Thursday, 22 December 2016

Is superintelligence the inevitable next step in evolution? by Dr. Roshini Beenukumar, @roshiniBR


https://www.cryptocoinsnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/ai-handshake-wide.jpg

Experts predict that by 2050, there is a 50% probability that AIs which will match the intelligence of an average adult human. It is not a long wait, isn’t it?


Last week, my husband and I finally sat down to plan our summer vacation. After spending two full hours on 10 different tour websites, we ended up being completely overwhelmed by the options; all-inclusive vs half-board, city vs seaside or sea vs land. 

Decision making is getting more challenging and time-consuming day-by-day. With growing amounts of data and information, there is an increasing need for intelligent systems that could help us make our daily decisions. Several applications use AI to help customers with their decision making, for example, Amazon recommending you the smoothie maker that you always wanted but never bought or Netflix recommending you a new crime series to watch because you are a crime series fan. 

The rise of the “bots”

The AI trend is here and it is going to grow in the coming years. Investors are backing more AI startups than ever. In the first quarter of 2016, there were over 140 equity deals to startups focused on AI, according to CB insights. The spotlight is currently on chatbots and voice assistants. Bot startups like Growbot, Angel.ai, X.ai, Digit, Meekan, Viv and others help their customers with scheduling meetings, tracking employee accomplishments, tracking spending as well as finding the right products and services. This means that, the next time I plan a vacation I could just go to Angel.ai and ask the bot to find me the right vacation package!

As an AI enthusiast, there isn’t a shred of doubt in my mind that AI systems are here to make our lives easier. However, it is hard to ignore issues raised by prominent thought leaders in the field like Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk on the future of AI. Once machine intelligence surpasses human intelligence, will it become an existential threat to the human civilization? 

What happens when AIs start doing AI research?

"Machine intelligence is the last invention that humanity will ever need to make." Oxford philosopher and leading AI thinker Nick Bostrom, TED, March 2015. 

The answer lies in the concept of intelligence explosion, says Daniel Dewey, an AI researcher from the University of Oxford. The thought experiment goes like this. Imagine that we have created a machine that is more capable than today’s computers. This machine is given the task to improve its current capacity. This leads to a very large and rapid increase in the abilities of these machines. This is called intelligence explosion. To prevent unwanted consequences resulting from such superintelligent AIs, it is absolutely essential that the AI research community collaborate to carefully steer the evolution of artificial intelligence.

Evolution of intelligence on an exponential scale

“It is hard to think of any problem that a superintelligence could not either solve or at least help us solve. Disease, poverty, environmental destruction, unnecessary suffering of all kinds: these are things that a superintelligence equipped with advanced nanotechnology would be capable of eliminating.” – Ray Kurzweil, The Singularity Is Near 

AI is among the top three technologies that is expected to grow on an exponential scale, says Ray Kurzweil, founder of Singularity University. As of now, humans have conquered the lowest calibre of AI called the “weak AI” that specializes in one area, like Google’s AlphaGo beating the world champion in the game GO. The next step in the AI Revolution is a “human-level AI” or “strong AI” with a general mental capacity matching that of a human being. The final step in the evolutionary ladder is postulated to be an ASI or “artificial superintelligence” which is not only smarter than humans but also self-improving. 

A group of AI researchers at companies and leading research institutions around the world are making significant strides in the field of AI. The fruits of their work can significantly change the way we live on this planet. Experts predict that by 2050, there is a 50% probability that AIs which will match the intelligence of an average adult human. It is not a long wait, isn’t it?  

Author
Roshini Beenukumar
Dr. Beenukumar is a molecular biologist turned science writer. During her PhD, she studied how cancer cells behave the way they do by exploring the humble yeast. Currently, she works as a freelance science/technical writer in the Life Sciences industry . She enjoys communicating science to the public and discussing new ideas in the interface of medicine and technology. She spends her spare time getting lost in a book or in nature.

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Architecting Innovation Portfolio - Part 3, By Prashant Joglekar @ideabound

Technology needs to be viewed from the function it delivers to a product or service which satisfies a market need. Technology can be leveraged by innovating on various business model elements

This is in continuation with my last two posts. 

The first one was architecting innovation wherein I discussed how organisations can architect innovation portfolio for them to begin their innovation journey & stay on the course, its a plan that they would like to build on. 

The second post talked about ‘sensing the consumer wave’ where I touched upon the customer side of innovation which is gleaned using several population behavioural trends. This effort saves a lot on the traditional market research.

This post takes a brief view of technology side of innovation. I would invite reader’s view to further my own learning on the subject.

Defining Technology
Let’s define technology in simple terms. Technology is nothing but practical application of science to commerce or industry. Therefore one route to innovation is when organisations marry technology with the user need.

Classifying Technologies
The technology world can be simply categorised into 3 parts physical, biological & digital. The last one provides a great interface between the first two.

Physical technologies deliver something tangible to us. Some of the key technologies of the future are autonomous vehicles, 3-D printing, robotics, new materials will redefine our lives and businesses in terms the way we travel, the way we produce & use, the way we process things & the way we design things.

Biological technologies will impact agricultural produce, health care and provide customisation in every sphere of biological world.

Digital technologies are connecting physical objects & humans and humans with humans in seamless way. Organisations use these technologies to give a new voice to their products and services.

Marrying Technology & Market Need with Business model
No technology can transform an industry unless a business model can link it to an emerging market need. Market need is a result of ‘jobs to be done’ by larger number of people, more about this in my next post. Simply put, anyone will hire your product or service because it helps him/her do a jobs that they are trying to get done more efficiently. Many of these jobs didn’t exist yesterday, but today with the advent of technology these hidden needs of 'jobs to be done' are driving growth of new businesses with the product & services they offer.

With transformative business models (Reference 1) technologies are linked to the market need to achieve success. Some key features of these business model ideas are

  • Personalisation – I want what I want
  • A closed-loop process – Recycling to reduce cost
  • Asset sharing – Mitigating the risk of high investment in acquiring assets by a distributed asset ownership 
  • Usage-based pricing – I pay as I use
  • A collaborative ecosystem – No single entity can manage & win, collaboration to deliver a product & service is key
  • An agile and adaptive organization – less hierarchical decision making, allowing front line employees to analyze & decide according to market dynamics.


Following figure shows how organizations can match technology & market need by an innovative business model feature (the example here is just an illustration & there’re could be many ways of doing it). The key learning for strategist is to make a dashboard like this and continue mapping technologies and market need as they realize one & ideate to come up with a new business model



Criteria for selecting technologies
There are several factors in selecting technologies, these can broadly divided into 2 categories; industry factors, company factors. Let me touch upon them briefly

Industry Factors
These factors include the pace with which technology changes in a particular industry, so the decision between ‘make & buy’ becomes very obvious. Revenue potential of technology and cost of evaluation are other factors. For market ready products of technology the speed of revenue generating (first mover advantage) is usually high.

Organisational Factors

This depends mainly on 3 factors ;

Purpose to use technology which largely depends on the overall strategy of the firm which is based on mainly whether they want to enter new market, or counter disruption by enhancing existing products with the help of technolgy. The other factors that are considered are product development capability of the firm and the product portfolio that they have. The weaker the product development capability greater is the tendency to adopt to a market ready technology.

Conclusion
Technology needs to be viewed from the function it delivers to a product or service which satisfies a market need. Technology can be leveraged by innovating on various business model elements.

Thanks for your time. Let me have your inputs.

We help our clients with various intervention in their pursuit to innovate


Reference
1) HBR Oct 2016 : The Transformative Business Model by Stelios Kavadias, Kostas Ladas, and Christoph Loch


The article was first published in Mr. Prashant Joglekar's LinkedIn pulse page. It has been re-published here with the authors' permission
Author
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Prashant Joglekar
An engineering postgraduate from IIT Mumbai. His career spans over 21 + years and core skills include Systematic Innovation- TRIZ Training / Facilitation, Business Transformation, Total Quality Management, Business Process Design & Management, Lean and Six Sigma training / facilitation. Prashant's mission is to prepare, nurture innovative minds & broker ideas by cross-pollinating them across an enterprise
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Monday, 12 December 2016

Successfully Implementing #HealthIT: A Health Informatician's perspective by Dr. Thanga Prabhu, @thangas

A fresh approach to HCIT product development is required where the product can quickly meet the clinician’s need. Actively involved clinicians, HCIT trained manpower and HCIT aware clinicians can transform healthcare today; it is not an option but an idea whose time has come

IT is an enabler of change and not the change itself. When customers look at IT as the one solution to all their problems, it is set up for failure from the beginning. Introducing an IT system necessitates an in­-depth study of existing workflows, roles and responsibilities and change management aspects in every speciality.
Healthcare IT implementation is complex, interlinked, domain­ sensitive and clinician­ focused, thereby being different from other IT implementations. The generally high failure rate for IT implementations tends to be higher in healthcare due to this complexity.
Clinicians need to be involved actively from the requirements gathering phase and given ownership of clearly defined sub areas within the project to be successful. IT should be a tool to transform healthcare delivery model and not expected to be a solution by itself.

HCIT ­ Domain intensive

Healthcare is an environment of trust wherein many actions are performed without being specifically asked for. The single point of focus for all clinicians is the patient and roles are synchronized, each one playing a small but significant part in the care process. A study found that when a patient walks into a healthcare facility, is registered, vitals taken by nurse, seen by doctor, takes medicine from pharmacy and walks out 50+ people have to work in harmony for this to happen successfully.
Intensive training ensures that the personnel on the ground know exactly what is expected of them and they do that role with conscience. In contrast transactions in banking or the travel industry are simple and straightforward. Clinicians ranging from doctors, nurses, pharmacists, technicians in lab, operation theatres, dialysis centres, and emergency services have varying data needs and data recording responsibilities.
When a doctor charts his patient for the first time he goes into details on illness, past history, allergies, drugs being taken by patient, builds a problem list, identifies/ lists differential diagnosis, plans lab/ radiology investigations and prescribes initial treatment. The methodology followed is standardized during his training and practice over the years ensures that it comes naturally while examining a patient.
Nurses also train on similar lines to examine and document key information on the patient initially and then as patient moves through the system. The data that is recorded by each clinician is useful to take decisions for the patient and is used by the entire team. As clinicians become experienced most of this data processing is done without actually recording it on paper and it is known that consultants record only key points in their patient records.
When HCIT requirements have to be gathered in such an environment they should be involved early as only clinicians understand the significance of each piece of information. Many tools are available to assist the clinicians during the course of their work and it is important to note that none of them are mandatory. HCIT is also a tool, which if not user friendly tends to be ignored.
HCI (human computer interaction) has to offer better ways to input data as the traditional mouse/keyboard system does not fit into the busy healthcare environment. Speech recognition is now being used in radiology reporting and touch screen systems are being deployed in operation theatres and ICUs to gather data without the clinician having to actually sit and type.

Change management

Clinicians have been known to be resistant to change for ages. As an example, usage of stethoscope amongst the medical community took almost 100 years. If the systems that they are expected to use in their day­to­day work is unfamiliar to them and takes too much of their time, without tangible benefit, there is a very serious risk of non usage. Every clinician has to see clearly the benefit that will accrue to his / her work to adopt a new system. Resisting change is natural and it is seen in a greater degree within healthcare.
‘Clinician champions’ have to be identified within the customer’s staff who will lead the implementation and support their colleagues later on. The resistance to change is often because of three broad reasons: political, technical and attitude. If the new system upsets an existing hierarchy or even gives an impression of doing so, it can be a serious risk.
Technical reasons such as lack of training, not being comfortable with using technology, HCI (human computer interaction) factors such as clinicians in the operation theatres being expected to remove their sterile gloves to type can also jeopardize a project.
Attitude is a subjective phenomenon and usually can be overcome by peer pressure and strict enforcement of policies. Once clinicians see the benefits they tend to voluntarily train their teams and the rate of knowledge transfer then goes up significantly. This is after all the existing culture within healthcare where peer support and sharing of best practices is common.

Interoperability

HCIT procurement should be done by knowledgeable personnel who see the big picture and can build a system incrementally. In the western countries it has been seen that departments usually acquire systems individually starting from radiology, cardiology then laboratory and finally the HIS / EMR. None of these systems are expected to communicate with each other initially and after significant cost, effort and time has gone into implementing it the results could be diverse systems that cannot communicate.
Rather than follow a big bang approach it has been observed that incremental adoption with the larger picture in focus assures success. It is imperative today that all systems communicate freely amongst themselves and also with external systems. Most facilities have homegrown basic billing HIS systems but clinicians are not exposed directly to these systems. Technology savvy specialties such as Radiology, Cardiology, Anaesthesia and Lab medicine should be starting point for a HCIT solution. Such pioneers are excellent ‘User Champions’ for future more complex specialties.

Benefits

It is futile to incessantly discuss the many reasons of why HCIT solutions are not useful in healthcare. Success stories and proven benefits of HCIT implementation need to be highlighted to build customer’s confidence in adopting a HCIT solution. It has been seen that instead of trying to force fit a solution on existing workflows, a system that can adapt to and respond dynamically to end user needs is liked and used by clinicians. Existing HCIT solutions have limitations on their configurability, nevertheless when products are extensively customized; it becomes difficult to maintain the product over time.
A fresh approach to building HCIT solutions which are easy to customise, can be hosted on a cloud and paid for on a utility model (pay­as­you­go/case by case) and preferably allow clinicians to tailor on their own with minimal IT support is required. With the advent of Web 2.0 (Read and Write) and Web 3.0 (Read, Write and Run) technologies and customers using Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Apple iStore etc. the same is now expected from HCIT vendors. Author has personal experience of Anaesthetists requesting data mining features with drag­drop tools to create queries/reports on their patient data which is then used for research and academic presentations.

Government initiatives

The government has to play a regulatory role and help identify ‘EMR Interoperability standards’ after studying the globally available standards and identifying those that are relevant, affordable in the long run without any strings attached and mandate their use by HCIT vendors. Patient data has confidentiality and privacy implications which need to be covered by Government with a legal framework.
The newly enacted addenda to IT Act 2000 which mandate vendors to take necessary and reasonably good measures to protect patient data is timely. Ownership of patient data is an unresolved question globally but the consensus has been to retain ownership of data with patient with government being a guardian for that data.

Learning from Aviation / Nuclear / Space industries

We need to learn from our predecessors who have taken the failure bull by its horn and controlled what was given up as impossible earlier. Aviation industry had some depressing statistics before FAA (Federal Aviation Authority) stepped in to rein in the problem. The FAA conducted due diligence and created open reporting mechanisms to identify problem areas which then went on to become starting points for other interventions.
Nuclear industry by nature is risky and allows no scope for slip­ups. Enforcing safeguards, defined protocols, on­going training to keep personnel updated on latest skills has resulted in safety. Space industry is intrinsically dangerous and failure rates were high initially. NASA today has managed to mitigate these risks and regularly sends rockets and shuttles to space. The key is to take a holistic view of systems and blame the system and not the user of that system when failures do occur.

Transforming healthcare with IT

IT is an enabler of change and not the change itself. When customers look at IT as the one solution to all their problems, it is set up for failure from the beginning. Introducing an IT system necessitates an in­-depth study of existing workflows, roles and responsibilities and change management aspects in every speciality. IT is but another tool available to transform healthcare and when its role (and limitations) is understood the chance of success increases.
A clinician who leads HCIT implementation on a full time basis starting with initial seeding of idea amongst clinicians, brainstorming with them implications of introducing the system into workflows, hand holding during the implementation and ongoing support post ‘Go Live’ should be minimum criteria in HCIT implementations. 
Just mapping the paper based workflows to IT and replicating it does not allow clinicians to fully utilise the complete capabilities that IT brings in. New ways of working such as real time chat on social networking sites such as Twitter and SMS can allow clinicians to interact and mutually support each other while delivering care. Document once and reuse infinitely, auto calculating all variables, adding layers of security to ensure role based access are all possible only with HCIT.

HCIT manpower

The realisation that has dawned on health informaticians today and backed up by research is that HCIT implementation should not be treated as another IT implementation. The domain is complex, most work happens like clockwork without much communication (for example when a surgeon operates, the nurse assisting him knows exactly what instrument he needs next). Thus clinician­ lead HCIT implementations are realising higher success rates. Medical Informatics workforce is non­existent today. A separate cadre of foot soldiers who can man the posts is required as bridging clinical and IT worlds, is difficult. ONCHIT is spending billions to encourage academic centres to churn out this workforce in USA.
NHS in UK supports employees to acquire additional informatics skills as it is clearly required to practice in tomorrow’s healthcare world. India has the opportunity to recognise this need and use our excellent educational system in public and private sectors to train HCIT manpower at different skill levels using modern teaching resources such as on demand learning and online delivery systems. The demand for this manpower has always been much higher than what the system has been able to provide.

Conclusion

HCIT is no different from other IT implementations in that it is also force fitted on existing systems without understanding fully all the ramifications of doing so. The interlinked and mutually supportive healthcare environment where trust on peers and a single minded focus to work for one goal – patient care without direct orders is an amorphous beast to an outsider to healthcare: the IT person.
A fresh approach to HCIT product development is required where the product can quickly meet the clinician’s need. Actively involved clinicians, HCIT trained manpower and HCIT aware clinicians can transform healthcare today; it is not an option but an idea whose time has come.

The article has been published here with Dr. Thanga Prabhu’s permission
Author

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[content title="About Dr. Thanga Prabhu"]
Dr. Thanga Prabhu
Dr. Thanga Prabhu has 20+ years of healthcare experience working in India, Abu Dhabi and United Kingdom. Clinical leader evangelizing medical informatics, Communications leader-regular speaker in all major HCIT events. He has authored a paper for the UK Parliament Health Select Committee in 2005 titled ‘The utilizations of telemedicine (telecare) and its future potential for improving services'. Dr. Prabhu is currently the VP of the Indian Association for Medical Informatics (IAMI)
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Thursday, 8 December 2016

Architecting Innovation Portfolio - Part 2, By Prashant Joglekar @ideabound

Sense The Wave : Understanding Consumers Better Than They Understand Themselves

This is in continuation with my last post 'Architecting Innovation Portfolio'. 

The first inspiration 'Sensing The Wave' has two components under it, the first of which is sensing the consumer signals to build innovation around it, the second one of-course is sensing the 'technology' wave which I will cover in the following posts. 

In this post, I am focusing on the consumer angle. The method / approach is very unique and fast replacing or have replaced market research by decoding & coding deep customer motives across generations and thinking styles. This becomes a good starting point to a question 'what does customer really wants' 

Introduction
Successful Innovation requires right answer/s to the right problem/s. It is said, “Once what is to be done” is known, “How to” part merely follows. The biggest challenge however is recognizing the “What” part. Before going further let us remind ourselves of Einstein’s definition of a problem or an opportunity “Problem is the gap between what we want and what we have”. Many times falling prey to prevalent thinking “If ain’t broke don’t fix it” & “All is Well” :-) we fail to recognize what might be needed. (Opportunities = Un-recognized customer desire /need/ want etc,)

The successful innovation therefore requires answering three questions

1.    “What does Customer Want or Need?”

2.    “How do we recognize what he wants”

3.    “How we meet that unmet need? (What product/ services we will design & create or enhance to meet the unmet need).

Absolutes of Innovation (Reference 1)
If we have to have a simple definition of what successful innovation means to most of us, then we can say it is something which has all of good things ( Both for customers and business ) and less or none  of bad things again for both. Thus if we now have to define what a successful innovation must have; it leads us to state two necessary absolutes

1.    Solving a trade-off or compromise

2.    Adding a new function or an attribute that no competitor is offering

Recognizing Unmet Needs = F (Trend)
Innovation requires organizations to go beyond understanding the ‘Voice of The Customers”“Slipping into their shoes” or “knowing their conscious mind” to a newer level -“Seeping into their unconscious mind observing several of their behavioral trends” to comprehend what they will appreciate in future products and services by way of its unique functional features & attributes (tangible and intangible).

TREND (Reference 2) is all about understanding people, the populations they form part of, and most important of all for a business, understanding what motivates them to spend their money. The basic idea behind recognizing trend is that the most powerful forces in our society are the emerging, counterintuitive trends that are shaping tomorrow right before us. For e.g. need to stay fitter, Yeh DIL MANGE MORE attitude, a smaller car but a bigger house first, few years later both get bigger & bigger, getting attached to one “sect” & creating more diversity of sects are all forming part of trends. “Jain food” is one such trend which does not meant food for “Jains” but food that is devoid of onion or garlic which is even preferred by the rest of the population. While people are eating healthier food than ever, number of chat shops shows an increasing trend as they are frequented by a sizeable population.

I-pod, I-phone are not the result of customer surveys but a deeper understanding of behavioral pattern observed in few individuals which soon was embraced by the rest. The power of extreme individual choices has never been greater and the reasons and patterns for those choices never harder to understand and analyze. Identifying small, intense subgroups and communicating with them about their individual needs and wants has never more critical in marketing than now. Small groups, drawn together by shared needs, habits and preferences are on the rise.

Late Sh.C.K.Prahalada & M. S. Krishnan in their book “The New Age of Innovation” (Reference 3) has put forth a concept of N=1, R=G which means product / services that are truly innovative can cater to the individual need (N=1) by leveraging global networks resources (R= G). I-pods are popular not because we can carry music around- we could do that with the walkman, they are popular because it gives us the ability to choose our own songs thus personal technology has become personalized technology. (N=1, R=G)

Thus a trend is a behavioral aspect by an intense identity group that grows a need and influence behavior of a larger population not met by the existing businesses.

TREND and Its Relevance to Business (Reference 4)
Most managers can articulate the major trends of the day. But in the course of conducting field and market research in a number of industries and working directly with the companies, they often fail to recognize the less obvious but profound ways these trends are influencing customer aspirations, attitudes, and behaviors. This is especially true of trends that managers view as peripheral to their core markets. Consequently, they ignore trends in their innovation strategies, include product features that only superficially address a trend’s impact on consumers, or they adopt a wait-and-see approach and let competitors take the lead. At a minimum, such responses result in missed profit opportunities or wasteful investments in R & D. At the extreme, they can jeopardize a company by ceding to rivals the opportunity to transform the industry.

Why Firms Fail To Leverage Trends (Reference 4)

Ignoring trends that originate outside their markets
Most firms naturally think of themselves as offering products within defined categories. (“we make cosmetics” We make Automobiles” “We are apparel company” “We are bank” etc This often directs innovation efforts toward customer needs that have been considered relevant to the category and need of the population as a whole is ignored.

Responding to a trend in a superficial way
Siemens launched Xelibri (Reference 6) 
(http://www.canadiancontent.net/mobile/phone_pictures/siemens-xelibri-6.jpg), a Smartphone for women that contained two mirrors and was designed like a makeup compact but could not actually hold make up. The rise of digital media has prompted consumers to seek products that allow them to multitask, but Siemens didn’t appreciate that people expect such products to deliver this benefit in substance, not just in form.

Ill-conceived offerings that don’t speak to consumers new needs or desires often dilute rather than enhance, the brand’s equity, thus responding to a trend in a superficial way doesn’t help.

Waiting Too Long to Respond
Sometimes waiting to watch the competitor to make the first move can often lock valuable assets. Nike was able to secure a partnership with Apple to co create Nike +, a sports kit and web service that allows runners to track their performance with their i-pods and share information with others. (http://www.apple.com/ipod/nike/) Given the i-pod’s popularity among joggers, a firm that now seeks to enter the new space has lost an opportunity to launch their services with a capable partner

What is trenDNA?
The approach I am going to discuss hereon is summary of my understanding of “trenDNA” a six years of research by Systematic Innovation GURU Darrell Mann and his Turkish counterpart Yekta Ozozer. The main theme of the book is “Understanding Populations Better than They Understand themselves” by understanding trends and their connections with each other.



trenDNA is about observing patterns of behaviors that form a trend & re-focusing the way we look at world. It is a tool for firmer predictions about the future not just by looking at the trends but looking at the conflicts and synergies between trends.

The book contains 160 + trend cards each describing a unique behavioral pattern (trend) which is distinct from the other. Authors claim that during their research they have come across more than 1000 trends & were considered for a detailed assessment, after intense deliberations they rationalized them based on their resemblance finally sizing them up to 160+ unique trends.

Each trend-card describes the trend in brief, the other side of it lists other trends that the trend in review leads to or contradicts with. The greatest opportunity for innovation is realized by solving a conflict between the trends. It also relates trend with the thinking style (based on the work of “Spiral Dynamics” by late Dr. Clare Graves) and the generation archetype (Hero, Nomad, Prophet and Artist) theory put forth by Strauss & Howe through their work on “Generation Cycle”

One chapter is exclusively devoted to trend mapping strategies suggesting use of these trends for getting customer insight & into their probable needs. At the back of the book a list of winning solution strategies have been summarized. The strategies may appear abstract for people who do not have basic orientation to systematic innovation methods,(check my post : 'Systematic Innovation Toolkit' https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/systematic-innovation-toolkit-prashant-joglekar?trk=mp-author-card) for others it can help pointing towards possible innovation directions based on the clues provided by trend mapping strategies.

trenDNA Map
This first part being an introductory part, I will touch upon briefly the key concepts of trenDNA and its overall map.




At the core of the map, is ‘as-is’ and ‘to-be’ the two key elements of any innovation project. ‘As-is “part is where the things are as they are as on date and ‘to-be’ part is the future state which might be an ideal state as foreseen by the team or sponsor of the project. It might happen that there is no ‘as-is’ part and the canvas is completely blank, these are typical situations where a CEO asks his team a need to create new growth engines & business verticals.

The next in the map is “absolutes’ where we identify the function delivered by a product & services few may term this as ‘jobs to be done’ or ‘likely benefit’. The reason to think more deeply about the function is to unravel the functions beyond tangibles and finding the likely areas to innovate or finding out an alternate way of delivering the same function as is done by some of the other industries who may not be your direct competitors.

The ‘inevitable’, next in the map is all about data driven predictions may be a simple example of this could be if a shaving products company wants to predict the demand for their products in next few years then they can have the data of the number of students passing out of the college and starting their carrier as a professional. They may or have to shave regularly in their new life,  (They may not be shaving daily in their earlier “student life”) So such a prediction if not accurate can provide a reasonable estimate of the product sales growth.

The next in the map is ‘inherent’ which will make us understand the higher order effects. Taking the shaving example further we might realize that “shaving is not considered as a “cool thing” and it’s best to have some trimmed beard on one’s chin to attract & retain attention of “interested parties”JJ. This may make you think about the investments that you might make in augmenting the production facilities of your existing products. Instead you might think of something else for making your top line grow or at least stay even.

The two key themes have been introduced here may be we can call them vehicles of trenDNA. The first one is based on the different thinking styles (thinking gears) that an individual, group or society at large have. This is based on pioneering work by Dr. Clare Graves on “Spiral Dynamics”( Reference 5) which is about how thinking style changes depending on the change in the external situations and affect the behavior of an individual, group or society at large. These thinking styles are used as a dimension in comprehending the trend thereby understand customer & plan out future things (e.g. transformations in the organization, predicting buying behaviors etc).

The other concept is based on “William Strauss & Neil Howe’s” pioneering work on generation cycles (The Forth Turning6) the basic premise of the work is; generation cycle repeats itself after certain years so one can have a better understanding of the current generations based on the attributes possessed by its equivalent generation of the past. Each generation cycle is known to repeat after every 80 years, so if you want to understand the GEN Y or HERO generation (born during 1980-2001) then it is best to correlate them with people born previously between 1900-1925. This provide good basis for understanding different generations & their key attributes as a consumer/ customer. Each trend is further classified based on the thinking style it represents and generation with which it finds the closest match.  

The next stage is “Probables” where all the market and consumer trends that marketers spend so much of their time talking about are found. The job is describing this forth level is to make sense out of what is going to turn out to be close to two hundred individual trends. The section also help us arrange the trend database in a meaningful manner so that if we know what age group our customers are and what is probably their thinking style is then we can consider only those trends to work with that fits the selection. This can give us some early lead in innovating in products and services that will satisfy this segment.

The last one is “Possible” the authors here are quite open to accepting any such event which may have a distant correlation with the purchases made by the consumers. Now in India we already have such correlation where certain days are considered auspicious for purchases as the planetary position favors to do so. As we know smart Marketers in India are already exploiting and cashing out on such events.

We will see in some detail of each area of the map in the next few posts.

Why we need trenDNA
Why should I consider trenDNA approach for scouting new business opportunities or understanding the missing ones in the existing one? Once motive is clear commitment follows let us see some of these motives.

Motive 1
Any innovation project or for that matter any improvement project starts with documenting “As-Is” & “To-Be” state of improvement parameters e.g. “Increase Revenue By X % or by X folds in next Y years” or “Cut Cost By Z %” “Improve Customer Satisfaction Score by “S” units or “Develop New Business with Product & Services that will add R % to the top line” etc”.  If you are leading the project which has goals like this then you are completely lost at the start. Where & How to start is the next question on top of your mind. You may just start doing it to know later that what was started was not the best of the approach. You might then feel that I should have got enough time for thinking before doing. But most of the time need of the moment is action rather than thinking and unfortunately time spend on thinking is considered as procrastination. This happens because there is no methodical approach available to our thinking According to me trenDNA coupled with Systematic Innovation can best aid our efforts.

Motive 2
If your company is undertaking a market survey trying to talk to customers & understand what they want better from your products & services, then advice by the author is to think again. Sometimes people are asked to find out what customer wants within few days before a product development cycle is undertaken. The result of such quick survey often leads to a product that either overshoots or undershoots existing customer requirements & looks like a sibling or at best a cousin of what is already available in the market. They however recommend with their experience that the resources otherwise spent on surveys can be better utilized in testing the product before launch. In author’s own words more you practice (with concepts) with trend mapping the luckier you will get. J One of the companies they work with, depend significantly on trend mapping & build its understanding of customer’s unrealized needs to come up with a differentiated product / service.

Motive 3
I am not a market analyst or a strategist but when I see everyone spending around me ( except me, my frugal up-bringing does not allow me to spend unnecessarily J ) I believe there is a growth happening. Numbers are helpful and bring seriousness to the discussion. The US GDP is $ 14 trillion and the contribution of personal consumption expenditure accounts for nearly @ 65%. The further break up amongst products & services include 35 % by products and 65 % by services. (Annexure I)

Some of the growth indicators in the Indian context are summarized in Annexure II. Every organization would like to have maximum share of those growth numbers and hence would like to innovate and introduce products and services that creates differentiation. The organization that understands the need of the customer who is at the core of these numbers will stay ahead in the race.

Motive 4
Consumer Expectation Trend follows a following path

Commodity- Product- Service- Transformation- Experience

The trend shows that customers are more and more interested in ultimate NIRVANA :)(The experience) and at that stage they are ready to shell out more from their wallet t that they would at all the previous stages. The forward trend is “customization” & the backward is “commoditization”, to stay well ahead of the competition organizations needs to create more experiences through their product & services else they will have to fiercely fight in the “RED” ocean instead of creating a “BLUE”. (Reference 9) The figure below depicts the point. For moving upward in the graph in order to have more pie of the customer’s wallet the organizations need to observe, recognize and capture trends & create experiences.




Motive 5
The Halo Effect (Reference 8) Observes that those organizations that correctly determine “What” part, stays ahead of competition because from start their resource productivity and efficiency is far better that their competitors. For competitors it becomes difficult to catch up and eventually even if they do, they exhaust themselves by then, losing stamina in the process for their possible next run.


Elements of trendDNA


The Way Forward
The next parts will describe in sequence the trenDNA concept in some more detail, the innovation challenge identification process and finally integration with Systematic Innovation to unfold a structure of an “end to end” innovation process which any organization would like to implement.

Connect & explore how we can work on this to identify most desirable customer needs for your organisation's products & services.

References
1)Mann Darrell, Yekta Ozozer trenDNA – “Understanding Populations Better than They Understand Themselves”, IFR Press, UK, 2009

2)Penn Mark “Micro trends”, Penguin Allen Lane

3)Prahalada C.K., M.S.Krishnan, “ The New Age of Innovation” Mc-Grawhill 2008

4)Elie Ofek, Wathieu Luc; A” Are You Ignoring Trends That Could Shake Up Your Business? Harvard Business Review July-August 2010

5)Cowan , Beck “Spiral Dynamics”, Blackwell Business 1996

6)Strauss & Howe “The Fourth Turning”, Broadway Books,1997

7)Pine B.J. Gary Gilmore “ The Experience Economy” Harvard Business School Press, 1999

8)Rosenzweig Phil “The Halo Effect” Free Press, 2007

9)Kim & Mauborgne “ The Blue Ocean Strategy”, Harvard Business School Press

The article was first published in Mr. Prashant Joglekar's LinkedIn pulse page. It has been re-published here with the authors' permission
Author
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[content title="About Prashant Joglekar"]
Prashant Joglekar
An engineering postgraduate from IIT Mumbai. His career spans over 21 + years and core skills include Systematic Innovation- TRIZ Training / Facilitation, Business Transformation, Total Quality Management, Business Process Design & Management, Lean and Six Sigma training / facilitation. Prashant's mission is to prepare, nurture innovative minds & broker ideas by cross-pollinating them across an enterprise
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