Not Just Invention: Change Through the Desire to Innovate, Reimagine and Expand

28 Nov

Part 3 of More than just eCoal, eSteam and ePower: The Modernizing Dynamics of Change

Scaling and Building

Innovators’ value should never be underestimated, given their application of new tools and concepts often for fantastic ends. To understand today’s informatics capacities better it is best to focus on the contribution of architects and engineers to the world around us. For instance, recognising the contribution of columns and then later arches to engineering and architecture is huge. Its difficult to imagine today the benefits load bearing properties have provided civilizations, from the most humble of bridges and houses to the awe inspiring cathedrals, temples and aqueducts each age’s antiquities highlight the values, utilities and design of this benefit.

The Industrial Age is no different. The geologic properties of materials and the newly available compounds such as steel were waiting for great minds such as Isambard Kingdom Brunel to awaken the potential of new scales of engineering, demonstrated in projects originally laughed down as unsound follies. Fortunately the zeal of Victorian enterprise was able to ignore naysayers, particularly as the reward from new transport arteries was too significant. The great scales of the technology created modern forums, including the rail terminal, St Pancras (then the largest single spanning roof in the world) and Crystal Palace, the site of the Great Exhibition. Today, London Bridge’s rail terminal contains a significant and inspiring modernist work, The Shard. With its advanced use of steel and glass properties, it reminds us not only of the recurring importance of proximity of structures to human flows and the inheritances of older material advances but also more expansive applications made possible through the extension of scientific and artistic understanding.


Thinking in terms of information opportunities, much has been said in regards to big data. Whilst betraying the ecosystem of opportunities it provides business through overly simplified terminology, it does provide the construct for presenting the values of volume, velocity and volatility. Gartner’s Doug Laney coined the term Infonomics to describe the concept of data as a formal business asset. Knowing that data has value that may not be apparent, there’s a new emphasis on saving what you have on the chance that it will reveal a meaningful pattern later or will be valuable to a partner or ‘data customer’. In terms of social opportunities this data not only needs to be collected, it needs to be increasingly embedded into business model and strategic thinking.

Mobile technology stands to change the nature of sentiment analysis through the ability to request and receive feedback from exactly where and when a thought is occurring. Like with other social concepts, mobile significantly ups the ante for volume of information, location and time. Mobile gives an organization the chance to intervene while the customer is still unhappy and even still in the store or website.

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Capabilities, Capacity and Competition

 

Considering competition covering of scale and accuracy involving new operating tools, Germany’s unification involving new weaponry and logistics is a useful casestudy. Despite having Europe’s largest land army Austria lost its dominance in the region. Prussia ascended, through matching invention in weaponry (a breech-loaded bolt-action rifle1 that fired at six times the rate) and innovation (as first user of rail transport for European wars) with modern reforms. Koniggratz was devastating2. The Austrians lost 45,000 men, compared to Prussia losing less than 10,000.

Naturally such precedent caused a scramble in research by other nations to emulate this advantage (following lags). In 1866 France adopted their3 bolt-action rifle and trialled it in 1870’s Franco-Prussian War. The battlefield proved the necessity of this weapon class with new models of behaviour (including regiment density and positioning). Observing nations were present. The threat of the opposing sophistication would have necessitated the change in practices, lest the sophistication prove too devastating.

Relating this to business models where rivals are technologically matched, it is not only up to entrepreneurs to identify what component in the business model they have or can create for a competitive business plan. However, given the threat of competing business models where drivers as similar to the rifle situation above it is sensible to also reverse engineer potential weakpoints (or as an alternative consider outsourcing). When it comes to relating change to the objectives and requirements of an organisation, it is not only imperative to build internal models able to maximise opportunities but also enough flexibility to recognise the ability and hunger for rivals to ape what makes your organisation successful. Doing so is especially important in most industries, given technological developments and globalisation have catalysed increasingly short timescales between an invention or innovation being adopted by a first mover and its mainstreaming.

Considering the methods organisations deploy for business models to undermine competitors revenue streams as a form of attrition, it is curious how often it is not only about matching like for like but also trying to isolate rival business models strengths and weaknesses. Reverse engineering key aspects or macros of a business model or working under the conventions of price and quality competition is key. However, it goes further than that, particularly today. It is common for organisations to engage in lateral assaults on rivals’ business revenue streams using aggressive (or even zero cost) pricing schemes to direct customers towards their core business models. For example, the free distribution of iTunes software and low downloads prices at its store (relative to rivals) was a model to encourage uptake of its iPods and subsequently the iPad. In effect it fed financial gains from music production towards a different media type.

Looking at the computational capacities that will be used to power future workplaces, war is already escalating:

Big Data is on every CIO’s mind this quarter, and for good reason. Companies will have spent $4.3 billion on Big Data technologies by the end of 2012.

But here’s where it gets interesting. Those initial investments will in turn trigger a domino effect of upgrades and new initiatives that are valued at $34 billion for 2013, per Gartner. Over a 5 year period, spend is estimated at $232 billion.

The fact that that article was about the opportunity of open source technologies make the proposition all the more intriguing regarding the growing scale of free or lower cost but still useful tools for improving the functioning of an organisation. Industries will be obliged to create in order to maintain competitive advantage and maximise their profit base.

The recent election was a classic case study regarding the importance of data and modern processing and knowledge tools to provide strategic advantage. This extract gives a key parrallel to Konniggratz regarding the relationship between using front line activists and functional tools to increase rate and precision of activities:

The Big Data-based approach, Alterx adds, “allows a campaign to micro-target its efforts for activities on the ground (e.g., where to send canvassers, where to locate signage, even the selection of a school or community center for a candidate visit) to find the actionable areas where the race is likely to 48 to 50.”

By pooling responses over the last several days of a tracking poll (such as Gallup’s and Rasmussen Reports’) there would be a large enough, constantly updated sample, to allow for nearly live local level updates.

“Short-term bumps are spread around, and the basic closeness of a race in a small area isn’t likely to change much with a two to four point bounce in the national polls (A 48 to 50 local race is as close as a 50 to 48 race, even though this change represents a 4 point shift).

This gives a clear example relating to how information systems and social interaction is becoming intertwined, as well as how important it is becoming for executives to maintain an understanding of the capacities and capabilities of competitors.

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1Johann Nikolaus von Dreyse’s breech-loaded bolt-action rifle enabled this switch. It combined a technique previously only used centuries for some early canon models. Modern craft based manufacturing techniques helped. Beyond its brilliance it optimised consistency and cost of production. Long firing pin and sliding bolt functionality meant that Prussian infantry was able to fire six times as many rounds as their Austrian counterparts.

2Machine Guns: An Illustrated History of Their Impact – James H Willbanks – ABC Clio Inc – 2004

3Invented by Antoine Alphonse Chassepot

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More than just eCoal, eSteam and ePower: The Modernizing Dynamics of Change also includes:

  1. Introduction
  2. Economic requirements: Catalyst for Invention, Innovation and Progress
  3. Not Just Invention: Change Through The Desire to Innovate, Reimagine and Expand
  4. New Tools, New Patterns, New Thoughts: the Great Dialogue

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Other sections of Dialogue, Governance and Reform in the Web 2.0 Age series include:

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Other blog posts in the Order From Chaos miniseries include:

  1. Order From Chaos: Performance Management and Social Media Analytics in the Age of Big Data;
  2. Abstraction, Perspective and Complexity: Social Media’s Canon of Proportions;
  3. Logic, Computation and (f*(k?) Meming: On2logi+k,ing;
  4. Transposition, Catalysts and Synthesis: Playing with iMacwells eDemon.

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Other blog posts in the Order From Chaos miniseries include:

  1. Order From Chaos: Performance Management and Social Media Analytics in the Age of Big Data;
  2. Abstraction, Perspective and Complexity: Social Media’s Canon of Proportions;
  3. Logic, Computation and (f*(k?) Meming: On2logi+k,ing;
  4. Transposition, Catalysts and Synthesis: Playing with iMacwells eDemon.

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If you have any suggestions, relevant links or questions to add flavour to this series then please join the dialogue below or contact me via Twitter:

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Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Dialogue, Governance and Reform in the Web 2.0 Age: The Art of Noise « So Opinionated … - November 28, 2012

    […] Not Just Invention: Change Through The Desire to Innovate, Reimagine and Expand […]

  2. Economic requirements: Catalyst for Invention, Innovation and Progress « So Opinionated … - November 28, 2012

    […] Not Just Invention: Change Through The Desire to Innovate, Reimagine and Expand […]

  3. More than just eCoal, eSteam and ePower: The Modernizing Dynamics of Change « So Opinionated … - November 28, 2012

    […] Not Just Invention: Change Through The Desire to Innovate, Reimagine and Expand « So Opinionat… – November 28, 2012 […]

  4. New Tools, New Patterns, New Thoughts: the Great Dialogue « So Opinionated … - November 28, 2012

    […] ← Not Just Invention: Change Through The Desire to Innovate, Reimagine and Expand […]

  5. Nobody Will Notice The Slow Death of Dissmeination, They Will Be Too Busy Listening « So Opinionated … - November 29, 2012

    […] of any work. This can include qualitative as well as quantitative results. As mentioned, in a previous post covering technology, invention and competition, it is common for organisations to engage in […]

  6. Abstraction, Perspective and Complexity: Social Media’s Canon of Proportions « So Opinionated … - February 11, 2013

    […] Not Just Invention: Change Through The Desire to Innovate, Reimagine and Expand; […]

  7. Logic, Computation and (f*(k?) Meming: On2logi+k,ing « So Opinionated … - February 11, 2013

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  8. Order From Chaos: Performance Management and Social Media Analytics in the Age of Big Data « So Opinionated … - February 11, 2013

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