Standards and solutions

Thoughts

It is great that a group of the worlds biggest players within the IoT-space have come together to form Project Connected Home over IP; an initiative to develop more common standards for IoT-devices large and small.

So far one of the big issues with regards to IoT has been a lack of standards. Lots ot things loosely joined – or sometimes not joined at all. Besides creating a focus on technology itself it has also made the usecase almost hopeless for many normal people. Just visit one of the many forums for smarthome-early adopters and watch the agony of trying to make things work.

Normally I don’t believe in technology before figuring out the problem. But in this case, I think that getting closer to standards will actually enable us to focus more on the problems and the use cases for real customers. And thus also the ability to start to fulfill the huge potential of IoT.

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Is disruption dead?

Thoughts

Not at all. It is just not something we talk about in the same way as we did only a few months ago.

Disruption has moved from the rostrums, talks, columns and what have you and from people who basically have little idea about what the notion means to the lab, the office, the daily grind, where experienced brilliant people are working at it instead of talking about it.

There is nothing new in that. Far from it actully. We have always been like that: Faster, longer, higher. It is an anxient phenomon; always looking to improve and – at best – with a significant margin. It is just human nature. And it’s best left to action rather than babble.

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Screaming is not solving

Thoughts

One thing the iQnite case competition on climate change has taught me is that there is a big difference between talking a problem up and the ability or desire to do anything about it.

While we often hear and see young people on the street protesting against climate sinners and calling for action NOW!, I look at the submissions we got for iQnite and the outreach I tried to do to create interest in participating and helping solve some of the real issues. And I see that there are none – ZERO – participants from this group of very activist young people.

Those who did signup were by and large a bit older, had some relevant experience in their belts and – for that reason – had some pretty specific ideas on where they could apply their experience to affect change. And I have come to think that maybe that is just how it is; that the foundation for creating the change and impact needed is that you actually know something and have identified areas, where impact could be created and not just have the ability to protest (eventhough those protests are certainly very valid).

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The value of criticism

Thoughts

One of the great opportunities to learn something new and expand your horizon is to engage in conversation with someone you don’t agree with. You might still have disagreements after your conversation, but at least you have gotten the opportunity to get some perspective. And boy, do we often need that.

For that reason I always seize on the opportunity to reach out to people who have indicated that a shared experience left them somewhat lost or basically made them quit. Because I want to get a chance to at least understand where things went wrong as seen from the other side.

It is so easy to just ignore people who complain or give something you have done a bad review. And yes, it can be daunting to confront criticism, because if you are passionate about what you do, you know that it is going to sting and even hurt. But it is worth it. It adds perspective. It gives you the opportunity to reflect, which is always good. And no, it won’t kill you.

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Outrage versus passion

Thoughts

One of the things I have found while working to create our case competition on climate change, iQnite, is that there is a big difference between outrage about something and passion for doing something about it. Just because you’re outraged about something doesn’t mean that you want to take real action towards doing something about it. Far from it.

While it is easy to find people who are outraged at climate change – just think about FridaysForFuture – it is super, super hard to find people, who are actually passionate about wanting to do anything about it. And it is understandable; protesting is easy, fixing things are hard. Yet the contrast couldn’t be starker.

The way to find the right people seems to be to get personal. Find the people that they talk to on an everyday basis and have them endorse what it is that you are trying to do. That increases the odds of getting people out and getting them committed. Just random trying to get people together and turn their outrage on social media into action won’t make a dent of a difference whatsoever.

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Will they pay?

Thoughts

One of the things that always concern me about doing B2B related products and services is that the user is almost always different from the one who is actually paying the bill. What might constitute a problem for someone down in the organization can be totally overlooked at C-level, making it super hard to get the good solution in the hands of the people who actually need it.

I think there are several ways to try to deal with this. One is the obvious one: Make the solution so inexpensive that it falls well within the limits of discretionary spending that people in the organization may have. In other words: Give them the opportunity to buy it themselves.

The other one is more of a workaround but nonetheless important: Develop the pitch for the C-suite and KNOW full well that aside from having to convince your users, there is a key task in being able to make the hard sell where the money is. If that is where it’s at, it should be as important for you as building the product itself.

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From ‘No’ to ‘Yes’

Thoughts

One of the things that really excites me is to investigate problem spaces to see if there are any good solutions to the problems at hand – or if there is an abundance of opportunity to do better.

I think that Mike Shipulski has an interesting point in arguing that instead of talking about disruption, we should be talking about how we get from “No” to “Yes”; how we create solutions that are above and beyond the existing solutions when it comes to actually solving the problems or meeting the needs of the customer.

I like it because it is almost a binary choice rather than a fluffy, watered down concept; how can we make something that wasn’t possible before and let the customers be better off? I think that binary, straight forward question is the key to a lot of success in innovation.

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Share your epiphanies

Thoughts

Some people might need a guide to sourcing disruptive ideas. For the rest of us, we all – I bet – are painfully aware of where we tend to have our most bright flashes or epiphany moments.

For us it is more a question about being able to capture them than to get to them in the first place. I for one am one of those people that tend to get ideas in the shower, and it is not always that practical, when you know you need to jot something down now, before you forget the train of thought, when you’re all covered by soap, and the water is running.

Where do you get your most inspired moments? And what do you do to safe them for eternity? And when you save them, what usually happens afterwards with them? Do you act on them? Why? Why not? And how do you make the distinction? I am curious to know.

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Lead by experience

Thoughts

Yesterday, the company I chose to deliver fiber to my home made their best effort to loose me as a customer. Due to unfortunate circumstances I narrowly missed a visit by a technician, and when I called them to figure out what went wrong, the customer support was rude and hung up on me.

Companies behaving that way may have a good or even great product. But they have a shitty customer experience. And in a day and age where basically everybody can do anything, the true differentiator between winning and losing as a business with the customer is precisely what happened to me: A shitty customer experience.

Whether you are in a corporate or getting your own startup off the ground you should aim to lead by experience; be the most open, accommodating, empathetic and what have you. Because even if I as a customer come to you with a problem, I will remember you cared – and I will our relationship an extra shot.

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Design for the flipside

Thoughts

The events of recent years have shown that with great technology comes great benefit and great risk. Even the best services and tools can be used in ways that have opposite consequences of what was intended. And the risk of the latter happening gets compounded when the genie is out of the bottle; it gets super hard to stop again. In most instances it is not even possible.

For that reason we need to design products, services and tools in a different way. Where we have long made security a key component of how we think about designing systems, we should also have what I would call the flipside as a key consideration: How could this be exploited to evil ends, and what do we build into the product or service that will help prevent that.

I think that it is both a needed thing to do and a potential gamechanger for many. Trust has eroded in a lot of the platforms and companies that have struggle with ‘doing no evil’, and tomorrows winners will be those that serve an entirely good purpose and – by design – prohibits evil exploitation.

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