IT’S ALL ABOUT THE ECOSYSTEM
As we absorb the various press conferences from the world’s largest consumer technology brands, innovators, car makers, and the automotive OEMs that supply them, as well as the odd startup, we can’t help but notice there are few companies talking about the product and many talking about platforms and ecosystems.
We talk a lot about innovation and ideation of products, services, ecosystems, and even business models, but sometimes the disruption by technology can be so great that it changes the foundation of an industry or a company. Add to this the challenges of the megatrends that affect society and suddenly everything a business was built upon decades ago has changed beyond recognition.
The day started with Bosch outlining its vision for Smart Cities, which is designed to answer some of the demands arising from an increase in urbanization, currently forecast to be 60% of the world’s population, or more than 6 billion people, living in cities by 2050. Bosch’s solution wasn’t a product, it was an ecosystem; a completely connected array of solutions that utilize the IoT and connect every part of our lives with a digital thread.
Further presentations from companies like Continental and Valeo from the automotive industry shared the same goal as many of the car makers presenting. They all plan to be an ecosystem provider in the connected vehicle world, with a focus on electrification, connectivity, and autonomous driving. In fact, most of the car makers are busy redefining themselves as mobility solution companies.
This all comes from the same place, a good place: a desire to understand the consumer and deliver a seamless ecosystem that drives benefits for the individual and the community as a whole. Ok, it’s good business too.
We see innovation in the same terms and while clients might come to us looking for a product, they often leave with a much broader solution. It all starts with the user and their experience. In this case, it’s the driver or the inhabitant living in the smart city. The “discover” phase of innovation should always start with the user and what they need and expect. Only with this in place can you start to develop a solution. With solid data and understanding from the consumer, a design strategy can be developed to provide the right solution, be that hardware, software, services, or the platform
As disruptive digital transformation grips industry after industry, the winners are the companies that take the holistic view, that rather than fear change, embrace it, and are prepared to be the disruptor, rather than the disrupted.
The ecosystem is where all the cool ingredients or enabling technologies come together. Today, just about every executive has used acronyms AI and IoT. The use of these technologies is clearly a huge driver of innovation right now, but importantly these building blocks live within an aforementioned ecosystem and only operate when all the parties in that ecosystem are willing collaborators.
Collaboration is the order of the day in innovation in many sectors, with partnerships being regularly announced between vendors of traditional products, like cars, and high tech companies that help them see past their technology blind-spots. For some that’s an acquisition, for others, it’s a simple partnership. Collaboration is another way to expand a company’s technology portfolio, but also business understanding and user understanding.
The last event of today was Intel CEO Brian Krzanich sharing his vision for the future by opening with an interactive experience called “Data Rocks the Park,” a performance in three acts: Algorithm & Blues, Data Drones, and AI (Oh My) and Dancing in the Data. Cleary the keyword here, and throughout Brian’s presentation is data. Intel believes that data is transforming the world, driving a new wave of innovation and changing the fabric of society.
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