Meeting Hugo Barra: take-aways

Yesterday, we had the chance to meet Hugo Barra, former VP of Android at Google and current Global VP at Xiaomi (the Chinese Apple). Pia of Kickstart, who organized the event asked me my thoughts and learnings of this session. I thought I could share them here too!

– The big difference between Xiaomi and Samsung/Apple is that Xiaomi uses a lot social media to sell their products
– 3 pillars in Xiamo business: Software first (high margins), hardware (low margins) and internet services (low, but growing margins)
– Your first 100, and then 10,000 first customers are very important. You find them really engaged on your Value Proposition and you try to find similar people through similar channels, or searching for similar demographic profile. You actually choose your first customers, then you find more customers like them and finally you expand to other types of customers. Xiamo is looking for techy, geeky people who blog or have an active community around them to talk about phones and gadgets.
– “Engineers love to complicate things, Designers love to simplify things”
– “Remove stuff until you can’t anymore” to build your MVP
– A lot of industries price their product bottom-up. They find the acceptable price for the users, but then can’t reach profitability. Xiaomi prices its product top-down, so they’re always profitable
– The first rule on hardware markets today is Price aggressively. Except if you’re Apple
– The big difference between developed and developing countries is that here, the experience is increasingly mobile-only. You discover and buy the product on your mobile, while in developed countries, you discover it on mobile, but buy it home or at the office on a desktop computer

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Protecting my work. Please advice!

More than a year ago, I was contacted by the guys of Vision Mobile. It was a great honor for me since I’m a big fan of what they do.
They found my DICoDE model interesting and were looking for a new member in their team more focussed on the Media side of the Telecom ecosystems. We decided to collaborate on a blog post for their website to see how we can work together. Ultimately, I took the decision not to publish this article seeing it appeared to be more a guest post than a collaboration since I created all the content by myself. You can see the latest drafted version here.

pirate flagsA few weeks ago, I was surprised to see an analysis grid in one of their reports with a structure very close to DICoDE. I asked them about it and all they admitted is that ‘Great minds think alike’. I was not asking for more than acknowledgement that my work inspired them and receiving credit for it. As you know, I am a one-person initiative trying to find like-minded people to collaborate and all visibility in this perspective is important to me. That’s the reason why I share all my work under a Creative Common 3.0 license. As much as I love sharing what I do, I believe it is important to have it respected and publicize any infringement. Myself, I always credit IME (IESE branch focussed on Media and Entertainment industries)’s Value Chain model in every communication, since it really is a game changing event in my research and I will always be grateful for what it brought me.

As we apparently both are certain of our point, I would like to ask you, fellow readers, what you think of it. They claim that this grid is a natural evolution of their previous ‘Player Positioning Analysis’. I see a big change between the 2011 Components Grid of their Megatrends Report and after our collaboration around DICoDE (early 2012), coming from listing key components of the ecosystem to drawing a whole Value Chain. Not only did they stop listing important components of Telecom ecosystems to present an organized Value Chain (see the end of this post), but they also used terms they never used before in this context. It appears that 3 of the 5 steps of their Value Chain are exactly the same terms as the ones used in DICoDE (Content, Connectivity, User) which never appear in their previous versions. Further, at least 4 concepts are similar: Aggregation/Distribution, Screen/User Interface, Software Platform/OS and Devices/Hardware. Have a look by yourself:


To better understand where they come from before our collaboration, their previous version was listing these components: Social Networks, Cloud Services, Developer Ecosystem, Network, User Interface, Operating System, Hardware IP, Manufacturing without displaying them as a Value Chain (notice also the arrows that appeared after we collaborated). Here’s the historical evolution of both models side-by-side. What do you guys think?


Vision Mobile Megatrends 2009
IME (IESE) Value Chain Tool used during the Business Strategies in the Digital Age class
Vision Mobile Megatrends 2010
DICoDE v1 (2010)
Simplified DICoDE v1 (2010)
Vision Mobile Megatrends 2011
DICoDE v2 (2011)
Collaboration between Fabian Tilmant and Vision Mobile using DICoDE to map Digital Magazine ecosystems and understand Business Models (not published)
Vision Mobile Megatrends (2012)
Vision Mobile Telco Innovation Toolbox (2013)

Note: If you want to go further down memory lane, check this blog post showing the very genesis of DICoDE, even before the IME Class.

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Microsoft inspiring me again!

8 Insights About The Coming Era Of Interactive Design

A few days ago, early in the year habit, I updated my LinkedIn profile to better fit my current activities and to prepare my goal for 2013: finding a structure where I can develop my full potential in 2014. I added the projects I am working on, mostly DICoDE, Leanovation and the Media Innovation Lab I’d like to launch in Brussels. I also added the fields of research/thoughts that animate me in parallel.
Fabian Tilmant LinkedIn profile excerpt - projectsI feel a connection between these and my current projects as well as among themselves. I’d love to research more on this, but I feel tired pushing my limits for more than 4 years now. I really feel the need of challenging my thoughts with other experts, of taking part into bigger processes (for experimenting, communicating…), of prototyping and testing them… and this is only possible in a structure with a bigger purpose. That’s probably why I am super excited by the Brussels’ Media Innovation Lab project, even if I’m managing it from The Philippines. The Media Innovation Lab is crowdsourced (fill the survey if you want to give your advice) so probably fully in line with my research, but it gathers people on a bigger purpose. And that’s enough to motivate me!

Earlier today, Thomas Marzano retweeted a tweet from @brechtjedeleij that caught my attention: “8 Insights About The Coming Era Of Interactive Design” from FastCompany. I clicked on it and waited for the video to load. 18 minutes… but produced/sponsored by Microsoft and starring people from some of the most innovative companies out there: Frog, Arduino, Twitter… I believed it worth the wait… especially since A Glimpse Ahead, a similar (while shorter) initiative from Microsoft really inspired me a few years ago at the beginning of my research (my DICoDE era) as already blogged in here.

And I haven’t been disappointed! It actually tackles most of the topics of my current research. Even connecting directly Mobile to Smart Cities, while I still believed we had to go through Transportation for making the link (like I tried to reveal it during the last Mobile Monday Brussels I organised/curated). It’s just a great source of inspiration and, I have to confess, of validation for the concepts I’m currently trying to connect. It feels very refreshing and energising seeing a big company having the same wavelength of research as me and being able to tell the story in a very compelling way. Maybe I need to connect to more Microsoft people for my big 2014 challenge!

It is interesting to see that Microsoft, often seen stuck between the Über-cool Apple and the Über-geeky Google, has a vision that is very compelling and, on a personal note, very close to mine. While Google sees the Internet of Things as a layer on glasses (even if Berg brings them closer to the most probable – while less sic-fi – Smart Objects track), I believe the future of Experience is Natural, as I explain in this talk.

I just hope that Microsoft will be able to bring this vision to the market listening to their users and not acting as an artsy-fartsy creator.

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LinkedIn based peer assessment for Fabian Tilmant

Last month, I connected to this LinkedIn app that sends a survey to your network and provides you with results. The main advantage is that the answers are anonymous which guarantees more qualitative results. I would like to thank the 65 people who participated and helped me having a better view on my strengths and weaknesses. I definitely take your advice into account for the rest of my journey, and, in fact, it is aligned with my goals for 2013 and 2014 =o)

The full report is available here if you’re curious! I’m just posting here the 10 statements that some respondents left. And to answer the last one, We can share a beer anytime! =o)

Fabian’s greatest strength is to transform abstract concepts into a structured framework. Fabian can improve on translating the concepts into clearly understandable points instead of relying on the audience being on the same mental wavelength as him
Professional Acquaintance

Up to date with technology and its possebilities. Better reaching out for what he wants or needs.
Professional Acquaintance

Greatest strength: vision and know-how! Point of growth: self-confidence (meaning that it is OK to question and challenge yourself, but it mustn’t become self-doubt)

Fabian is an entrepeneur. He has great ideas, clear vision and strong creativity to bring out solutions for users. He perhaps needs to go further on delivering final results and do it very well when he’s leading a team

Visionary Deliver on the vision in full.
Professional Acquaintance

Very productive and creates good product and launching/marketing. Needs to establish his geographical base – Asia or Europe – or USA?

Fabian is persistent and focused on achieving the objectives set while keeping an open mind towards alternative solutions for reaching the objectives.

Likeability and initiative are key strengths. More rigor in analysis grounded in real-life situations and the ability to make credible long term commitment to a business project are areas for improvement.
Worked Together but at different companies

Fabian is great at identifying new ideas, approaches and trends. He is very driven and has a clear appetite for innovation. His greatest area for improvement is to control this appetite for the new and to focus on turning ideas into reality.
Worked Together but at different companies

We have just worked so far, we should have some beers as well one day 🙂

[Update January 17th 2013]: I just want to express how grateful and happy I am to be seen the way I feel I belong: as an Investigative type of person. I’ve worked very hard for the last 5 years to thrive in this direction, after more than 5 years proving my value as a doer. I hope that I’ll be able moving forward in this direction pursuing my projects (DICoDE, Leanovation, Media Innovation Lab…) and that I’ll find a structure where these skills are valued and challenged.

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We wish you a LEANOVATIOUS 2013 !

2012 was a year where other duties, mostly related to my personal life, didn’t allow me to push my projects as far as I wanted. 2013 will be more focussed on Leanovation and on other projects, such as a Media Innovation Lab in Brussels and what I am currently doing in The Philippines (see my LinkedIn profile or follow me on Twitter for updates). And yes, I am still looking for people who would like to collaborate on one of these projects, or something where we will find a common interest.

In the meantime, allow us to wish you a wonderful year 2013 with this video !

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Business Models. More Fun in The Philippines

I am starting a new series, inspired by the country that’s currently my home, since early October and for many more months to come. I’ve been seduced by the latest advertising campaign promoting the country lately, and by the big meme it generated on the web: More Fun in The Philippines.

One of the things that caught my attention when I first came to The Philippines in 2009: the stores where different kinds and qualities of rice are displayed side by side. And none of them has the same price! I knew then that I wanted to use this image, but for what exactly, I didn’t know yet.

So here it is! I’ve decided to update every few weeks my Facebook Timeline with a new visual showing how this country is inspiring me day after day, with its most common, ordinary traits. Starting with Business Models.
This could be a conversation starter on social networks.

The theme will always be related, far or close, to my Leanovation and/or DICoDE projects. Using a foreigner’s perspective, I want to highlight that technology or business techniques can be used or seen differently in another country, from another continent, in another culture. And this More Fun in The Philippines concept allows doing so using a very tongue-in-cheek humor which is one of the best traits of the Filipinos, beside being very kind and always smiling =o)

So expect very exotic pictures, surprisingly innovative ways of hacking technology or business techniques, perspectives on how we see things in the West and hopefully some inspiring conversations on Facebook and Twitter!

[Update January 8th 2013]: Here’s the second one, on Branding!


[Update February 5th 2013]: Here’s the third one on Metrics, inspired by the Lean Analytics workshop of Kickstart given by Pollenizer

Metrics, more fun in The Philippines

[Update March 7th 2013]: Here’s the fourth one on Cord-cutting, a concept all Telco players start to know very well. Dedicated to all my friends working in the Cable and Telecom industry


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Mabuhay Leanovation !

Here I am! It’s been a month already that I landed here in The Philippines and I’m back in business. This first month was focused mostly on the apartment I am sharing with my Love: fixing paperwork, installation details, internet connection, administration…The place is gorgeous and the view is breahtless, check it out! It was really worth spending a month on the set up! We’re located in the best neighborhood of Metro Manila in my opinion: Bonifacio Global City. A sort of mini-Manhattan half finished with residential buildings, office places and a lot of greens!

The Philippines is not only a beautiful country with amazingly friendly people, it is also a very promising economy on the Asian scene. And in these times where Western Economies are struggling between reality of worldwide trade and comfort habits above what they can afford, Metro Manila is definitely a place where you can both dream and get real! It’s a place where Entrepreneurship and Social Responsibility are hardwired in people’s hearts.
If you look at figures, you can see that The Philippines has impressive potential, growth rate and volume in innovative sectors like the Internet, Mobile, Social Networks, E-commerce. And having met with the people who are making it happen at the moment, I can tell that these perspectives are justified! Grassroots networks like Roofcamp, Mobile Monday, Startup Weekend, Social Innovation Camp, Rail Girls, Geek Girls… and many kinds of Hackathon stimulate young entrepreneurs, coders, enthusiasts to make it happen (check out to see all these initiatives)! While technology has never been so easy to mold!

I am particularly close to Kickstart through their LaunchGarage initiative in which I have the honor being a mentor. I’m doing my best helping MyLegalWhizSulit AppsTripsiders and WorkInspire (upgrade of Kolibo) in their quest!
All this started 2 years ago when I contacted Jay of Proudcloud to find a coworking space to start writing the (then DICoDE) book in a stimulating environment… Serendipity!

DICoDE, which I left on the side, giving full focus on Leanovation on this blog, seems to follow the 3-year rule I experienced in 10+ years being active in Innovation. It seems that I have developed a capability to come up with Product/Business Model concepts 2 to 3 years ahead of the market, which would mean that DICoDE will hit mainstream in the coming months. I actually feel it seeing how Media and Telecom corps are having a bad time, especially in mature markets. Entertainment industry will follow. Only Device and Software giants understood the Ecosystem logic and are using it very well. At least for the American ones… This also shows that the Platform tools I wanted to develop are also aligned with where the market is heading…
I’m still looking, just like for Leanovation, for partners to develop and deploy these concepts on the market. My dream partner being Activate for DICoDE. They never replied to my requests =o(

My goal in the coming weeks is thus to wrap up the DICoDE Value Proposition in a simple slideshare presentation (including this 2010 and 2011 ones) in order to explain it simply and fully to potential partners. And maybe The Philippines will be a good context to develop this… I hope that the storytelling of it will be good enough to pass the message in the right way…

On Leanovation, I have a few things to take care of. I still have to finish the website, which is supposed to be self-explanatory. I already gathered, based on the existing status of the site, a lot of positive feedback from very interesting people, mostly through Twitter: Tim KastelleRalph-Christian Ohr, Alexander Osterwalder, Bill Fischer, Clo Willaerts, Siddy Jobe, Romain Saillet, Laurence Vanhée, John Wenger, the Whiteboard team, Dave Gray, Jonah Lupton, Jim Bland… (sorry to those I forgot to list here) and a lot of friends!
I also want to continue explaning in detail, just like I did for the User Research, every step of the process.
And last but not the least, I’d like to start a “Leanovation vs …” series where I locate many existing concepts (top of my mind are doing/thinking, Lean Startup, Business Model Canvas, Operations –Marketing for Peter F. Drucker– and Innovation, Left Brain and Right Brain, Design Thinking and System Thinking…) in Leanovation to show that it tackles most of the modern tools for re-thinking industries.

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Debriefing Leanovation website’s first draft

Ali and Laure from DigitalPark are busy helping me creating something appealing online for Leanovation. They already did a great job and here’s the debriefing! I received very rich and inspired feedback from my Twitter friends. Thanks a lot to them!

Of course, this is a bad rendering (click on it if it doesn’t play) of what they did (here if we haven’t move on yet) but it’s a first prototype, right? ;o) Here’s the consolidated feedback:

  • Focussing on the model as it is, getting rid of title and footer. We’ll explain through overlayer windows
  • Bringing more volume and a human touch to it. It feels a bit cold, especially the user in the middle
  • Using something extra for “more”: contact, extra information… I’m thinking of a label-like button somewhere on the screen
  • Set up of the 2 wheels, especially the one to the right. Labels will be something related to the Lean Startup method (Build-Measure-Learn) like MAKE-TEST-ADAPT. I think the first one to be reached by the arrow should be MAKE and TEST should face the user in the middle. So a graphical adaptation is needed. Or maybe the first one to be touched would be ADAPT…
  • Making more clear that the white bubbles are actually clickable for a second level of reading

Here we go! Let’s see how the next iteration will look like… =o)

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Introducing Leanovation – 1. Research

For almost a year now, Iʼve been a very busy boy mapping out the next step beyond DICoDE et voilà! I have come up with an end-to-end innovation method inspired by all modern tools I’ve learned during my research and applicable to any sector and situation. A few weeks ago, I came up with a name for it: Leanovation. I already acquired the trademark, the .net dns and soon the Twitter account.

So now it’s time to move on to the next step. But like I’ve said before, I’d rather work on it with a team instead of solo. I’m looking for and hoping to collaborate with like-minded people who will find it valuable to make something out of it. I am currently building a simple website to explain the 10 steps of the method. I’ll be sharing each step of the way with you fellow readers. Feel free to reach out, comment, give feedback or ideas…

Here’s a series of blog posts giving you a detailed overview of the whole method starting with the first step: Research!

Doing research the Leanovation way means to first start with available quantitative figures (small q in the figure) or information gathered from earlier surveys.

Based on these figures, we can form new hypotheses for the user problem we’re trying to solve using this new Lean Innovation we want to create.

A qualitative study (the capital Q in the figure) can then be conducted in order to validate or modify the hypotheses formed. Design and Architecture have always used ethnographic methods to identify users’ pain points, intentions and delights. Mapping users’ journey, studying the behaviors of individuals and communities, watching them talk and create around your brand… these are the things that matter in gathering great qualitative insights and identifying interesting opportunities.

If you need a confirmation of figures or simply want to gather more quantitative data, then you can just stick to an additional quantitative study or poll.

From there, simply rinse and repeat the research process until you find the best results. The purpose of each iterative process in Leanovation is to have it done quickly and repeated as many times as necessary. By experience, I believe that 5 to 15 iterations give the best results. You don’t need to wait a whole week or a long time before making another iteration. It can be done immediately or as called for, even within the hour or the day.

The Rationale/User Research

Traditional Market Research especially Focus Groups cannot capture users’ intention. Why? Because it is an environment where participants are gathered and interviewed in a place that is detached from any relevant context. For example, if we’re talking about a particular brand of cooking oil, wouldn’t it be better to visit users in their kitchens and witness firsthand why they use the kind of cooking oil they use, instead of taking them out of that relevant context and into a likely boring round table discussion. So no, focus groups are not that effective unless of course what you’re researching is the concept and set-up of a focus group itself. ;o)

Instead, Leanovation recommends starting with figures that any company already has on their users, even if they’re old and not detailed. From these figures, we can already identify trends and make hypotheses for studying the very aspect we’re working on. The fact that we can iterate on what we will be studying and that no exclusive is ever taken means that even with low-quality data, we can move on!

As said, what’s important is to do and learn. No matter if the data we’re using now are not qualitative enough, we’ll learn from them and move on to the next step! We will later come back to them anyway but with a higher level of understanding!

Next: 2. Ecosystem Mapping

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