Thursday, March 13, 2008

Virtual Worlds to Reduce Commuting Costs?

As gas prices, pollution and traffic congestion increase, daily commuting to the office becomes less and less acceptable. With the average person travelling 40min each direction to work in Toronto, there must be a method of avoiding this!

Online networking tools like Lotus Sametime, ICQ, MSN and Skype have all reduced costs of communicating with remote offices and improved information transfer. There is however new methods of communication that will change the way business is done.

Virtual Worlds! (like

In these online worlds you can communicate, educate, network, start a business and even make money. While different users would obviously have different applications for this type of environment, the most common applications are:

1) Online meetings with visual/verbal communication with people, presentations, product models and so forth.

2) Product Marketing showing the actual function, appearance and relative cost of the system. The currency conversion allows you to try pricing strategy in the virtual world prior to releasing it in the real world. This could be the future of market research as it is the most realistic response to a product launch next to the real world launch.

3) The platforms are great for online training due to the different interfaces and communication methods.

Large companies like IBM, adidas, Samsung, Toyota, BMW, and many Universities are all using these tools giving it some sort of validity. Additionally, with Intel making a similar system focused for the China market, the future increases in online traffic to these worlds may great a large potential for reaching new market segments.

While the social impacts of these are debatable, the impact on marketing costs, marketing channels, communication costs and travel-time are all going to be unprecedented.

Improving Environmental Sustainability

Improving Environmental Sustainability

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Disruptive Technology

Disruptive technology is the only way in this high-tech fast paced industry to create sustainable differentiated competitive advantage.

What is disruptive technology? Disruptive technology is a new technology that often creates new customers for an existing similar product. These disruptive technologies create new market share by capturing customers that would not normally be interested in the technology due to price, characteristics or availability.

How to create a disruptive technology?

1) Identify a market that is competing on price with limited differentiation.
2) Identify replacement technologies that are already sought after by using tools like Google Trends to identify what people are looking for.
3) Then look up what people are talking about on blogs as disrupters by searching through Technorati
4) Then identify a feasible technology
5) Test the market using predictive markets and blog trends

An example for renewable energy would be Magnetic Motors:
1) There is a huge drive to reduce fuel & electricity consumption plus creating a sustainable environment
2) Magnetic motors can create a motor without the energy consumption
3) Use and to see the increase in trends for electric motors.
4) Follow up with strategy and implementation

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Joint Development -

There is a large value in getting lead users (most knowledgeable customers) involved with design. If you aggregate all the customers together you end know more then the developer themselves. This is typically because they want to modify the product to fit their particular interests and thus find the weaknesses or future potential market prior to the company seeing the shifts in market trends.

These lead users are great for understanding what trends are coming. For example, Toyota Prius owners are customizing their cars to get more power and better fuel economy in ways that Toyota did not consider.

What does it take to get this development?
- These lead user innovators should be given a good quality product that is consistant and has room to be expanded or fixed.
- There needs to be a form to get the technology to them and innovation back from them.
- A method of controlling, communicating and regulating the lead users

How does this benefit Sustainable design?
- The lead users face needs that will be general in a marketplace but face them
months or years before the bulk of that marketplace encounters them, and
- They expect to benefit significantly by obtaining a solution to those needs (personal interests)
- Another form of market analysis to find out what the market wants

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Corporate Social Responsibility

In a world recognized Global Executive MBA program, questions like the following have been asked:

What is CSR?
How is the government going to drive CSR?

While I am not the perfect example of social and environmental responsibility, I can’t help but worry about the future. As future leaders and decision makers of society, if we aren’t aware of our impacts on the environment (in more then just the economical sense) that our decisions create, then how are things going to change?

Corporate social responsibility has many names and many definitions but the overall principal is to stop hurting people and the environment (Whether this be through pollution, unsafe products, unsafe working conditions or through exploitive low wages).

How will the government drive this? They don’t, the people do. We have the fundamental ability to consume or not consume. Most places in the world have the option to take public transportation instead of driving in order to reduce gas consumption. Similarly the choice of products with more or less packaging or products without hazardous chemicals. A simple economic principle that supply equals demand demonstrates that if less people want non-sustainable products then less of these products will be made in the future. Even more dramatically, democratic countries are voted in by the people. That means us! We get to choose what the government issues are and we get to choose who is going to resolve those issues.

Next time you see the foaming in the water, garbage overflowing out of trash bins or industrial smoke stacks exhausting hazardous chemicals; ask yourself what are you doing to change this.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Collective Intelligence & Market Trends

"If they Google it, they do it"

Not only has "Google it" become a verb, but it has become a method of anticipating market trends prior to analysts completing their reports. The best part is that it is free!

While not an exact science, Google Trends can be used as a prediction method. Comparing the search terms for water pollution, air pollution, energy consumption and oil consumption provide a clear picture of what the market is focusing on.

A ten second search indicates Air and Water pollution are larger concerns then oil and energy consumption. Furthermore, it is possible to see that India and Singapore are the largest searchers on pollution. This provides starting points to understand markets, what they are looking for and what should be investigated further. The link below provides a comparison of search terms related to pollution:

Saving Trees Through Better Knowledge Management

Ever noticed the incredible waste in the office recycling bin or even worse the trash bin? Are you tired of resubmitting the same 50 page document 10 times after small changes? The average office worker in the United States uses about 2lbs of paper per day. This cuts down about 30 acres per year of trees in order to feed the paper industry.

These trees and office headaches can all be saved by using better knowledge management. Traditionally people have used complicated document management systems or inefficient repetitions of emails. These systems have limited abilities to capture, organize and retrieve information shared to allow for research and strategy development. For instance, ever tried searching through your email for the latest copy of that document you sent one of your clients a year ago? This lack of data management leaves companies unable to communicate with certainty over past transactions. Or worse, unable to respond to current litigation over past contracts.

So how to resolve this knowledge management problem? The future takes us to software like Google Documents or Wiki sharing. This allows transfer of information to both internal and external customers. Multiple people can modify the document at the same time while watching the changes live. This leaves a forum for communication and information transfer that saves paper and headaches. It eliminates lost revisions, documents times of information transfer and even records what changes were made by who. There is no need for multiple paper revisions or arguements over who sent who what and when it was sent.

Assuming a culture can be created to ensure modifications to the information fits with company branding, this can be implemented easily and effectively. This is a environmentally friendly solution that saves trees while reducing company expenses. This is the future of knowledge management and early adaption is the key to improving operating efficiencies!