YES, WE CAN DO IT) Hire a quantum physicist as the CEO of AAR.  The guy who understands quantum can do anything!!
  • Change the culture. I heard, group of highly paid employees work really hard on a presentation for weeks (sometime months) to present and please a small set of executives. Cut the crap and ask everyone to relate their work to bottom line. Ask employees NOT to do a task if it does not directly relate to customer, product, cost, revenue and quality. Need strategic minded ,practical leaders deployed across to transform each division in each company

Strategiest View of Google’s Browser Chrome..

Delivery of Google’s innovation mission continues and recent launch of google’s browser is an another prime example of their commitment in the innovation. There are already lots of articles surrounding Google’s Chrome and even an article suggested that chrome captured 2.74% market share in a day. I do not believe it and did not do any factual data analysis to verify it. It could be accurate statement for a smaller population but the analysis must be skewed and do not present the whole true market share.

Like millions of the curious people, I down loaded the Chrome on the day it was launched and played around it.

My immediate end user reaction on Chrome:

  • Very simple
  • Like the logo (Google’s predominant color in the logo)
  • Most visited page is already a window (same as alt-tab in windows) in my first page. Very user friendly
  • Integrated search with URL edit box
  • History of web search is integral of the first page
  • Major plugins works
  • Looked almost same as the first version of IE in windows 95, when I was extensively using Netscape browsers
  • Looked like extension of the google main page.

My immediate technologist reaction on Chrome:

  • Very light weight
  • Will be easily portal to many platforms (including Mobile platform)

Strategist perspective of Chrome:

  • Google is on the right strategic path on launching the Chrome as their browser
  • It is a stepping stone for google to completely dominate the next generation web
  • Stepping stone to eliminate the notion of personal computer
  • Cycling back to the mainframe environment. Yes, Ramba 3270, a thin dumb client and sends every thing to the mainframe to process. Chrome will be next generation 3270 will be sending everything to google to process it
  • Chrome will be running in mobile devices like blackberry and the enterprise email will be running in google (gmail) and you will be connected all the time. You are already connected all the time through some means. In the future, it all will be google platform.
  • An another browser war started, this time, Microsoft will be tasting their own medicine

Economist perspective of Chrome:

  • If this continues, google will control the government in 20 years.
  • Some body like Microsoft should react faster to keep up the pace of google, else soon they will grow so big to become monopoly in the technology domain and at the same time make all of us addicted to their technology. (20 years from now, Hail Google!! Hail Google!! will be universal national anthem for every nation in the planet Earth)

Business Rule Engine (BRE) – Is it part of your technology roadmap?

Business Rule Engine: Do you really need business rule engine? What is the purpose of the business rule engine?
Almost all the business applications have set of rules. To develop a business system to fulfill the business requirements, all the business rules are implemented in the systems. In a traditional model, all the rules are converted into programming language and in specific, turns into if then else constructs in the application. If the rule changes then the business systems are changed. Then,if then else constructs within the systems are changed. Some times the rules changes frequently and end up changing the applications frequently to meet the new rule requirements. The applications/systems directly implements the business rule engine becomes big monolithic applications. Over the time, it will become very complicated to maintain it.
Why monolithic applications are difficult to maintain?
Let me explain why monolithic applications will become difficult and complicated over the time. Let us take a financial institution like bank who is in the business of providing loans and leases to consumers to buy recreational vehicles in United States. Loan (retail) and lease has different set of business rules. For lease, the vehicles are returned to the financial institution (lessor) and it is up to the lessor to re-market (resale) the RV. The lessor need to estimate the residual value of the vehicle at the beginning of the lease and based on it, the monthly payment and taxes are calculated. Money factor determines the interest rate banks charge on the lease account. Each state has a tax, legal, regulatory requirements and it changes.
Retail loan (in India, the retail loan product is called hire purchase, and I had developed a financial accounting package for hire purchase companies using FoxPro in 1993. The concept is same in United States) are relatively straight forward comparing to the lease. Loan amount, interest rate, initial payment, duration of the loan, sales tax, surcharges (as per the federal & state laws), and base on those parameters, it is a simple interest calculation.
In the above scenario, the state law, taxes, surcharges, residual value, money factor, credit quality, product type, loan type, loan duration, lease type, lease duration, and etc are the factors plays a role in customer inquiry, contract origination, contract validation, contract management, and asset disposal steps of retail loan or lease business processes. There are numerous combination of business rules based on these factors are formed to implement the major steps of the business processes.
Implementing these steps in the application directly will become difficult to manage and each time there is a change in those factors, the applications in the bank landscape need to change and under go the software development life cycle. It is costly, time consuming and limits agility, flexibility, adaptability
Business Rule Engine
Business Rule Engine

It is ideal to implement the business rules of the business application in a business rule engine and manage it independently of the application. It provides a platform to the business customer to change the business rules directly with out involving the information technology department. Also the tax, state regulation, internal business rules (like if the credit quality is medium .and. if the financial product is lease .and. if the state is new york then the money factor = 0.00000012) will be reused across application in the landscape.

The another major technical advantage of using the business rules is optimizing the business rules. It is very similar to Karnaugh map in boolean algebra. The rules will optimized by the business rule engine.

Are you already using business rule engine in your IT shop or is the business rule engine is part of your technology road map?