Merry Christmas and Happy 2012

2011 has been a wonderful year for me and my project DICoDE. I’ve met incredible people, participated in great initiatives like the Belgian Webmission to the Silicon Valley or the World Creativity Forum and made giant leaps into the understanding of Digital Ecosystems and Innovation as a whole.

I would like to grab this opportunity to wish each of you all the best for this coming year. I also hope you’re spending a wonderful Holiday Season, a moment of Digital Detox, reconnecting to important things in life like family and friends and building perspectives and plans for the coming year.

Happy 2012 !

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Looking back reaching the destination. Connecting the dots.

I am currently wrapping up this DICoDE project that kept me active for a while now. You can say I’ve been working on it for 18 months, with the focus on writing a book… Or for 2 to 3 years since I left Sanoma and found that IME’s Value Chain can be a great starting point for helping Media and Entertainment companies in their mediamorphosis… Or even 10 years since I started working at a Telecom corp’s Media initiative…
But ultimately, I realize, through Design Thinking, System Thinking, my Passion for Design, my Quest for Purpose and so much more, that it all makes sense to me since I started questioning myself about my place in this world. And maybe how my parents, my teachers, my friends and family shaped me in the early years is also part of it.

So I started looking back through my Slideshare presentations. And I believe these 5 ones can highlight interesting things around this DICoDE quest. Let me guide you…

This first one dates back to August 2008. We just launched Cleverwood and I wanted to position this company as a THINK consulting company in New Media. I didn’t know yet that I really meant MEDIA and that, almost a year later, this Business Class at IME would  pave the way for DICoDE. Some important elements were already present in this preso like the power shift to the user, the value chain logic with some key steps like the SIM, the link between virtual and real world, the convergence between Media and Technology, the huge potential of (Telco) Infrastructures, the ultimate quest being Innovation, including Business Models, fundamental disruption in Apple’s strategy in the hugely potential Mobile Market. All this in 21 slides. =o)

This second one was given at the 2nd Belgian chapter of Mobile Monday a couple of months later. I felt that there was something to be told around platforms in Mobile, at the junction of Technology and Media. I haven’t even seen IME’s Value Chain yet but I already drafted one (slide 5) and knew that mapping actors would have an importance in understanding the ecosystem. My experience back then at Sanoma taught me that Content alone couldn’t thrive. Platforms (aggregators, as I understood it later) and modern Business Models were crucial for success. I was in a world of campaigns, one-shots, issues… and I felt we needed a meeting point between complementors (advertisers in this case) and users. That’s when we developed with Carole Lamarque and BlueTalk our Mobile Magazines. This 22-slide preso and this interview for AWT tried to pass the message to the community.

This 3rd one happened after the class at IME. I was so excited by what I learned in New York and the thoughts it generated that I wanted to share it with the Cleverwood people. Unfortunately, maybe because of the limited size of the community at that time, it didn’t create any interesting dynamic.

These are the real roots of DICoDE: the basic value chain, the clusters of trends like Regulation, Business Model Innovation, Disruption… and a better understanding of platforms mechanics. All this seeing the value chain as a game board already and seeing Innovation as THE solution! In 14 slides!

This brings us to the original DiCoDE 2010 that gathered all these trends, and more or less filtered and augmented this Value Chain. It has been created for a speech at Belgian’s yearly Mobile Marketing Forum where it has been very well received. You can read the rest on this post.

And now, here we are with the 2011 version, augmented with the Business Models dimension that was always in the back of my mind and that people like Alex Osterwalder (through the Business Model Generation book) and Nick & Phil from Board of Innovation helped to make emerge.
These latest evolutions have been developed out of Cleverwood (that I left in the meantime) receiving great feedback from people I met in places like Mobile Monday, Webmission, Café Numérique… and through online networks like LinkedIn and Twitter!
Carole even used it at a recent Mobile Monday to explain the Yelo initiative she designed at Telenet.

I’m very curious about your advice on it, so don’t hesitate to comment! I just finished it 3 days ago and I’m preparing already the 2012 version that could gather all that I learned in these past years…in a simple, convenient and actionable way!

[Update December 15th 2011]: Just forgot this intro/outro speech at the Cleverwood Trends Session on “What Women want in Mobile” where I also use the value chain to set the stage. Carole (again, yes! ;o) and Mélanie did a great job tackling the topic in a Media and Telecom point of view!

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Ubiquitous Computing UX and beyond

Last week, I had a spot for presenting at Mobile Monday Brussels. In fact, being part of the Committee and having received the assignment to coordinate the agenda, I opened that spot myself;oP I felt I had something to tell, but it wasn’t really clear yet… I had 2 weeks to work my storyline!
The topic was User Experience and the location was Namahn’s wonderful office place. I’ve never really seen myself as a UX person, but my research for the last 30 months highlighted a few thoughts that could worth working on. In fact, what I used to call DICoDE – the future (middle one here) gathers most of what I talked about.

I start the presentation highlighting the difference between machines and human beings: we dream. We also assembled machines to execute repetitive and detailed tasks that we find boring. We also realized they are actually capable of executing tasks that are very painful or impossible for us to do. They’re better than us for these tasks. But they will never beat us on imagination or creativity!
I focus on 1 particular type of machines: computers. Throughout the years and decades, we saw a few technological evolutions for (personal) computers:

  • Space needed for storage and power/battery, as soon as we started making them mobile, diminishes with the time. And when we found a perfect form factor, we make them thinner, so that only the screen is left visible (look at smartphones and tablets)
  • Computing power increases significantly. According to Carved Mead and Gordon Moore, doubling every 18 months
  • Some elements disappeared (I’ll come back to this) like the keyboard and the mouse
  • Connectivity and Cloud Computing delegate storage and computing power tasks to distant servers

We can see that these key elements are located at the core of DICoDE, leaving content (and its aggregation) on one end, and the software on the other side.
And if you consider that content (aggregated or not), storage, connectivity, computing power, software and data are all being taken care of, mostly in the Cloud, you have a definition for Service!

These changes triggered the fact that we made the devices more mobile, more easy to carry around, thinner, beside the fact that they are more capable. It means that we found ways to make the device increasingly smaller, up to, following MIT’s 6th Sense project that replaces the screen by a projector/camera combo, having the device vanishing into the Cloud, converging into the real world. How? Let’s see…

If we look at it in a User-Experience perspective, we notice that the Human-Computer Interface paradigm also evolved! Starting with punch cards, moving towards a keyboard and text based (DOS) paradigm that quickly, thanks to Xerox PARC and Apple’s Mac, moved to the GUI that most computers still use today.

If we look at current’s evolutions, in the Post PC era as broadly called, we notice that the interface between the human and the computer is changing. No more mouse, no more stylus, no more physical keyboard. And the interface is much more intuitive that what Windows CE proposed… All this because it is based on Natural User Interface elements: natural touch, natural language (for Siri and upcoming mainstream intelligent assistants), gesture (Microsoft Kinect, improving game console UX initiated by the Nintendo Wii)…

So, where are we heading to if the device disappears? I believe in the concept of Augmented Objects. AO says that traditional objects (a lamp, a car, a kitchen table, a fridge… or even a thermostat, like Nest just did) can, thanks to new capabilities in terms of data storage, computing power and connectivity, accomplish new tasks. The purpose is to use these capabilities offered by Ubicomp (ubiquitous/pervasive computing), inside the object or (partly) delegated to the Cloud to achieve new purposes, aligned with new problems, expectations, usages of the user. To illustrate this, I like to take the example of the Swiss Knife.
Mobile is often called the Modern Swiss Knife. Indeed, it gathers so many sensors and features, as well as new roles via apps that this comparison is very right. But do you use your Swiss Knife when you eat in a restaurant? Do you use it if you need to cut a tree? The Swiss Knife Stage of the Mobile Computer (known as Smartphone) is just a step towards bringing back roles to the objects that were/are/will specifically be designed for it. After convergence of the worlds has been achieved, we need to diverge roles back to their “original” object.

Adding this (Augmented) Object dimension to the Service defined earlier in this post, you have a definition for Experience!

To conclude, here are the 3 take-aways of my presentation:

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Disrupt Yourself! Really?

Note: this post is not related to the excellent paper from Harvard Business Review: Disrupt Yourself by Whitney Johnson which tackles more Personal Development. A choice I initiated 2 years ago, starting this project.

 
The more I pitch my project of creating the Innovation Strategy Consulting structure of the Future, the more I realize there are 2 ways forward and 2 kind of companies to help. Either we help existing established companies to make the move towards the New World, either we help New Entrants to disrupt these Ecosystems-Formerly-Known-As-Businesses.

I love the first approach because it means getting back to the roots, to the values, to the beliefs, to the identity of an established corporation and re-thinking it in the New World. It means getting back this “perverted by the passing time” passion that animated the founders to empower it with today’s tools. Lately, I had discussions with people from Mobility, NGO and Education who feel lost, unadapted to the outside world and who would like to find the keys to continue their mission. These emerging projects could be the base of the Network of Passionate Innovators I’d like to gather.
I believe that this approach of re-empowering existing traditional corporations and helping them re-find a balance can be achieved following 2 different paths: inside the company or outside the company, like people at Activate suggest in this wonderful presentation (Redefiners) on Media:


Change being lead outside the company can seem like the easiest, or the only possible solution. Still, I believe companies, with involvement from the Top Management, can transform themselves from the inside too.

Helping New Entrants (that are not emerging from existing established organizations) is a thrill. No legacy, no inheritance… But no soul neither and the risk to only interest Innovators or Early Adopters. So, sometimes, an exit is the Business Model and there’s no Purpose in the enterprise. This is the boundary I would like not to cross myself…

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Imagining DICoDE’s next level

Right before leaving for a week on holidays, I’m taking the time to look back at the 2 years of this project. These last months, I’ve met a lot of incredible people! It’s been a while since I’ve met such an awesome bunch of interesting individuals, looking in the same direction. And, of course, it triggers thoughts…
During the same time, DICoDE evolved from an augmented value chain for New Media to a whole process (incl. tools) that enables innovation in almost any industries in 4 steps: Strategy, Research, Design and Implementation. With a focus on my side for Media, Entertainment and Telecom ecosystems.

Taking these 2 elements together, I think there is an opportunity to create the Strategic Consulting Agency of the future, focussed on Innovation. I don’t believe anymore in a centralized model. Instead, I think a network of independent consultants makes very much more sense. A network is flexible in terms of strength, size, shape, density… and can easily adapt to change. Working with independent professionals allows focussing on clients’ problems instead of being bound by the structure’s obligations.

This last week, I’ve seen this Future of PR initiative by Golin Harris (with PSFK) and their PRevolve and g4 concepts. I find very interesting that an actor of such a conservative sector redefines himself so thoroughly. I like their new structure and find it interesting in the scope of this new Strategic Consulting Agency. Let’s have a look at it:

As I see things, I’d like to focus on the first layer: Strategists. Of course, I believe in connecting with other roles, especially through partnerships, but the Office I’d like to co-create should focus on this Strategy roles: Business and Marketing Analysis, Positioning, Business Models, Research, Design… The ideal would be of course to have a 4 (or more) floor building with 1 team for each role ;o)
My view is that the team would be composed of experts. each one would focus on an industry, a sector, a problematic… tackling future of Tourism, future of Banking and Finance, future of Mobility, future of Retail… for instance. I’d like to meet people passionate about a sector as much as I am passionate about Media. I really believe that being focussed on redefining one industry, with traditional players or disrupters, is the way to go for bringing the best possible solutions to the market. These experts would extend their international network, would release White Papers, would speak and attend conferences worldwide, would connect to any association, formal or informal network that would make sense in this particular problematic… and would create their network of Creators, Connectors and Catalysts in order to propose solutions to their clients. They would serve as a platform in other words. The added value of the Office would be to share methods and tools, to exchange views, to force one to think laterally, connecting to other industries. I believe people working/thinking/creating together in an inspiring place, beside lowering structure and fixed costs, enables finding the very best solution to a client’s challenges.

Concretely, I am looking for at least 3 or 4 consultants who are ready to test this model for a year, sharing the cost of a common office in Brussels. I am looking for strategic thinkers, sharing this view on Innovation and Business, ready to create this open space for anything that triggers Innovation: experiments, common library, brainstorming and meeting spaces, open working space… If you feel like talking about it, get in touch!

[Update August 24th 2011]: I’ve updated the 4-step process with outcomes and a loop dimension. Here it is. Any feedback?

Credits: Gollin Harris and PSFK
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Why future of TV is not on the TV screen

I’m meeting a lot of incredibly interesting people for the last months, sharing my models and method. It is a very interesting way to get valuable feedback and to challenge my assumptions and findings. When discussion goes deeper in the mechanic of both DICoDE Strategies and Business Models, I often come back to the example of TV ecosystem. To me, it is a very interesting topic that highlights a few key elements. Let’s look at it in details!

First of all, watching DICoDE Strategies, we realize, as highlighted already in the past, that digital TV has doubled the aggregation role: from Broadcasters doing Curation and Distribution (through aerials) in the analog times, we have now these 2 roles split between Broadcasters and Carriers.
In fact, Carriers are even better positioned because they have the ability (and most of them use it) to Curate (and sometimes even to produce) some content. And this content is often highly attractive because it is exclusive or new.
So strategically, Broadcasters have now an extra layer between them and the user. And looking further down the chain, we see this layer even has credentials to identify and bill users that Broadcasters never had. We will come back to these 2 dimensions…

Let’s compare analog (top) and digital (bottom) TV ecosystems through DICoDE Business Models now.
Analog TV only captures users Attention. It worked well in the industrial/mass media age, but it is decreasingly relevant. Traditional (GRP-based) Business Models for TV advertising will lose ground towards richer models. New advertising will capture Engagement (via Interactivity), Data (via Relationship) and Money (via Transactional models).
The big problem is that these new currencies are captured by Carriers and not Broadcasters in the current set up. At least if these interactions are played on the TV screen, through the Set Top Box.

That’s the reason why Broadcasters need to work at several levels to make sure they’re able capturing other currencies than Attention:

  • Re-considering relationships with several key players at content (creators, producers), advertising (creative & media agencies, advertisers…), aggregation (local players like carriers and global players like new STB providers: Apple, Google, Samsung, Logitech, Microsoft…), connectivity (today carriers, but tomorrow..?) and credentials (banks? others?) level
  • Innovate taking these elements into account buying or building in these fields
  • Consider jumping to adjacent ecosystems that provides better monetization possibilities like Mobile, Tablets, Computers… taking into account how users are watching TV today

This last element seems the best solution at a first sight. Possibilities enabled by Second Screen solutions (like BBC iPlayer on iPad) allow reaching sustainable Business Models, strengthening Relationship with audience, billing customers without Carriers intervention… This is why the future on TV might bypass TV screen and come directly to a second screen. Or a second Set Top Box…

You might also consider reading these other blog posts on the topic: iPad is the new TVLearning about TV thanks to my dadTV universe doomed in an infinite loop? and Telenet’s Yelo DICoDEd

Credits: RTBF Tower (cc) Polanri / Flickr
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DICoDE’s 2 legs: System and Design Thinking

I’ve believed in the concept of “2 legs” for a while. Out of Proximus in 2004, when I designed a start-up based on Gallery (France), but applied to Belgian market, I knew that we need a double B2C and B2B business model. Same when we were designing solutions with Carole Lamarque at Sanoma Magazines (now called Sanoma Media) Belgium: we needed to consider both SMB audiences: consumers and advertisers. Carole went even further segmenting consumers into members and users. I also noticed during the Webmission 2011 that this double aspect is important for companies like FlipBoard, Storify… You need 2 legs to walk, to run…

Brainstorming and discussing with several people (and recently with Tim), it appear that DICoDE at this stage is not trully customer-centric. Tim adviced to change direction of arrows, but it doesn’t make it… I can sense it…

Walking this morning, it all appeared clearer: DICoDE gathers both System Thinking and Design Thinking perspectives. First, DICoDE Strategies and DICoDE Business Models, in a System Thinking dimension, then a Design Thinking methodology to audit existing products/services and create innovation. Let’s step back to definitions:

  • System Thinking (Wikipedia link) considers that no actor is playing alone. There are providers, users, customers, prospects, ex-customers… but also regulators, information flows, energy flows… Accepting this brings humility (that is key for accepting the need to innovate), kills the outdated concept of Customer Ownership and open the door to include partners (and why not customers?) in product development and innovation processes
  • Design Thinking (Wikipedia link), at least in its most common understanding today, focusses on the user (or, better, as described by some on humans). Design Thinking brings a set of tools (personae, user stories, field study…) that helps understanding and creating solutions that fit users’ needs. Here’s a great article on how to be a great designer

Considering things this way, we can say that the whole methodology starts from the company. Even if it may sound wrong, i believe this is the way to go. You always start from somewhere. The blank page might be blank, it’s still a page… You might want to re-invent (or re-define: another great related stuff to read: Activate.com’s redefiners slideshare) your company, there are still assets, values, an identity… And even if you create a start-up to disrupt an industry, you have the founders history, past experiences… So we have to start somewhere, we have to set a frame where the solutions will fit, we need to create a source of inspiration for the products and services we will develop.
And starting from the company means auditing its current activities and understanding the systems it is active in. Adding the Business Model dimension, you have the current DICoDE framework.

Then, starts the Design Thinking methodology, following the box concept highlighted already on this blog. The purpose is, following a Design Thinking methodology inspired by what you can find on Wikipedia or Namahn’s approach to Human-Centered Design, to create products and services that fit users’ needs. In my methodology, Research was missing. I’ll work on integrating it as best as possible and test it.

You see? Here again, walking on 2 legs…

[Update July 19th 2011]: It seems wheels are more appropriate than legs, finally. It fits better to the iteration activity of Design Thinking. Here’s a preview:

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How DICoDE gets along with POE and touch points II

Regarding Digital Content, we can consider the customer journey in 3 steps: Communication, Distribution and Consumption (that includes loyalty/post-purchase activities). DICoDE currently tackled both Distribution and Consumption. In this blog post, I considered the logic of Paid, Earned and Owned Media mostly in a Communication perspective. Thanks to a very interesting discussion with Tim yesterday (and with Clo a few weeks ago), I realize we can also consider POE in both Distribution and Consumption of Digital Content. Here’s how:

In DICoDE Strategies, Media is often considered at aggregation level, mostly for Consumption. It includes traditional media, search engines, social networks, portals… and POE can be seen like this, in parallel to the Advertising, Content Production and Social Media adjacent ecosystems:

  • Paid Media is (contextual) advertising displayed beside the content on these Media: AdWords in Google search engine, Banners on portals and media websites, Facebook Ads, Twitter Promoted Tweets, Trends and Accounts…
  • Owned Media is all websites and presence managed by the brand. Thus Media sites in this perspective. That’s where, if brands want to remain relevant, they need to become Media
  • Earned Media is the User-Generated Content related to brands. In this perspective, it means that Media need to become Brands to remain relevant

Taking these definitions into account, we can plug POE inside DICoDE Strategies for Distribution and Consumption of Digital Content.

Now let’s look at Brand Touchpoints.

In fact, DICoDE Strategies defines chains where a user interacts with Digital Content. But, being simplified, each chain can represent a touch point. Being online or offline, being connecting to a brand representative (Customer Service Agent, Salesman…) or to another customer, user, influencer… Here, I join Erik Roscam Abbing (in his book Brand Driven Innovation) and many other people who claim that a brand no longer belongs to a corporation. Partners, Providers, Customers… also have an impact on a brand. It could then look like this (left).

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iCloud DICoDEd

So, iCloud has been launched yesterday. Nothing surrealistic has been announced, but a convenient solution for Apple customers. And a major step forward in Apple’s strategy. One may say that Apple planned world domination sending ultra-thin devices such as iPods, iPhones and iPads on earth. But truth seems to be that Apple just grabs opportunities that appears to them doing what they love to do: designing User-Centered Design solutions, being hardware, software, service, point of sales, accessories… One big chunk of Apple’s success is its competitors’ (lack of) strategy! And efficient implementation…

It is also a classy answer to both Microsoft and Google (also to Amazon or Facebook to a lesser extend)’s strategies, providing their customers with an ubiquitous experience, convenient solutions on beautiful machines. With enough space to their competitors’ customers to test Apple’s solutions. Let’s have a look at it through DICoDE lens:

Apple is providing to their Apple machines (iPod, iPhone, iPad, Mac) customers a full set of aggregation platforms: e-mails, music (incl. a store), pictures, apps, eBooks, contacts, events (calendar), Game Center, To-do’s, NewsStand (for magazines), notifications… All working seamlessly and conveniently with each other through a unique (take this, Samsung) and efficient (take that, Nokia) Operating System. Apple is also proposing to Windows customers PC tools connected to their Apple PMP.
iCloud as a free service allows them to live an unprecedented experience across their devices. And see how Apple machines are superior to other ones.
Yesterday’s announcements also highlight how Apps are becoming a new standard in digital information consumption. Thanks to key partnerships in most of the ecosystems (games, music, press/media, books…), Apple increases some more the experience gap between native and web apps. The main question is here about compatibility between iOS-based and OSX-based apps. If confirmed, this will have a huge impact on attractivity of Apple’s ecosystems.

Last but not least, the heavy control of Apple on users’ credentials (identification and billing) through the Apple ID and the convenient customers experience guarantees an heavy loyalty and a very low churn towards other billing platforms. Managed by competitors, but also banking services, mobile carriers or media groups to name a few.

Apple TV is lacking in my analysis. That’s because I believe the Apple TV ecosystem hasn’t reached yet it’s full potential. Apple is still testing, experiencing, learning from its users and negotiating with partners. But this new ecosystem will add more leverage to Apple’s power in Digital Information Consumption and Distribution Ecosystems.

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Late intuition on iCloud DICoDEd

I’ve always felt Time Capsule, looking at it through DICoDE Strategies, is a key element in Apple’s strategy. You have a device that has all users’ data backed up, versioned, constantly connected, wonderfully integrated into the local network through Bonjour (also developed for Windows OS, you’ll notice) and that connects all Apple’s device through WiFi and/or Ethernet at home, in a “secure” network. I don’t think it is already fully integrated into Mobile Me though…

Now taking into account Apple going towards Cloud Computing and focussing on User Experience, we can see that their solution will be different from Google or Microsoft. Apple has been working on having seamlessly connected devices, through a local network (Bonjour) or a synchronization service (Mobile Me), covering all data on the first one and only a selected set of applications for the latter. Thus, I believe iCloud will be over data (à la Dropbox) and services. Imagine having all your connected devices, at home or away, having access to all your data, wherever they are. Some will be stored in the (i)Cloud (think Mobile Me services), and some will be hosted on your Time Capsule at home (think gigabites or terabites of files you own, including versioning managed by Time Machine).
In order to improve User Experience, some services will be added like a search tool that could go into history (including deleted files still searchable in Time Machine) and other features.
Now, let’s look at the real Cloud aspect of it. Additionally to what you already own, Apple will give you access (and this part will be subject to a subscription) to lots of content to be streamed/downloaded to any of your connected devices: films, music and anything that is featured in iTunes. Even apps for an iPhone nano? Why not… That would be a nice gesture towards carriers to increase data usage to people who can’t afford an iPhone and a nice diversification of the iPhone line of business.

I’ve sketched how it would look on 2 adjacent DICoDE Strategies models: one for the consumption of owned data, and another one for the subscription service(s). We can see it would strenghten the heavy position of Apple in the ecosystem, moving towards a subscription-based and connected world. And creating for the user an Ubiquitous Experience. Check this on this topic!

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