Know Thyself: Customer Privacy everywhere, or NOT

Today – or actually yesterday – seems to be the day where everything comes together on customer privacy

1 – Some lengthy discussion (at TheNextWeb and iMore) about Verizon’s (and other mobile operators) opt-out setting for monitoring and sharing of detailed information about smartphone users. The whole issue coming in two different flavors: (1) that operators monitor and share those data at all and (2) the very hard to find opt-out – rather than an opt-in – process.

And as a sidetrack to this, Telefonica (totaltelecom) launching it’s Big Data endeavor called Telefonica Dynamic to make money out of customer data.

2 – In parallel arstechnica had a story about Privacyfix a new privacy monitor that attempts to calculate your value on the net for Google and Facebook. I’m not really worth much according to their analysis.

3 – then the zdnet report on the fruitless discussions to find an agreement on the Do-not-track (DNT) feature in the W3C standardization body.  The whole issue driven by the Microsoft’s decision to enable DNT as the default in IE10, thus preventing tracking unless the user actively enables it.

And finally, I just finished reading Charles Duhigg’s “The Power of Habit”.
Retail stores like Target (the name says it already) identifying pregnant women only by monitoring their shopping behavior, gives you a sense on what is possible with consolidated customer information.

Privacy and implications of increased awareness on protecting your own data is definitely something to monitor for the future.

WAC push with Tizen

The launch of Tizen (collecting the remains of MeeGo and LiMo) explicitely mentions the Wholesale Applications Community (WAC) APIs as one element of the solution. The other one mentioned was HTML5.
Could this give WAC another push besides the Apple, Amazon, Android application stores and ecosystems ?
I’m still very skeptical concerning the WAC approach, considering all the other telco consortium / standardization attempts in the past. The main backers of WAC in Asia NTT Docomo, SK Telecom obviously have a very specific market environment to adopt this.

Disruptive Change in Management

Here is another idea related to the summer issue of M/I/S/C published by Idea Couture. In article by Dr. Julian Birkinshaw, the Deputy Dean of London Business School about “The Future of Management: Is it deja vu all over again?” he claims that besides all the expectations and different management theories and styles there has been no real change in management.

“… the vast majority of management work – by which I mean how we motivate people, make decisions, set objectives and allocate resources – seems almost impervious to change.”

So here are 3 thoughts related to it:

#1: what would be disruptive ?
If the assumption is that there has not been much change – what would be a disruptive innovation in management following Clayton Christensen‘s “Innovator’s Dilemma” approach. This obviously requires to look at management as a technology and as Clayton points out if you, i.e. the disruptive, are not significantly better the incumbant will win.

Following the original assumption above obviously there has not been anything “better” in the past years.

But following further on Clayton Christensen’s analysis how could the disruption look like?The better might play out initially in an underserved small market with less stringent performance requirements. It might offer a very specific advantage, e.g. agility, less overhead to create a competitive advantage as a basis to grow from.

#2: where have all the approaches gone ?
There has been a long list of new approaches and here is the latest promise for change in management: “Radical Management” by Steve Denning. I picked this because in a recent blog he is referring to Apple as a key user of Radical Management.

And then this relates to this comment on DaringFireball on HP’s split of the WebOS business and assigning hardware and software to different units within the organization. There might be still differences and improvements in management after all.

#3 could it be here already ?
I’m currently (re-) reading Jason Fried’s and David Heinemeier Hansson’s book “Rework”. And besides sounding really like “Radical Management” it shows a very different approach to managing besides quarterly results, organisational hierarchies and big budgets.

So maybe here is the disruptive approach for the future of management.

3 Learnings (and interesting question): “What if Steve Jobs was a telco CEO?”

What can telecommunication CEOs learn from Steve Jobs. Interesting question discussed at TM forum, based on an initial discussion on TelecomAsia.

It has some good points in terms that Steve Jobs as the CEO of a telco operator could have made the history turn out differently regarding smartphones and mobile data services.

However, I believe that the focus on content selling is driven more by the current assumption that this is the business saviour for operators rather than being the key success story of Steve Jobs and Apple.

Apple’s business is in selling hardware. Content (music, video, apps) contributes only a small portion of their business. So in order to learn from Steve Jobs you have to take a different angle.

Here are my 3 key lessons for the telco industry:
#1: design insanely great products that stand out– telco products look the same almost around the globe, nothing really stands out
– focus on customer experience not on technology
– sweat out the details
– simplicity

#2: get your hands dirty with optimizing the business backend
Steve Jobs and now-CEO Tim Cook managed to turn Apple into the most profitable device manufacture by rigorous focus on logistics / business processes / supplier management. This is the invisible or at least mostly ignored part of the Apple success story.

#3: focus on the overall the experience
for customers and partner (read application developers).
– help the customer and make them feel treated well (retail stores, genius bars, migration services)
– don’t make them feel you just want to sell more
– no 10 pages of small print in product offerings
– support developers with a complete development environment, not just the APIs

And at the end just again getting back to the de-mystification of the innovation genius of Steve Jobs.

99$ HP TouchPad: A dent in the iPad universe ?

Interesting view in Forbes on the impact of 99$ HP TouchPad on the iPad future: “Why The Undead $99 TouchPad Might Portend The iPad’s Doom

However I can not really share the analysis and conclusion. Clearly the 99$ sale of the remaining TouchPads, which HP announced it will discontinue, was a big hit, but following all analysis in the Internet the price was well below the production costs. And while it is legitimate to sell products below costs, I assume you need to have a plan to recover those losses / costs at a later stage and this is where I miss to see HP’s end-game for this. (Except obviously to clear stock of a discontinued product)
So what is their plan to capitalize on the sold TouchPads? The only one I could see at the moment is getting market share for WebOS, which they announced to continue and potentially license to other HW manufacturers. But then they would also need to create the large application and developer community, something that HP has up to now also struggled to achieve. And they would need to price the HW sales losses into the licensing price, which again appears unconvincing considering the free of charge alternative by Google.
Following the experience the best way probably to put a dent into Apple’s table business would be to away tablets for free:
– Google could be doing it with Motorola acquisition and cross-financing it with their ad revenue, but I’m  not sure what their Android partners would think of it.
– Amazon might be doing it. Reclaiming part of the costs through content sales.
But where is the secondary business model for HP, which could refinance this for a longer term ?
Additionally the analysis is probably also underestimating the excellent cost position – and 25% margin in HW business is clearly a sign of it – Apple has achieved in their tablet business. Apple’s products might be still high price, but they are not high cost as also the MacBook Airs prove. All the competitors with Intel-based ultra-portable Windows notebooks have still to achieve a similar cost and price position.
At the moment it looks more like HP is enjoying the ride as long as it goes (and maybe try to impress future buyers as part of the PC deal to which they could bundle the tablet HW) and clear the stock.

Smart Grids – Differentiated Electricity

In the mobile industry policy control and differentiating bandwidth and service is one of the key topics at the moment. Not only to correlated usage and price, but also to allow communication operators to establish new business models.

In parallel there is a lot of hype about smart (power) grids equipped with smart meters that allow to monitor and report usage and costs in real-time to the customer.

No in utilities there is the deep-rooted assumptions that power, like water and gas is a commodity, but taking the above two aspects together the next question is when and how to differentiate your electricity. The smart meter would actually know for which appliances the power is used. How to do this? Maybe just by adding a small device at the power outlet that talks to the smart meter and reports usage per applicance.

What to use it for ? Well you could start thinking about cross bundling. The retail shop of your choice would offer you a bonus on your refrigerators power usage whenever you shop their. Or you would actually get it for free.

Or advertisers would cross finance your TV power supply for you to watch more programs.  Or a car manufacturer could cross-finance the recharging costs for your electric car.

What would be the benefit? Well, it would at least increase the flexibility in business models and the power of this is visible with one of the most successful cross-financing business models today at Google.

Admittedly there are a few details to be worked out yet, but what an opportunity if not all electricity is created equal.

The Beauty of Organization

Over at Design Thinking Tim Brown (Ideo’s CEO) asked the question about the beauty of organisations. I have started to think about a similar question concerning business models so I dropped a few thoughts as comments.

Still working on finding an answer on the business model question.

Post 1:

I really like the question of beauty and aesthetics of organizations. The major challenge with organizations is that you can not feel, touch or experience organizations. So you can not easily build prototypes or enact the service experience. And I guess organization is also related to the corresponding business model and in some cases has a legacy/history/tradition aspect that is hard to capture.

The underlying issue here is that we are lacking a agreed visual representation of organizations and business model that would allow us to use aesthetic rules to evaluate them. The closest I have come across up to now is the Business Model Canvas by Alex Osterwalder ( that allows to show business model, but still lacks aesthetic criteria.

Evaluating organizations the question is also what the final success criteria is and whether “beauty” is really translated in to innovation or business success or profitability. And is a hierarchical organization more beautiful than a small team collaborative approach. Is the 150-organization size limit at Gore beautiful ?

So I would start with looking at ways to visualize organizations and translate business models that allow aesthetic evaluation.

Post 2:

Hi Tim

couldn’t stop thinking about your “organizational beauty” question on top of
my previous post and here are a few more thoughts.

You take the bee colony as an example of beautiful organization and I would agree. The focus of the bees, however, is not so much on innovation but on robustness and survival. So innovation might require a specific view on organization.

Your question tries to map the abstract concept of organization to the abstract concept of beauty (and throwing in innovative-ness as a third) and I feel you probably need to put some “facts” in the mapping process.

So I would start by identifying measurable criteria/factors assumed to be relevant for innovation and organization like: team size, different areas of knowledge/competency involved in innovation process, number of
contacts required in teams, geographical distribution of teams, speed and levels of decision making within organization, innovator archetypes involved in teams, distribution of power within team (equal votes vs. few leaders).
I would then put this in some tool that could translate this for different organizations into a visual representation, e.g. using Processing and tree diagrams (see for example ).

Playing around with this I guess you could already see whether there is beauty, e.g. very colorful or evenly distributed patterns in specific organizations.

Coming to the organizational archetypes for innovation you could feed organizational structures for teams which could be considered innovative/creative and look at the results, e.g. film studios/tv productions, ad agencies, research institutes, product design/development firms, startups, etc.

I would think that this could also generate some overarching principles for innovative teams, e.g. like Gore’s “not more than 150 people in one organization” or Shaker-like principles you already mentioned.

The collapse of organisation: awesome must read

Just came across this outstanding analysis of Clay Shirky. It covers many interesting aspects of how the Internet effects traditional, complex business models. He compares business models with old cultures (e.g. Mayas, Romans) and uses the theories of Joseph Tainter about the fall of complex societies as a model for complex business models.

An interesting reading in this context is also Jared Diamond’s “Collapse“, who also looks at the reasons why societies collapse and especially addressed environmental aspects.

Clay Shirky takes the 2 key reasons Joseph Tainter identifies for the collapse of societies: a complex, (overly) sophisticated organisation and environmental change and maps this to the impact of the Internet (environmental change) to the complex business models (organisation) of old industries like media/movie, telecommunications.

A brilliant analysis with a lot of take-aways.

[Update] And Idris Mootee at Innovation Playground is also contemplating on the challenges and risks of large, complex organisation in an ever faster changing environment.