14 things that are obsolete in 21st century schools

14 things

Saying that it has always been this way, doesn’t count as a legitimate justification to why it should stay that way. Teacher and administrators all over the world are doing amazing things, but some of the things we are still doing, despite all the new solutions, research and ideas out there is, to put it mildly, incredible.

I’m not saying we should just make the current system better… we should change it into something else.

I have compiled a list of 14 things that are obsolete in 21st century schools and it is my hope that this will inspire lively discussions about the future of education.

1. Computer Rooms

The idea of taking a whole class to a computer room with outdated equipment, once a week to practice their typewriting skills and sending them back to the classroom 40 minutes later, is obsolete.

Computers or technology shouldn’t just be a specific subject, that’s not sufficient anymore but rather it should be an integral part of all the subjects and built into the curriculum.

2. Isolated classrooms

Classrooms can be isolated in two ways. One where parents, teachers or guests are not welcome because the door and drapes are always shut… which has the words “Don’t come in here” written all over it. The other way is is being isolated to all the knowledge outside the 4 walls. For example from the internet, videos, blogs, websites and visits from authors or scientists through Skype, to name a few.

Tony Wagner, the author of the Global Achievement Gap says: “Isolation is the enemy of improvement”. The classroom should be open, teachers should be able to walk in and learn from each other, parents should visit often, f.x. with so called Extra Open Schooldays (where all parents are encouraged to visit classrooms anytime during the day). Isolated classrooms are therefore obsolete.

3. Schools that don’t have WiFi

Schools that don’t have a robust WiFi network for staff and students are not only missing a big change for teaching and learning but robbing the students of access to knowledge and also limiting their chances to learn about the internet and using technology in a safe way.

21st century schools make it possible for students and staff to learn anywhere, anytime and schools that don’t allow that are obsolete.

4. Banning phones and tablets

Taking phones and tablets from students instead of using them to enhance learning is obsolete. We should celebrate the technology students bring and use them as learning tools.

Phones are no longer just devices to text and make phone calls… when they were, then banning them was OK. Today there is more processing power in the average cellular telephone than NASA had access to when they sent a man to the moon in 1969. Yet most students only know how to use these devices for social media and playing games.

Today you can edit a movie, make a radio show, take pictures, make posters, websites, blog, tweet as a character from a book, have class conversations over TodaysMeet and Google most answers on a test with the device in your pocket. We should show our students the learning possibilities & turn these distractions into learning opportunities that will reach far outside the classroom.

5. Tech director with an administrator access

Having one person responsible for the computer system, working from a windowless office in the school basement, surrounded by old computers, updates the programs and tells the staff what tech tools they can and cannot use… is obsolete.

Today we need technology co-ordinators that know what teachers and students need to be successful and solves problems instead of creating barriers. Someone who helps people to help themselves by giving them responsibility and finds better and cheaper ways to do things.

6. Teachers that don’t share what they do

Teachers who work silently, don’t tweet, blog and discuss ideas with people around the world are obsolete. Teachers are no longer working locally but globally and it’s our job to share what we do and see what others are doing. If a teacher is no longer learning then he shouldn’t be teaching other people.

We should all be tweeting, blogging and sharing what works and doesn’t work, get and give advice to and from co-workers around the world. We should constantly be improving our craft because professional development isn’t a 3 hour workshop once a month but a lifelong process.

“We do not learn from experience…we learn from reflecting on experience.” -John Dewey

7. Schools that don’t have Facebook or Twitter

Schools that think putting a news article on the school website every other week and publish a monthly newsletter is enough to keep parents informed are obsolete.

The school should have a Facebook page, share news and information with parents, have a Twitter account and their own hashtag, run their own online TV channel where students film, edit and publish things about school events.

If you don’t tell your story, someone else will.

8. Unhealthy cafeteria food

School cafeterias that look and operate almost like fast food restaurants where staff and students get a cheap, fast and unhealthy meals are obsolete.

A few schools in Iceland and Sweden have turned almost completely to organic foods and given thought into the long term benefit of healthy food rather than the short term savings of the unhealthy. For example at Stora Hammar school in Sweden 90% of the food served is organic.

Children should put the food on their own plate, clean up after themselves and even do the dishes. Not because it saves the school money on workforce but because it is a part of growing up and learning about responsibility. What 21st century schools should be doing as well is growing their own fruits and vegetables where students water them and learn about nature. Setting up a farm to feed students would be optimal, but if that is not an option (for example in big city schools) then they can at last set up a windowfarm in some of the school windows.
The goal with providing students a healthy meal is not only to give them enough nutrition to last the school day but to make healthy food a normal part of their daily life and get them to think about nutrition which is something that will benefit them for the rest of their lives.

9. Starting school at 8 o’clock for teenagers

Research has shown over and over again that teenagers do better and feel better in schools that start later. Often parents or administrators needs get in the way of that change. Research (f.x. from the The Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics) show that delaying school start as little as 50 minutes and making it longer by 30 minutes instead has a positive effect both on learning and activities after school. Schools that don’t do this are obsolete.

Starting later is easy and teachers could use the extra time in the morning to prepare class… it’s a win-win situation.

10. Buying poster-, website- and pamphlet design for the school

When your school needs a poster, pamphlet or a new website they shouldn’t buy the service from somewhere else (although that can sometimes be the case) and have students do it instead. In the best schools of the future, they will be the ones doing it as a real project that has meaning and as a collaborative project in language and art….using technology.

11. Traditional libraries

Libraries that only contain books and chess tables are obsolete.

A 21st century library should be at the heart of the school and a place where both students and staff can come in to relax, read, get advice, access powerful devices, edit videos, music, print in 3D and learn how to code to name a few. This 21st century learning space should give people an equal chance to use these devices and access information. Otherwise these libraries will turn into museums where people go to look at all the things we used to use.

12. All students get the same

Putting kids in the same class because they are born in the same year is obsolete. School systems were originally set up to meet the needs of industrialism. Back then we needed people to work in factories, conformity was good and nobody was meant to excel or be different in that environment. That doesn’t fit our needs today, let alone the future but many schools are still set up like the factories they were meant to serve a 100 years ago.

We should increase choice, give children support to flourish in what interests them and not only give them extra attention in the things they’re bad at. In most schools, if you are good in art but bad in german you get german lessons to get to par with the other students instead of excelling at art… All even, all the same!

Education should be individualised, students should work in groups regardless of age and their education should be built around their needs.

13. One-Professional development-workshop-fits-all

A school that just sends the entire staff to a workshop once a month where everyone get the same are obsolete. Professional development is usually top down instead of the ground up where everyone get what they want and need. This is because giving everyone (including students) what they need and want takes time & money.

With things like Twitter, Pinterest, articles online, books, videos, co-operation & conversations employees can personalize their professional development. (Read about my article on Personalized Professional Development here)

14. Standardized tests to measure the quality of education

Looking at standardized tests to evaluate whether or not children are educated or not is the dumbest thing we can do and gives us a shallow view of learning. The outcomes, although moderately important, measure only a small part of what we want our kids to learn and by focusing on these exams we are narrowing the curriculum. Alfie Kohn even pointed out a statistically significant correlation between high grades on standardized tests and a shallow approach to learning.

The world today and the needs of the society are completely different to what they used to be. We are not only training people to work locally but globally. With standardized test, like PISA, we are narrowing the curriculum, and all the OECD countries are teaching the same thing. Because of that we all produce the same kind of workers, outdated workers, to work in factories. People who can comply, behave and be like everybody else.

In the global world today it is easy to outsource jobs to someone who is willing to do the same job, just as fast for less money. Therefore we need creative people that can do something else and think differently.

Andrea Schleicher (2010) said: “Schools have to prepare students for jobs that have not yet been created, technologies that have not yet been invented and problems that we don’t know will arise.”

Standardized education might have been the answer once but saying that it’s obsolete is putting it mildly and is only a way to try to repair the broken system. Results of those tests are, according to Daniel Pink (2005) in direct contradiction to the skills we need today. Those skills are for example design, story, symphony, empathy, play, and meaning.

We should be solving real problems, asking questions that matter instead of remembering and repeating facts. Adults’ accomplishments are linked far more strongly to their creativity than IQ (source) and we should be celebrating diverse knowledge and interest instead of trying to standardise knowledge and skills.

I wonder if schools would finally change their direction if we designed a new standardize test that wouldn’t measure numeracy, science and literacy but empathy, creative thinking and communication skills… Maybe that is all we need.

Final thoughts

All the education systems on the planet are being reformed, but I don’t think reform is what we need. We need a revolution and change the education system into something else. It isn’t an easy task, but as S.E. Phillips once said:

Anything worth having, is worth fighting for.

Doing something new and getting poor results on the old test shouldn’t surprise anyone. What is the point of doing something new and different if we get the same results on standardized tests… then we might as well just do factory schooling, conform and comply.

If I had asked the people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses” – Henry Ford

That is exactly what we are doing today. We are asking our students to remember more, write better and repeat faster then before… just like we wanted the faster horse, when really we should be asking for the car. Sure the car wasn’t better than the horse in the beginning and our education system won’t be perfect either. It will never be perfect, it should be constantly evolving and we should strive to make it better every day.

I don’t know what a perfect education system looks like, and don’t think it even exist. But I believe that if we talk, try something different, fail forward, investigate and share what we do, not only locally but globally, we can get a lot closer.

If you want to see change in education, you should start in your own classroom.

“Education can be encouraged from the top-down but can only be improved from the ground up”

– Sir Ken Robinson

Ingvi Hrannar Ómarsson

Source: http://ingvihrannar.com/14-things-that-are-obsolete-in-21st-century-schools/

Top Internet Trends for 2012 According to VC Firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers

Image representing Mary Meeker as depicted in ...By Reuven Cohen, Contributor of Forbes  The Digital Provocateur. A focus on disruptive trends in technology.Mary Meeker, a partner at venture firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers, has released a great report at the All Things Digital conference. The report outlines some of the hot trends affecting the Internet.

A few of the reports highlights include;

  • 2.3B Global Internet Users in 2011, driven by emerging markets
  • 1.1B Global mobile 3G subscribers, 37% Growth Q4
  • iPhone adoption ramp even faster than expected
  • Android’s adoption faster than iPhone.
  • Still huge upside for mobile phone adoption (Early days)
  • 29% of US adults own a tablet, from 2% less than three years ago.
  • Global Mobile Traffic Growing Rapidly to 10% of Internet Traffic
  • Mobile @ 8% of USA eCommerce & Helping Accelerate Growth
  • Mobile Monetization Growing Rapidly (71% Apps, 29% Ads)
  • Rapidly Growing Mobile Internet Usage Surpassed More Highly Monetized Desktop Internet Usage in May, 2012, in India
  • iTunes App Store Driving 46MM+* Downloads per Day

50 Awesome Quotes on Vision


1. “If you can dream it, you can do it.” – Walt Disney

2. “Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, and magic and power in it. Begin it now.” – Goethe

3. “The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.” – Michelangelo

4. “It’s not enough to be busy, so are the ants. The question is, what are we busy about?” – Henry David Thoreau

5. “You don’t lead by pointing and telling people some place to go. You lead by going to that place and making a case.” – Ken Kesey

6. “If you want to build a ship, don’t herd people together to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery

7. “Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart. Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside awakens.” – Carl Jung

8. “The empires of the future are empires of the mind.” – Winston Churchill

9. “Vision is the art of seeing things invisible.” – Jonathan Swift


10. “Management has a lot to do with answers. Leadership is a function of questions. And the first question for a leader always is: ‘Who do we intend to be?’ Not ‘What are we going to do?’ but ‘Who do we intend to be?’ – Max DePree

11. “Vision without action is a daydream. Action with without vision is a nightmare.” – Japanese Proverb

12. “The best way to predict the future is to create it.” – Alan Kay

13.”Where there is no vision the people perish.” – Proverbs 29:18

14. “Vision without execution is hallucination.” – Thomas Edison

15. “Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.” – Warren Bennis

16. “If you limit your choices only to what seems possible or reasonable, you disconnect yourself from what you truly want, and all that is left is a compromise.” – Robert Fritz

17. “Create your future from your future, not your past.” – Werner Erhard

18. “To the person who does not know where he wants to go there is no favorable wind.” – Seneca

19. “You’ve got to think about big things while you’re doing small things, so that all the small things go in the right direction.” – Alvin Toffler

20. “To accomplish great things we must dream as well as act.: – Anatole France

21. “A possibility is a hint from God. One must follow it.” – Soren Kierkegaard

22. “A leader’s role is to raise people’s aspirations for what they can become and to release their energies so they will try to get there.” – David Gergen


23. “The very essence of leadership is that you have a vision. It’s got to be a vision you articulate clearly and forcefully on every occasion. You can’t blow an uncertain trumpet.” – Theodore Hesburgh

24. “Determine that the thing can and shall be done and then we shall find the way.” – Abraham Lincoln

25. “Dreams are extremely important. You can’t do it unless you can imagine it.” -George Lucas

26. “Cherish your visions and your dreams as they are the children of your soul, the blueprints of your ultimate achievements.” – Napoleon Hill

27. “Pain pushes until vision pulls.” – Michael Beckwith

28. “Vision animates, inspires, transforms purpose into action.” – Warren Bennis

29. “The master of the art of living makes little distinction between his work and his play, his labor and his leisure, his mind and his body, his education and his recreation, his love and his religion. He hardly knows which is which; he simply pursues his vision of excellence in whatever he does, leaving others to decide whether he is working or playing. To him he is always doing both.” – Buddha

30. “Rowing harder doesn’t help if the boat is headed in the wrong direction.” – Kenichi Ohmae

31. “It’s not what the vision is, it’s what the vision does.” – Peter Senge

32. “In the business world, the rearview mirror is always clearer than the windshield.” – Warren Buffett

33. “A leader will find it difficult to articulate a coherent vision unless it expresses his core values, his basic identity. One must first embark on the formidable journey of self-discovery in order to create a vision with authentic soul.” – Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

34. “The best vision is insight.” – Malcolm Forbes

35. “You have to know what you want. And if it seems to take you off the track, don’t hold back, because perhaps that is instinctively where you want to be. And if you hold back and try to be always where you have been before, you will go dry.” – Gertrude Stein

36. “The gift of fantasy has meant more to me than my talent for absorbing positive knowledge.” – Albert Einstein

37. “I try to learn from the past, but I plan for the future by focusing exclusively on the present. That’s were the fun is.” – Donald Trump

38. “Every man takes the limits of his own field of vision for the limits of the world.” – Arthur Schopenhauer

39. “People only see what they are prepared to see.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

40. “The most pathetic person in the world is someone who has sight, but has no vision.” – Helen Keller

41. “Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion.” – Jack Welsh

42. “A vision is not just a picture of what could be; it is an appeal to our better selves, a call to become something more.” – Rosabeth Moss Kanter

43. “If I have seen farther than others, it is because I was standing on the shoulders of giants.” – Isaac Newton


44. “The future belongs to those who see possibilities before they become obvious.” – John Scully

45. “If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with success unexpected in common hours.” – Henry David Thoreau

46. “Keep your eyes on the stars and your feet on the ground.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

47. “Looking up gives light, although at first it makes you dizzy.” – Rumi

48. “You cannot depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.” – Mark Twain

49. “In order to be a realist, you must believe in miracles.” – David Ben-Gurion

50. “The real voyage of discovery consists of not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.” – Marcel Proust

Big thanks to Val Vadeboncoeur for locating most of these quotes.

Source: http://www.ideachampions.com/weblogs/archives/2012/05/50_awesome_quot_1.shtml

What is our networked readiness?

Reporters: Shellie Karabell, Jayne Brocklehurst, Mrinalini Reddy

When the INSEAD/WEF Global Information Technology Report was created 11 years ago, the countries with the most fixed-line telephones were the best-connected in the world. Today, it’s a much different story.

Evaluating 142 countries in the world on their “Networked Readiness” is no easy task – made more difficult by the warped speed at which technology changes – and the 2012, 11th annual Global Information Technology Report (GITR) incorporates significant changes in the research methodology.

“Revisions in the methodology this year meant that new indicators such as broadband access, have been included while more outdated indicators have been removed,” said Soumitra Dutta, Roland Berger Chaired Professor in Business and Technology at INSEAD, a co-editor of the report. “One of the key changes has been the addition of the impact dimension,” he says. “We realise today that technology is transforming lives, governments, [and] businesses. So we need to better understand and better measure how technology is impacting governments, businesses and individual societies.”

Other important changes to the methodology include restructuring the readiness pillar with emphasis on infrastructure, affordability and skills; and simplifying and refocusing the environment pillar. “Considering how Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) have become omnipresent, the focus has moved from access to making the best use of ICT in order to improve business innovation, governance, citizens’ participation and social cohesion.”

Dutta adds that while the technical metrics are important in the methodology, a whole range of associated variables and dimensions are also important to the framework.

The report, subtitled “Living in a Hyperconnected World,” uses 53 impact-oriented metrics with a special emphasis on the transformational aspects of ICT to explore the causes and consequences of living in an environment where the internet is accessible and immediate, machines are interconnected, and business and personal communications happen instantaneously. The Networked Readiness Index (NRI) – the key outcome of the report – captures the main drivers of a rapidly-changing ICT industry.

The top ten countries

The Networked Readiness Index 2012
Rank Country Score
1 Sweden 5.94
2 Singapore 5.86
3 Finland 5.81
4 Denmark 5.70
5 Switzerland 5.61
6 Netherlands 5.60
7 Norway 5.59
8 USA 5.56
9 Canada 5.51
10 UK 5.50

Those countries which did best in the NRI ranking of the 142 countries surveyed in the GITR use ICT to increase competitiveness and effect changes in public policy to increase social well-being. And the top ten countries are Sweden, followed by Singapore; Finland is in the #3 position, followed by Denmark, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Norway, U.S.A., Canada, and the U.K.

The NRI has been adopted by several governments as a valuable tool for assessing and leveraging technology for competitiveness and development.

Digital divide remains

The exponential growth of mobile devices, big data and social media is a driver of this hyperconnectivity which, in turn, fosters fundamental changes in all areas of society. Yet, aside from the top-tier developed world, a digital divide still exists. The BRIC countries, for example, despite improvements in many drivers of competitiveness, still face problems resulting from an insufficient skills base and institutional weaknesses, especially in the business environment, which stifles entrepreneurship and innovation. In Sub-Saharan Africa, ICT readiness is still low: poor skill levels and the high cost of still-insufficiently developed ICT infrastructure do not allow for efficient use of that technology which is available.

Bruno Lanvin, co-author and Executive Director of INSEAD e-Lab, believes that the GITR report can help to assess the state of inequality and allow governments to take measures to close the gap. For instance, the report indicates that contrary to popular belief, the internet was not at the heart of the technological revolution. “It has been mobile telephony,” says Lanvin. “It has really touched more individuals worldwide than the internet.” As mobile broadband takes off, Lavin believes that the internet and mobile technology will come together to produce results that the world has only imagined. As more people in underdeveloped countries gain access to the internet through their cell phones, there may be new opportunities for the poor to participate in the knowledge society.

Sweden: Why it’s No.1
Anna-Karin Hatt, Sweden’s Minister for IT, said that the country’s early investment in technology infrastructure has paid off. “This is the result of a long-term development that has been taking place in Sweden,” Hatt says. “Since the 1980s, we have had the development of true liberalisation of the whole society, and especially in this field.” She was speaking in Stockholm at an INSEAD VIP-media briefing held in conjunction with the release of the GITR Report.According to Hatt, it is not one single approach, but a variety of approaches that has led to Sweden’s success: “There are a number of factors, from broadband coverage, speed, liberalisation of the society, early adopters and consumers that are really interested in these developments and that are taking part [in them].”Erik Kruse, strategic marketing manager at Ericsson, points to several Swedish political initiatives that have improved access to technology such as tax deductions on computers which increase its usage. He adds that the Nordic region also has several major technology companies such as Ericsson and Nokia, which makes it easier for Nordic consumers to learn about new technological products and services. This means that there is increased competition, “which makes the market more palatable to consumers.”
Singapore: Why it’s not No. 1
Singapore trailed behind Sweden [again] this year. With its robust infrastructure, healthy fundamentals and a progressive government, what’s keeping Singapore from taking the top spot? The numbers clearly illustrate Singapore’s success in this area: 96 percent of all households with school-going children have at least one computer while broadband and mobile penetration levels stands at 86 percent and 145 percent respectively. The infocomm sector draws in SGD$70 billion in revenues and has witnessed a growth rate of around 12 percent between 2009 and 2010.“Whichever way we look at it, the gap is innovation,” said Lanvin at the GITR 2012 press conference at INSEAD’s Asia campus on April 5 via webcast. For all the ease Singapore offers with setting up a new business, obtaining licenses and instituting an effective legal system, the country still lags in its “capacity for innovation”. It ranks 22 on this indicator, compared with Sweden at #4. “This is what will make the difference…and everything that has to do with stimulating innovation, creating new services, new business models and new attitudes.”The Singapore government is all too aware of this and has adopted a holistic approach to tackle the problem, says James Kang, assistant chief executive of the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA). “It is a challenging task because if you want good innovation you have to attract the best people.” This means creating a local workforce that’s adequately educated and trained, and also cultivating that culture at very early stages. Among IDA’s education initiatives is FutureSchools@Singapore, a primary school programme that encourages local schools to adopt interactive digital technologies into its teaching curriculum and methodologies, Kang told INSEAD Knowledge on the sidelines of the press conference. There’s also the need for attracting and managing foreign talent and businesses, which entails creating not only an efficient business environment but also offering a high standard of living, good schools, and other conveniences that make it easy for families to relocate.

 The rest of the pack

There has been a surprising level of stability among the top 10 countries in the ranking. The Nordic countries, Singapore, the U.K. and the U.S. are always among the most networked countries on the list. However, there has been some degree of change among the mid-ranked countries. Lanvin says that the most striking area of change was in the middle of the rankings. These countries tend to have dynamic, emerging economies, such as those among the BRIC countries and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

Says Lanvin, “Those who have made massive investments in infrastructure, typically the GCC countries, such as Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and the U.A.E., have moved very quickly from the 60s to being in the top 30. It is quite spectacular, but they get stuck there because competition is not yet developed, skills are missing, and there are other elements that need to be brought into play.” Lanvin says that if these countries are able to address the remaining roadblocks on their path to development, they could move up significantly.

Large developing economies, such as Indonesia and Vietnam, also have great potential. According to Lanvin, these countries are developing their education, competition and openness to the outside world while also weaving alliances with large companies. These countries, because of their large populations, can make a massive difference to the global markets if they develop their ICT.

U.S. on downward trajectory
The steady decline of the United States to the #8 position in the NRI this year is an indication of how the country is failing to leverage ICT to drive economic productivity and social development.Dutta points out: “The worrying factor is that the U.S. has been slipping over the last few years. Leaders in America have to realise that the relative slippage in the rankings could show signs of weakness or cracks in what has been until today, the world’s foremost innovation and technology hub.”Although the #8 position is a strong performance, says Dutta, it represents a drop of three places from last year’s ranking and a steady decline since 2002 when the U.S. was ranked #1. “This year’s U.S. ranking should be viewed as a warning,” explains Dutta, “which is, in part, a measure of the business community’s perception of government and their political leaders’ ability to cope with the country’s current economic problems.” He advises that “weaknesses in the political and regulatory environment are beginning to hinder the country’s overall performance.” This is borne out by the United States’ #21 ranking in this pillar. Dutta says there are elements of the basic infrastructure that are not as well developed as in other countries and this has to be changed. For example, there is a high burden of tax rates on utilities such as telecommunications in the U.S. and the administrative burden that companies face is particularly problematic.

Investment is key

The U.S. is better ranked in terms of “readiness” (#5); however, in order to further boost this pillar, efforts must be made to upgrade the skill set of its population (#32). Dutta explains, “I think where action needs to be taken more aggressively is in the area of investing, in particular in the level of skills”. He says the test is to be able to use the technology, not just have the infrastructure in place. He cites affordability as another weakness for the U.S.: broadband penetration rates are low because of low investments in both the public and private sectors. Broadband communications costs remain excessively high and although broadband availability is improving, relative to other countries, the U.S. is falling behind. “A lot of the infrastructure elements are not as well developed as in some economies. It’s funny to say but our research shows the infrastructure and mobile phones and other key technologies are often lower than in other economies such as in Scandinavia or in Singapore.”

Dutta concludes that in order to strengthen the skills and regulatory pillars, and to allow the U.S. move back up into the top 5, there needs to be a holistic strategy to invest in all three key areas: infrastructure and digital content; affordability and skills level.

View the report, videos and other information at www.insead.edu/GITR
Soumitra Dutta is Professor of Information Systems at INSEAD. He is the Roland Berger Chaired Professor in Business and Technology and the founder and Academic Director of eLab, INSEAD’s centre of excellence for teaching and research of the digital economy.

Bruno Lanvin is Executive Director of INSEAD’s eLab.

Source: http://knowledge.insead.edu/INSEAD-knowledge-2012-global-information-technology-report-120424.cfm

Startups Set to Rock Retail

Posted by Cheryl Perkins

Image representing iPhone as depicted in Crunc...Sure, we all know about Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter the newest craze, Pinterest, but just wait–more social sharing sites are on the horizon, and soon they will change the way you communicate, shop and work. It seems we can scarcely keep up with all of the new apps and technologies that seem to come at us at a rapid pace. That’s why I am so fortunate to have friends who track these social trends. My friend is an ERP analyst and writes for SoftwareAdvice.com, and today I am sharing his expertise on six new startups sure to change the shopping scene:

It’s amazing how technology has impacted the act of shopping. Today, I can buy a deep-discounted deal through Groupon, “check-in” to the store via Foursquare, like the brand on Facebook, and shop online at my convenience. Facebook, the oldest of these companies, just turned eight years-old this month.

New start-ups are launching every day that change how consumers buy and how merchants sell. While most of us know Facebook, Foursquare and Groupon, I’ve put together a list of the six new companies that I’m most excited about. I’d also like your feedback. Which company do you feel has the greatest chance to impact retail? Please respond to THE POLL.



What they do: GoSpotCheck provides mystery shopping data via crowdsourcing.

How it works: Shoppers download the app to their iPhones and find nearby tasks, such as answering questions or taking pictures at local stores. GoSpotCheck pays users cash to complete these tasks, and the market research data is compiled for brands to analyze.

What makes it exciting: Market research is expensive and takes time to collect via mystery shoppers. Considering Apple sold 37 million iPhones in the last quarter alone, a service like GoSpotCheck has the potential to collect data at a lower cost, and quickly.



What they do: Shopperception uses the Xbox Kinect motion-capture device to analyze consumer shopping behavior.

How it works: Retailers position the Kinect device to analyze how customers interact with products on shelves. The system can even analyze the conversion rate on the specific products customers approach.

What makes it exciting: Just check out the demo to understand how cool this in-aisle research technology is. Shopperception provides a trove of data that both national retailers and small businesses can use to improve the layout and item placement in stores.



What they do: Pushpins combines a smartphone grocery list with instant coupons.

How it works: Users create shopping lists, then scan barcodes in the grocery store to receive coupons. These coupons are preloaded onto customers’ store loyalty cards and redeemed at checkout. The app can also suggest items based on the current shopping list.

What makes it exciting: Grocery stores are an area where smartphones could easily disrupt the status quo. While we wait for something like near-field communication (NFC) to create a seamless smartphone shopping experience, Pushpins is an option readily available today that even integrates directly with loyalty cards of popular brands, such as ShopRite and Giant Eagle.



What they do: RNKD offers rewards to users that upload purchased items to its social community.

How it works: From Nick Swinmurn, founder of Zappos.com, RNKD uses rewards to incentivize participation in its social platform. Users earn badges and gift cards for accomplishments, such as uploading the most items from a single brand.

What makes it exciting: Many loyalty programs end at the point of sale–if you don’t use your plastic card at checkout, you’re out of luck. The combination of retroactive rewards with gamification presents the opportunity to develop a large, diverse community of users–one that brands and retailers can leverage to better communicate with shoppers.

Fit of Passion

Fit of Passion

What they do: Fit of Passion provides shoppers assistance with online clothing shopping.

How it works: Online shoppers can use Fit of Passion to compare the fit of their favorite pair of jeans to another pair. Retailers can either list their products on the Fit of Passion website, or they can integrate the comparison engine into their own site.

What makes it exciting: Personally, the only brand of jeans I buy online are Levi’s 527 size 31/32–a pair I know fits me reliably. Being able to compare other jeans to this specific cut and size would increase my confidence in online shopping. This is a great example of a company addressing the needs of both merchants and consumers.



What they do: Signature is a “personal shopping assistant” application for the iPhone.

How it works: Retailers can customize the app to act as a mobile sales associate. Functionality includes notifying shoppers of sales in the store and setting up appointments with associates. Customers can also scan items to learn more about them.

What makes it exciting: This type of solution is a better alternative to users having an app for each store they frequent. In addition, retailers can customize the app to integrate the functionality into their current sales strategy.

Source: http://innovationedge.com/2012/03/01/6-startups-set-to-rock-retail/

Web natives take aim at energy

Cleanweb entrepreneurs come armed with computer skills, a profit motive, and a determination to solve environmental problems.

  • By Mike Orcutt
Crowd energy: On the website Solar Mosaic, building owners can find people who want to help finance their rooftop solar projects.
Solar Mosaic

Daniel Rosen wants to make clear that his solar energy startup is not a traditional energy company. “Solar companies used to be about hardware,” says the 26-year-old cofounder and CEO of San Francisco-based Solar Mosaic. “We’re an online marketplace.”

Rosen was among dozens of twentysomethings who congregated at New York University this January for the second “Cleanweb Hackathon”—a weekend forum for would-be entrepreneurs to demonstrate the role that mobile apps, social networks, and Web software can play in improving how we use energy and natural resources.

The term “cleanweb” was coined by San Francisco-based venture capitalist Sunil Paul and is meant to draw a distinction from cleantech, the high-risk, capital-intensive industry led by battery startups, biofuel makers, and makers of wind turbines and solar panels.

The cleanweb, by contrast, is all about using inexpensive information technology to change how the world consumes energy. Paul, an investor with Spring Ventures who has invested in Solar Mosaic and helped organize the hackathon, calls the cleanweb “the most powerful lever” available today to entrepreneurs hoping to solve environmental and ecological challenges.

During the weekend competition, teams set out to show how data available on the Web can help. One group of programmers combined data from New York City’s government with Google Maps to build a website tracking which municipal buildings emit the most greenhouse gases. Another team created a comparison-shopping engine that ranked products sold on Amazon.com according to their energy efficiency.

Worry over the environment, and a desire to challenge the fossil fuel industry, is what is leading some people to join the cleanweb movement. “What’s motivating me is the climate change problem,” says Zak Accuardi, a recent graduate of Columbia University. “People are ignoring it, and I’m trying to figure out the best way I can effect change.”

Because the field is so new, there’s still a chance to strike it rich, promoters promised. Dave Graham, an investor with Greenstart, which runs an incubator in San Francisco for cleanweb startups, told the coffee-swilling hackers that “you don’t have to start the next Facebook to make a boatload of money.”

Clean idea: Participants in January’s second-ever Cleanweb Hackathon, in New York City, competed over two days to create the most useful energy app.
Sahat Yalkabov

Rosen helped start Solar Mosaic in 2010 as a way to encourage building owners to install rooftop solar panels. Currently, photovoltaic solar energy still costs more than electricity from fossil fuels. One major reason for that, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, is that about half the expense of a rooftop solar installation is for things other than solar panels—including financing, permitting, manual labor costs, and finding customers.

Solar Mosaic came up with the idea of using Internet crowd funding to help defray those costs. Building owners can now use its website to pitch rooftop solar projects to the general public. Visitors to the site buy $100 shares in projects they like; when a funding goal is reached, users’ credit cards are charged and the installation is paid for. Supporters are gradually paid back out of monthly fees charged to building owners (out of which Solar Mosaic takes a commission).

Currently, Solar Mosaic is raising money for three projects, including one to put solar panels on the home of Sonto Begay, a Navajo artist. Of the two projects already funded, one raised $98,200 to install more than 120 solar panels on a building in Oakland, California.

Rosen thinks the cleanweb idea is powerful because it combines “new ways of spreading information with new forms of creating energy.” Over the hacking weekend, Rosen led a team of students that worked on an online map that could help Solar Mosaic’s users locate projects seeking funding and even integrate Twitter conversations about solar power—so people can “see the solar conversation happening,” explains Rosen.

Many cleanweb ideas—such as apps that allow consumers to track and control home electricity use—are only as good as the information that’s available electronically. That can be a major limitation, especially when trying to get information from local utility companies. “It takes a substantial investment in technology and time to integrate with the utilities. It is not fast, and it is not easy,” says Eric Shiflet, a product manager at Tendril, a Boulder, Colorado, company whose software tries to create a “two-way dialogue” between utilities and customers’ appliances and smart thermostats, a concept it calls the Energy Internet.

Tendril is making data on electricity consumption and pricing available through an application programming interface, hoping other programmers will find new ways to use it. Tendril was also a sponsor of the New York programming competition.

“We want to make sure that whoever ends up building the killer energy app is absolutely going to build it on our platform,” says Shiflet.

Source: http://www.technologyreview.com/business/39596/?p1=BI

The Surprising Secret to Innovation

Dorie Clark, Contributor of Forbes

Innovation and productivity can arise from a sense of play (Image by Getty Images via @daylife)


Anyone who’s had a blazing insight in the shower or leaped ahead at work after a languorous vacation recognizes that sometimes, the path to creative insight isn’t a direct line. On the surface, it might even look random or wasteful – but that process is often necessary for real innovation. That’s the view of Michael Schrage of MIT’s Center for Digital Business and the author of Serious Play: How the World’s Best Companies Simulate to Innovate. With a nod to technology theorist George Gilder, Schrage told me in a recent podcast interview, “In the early days of a technology, technology is expensive – so you had to write the most elegant, dense, and precise software…The key point is that you can’t afford waste when things are expensive. But what happens when memory is cheap?”

The cost of memory and bandwidth has declined steeply, meaning “you don’t have to be as efficient,” says Schrage. “You can take shortcuts, design things that are a little inefficient. You can afford to waste the resources of a technology that’s now cheap…and the virtual freedom of these technologies means that you can play with all manner of ideas.” That might include building tangible models (3-D printing is now available at rapidly decreasing price points) or writing code for new software and new apps (globalization means someone on Elance will do it for latte money). It might mean creating a service that allows people to upload videos and store them for free, just because you can, and perhaps one day you’ll make money on it. (That would be the theory behind YouTube.)

This sense of play – and the possibilities it raises – extends to human relationships, as well, says Schrage. Architects have long tried to design offices that enhance creative potential and opportunities for intermingling. But now the possibilities are limitless, thanks to online vehicles from Facebook to Yammer. The real question, he says, is “Do you want to collaborate? Do you see yourself as someone who wants to exchange value in a transactional way – ‘I’ll give you this if you’ll give me that’ – or is your view ‘No, let’s build new value together’?”

Finding ways to truly collaborate takes time. You have to build trusting relationships, identify real needs in the marketplace, and determine how you can best meet them – together. The process may not be linear. But “if you’re the kind of child or adult that recognizes…some of the most valuable lessons, the most valuable insights, the greatest pleasure you got was when you played around, then you’ll get it immediately.” Says Schrage, “In the economics of play, of messing around – exploration in these digital and virtual environments favor us. We don’t have to conserve everything; we can play with a multiplicity of options.”

How do you harness your creativity? Do you feel waste can be productive? What are your techniques to enhance collaboration?

Dorie Clark is CEO of Clark Strategic Communications and the author of the forthcoming What’s Next?: The Art of Reinventing Your Personal Brand (Harvard Business Review Press, 2012). She is a strategy consultant who has worked with clients including Google, the National Park Service, and Yale University. Listen to her podcasts or follow her on Twitter.

Source: http://www.forbes.com/sites/dorieclark/2012/02/04/the-surprising-secret-to-innovation/

Innovation Without Age Limits

Plugged in: A programmer shows his style at a New York area hackathon. Young people entering the workforce today have never known a world without the Web.   Anthony Kropa

Young stars dominate the technology headlines. But outside the Internet, research shows, innovators are actually getting older as complexity rises

See the rest of our Business Impact report on The Youth Effect.

Venture capitalists in Silicon Valley prefer to fund the young, the next Mark Zuckerberg. Why? The common mantra is that if you are over 35, you are too old to innovate. In fact, there is an evolving profile of the “perfect” entrepreneur—smart enough to get into Harvard or Stanford and savvy enough to drop out. Some prominent figures are even urging talented young people to skip college, presumably so they do not waste their “youngness” on studying.

To a degree, the cult Silicon Valley has built around young people makes sense—particularly in the Internet and mobile technology. The young have a huge advantage because they aren’t encumbered by the past. Older technology workers are experts in building and maintaining systems in old computer languages and architectures. They make much bigger salaries. Why should employers pay $150,000 for a worker with 20 years of irrelevant experience when they can hire a fresh college graduate for $60,000? After all, the graduate will bring in new ideas and doesn’t have to go home early to a family.

These graduates grew up in an era when the whole world was becoming connected. To them, the world is one giant social network in which they can play games or work with anyone, anywhere. This is not a U.S.-only phenomenon. Children in Egypt and China are as Web-savvy as Americans. With better, more timely information at their fingertips than any generation has had in history, the world’s children can rise above the fears and biases of their parents. That is why youth in the Middle East are fomenting revolutions and the Chinese are getting restless. A key ingredient in innovation is the ability to challenge authority and break rules, a passion the Internet is unlocking among a new generation of youth worldwide.

The young understand the limits of the Web world, but they don’t know their own limits. It’s proving to be a powerful combination. Since they don’t know what isn’t possible, the Zuckerbergs can come up with new solutions to old problems. That is why they lead the charge in starting innovative mobile and Web companies.

But great ideas by themselves don’t lead to breakthrough technologies or successful companies. Ideas are dime a dozen. The value comes from translating ideas into inventions and inventions into successful ventures. To do this, you have to collaborate with others, obtain financing, understand markets, price products, develop distribution channels, and deal with rejection and failure. In other words, you need business and management skills and maturity. These come with education, experience, and age.

Indeed, research by my team revealed that the average and median age of the founders of successful U.S. technology businesses (with real revenues) is 39. We found twice as many successful founders over 50 as under 25, and twice as many over 60 as under 20. So everyone has a shot at success, but age provides a distinct advantage.

Time for entrepreneurship: A survey of entrepreneurs found that most started their first company at age 39. People with degrees in computer science started companies much sooner than those with advanced training in other sciences or engineering.
Education and Tech Entrepreneurship, Kauffman Foundation, 2008

Are venture capitalists misguided, then, in funding companies with baby-faced CEOs? Perhaps one answer lies in the results of a study conducted by the Kauffman Foundation. It found that during the period when funding young technology entrepreneurs became the norm, from 1997 to 2007, the venture industry grew dramatically. But returns actually stagnated and then declined—precipitously. The returns of venture industry lagged those of the small-cap Russell 2000 Index by 10 percent over the 10-year time frame.

When you meet entrepreneurs in India, Ireland, Brazil, and other parts of the world, you find many of the same dynamics at play. The young have the outrageous ideas, but its older people who achieve business success. In all these countries, youth entrepreneurship is on the rise. And as in the United States, most of these businesses fail. That’s okay when you can learn from your failures and start over—again and again. This has been Silicon Valley’s advantage: it accepts failure and encourages entrepreneurs to keep trying. It hasn’t been like this in other parts of the country and the world. In most places, if you fail, you don’t get a second chance. But cultures are changing. They are beginning to accept failure. So entrepreneurs all over the world are trying again and again. In the process, they are getting older and smarter, and eventually achieving success.

Even China is becoming more open to entrepreneurship, though in that country a chasm divides old and young. Despite the billions of dollars that China’s government is investing in research, there is practically no innovation in its labs: they are staffed by a generation that came of age in the days of the Cultural Revolution, when defying authority was a capital offense. But if you meet the young at the universities or the Internet cafés, you find the same innovative ability you see in Silicon Valley.

Most of what I discussed above was in the computing world. But we live in an era of exponentially expanding technologies. Moore’s law describes the advances in computing power. Today there are other fields of science and engineering advancing just as rapidly, such as robotics, synthetic biology, medicine, and nanomaterials. The human genome, for example, was first sequenced about a decade ago at cost of more than a billion dollars; now the same feat costs $1,000. Together, all these advances are making it possible to address many of the grand challenges of humanity: making sure we all have adequate education, water, food, shelter, health, and security. Entrepreneurs can now do what only governments and large corporations were once capable of.

But understanding these diverse technologies isn’t the domain of the young. Though college dropouts may know all about social media, it is very unlikely that they understand the intricacies of nanotechnology and artificial intelligence as well as their elders do. These are complex technologies that require not only a strong education but also the ability to work across domains and collaborate with intellectual peers in different disciplines of science and engineering.

Given all the new complexities in the sciences, it is no surprise that innovators are actually getting older.

Kellogg School of Management economist Benjamin F. Jones looked at the backgrounds of Nobel Prize winners and other great inventors of the 20th century. He found that the average age at which they made their greatest innovations was 39. The largest mass of great advances — 72 percent — came in an inventor’s 30s and 40s, and only 7 percent came before the age of 26. What’s more, Jones found that the age at greatest achievement is actually rising, by about six years over the last century. Indeed, that effect was due to decreasing rates of invention at younger ages. The explanation is probably simple. People are spending more time in training as a prerequisite to contribute to complex fields.

The reality is that there is no age requirement for innovation. The young and old can both innovate. The young dominate new-era software development, and software will be a key driving force in the convergence of other technologies that are expanding exponentially. So we badly need our young. And we need our older entrepreneurs to develop cross-disciplinary solutions that solve the grand challenges of humanity.

Vivek Wadhwa is VP of academics and innovation at Singularity University and has affiliations at Duke, Stanford, and Emory. He is 54 years old.

Source: http://www.technologyreview.com/business/39591/page1/

10 Predictions for Innovators in 2012

Hmmm…. 2012…. Not your average date in the calendar, according to everyone from the ancient Mayans to hordes of New Agers who are busy getting ready for “galactic alignment”, to popular fiction’s high priest of secret mystical knowledge, Dan Brown, to Hollywood’s master of the cataclysmic blockbuster, Roland Emmerich. 2012 has been the inspiration for hundreds of books and hundreds of thousands of websites focused on spiritual transformation, the end of “The Great Cycle”, “Harmonic Convergence”, and “Balancing the Cosmos”. In fact, NASA’s public outreach website “Ask an Astrobiologist” has already received over 5,000 questions from the public about what next year might bring, some asking whether they should kill themselves, their children or their pets as we approach impending doom!

So when we sat down to write our 10 predictions for 2012 we did so with a degree of humility, certainly not claiming to know anything more about next year than any of the reputable parties mentioned above. But we did come up with a few developments that we believe we could be looking back on one year from now – that is, if we’re all still here by next December 21st, after we reach “Timewave Zero” and “Geomagnetic Reversal”, not to mention Earth’s collision with the planet “Nibiru”.

First, we have a few predictions about the evolving state of innovation itself, followed by some more general stuff about innovation geopolitics, and then a few of the intesection points between technology, lifestyle and popular culture where we believe innovation will touch our daily lives in exciting new ways.

But, as a precursor to all of that, here’s our quick summary of 2011 and its impact on the innovation profession.

This year we saw amazing growth in the number of organizations pursuing Innovation Excellence around the world. Clearly, the innovation movement is picking up momentum, with companies of every stripe and from every industry trying to embed innovation into the DNA of their organizations and make it a deep enterprise capability – just as we describe it every day on this site. Countless new innovation infrastructures and teams were created around the world; new processes, mechanisms and systems were installed; new innovation partnerships were formed; and hundreds of internal/external innovation campaigns and challenges were run. There was a real buzz in the innovation practitioner community, too, as we have picked up in our daily posts, with lots of newly appointed “process champions” working hard to formalize their funding models, selection criteria, and communications strategies, and to lead brave cultural transformations inside their companies in order to support and enable continuous innovation. 2011 also marked a big switch in how a large number of organizations were thinking about innovating with their employees, and we saw a lot of them switch from an electronic suggestion box model to a predominantly challenge-driven innovation model as innovation professionals sought to maximize their limited resources.

So what do we see ahead for 2012?

When got together over a great bottle of wine and ruminated on all the great contributions you’ve made this year, we came up with these 10 predictions for innovators — for the people who do the real work.  As you will see, we started out somewhat narrowly focused on the way we see innovation evolving, and ended up a lot wider in scope… even – dare we say it? –  a little more spiritual in our thinking. Why not see for yourself?

  1. 2012 will be the Year of Open Innovation. As more and more organizations build their internal innovation capabilities and feel comfortable soliciting ideas from employees, we will see more organizations in 2012 open up their quest for continuous innovation to ideas from suppliers, partners, and even customers or the general public. This will cause an increase in the competition for ideas, which means that organizations must be much more deliberate and systematic in how they approach their community of potential open innovation partners – if they hope to become THE partner of choice. Failure in Open Innovation typically comes from poor communications or the absence of cultural readiness. While success at Open Innovation requires changing the perspective and culture of your organization from ‘Not Invented Here (NIH)’ to the famous words of Procter & Gamble (P&G) – ‘Proudly Found Elsewhere’. But beyond a changing mindset, organizations wishing to utilize Open Innovation to accelerate their innovation efforts must also re-structure themselves, and possibly even the evaluation of their employees, to facilitate and encourage the acceptance and commercialization of valid ideas coming in from the outside. Which organizations will succeed and which will fail at Open Innovation in 2012? You tell us…
  2. In 2012 companies that fail to innovate will continue to fail. In 2011 we saw the acquisition of Motorola Mobility by Google and of Blockbuster by Dish Network, the absorption of Sony-Ericsson into Sony after a buyout, accompanied by the failure of Borders. All of these companies were once very successful and even innovative, but missed a wave of innovation in their industries and left themselves weak and vulnerable. All successful companies were innovative at one time. The trick is to create an organization with the ability to continuously renew, reinvent, and reconsider what will make your organization successful and innovative in the future. This is what Innovation Excellence is all about – making innovation a deep and sustainable capability of your organization – not a one-time thing. In 2012 will Research in Motion (RIM) or Nokia find themselves acquired or out of business? What other once proud innovators are in danger of being acquired or going bankrupt in 2012?
  3. 2012 will mark the rise of systematic innovation efforts in small business. While 2011 was a year in which an increasing number of big companies joined the ranks of those pursuing Innovation Excellence, in 2012 we will see an increase in the volume of small to medium-size companies seeking to make innovation a deep organizational capability or core competence. We are not talking about startups here. The startup phase is all about sorting out whether the company’s founding idea is an innovation or an invention. Those startups that possess an innovation – which starts to meet a large niche or mass market demand – will become obsessed with meeting that demand. Startups formed around an idea that only proves to be an invention will shrivel and die. As a result of their limited resources, startups should focus more on building the foundations of Innovation Excellence, primarily a culture of experimentation, information sharing, and rapid learning. In the short run, these will help to evolve the founding idea for market success, while giving the startup something to build on when growth slows and the resources become available to make innovation a deep, renewable capability. The big questions we’ll continue to see from small and medium-sized businesses in 2012 when it comes to innovation will include: How can we encourage innovation without allocating a team of 20 people to it? How can I fund innovation projects if I don’t have millions of dollars to set aside? Am I too small to engage in Open Innovation? Finally, here’s one for you: If you are in a small or medium-sized business, what questions do you have about how to make innovation happen?
  4. In 2012, national and regional governments will become increasingly involved in nurturing innovation. As Britain’s Economist magazine has noted: “Innovation is now recognized as the single most important ingredient in any modern economy.” That’s why, a couple of years back, President Obama pledged $100 billion in government funding to support and encourage American innovation. And the European Union recently followed suit with their 80 billion Euro “Horizon 2020” fund to create what they are ambitiously calling the “Innovation Union”. What we will witness in 2012 is an increase in government programs that are set up to encourage long-term economic growth through innovation. We are already seeing this at a more local or regional level inside many countries, and it’s not necessarily the countries that regularly make it to the top of the Global Innovation Index. For example, Argentina ranks 58 in INSEAD’s latest index, and Colombia is down there in the 70s, but both countries have recently established government agencies in some of their most important regions to financially support companies that want to improve their innovation capability. Colombia even has agencies at the city level, such as Ruta N in Medellin which is focused on supporting local companies in their innovation efforts. In fact, one of our other predictions for 2012 would be that Latin America will continue to rise as an important innovation region, not necessarily in terms of overall R&D expenditure, number of patents filed or trademarks registered, number of Ph.D.-holders in the population, and so on, but in terms of the number of companies that are working hard to embed in innovation into their organizations, often resulting in important non-technological innovations such as new services and business models. Tell us, What is the government doing in your own country to support companies that truly want to become innovation champions?

Turning our innovation lens out to some of the other big trends that are happening around us, and in particular to areas where technology, lifestyle and popular culture are coming together in exciting new ways, we came up with these further six predictions

  1. In 2012, self-expression will transcend entertainment. And become the growth enterprise.  Steve Jobs anticipated it with i-Life, giving us our own Spielberg toolkit. Arianna Huffington harnessed it, and now has her hands on the wheel of AOL, which will become a relevant platform, once again.  Michelle Obama certified “collage vs. matchy-matchy,” adding JCrew and Target items and sensibilities to her first lady appearances. One Literary Agent friend laments that more people are writing books that reading them. Our Self Publishing editor, Joan Holman, tracks this phenomenon for us closely, and with her help we’ll be making it easier for all of you to do just that in the New Year. It might just be that Tom Peters’ claim that “Everyone is a Michaelangelo” is the pendulum swing out of greed, financial decline and uncertainty that “Occupy Wall Street” is only hinting at.  Or why else would Russell Simmons be signing on to produce?!? Russell Simmons isn’t calling you?No worries! You can produce yourself. All it takes is a little courage, technical resource and the willingness to take a risk publicly — aka fail! Do you have exciting new plans to self-publish in 2012? If so, let us know. If you’re a regular contributor to Innovation Excellence you’re already a self-publisher!
  2. All this self-expression spells trouble for Old School leaders — but good news for “Transformational Innovation Leaders” who as “game-changers, think outside the box, and see what others don’t,” say Jane Stevenson and Bilal Kaafarani in their new book Breaking Away. Because they’re also “technically insightful and intuitive” these leaders should have no problem incorporating Facebook, Twitter and the much larger super highways of their own employees’ ideas, ideals, passions, insights and networks into their organizations, products, services and brands.  Should be fun. There will more conversations and less one-way interruptions. Is this something you’re already doing in your own organization? And how about embedding Innovation Excellence into your corporate Intranet?
  3. In 2012, eBooks will reinvent the traditional book publishing industry. All part of the same self-expression trend, but with a twist in the tale. Of course, we don’t doubt for a moment that 2012 will continue to see traditional print sales collapsing and bookstores closing, while e-books sales rise exponentially and self-publishing becomes more popular with both new and veteran authors. But there’s also a chance that traditional publishers will finally start to catch up, learning to embrace the “strange new digital world” instead of denying that it’s actually destroying them.  Having seen the future, in the shape of the iPad and the growing array of multimedia eBook apps on Apple iTunes, not to mention the array of new SW tools now available to the self-publishing crowd for creating more sophisticated ebooks, the publishing industry will be forced to use its financial muscle to innovate and improve the quality of its own products. Amazon is the player to watch, as always, not just as Kindle continues to evolve as an eBook platform, but as Amazon continues to move into publishing, and experiments with alternative author compensation models, from its Lending Library to subscription services and ad-supported e-reading sites. If business history is anything to go by, who do you expect to ultimately win the battle? Traditional publishers or self-publishers? Our money is on the latter, and look out the first of our own Innovation Excellence eBooks later next year.
  4. In 2012, Apple will reinvent Television. First it was computers, then portable media players, then cellphones, then tablets. With each of these revolutionary moves, Apple reinvented a critical media platform, and the company has skillfully used these innovative platforms to change the way we work, rest and play. What’s next? Well, the only major platform that’s left is television. Our prediction is that in 2012, Apple will launch the iTV, a beautifully designed TV set that delivers content a la carte – like TV channels, streaming movies from Lovefilm and Netflix, and live sport from ESPN or Sky – as iOS-style apps. If Apple released this product in 2012, would you want to buy it? And would you like to see an Innovation Excellence TV channel app?
  5. Purpose will Prevail. No longer contented just to consume more or sell more, people, organizations and businesses everywhere will be focused more and more on figuring out and working toward some kind of purpose. Purpose is a funny thing. It galvanizes, excites and motivates. And it’s the Valhalla of work.  Jim Stengel (former CMO of P&G and currently writing his own book on the subject) made the idea mainstream for marketers, and we all witnessed the results in his uncanny partnership with A.G. Lafley and a decade of growth at P&G.  (We keep trying to tell them to just open up as a school!)  On the other coast, Umair Haque takes his typically mild-mannered (NOT!) tone and advocates nothing less than “A political philosophy that defines the highest good that a society elevates and pursues”, something that “anchors a society’s preferences and expectations”.  He asks us what our own purpose is, as a society, as a civilization, and argue that it’s missing entirely. “We don’t have a vision of the highest good that matters, resonates, and means much in human — let alone social — terms.” In telling the Emperor that he has no clothes, Haque may have given us the key to a strategy for sustainable recovery. What’s your own view? How important is a sense of purpose to an innovation team, and to society in general?
  6. In 2012, Mexico’s tourism industry will boom. Finally, a quirky little prediction that Mexico’s tourism industry will have a record year in 2012 as the country’s national tourist board leverages one of its most strategic assets: the Mayan ruins. International tourists have been frightened away in recent years by violent drug wars and kidnappings. What better way to lure them back than to invite them to come and experience the end of the world – right there alongside the ancient civilization that actually predicted it? Now there’s a great innovation. At least this way Mexico can make a ton of money out of curious tourists and New Age flakes before the whole planet gets swept off to oblivion. How about you? Where are you planning to spend your own “last-ever” vacation?

:We couldn’t finish this post without making a confident prediction for Innovation Excellence itself. In 2012, we pledge to grow in relevance as a platform for YOU. In the coming year we’ll make it even easier for you to get your ideas, your innovation experiences, your videos, your projects in need of resources, and your feedback up on our web pages and shared with the community of innovation practitioners across 175 countries.   It’s a feedback loop like no other.  You do the heavy lifting of innovating and we’ll work hard to share your thinking with a very targeted audience:  people who “get” innovation and are committed to using its incredible power to change the world.

May your New Year be creative, satisfying and impactful beyond your dreams! — Rowan Gibson, Braden Kelley, and Julie Anixter.Innovation Excellence Co-Founders

Source: http://www.innovationexcellence.com/blog/2011/12/26/10-predictions-for-innovators-in-2012/