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Soulskill

SternisheFan sends in an article about the new features and developments we can expect out of smartphones in the near future. The shortlist: more sensors for tracking the world outside the phone, more gesture-based (i.e. non-touch) input, and integration with wearable computers like smartwatches and Google Glass. From the article: "These under-appreciated components -- the gyroscope, accelerometer, magnetometer, and so forth -- are starting to get more friends in the neighborhood. Samsung, for instance, slipped pressure, temperature, and humidity sniffers into the Galaxy S4. They may not be the sexiest feature in your phone, but in the future, sensors like accelerometers will be able to collect and report much more detailed information. ... In addition to air quality, temperature and speed of movement are also biggies. [Also, a smartphone that can] track your pulse, or even double as an EKG, turning the everyday smartphone into a medical device. ... [For wearable computing,] your smartphone is still there, still essential for communicating with your environment, but it becomes only one device in a collection of other, even more personal or convenient gadgets, that solve some of the same sorts of problems in different or complementary ways." What do you think will be the next generation of killer features for smartphones?

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Cognizant

This Series On The Future Of The Workplace Is Brought To You By Cognizant.

Steve Jobs art from computer objects

Anyone can come up with one good idea. Visionaries come up with big ideas over and over again. Now, here's a secret: Anyone can learn to be a visionary.

"People seem to think that innovation is a special gift. That someone's got, they are born with it. That's bogus. Innovation is a skill that you can learn, practice and become skilled at," says Phil McKinney, an innovation consultant and former CTO of HP's $40 billion PC division, formerly known as the Personal Systems Group.

During his nine years at HP, he helped turn that group around from losing $1.5 billion to being the No. 1 PC maker, pocketing $2 billion in profit. He also started a group called the Innovation Program Office -- cutely nicknamed IPO. It found and funded HP employees' ideas so they wouldn't leave for startups. (He left HP in late 2011.)

McKinney is known for his popular Killer Innovations podcast. He's currently trotting around the country teaching people how to innovate and he's put it all into his new book, Beyond The Obvious.

We caught up with McKinney at a lecture in Colorado where explained how anyone can cultivate creative genius.

No. 1: Change your routines. Look at things a new way.  Drive new routes to work (or try public transportation or ride your bike to work). Eat lunch with different people. Hang out in new social circles. "Get out of your comfort zone. Innovation is looking at things in new ways. If you talk to the same people or hang out at the same Starbucks, you don't see anything new."

No 2: Do a daily brainstorming session on ANYTHING. Eventually, you'll apply this to your business but start with whatever is outside your window or something you see on your commute. Pick a question and start writing down ideas like: "How would I improve the lawn care business?" Or "What other items would people buy at the coffee shop?" Don't stop until you reach 50 ideas.  Don't filter. No matter how wild or stupid, write it down.

"The first third of your ideas will be obvious, the second third will be challenging. The final third are really hard and where the diamonds are," he says.

No. 3: Don't stop at the first answer to any question.  For instance, what is half of 13? 6.5? In one of McKinney's workshops, participants came up with 43 correct answers to that question. In a deck of cards, the answer is 5 (the median card in a suit). In Roman numerals, XIII, the answer is XI (11) and II (2). Want to be creative? Practice looking past the first, obvious answer.

Phil McKinneyNo. 4: Apply focus to your brainstorming. Once you are in the habit of thinking creatively, start narrowing brainstorming to a focused question targeted at your business/career.

No. 5: Notice assumptions. This is difficult because assumptions are hard to see. They are rules we don't even know we are following. McKinney says HP's PC division had to overcome the assumption that there were only two big buying periods for PCs ... back to school (the fall) and end of year (the holidays). They came up with a new season, summer, which they called Dads and Grads (Father's Day and graduation).

To find assumptions ask yourself: Why can't I do this idea? How do I know that reason is still true? What would it look like if it wasn't true?

No. 6: Rank your ideas to find one worth pursing.  Have everyone in your work team help you rank them. The good ideas will become obvious, McKinney promises (More detail on ranking is covered in the book.)

No. 7: NEVER let "not enough resources" stop you. Not enough money, time or people is actually a good thing. "Not enough resources" forces you into creative new processes. Getting all the resources you think you need leads you to work in the the same old way. That's a recipe for a bomb, McKinney says.

No. 8: Ignore self doubt. You'll have it. Good ideas are hard work. Your first try -- maybe even your first 10 tries -- won't be perfect. If you let that stop you then you'll always be stopped.

No. 9: Beware the "corporate antibodies." Eventually, your idea will need some champions in your company or your industry. To get them, you'll have to bat down the naysayers, which McKinney calls "corporate antibodies." (Read more about that: Don't Let 'Corporate Antibodies' Kill Your Best Ideas, Warns Ex-HP Exec)

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The Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) is known beyond Silicon Valley for its role developing products—Ethernet, WSYIWYG editors, laser printing. But mentions of those historic heights were kept at a minimum during this week's Power of 10 conference. The message of the day was clear with the first words to greet guests at the registration table (via both conference workers and a commemorative bookmark).

"Just wanted to let you know, 'Xerox PARC' is so 10 years ago. Today, we're 'PARC, a Xerox company.'"

PARC's Power of 10  is a year-long series of events, including public-friendly guest presentations and this half-day conference, to commemorate the company's first ten years of independent operation. In 2002 Xerox incorporated PARC as an independent, wholly owned subsidiary, shifting the R&D pioneers toward an open innovation business model that took center stage on Thursday.

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If you're involved in the startup community or even just follow Hacker News, there's a pretty good chance that you've heard about "lean startups" or the "lean startup method." In his bestselling book, The Lean Startup, Eric Ries outlines a framework for small, innovative teams to more efficiently find product/market fit for new products. At its core is a focus on evaluating product design decisions based on user data gathered from scientific experiments. Eric argues ...

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TEDxCentralSaintMartins - Tom Hulme - Designing for Emergence

Tom is Design Director at IDEO in London, where he uses the innovation and design process to develop new business opportunities. A serial entrepreneur and angel investor, Tom has first-hand experience in building successful enterprises and, as a result, a very thorough understanding of business. He is a Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum and was listed in WIRED UK's top 100 "digital power brokers". He is particularly interested in commercializing new products and services, and his IDEO clients and angel investments include technology, retail, fashion, fast-moving consumer goods, financial services, and hospitality brands. Tom founded OpenIDEO, IDEO's open innovation platform that won a 2011 Webby Award in the Community Category and presently has over 30000 users from more than 170 countries. The technology is now being applied to clients to manage their own closed communities. Prior to attending college, Tom spent a year teaching secondary school in Tanzania, contributing to his belief in the power of entrepreneurship for sustainable social good. Tom then earned a bachelor's degree in physics (with honors) from the University of Bristol and an MBA from Harvard Business School, where he received the Baker Scholar Award of high distinction. In 1998, he joined British sports-car manufacturer Marcos, where he became managing director and transformed the loss-making company into a profitable enterprise by diversifying the company into race and road cars. He sold <b>...</b>
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Why do so many great companies fail? Professor Clay Christensen of the Harvard Business School argued they fail because of something he called The Innovator’s Dilemma – a term he popularized to describe the way in which smart companies become prisoners of their own innovation. So is it possible to escape the innovator’s dilemma? I had the honor of interviewing Clay at The Economist‘s Innovation event in Berkeley last week where the great man talked to me about how Google might escape the innovator’s dilemma, why he worries about Apple’s future, how to effectively innovate in education and healthcare and why most business school professors get the economy so wrong.

This is the second in a week long series of interviews from the Innovation event. Tomorrow, check out my interviews with Vivek Wadhwa on racism in Silicon Valley and GE marketing chief, Beth Comstock, on the oldest start-up in the world.

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Editor’s Note: This guest post is written by Doug Pepper, who is a General Partner at InterWest Partners where he invests in SaaS, mobile, consumer Internet and digital media companies. He blogs at dougpepper.blogspot.com.

Everyone expects startups, even successful ones, to undergo a cycle of hype, disappointment and ultimately growth on the way to a sustainable business. But what about new technology markets themselves? Does the growth of a new market follow a similar pattern?

Fred Wilson recently wrote about the twists and turns that startups face (expanding on Paul Graham’s astute “Startup Curve”). I’d like to take those ideas further and describe the “Market Curve” — a similar path that new markets take on the path to sustainability.

The chart below shows the basic pattern. Markets often experience a “Hype Cycle” of overheated expectations followed by a trough — call it “Facing Reality.” If the market ultimately succeeds, the next phase is “Liftoff.” But troughs don’t end until several ingredients are present. First, there must be broad adoption of core underlying technologies that support the market. Second, there needs to be compelling reference applications to drive mainstream adoption. Finally, there must be a pioneering company, typically with a charismatic leader, that leads the market out of the trough. Obviously not all markets are destined to make it out of their trough.

For entrepreneurs and investors the most exciting element of the Market Curve is that, once the trough ends, strong technology markets ultimately prove more valuable than anyone imagined even during the Hype Cycle. Here are a few examples of how different technology markets fit into this curve.

Internet: Broadband Penetration and YouTube

The late ‘90s saw extreme hype surrounding the Internet but the market was simply not yet ready to deliver. With only five million fixed broadband connections in 2000 the underlying technology wasn’t there. Plus there were very few truly compelling applications. The Internet entered its “Facing Reality” trough in the early 2000’s and failed to live up to initial expectations.

But, by 2005, there were 43 million U.S. broadband connections and addictive applications like YouTube and eventually Facebook. That year Jeff Bezos launched Amazon Prime and convinced mainstream consumers that they could conveniently and safely shop for anything online. Since then, the Internet has proven to be more transformative to our civilization and more ingrained into mainstream culture than ever imagined.

Amazon has surfed the wave of the Internet’s Market Curve almost from the very beginning. Their stock price clearly follows this pattern.

Mobile: The iPhone and App Store

Between 2000 and 2005, nearly every VC firm had Mobile as a core investment sector. And, with few exceptions, those investments were unsuccessful. During that time, mobile networks were slow and unreliable (remember the CDPD network?), devices were clunky and carriers thwarted innovation. Clearly, that all changed when Steve Jobs launched the iPhone in 2007 and replaced the carrier decks with the App Store. And, with more than one billion mobile broadband subscribers globally, the post-PC mobile computing industry is in a “Liftoff” phase that is accelerating beyond wildest expectations.

SaaS: Salesforce.com and Successfactors

When I first joined my VC firm, InterWest Partners, in September 2000, the Application Service Provider (ASP) concept was all the rage. These ASPs offered off-the-shelf software to enterprises delivered over the Internet. However, between 2001 and 2007, adoption was slow because enterprises were more concerned with security risks than the benefits of hosted software.

Over time, Internet security and reliability improved and several pioneering companies, including Marc Benioff’s Salesforce.com and Lars Daalgard’s Successfactors, emerged with proprietary software applications that proved the benefits of SaaS delivery. Today, this market has broadened into a larger paradigm called Cloud Computing with corporations shifting nearly every aspect of their IT infrastructure into the Cloud. This could not have been imagined during the Hype Cycle of this market.

Market Failures: Troughs That Never End

Of course, not every market recovers from its trough. For example, while there are certainly specific nano technologies that are fundamental to many products, a broader nanotechnology market hasn’t emerged. It’s not clear that it ever will. And, in my opinion, Cleantech currently sits at the bottom of the trough. Because of extreme capital intensity, long sales cycles and wavering enterprise and consumer interest in “Green,” this market has become challenged. The question is whether Cleantech will ever emerge from the depths of the trough where it sits today and become the powerful market that John Doerr, Vinod Khosla and many others had hoped.

In the chart below, I show where a number of current technology Markets sit along the Market Curve.

Takeway: Have Conviction During the Trough

The best investors recognize and take advantage of these troughs and the best entrepreneurs lead Markets out of the trough. When SaaS was in the trough, Marc Benioff built Salesforce.com and Dave Strohm invested in Lars Daalgard at Successfactors. When the Internet was in the trough, Jeff Bezos built Amazon.com and Roelof Botha invested in YouTube. In the case of Steve Jobs, he invented a product and pioneered a business model that altered the Mobile market and led it out of the trough. The key is to have conviction about a Market and, as an investor, look for the technologies, products and leaders that will end the trough. Or, as an entrepreneur, launch market leading products and business models to end it yourself.

Marketo is an example of an investment my firm, InterWest, made during a trough. During the late 1990′s, there was a peak of excitement around Marketing Automation with companies like Annuncio, Rubric, Marketfirst and ePiphany. But, the market was not ready. Marketers were not adopting Internet techniques for acquiring customers and they didn’t have sufficient budgets to adopt and implement enterprise software.

By 2006 when InterWest invested in Marketo, the company’s founders believed, and my colleague Bruce Cleveland and I agreed, that the market had progressed along the Market Curve. Marketers had begun consistently utilizing search engine marketing, landing pages, email marketing, and online content marketing … all the activities that are harnessed and optimized by Marketing Automation and Lead Nurturing products. And, the SaaS delivery and business model meant that marketers could quickly see ROI without big budgets or IT resources.

We had conviction that that the Marketo team would create the compelling products needed to lead the Marketing Automation market out of the trough. Today it seems clear that this market will be larger than expected even during the initial Hype Cycle.

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