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Mercedes-Benz Smart Car Concept - Would Gottlieb Daimler Share this Vision?

The spark for the growth of the modern gasoline powered automobile was an innovation race. In the early 1890s,"Le Petit Journal, a French newspaper with a knack for publicity stunts, decided to hold a contest to discover the best method of propulsion: steam, electricity or petrol engine. It invited entrants to drive from Paris to Rouen, a distance of 79 miles. Their vehicles would be judged not by their speed but whether they were safe, easy to use and economical to run."

"The clear winner was not a direct participant but an inventor: Gottlieb Daimler, whose internal-combustion engine had powered nine of the vehicles, including the four that shared first prize. He had, the judges proclaimed, “turned petroleum or gasoline fuel into a practical solution” for self-propelled vehicles, which were starting to be referred to in French as “automobiles”. Daimler’s victory helped establish the supremacy of petrol-powered cars in the 20th century, and the term automobile soon spread into English and other languages."

What's in your Smart Car for 2018?


Meet the 2017 World Most Admired Technology and Retail Companies

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Concurrently with BrandZ issuing their 2017 top 100 global brands report which was analyzed in the last post, Fortune Magazine published their latest list of the world most admired companies.

In a digital highly connected world, branding and differentiated customer experiences will define leadership. What is the correlation between brand value and being most admired?  Which companies have already achieved the threshold in being on both lists? What differentiates these companies? Which industry trends are driving increased brand value and being most admired? Are western brands the future of these two lists?

The Top 10 Most Admired vs The Top 10 Global Brands



Happy Chinese New Year.  新年快乐

2017 is the year of the Rooster. Anyone born in the following years - 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, and 2017 - shares the characteristics and personality traits of this tenth of 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac cycle. 

While in Shanghai in early January was fascinated by the amount of innovation discussed in the China Daily newspaper.  The news clips were additional confirmation that all industries in both developed and emerging markets are being digitally disrupted. On multiple fronts, China is advancing faster as they are bypassing traditional legacy technology cycles to new platforms.

On the Road to Being World's Largest Retail Market


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For the past five years, Ford has been publishing a list of global micro trends. The company calls it "a compilation of the most compelling movements across the globe that are shaping how we live, work, and engage with the world around us." 

As we begin the New Year, thought would share my favorite global highlights from both the 2016 and 2017 editions.

Social Media is Hard Work


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Summarizing the first three ingredients driving the age of disruption from Part 1 of this post: 

Geopolitical Risks Ahead

The Netherlands, France, Italy, Austria, Germany, all have key elections in the next 12 months that could potentially join the global populist disruptive wave manifested in Brexit and the surprise USA presidential ballot. Geopolitical turmoil carries risk for global brands and must be carefully navigated for continued success.

Need for Technology Speed

Today is indeed the slowest day of technology change for the rest of your life. Each new disruptive technology is finding its expanded global audience faster. 

Is the Data Economy the New Oil?


InnovationConnecting Greatest Inventions, the Smartphone, the Bar Code, the Cash Register, and New Hype

At a recent growth and innovation summit had the pleasure of once again speaking about the future of retail. To engage the audience in an innovation conversation decided to ask a series of historical technology questions. 

Out of the sixteen researched questions, following are my favorite top five:        

Name One of the Top Five Greatest Inventions of All Time


A recent Forbes article highlighted the following key takeaways from Tesla's latest quarterly results which beat expectations:

apple vs teslaBattery Breakthrough

Major improvements are expected in batteries, including a pure lithium anode that might triple battery capacity in the future. The new Gigafactory batteries will have 10%-15% better capacity due to improved chemistry. The new factory will also reduce costs by at least 30%, allowing Tesla to deliver the much less expensive $35,000 Model 3 by 2017. CEO Alan Musk expects that within the next 10 years electric cars will reach cost parity with combustion engines. 

Car Production

Car production continues to increase and Tesla expects to deliver 35,000 cars during the current financial year. Tesla's goal is to reach a run rate of 100,000 cars per year by the end of 2015. Next spring, Tesla will release the Model X crossover SUV.  Musk expects selling as many units of the new model as the current Model S. The CEO noted that they already had a lot of orders for the Model X, despite buyers having not seen the vehicle.


By 2018, the smart home market will reach $71 billion, more than double the $33 billion in 2013. Eighty percent of the current market is Smart Homedriven by entertainment. By 2020, other research points to a $1.7 billion market just for light controls and $1.4 billion for automated thermostats. 

This month Time magazine dedicated their cover to a special report on "The Smarter Home".  According to Time, the following companies will control your future smarter home:

Tech Titans

Apple - With iOS 8 this fall Apple will release the Apple Homekit.  Say "bedtime" to Siri and your Philips internet bulb will turn off.

Google - Followed up $3.2 billion purchase of Next (smart thermostats / smoke detectors) with acquisition of Dropcam (web enabled security cameras.


The Apple Innovation Model - $7 Billion in 2003 to $171 Billion in 2013

Several recent articles were a great reminder that with the accelerated pace of technology adoption, all business models can beApple quickly disrupted. Global mobile connectivity, virtual marketplaces, social media, and bypassing linear technology adoption approaches are a few of the trends reshaping the current global economy.  

To access a broader market, innovative companies are breaking apart traditional value chains in legacy businesses and targeting higher margin niches to faster growth.  

The Industries Apple Could Disrupt Next 

"Apple has seemingly served as an anomaly to the theory of disruptive innovation.  After all, it grew from $7 billion in 2003 to $171 billion in 2013 by entering established (albeit still-emerging) markets with superior products — something the model suggests is a losing strategy."


Lessons from the Google Acquisition of Nest Technologies

In January, the Economist published a special report on the evolution of technology which they titled "A Cambrian Moment".  The premiseStart a Business of the special report is that "cheap and ubiquitous building blocks for digital products and services have caused an explosion in (tech) start-ups."  The magazine compares the current convergence of technology trends to the "Cambrian explosion" 540 million years ago when life forms began to multiply.