Building Innovation Momentum

Here you can find the presentation that supported my speech at the latest edition of the European Summit on the Future Internet, held in Aveiro, Portugal on June 14th, 2013. Aveiro is a nice place which I would highly recommend (just like Portugal).

I took part in the “Big Data, Cloud, Smart Spaces, IoT, M2M panel discussion”.

A summary of my speech follows.

Getting things started from Nexus of Events.

Which events?

Event #1: we are in the era of digital economy!

Anyone knows that Information Technology is the major competitive differentiator in any industry, nowadays. Someone said: we are in a digital tsunami! Nowadays news about PRISM are in the newspapers, referring to privacy violations, security challenges and the big brother! Digital economy is about both opportunities and challenges.

Event #2: nexus of forces.

Since 2012 Gartner has been affirming that The Nexus of Forces Changes Everything. List of forces starts from Cloud: a new way to acquire technology and also the carrier for all the other elements. Mobile refers to a complete re-design of IT processes, it’s a constituent element of internet of things and of internet of everything. Mobile is also what is modifying internet from a web-browser centric model to an ecosystem where competition passes through mobile apps. Social refers to networks and the dynamism of human behaviour. It is also about empowerment of individuals and new operational models inside organizations: from hierarchical structures to communities. Last but not least, Information identifies new approaches to data management. What we call “big data” is about looking ahead. In other words,  not what we have now but what will happen next!

Event #3: era of digital disruption

IT is evolving: applications are moving from a prescriptive approach to a consumer-driven approach; innovation goes upwards. Digital disruption is about identifying the new value that people need and about delivering it. Today we can make it happen at lower costs, with faster development times, with greater impact on user experience than any-thing that came before. But things don’t happen by themselves: we must think about opportunity differently and make the difference.

Event #4: a new society.

Using the words of Kevin Roberts, Saatchi & Saatchi CEO, one of the largest companies in advertising, marketing and communication, we are moving from a VUCA world (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous) to a SuperVUCA world (Vibrant, Unreal, Crazy, Astounding). World is changing, people are changing, opening doors both to opportunities and challenges.

Last event is #5: openness.

The open word is a combination of collaboration, transparency and sharing to provide value and freedom, to act and to empower people. Open source is just the key metaphor of the open world.

As you can see, I often underline that we have to face many challenges. Let’s take big data as an example. In this case, we must face an internal complexity (see the many Vs factors in the big data context), providing users with an external simplicity and a great experience, at the same time. Gamification is increasing in terms of business applications; some research projects in the future internet context are currently experimenting the entertainment metaphor of the user interface adopted by electronic games to provide users with an enhanced experience. At the same time, we have to face the above-mentioned challenges about security, loss of privacy, bad use of information.

For all the above-mentioned elements we have a unique focus on VALUE. It’s the connecting element and now we have the opportunity to provide it through many innovation areas. Specifically, here we are talking about Cloud, Big Data, Smart Spaces, Internet of Things and Machine-to-Machine.

Now I have a question for you. How can we generate new value from digitalization? Organizations have the right knowledge and skill?

Let’s see some examples of value provided to organizations and to citizens:

  • Big data: a new platform where I’m working (wearing my Engineering Group and SpagoBI hat) with TrentoRise in Trentino Region, Italy (one of the nodes of the EIT ICT Labs network) to build an open source big data platform. Main purpose is not solving technology issues (which actually do exist), but providing new value to small enterprises in the territory through a new offer of data marketplace and data services for citizens. It’s about fostering the economy of this territory, with a high touristic vocation, with digital data and applications.
  • Cloud: CHOReOS is a Future Internet European project where OW2 Consortium (wearing my chairman hat) is operating to leverage its open cloud knowledge to support the development and execution of large-scale service choreographies. Thanks to a new technical platform, enterprises will create the next generation of context-aware applications for the Future Internet
  • Mobile: an integrated multi-app can enhance the user experience of citizens in various contexts: an example is Vivi Fiemme, the app that has been used by citizens and tourists attending last  Nordik World Ski Championships in Trentino;
  • Future Internet: one more example of value for citizens and organizations comes from the active projects in the smart energy, smart grid and smart city contexts, whose focus is a conscious and effective use of clean energy sources.

Looking at these examples, we may argue that a lot of innovation comes from organizations where many stakeholders act and that we have no issue about technology at all: we can solve everything, with less or more difficulties.

Now I’ll try to make my previous question clearer. Are organizations driving innovation? Or are individuals?

The answer is: both. Organizations provide vision, collaboration, selected initiatives. However, a lot of innovation follows a bottom-up process: it comes from SMEs and individuals.

Consequently, let’s reflect on the role played by stakeholders in EU research projects and initiatives.

I think their role is providing a Platform that enables sustainability of the results over time.

A platform is a baseline on top of which I can plug a specific solution. This sustainability platform provides support (e.g. developments tools, a forge) to contain results, governance of  initiatives and communications, to give prominence to these results.

OW2 Consortium provides such a platform in the open source contexts. Also in the European research context this move is going ahead in various areas: FI PPP, EIT ICT Labs, ETP initiatives.

Therefore, stakeholders must  avoid strictly designing “innovation” and providing solutions. Instead they should focus on preparing the environment and building the platform(s), on stimulating creativity and helping bring innovation to market.

Let me now provide you with an example on the previously mentioned “big brother” context concerning the management of private and public data. Let’s go back to security and loss of privacy issues.

What’s the answer to this problem? New rules? New laws?

Probably we can expect something in this area, like a wider and more harmonized legislation in EU countries. First of all, in this context, we don’t need walled gardens, but open gardens. We need net neutrality, guidance instead of rules, education of citizens to help them to use internet and technologies consciously. We don’t just need smart cities, smart spaces and smart citizens, we need smart rules and smart education as well! Here it is the role of stakeholders: promoting and sustaining this change.

In conclusion, how can we make this happen? Let me conclude with the last sentence of a past interview (2007) by Simon Phipps, currently OSI director. I’d like to just highlight three words now: “…we’re switching over to this new world of INFLUENCE instead of control, of VALUE instead of power, of PARTICIPATION instead of distribution”.

In other words, we don’t need a prescriptive approach to innovation, from design to release, but a pro-active approach in order to feed and stimulate the proper digitalization of the world, providing everyone with new VALUE, promoting PARTICIPATION by using our INFLUENCE.

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