With disruptive market changes, it is easy to think change will come as a major turn on the business highway. But while it might be true that market shifts are disruptive, the way businesses execute change is very different. That makes it more like a drive on the long road to Hana on the island of Maui in Hawaii.
The long road to Hana is a short one
Hana is a small town on the eastern cost of Maui, Hawaii, and Hana Highway, the road to Hana, has only limited traffic. Nevertheless it is hard to drive the last 52 miles / 84 kilometers in less than 2.5 hours. The reason is the 620 hard curves on the way (not to mention the one-way bridges). These require the full attention of the driver, as the straightaways in between are very short. Driving the road at night is a tough job even for the most experienced drivers.
Businesses responding to disruptive change
The primary conundrum for businesses or individuals responding to change is to start acting before all facts are clear. Taking actions daily means that large changes are always driven by many simultaneous small steps. If you and I, as individuals, aim for small steps daily, we will gradually approach the larger goal. We also minimize the risk of getting too far away from the optimal path.
Continuous actions and corrections are the fuel required to respond to fast moving markets and disruptive changes.
The first major conundrum is to create a vision for the team about the destination – a vision that creates positive vibrations. Hana is a beautiful place. Spectacular waterfalls. A beach with black sand. And a system of natural pools within lava formations. Start by defining the Hana for your change project.
The second challenge is to give your team a sense of what will be different about the route towards the change. Without saying anything about the road, you can send strong signals when stating three hours will be required to drive 50 miles, even without traffic. These numbers by themselves signal major deviations from normal. Define the two to three numbers that define the nature of your change project.
The third hurdle is to get your team to start executing as quickly as possible. When you start to drive to Hana, you need to concentrate from the start. With the next turn starting before you finish the current one, there is no time to relax. The paradox here is that little effort is required to go straight and fast. But a lot of effort is required to turn often and go slow. A team realizing change initiatives needs to take immediate action to be set up for success. The alternative of continuing straight and waiting for a larger turn down the road is a waste of time. Review your change project and identify how you can drive daily incremental change in small steps. And plan for a very large amount of small steps before you are done.
Most cities are dependent on a healthy flow of tourists exploiting what the city has to offer. As we enter a city in a new country, most of the smartphone data tools we use at home move into “restricted use” mode. We switch off roaming to save money. We hope for a Wi-Fi spot at the hotel, and we turn off “location” to save battery power. This “phone-box-like connectivity” is no longer good enough. So what could make life a lot easier for tourists with widespread and affordable access in the city?
The first issue we typically face as a tourist is to find our way around and to decide what to prioritize. We could enjoy our networked map while walking around. We want to know what is going on in terms of special activities and events – and have this information at our fingertips throughout the day. When we’re hungry, we want to see what the whole neighborhood has to offer. Maps and location-based services are key assets in these situations.
Public transportation is your extended feet in the city. Finding nearby bus and subway stops, getting timetables and buying tickets used to be exercises we did on paper. These are now digitized for locals. But the challenge for us as tourists is that we expect to have the same mobile data access we have at home. The operating model for taxis varies extensively, and where to flag a secure one down and how to pay is not always an effortless experience. And do not expect hotspots in these locations as standard when you need them.
Visiting new cities is a great moment for us to share our experiences. This sharing has gone from targeted text messages and updates on Facebook and Twitter to the picture and video age. We want to show what it really looked like; pictures of us in front of major landmarks and the snippets of life that become memories from our trip. We used to capture these moments with a camera and show digital or physical albums afterwards. In the Networked Society, we want to share them instantly where we are, and with the right geotag included.
My predictions for the future of networked tourism are:
– Turning off roaming and relying on hotspots only restricts the tourist experience of the city, and this will be a major negative when summarizing the trip as a whole.
– Proactive cities and operators will offer new solutions with universal access across the city, and tourists will accept certain application restrictions for their tourist package in exchange for an affordable price.
– Dedicated city apps will replace tour and brochure stands in the hotel when affordable connectivity is in place.
In a world where all business sectors will migrate into the Networked Society, certain competencies will become a precious resource. Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) talent will be the crude oil on which the future Networked Society will run. Demand will surpass supply for the foreseeable future, and the STEM shortage will not only be an issue for the tech sector.
As business migrates into the Networked Society, it becomes increasingly dependent on technology. Is a connected watch a clock with a tech addition, or is it a piece of technology that is also capable of showing the time? Is a connected car a car with a tech add-on or a computing platform mounted on a rolling chassi? Is a connected camera a phone with integrated camera or a camera with integrated connectivity? The thing that all sectors will have in common is their connection to, and dependency on mobile technology. And this aspect is rapidly growing, reaching the point where mobile networking is becoming an integral part of the development of most businesses.
STEM talent is already in short supply globally, and shortage is not going away anytime soon as demand rise across multiple industry sectors. Computer science and mobile networking skills are perhaps the safest bet today for a future career in the Networked Society. The biggest difference from the past is that future skills will be more application-centric, and will work across technologies.
Just adding STEM talent will not be enough. The surge in demand will drive new forms of cross-company collaboration. STEM talent has historically been an in-house resource for tech companies. Many Networked Society companies will rely on external STEM resources for certain parts of their business processes. A related challenge involves what to define as your differentiation in the market.
Some predictions of the future are:
* The transition to a Networked Society will drive technology deeper into most business sectors that we today consider as non-tech.
* STEM talent will face high demand and short supply for the foreseeable future.
* The transition to a Networked Society will create new interfaces between companies, often with critical tech skills residing outside the company.
Over the past few years I have seen Ericsson’s vision of the Networked Society evolve,creating opportunities that benefit the way we live, work and play. But where did the concept of the Networked Society come from? How can the journey be quantified? What future predictions can be made?
In the spring of 2008 an Ericsson team drew a simple graph on a whiteboard to stimulate a brainstorming session. The context was simple. The global potential for fixed broadband is restricted to just north of 1 billion physical locations, then we run out of houses and offices. Similarly, the market for mobile broadband is restricted to around 5 billion people. So what’s next? The next big wave, which is already under way, is to move beyond people and go after digital devices that can benefit from being connected. We picked 50 billion as a hypothesis for the size of this next wave.
Connecting the first 5 billion people with mobile phones was only possible as a result of significant industry collaboration between mobile operators, terminal providers and network providers.
To journey from 5 billion to 50 billion we made two assumptions:
Users in the Networked Society will be dependent on many more digital devices in the future and each user will have 10X (an order of magnitude) connected devices
The Networked Society will not be created by the mobile communications industry alone, 10X adjacent industries will be involved
Connected devices that aren’t PCs, TVs or mobile phones will generate only one-tenth of the average revenue per user.And those assumptions weren’t far off. More and more devices are becoming available, connecting people and things.These are my predictions for the future:
50 billion = 5 billion (people) times 10X (devices) times 10X (industries) times 1/10 (ARPU) is a reasonable assumption for growth in the coming decade
Significant cross-industry collaborations will continue to connect the world’s biggest machine (the global network) – 50 billion connected devices – to adjacent industries
Within 5 years,the norm for the most advanced users of devices today will become the norm for the mass market
The changes that take place in digital mobile communication over the next 5 years will be greater than those that have taken place in the previous 20.
I think these figures back up our bold statement “When one person connects, their life changes. With everything connected, our world changes.” A connected world is just the beginning.