• Tag Archives Next2011
  • FROM BETA TESTING TO TRILLION DOLLAR COMPANY

    Everybody knows Google. The brand, the search engine that since 1998 has gone from being unknown to becoming one of the world’s largest companies.

    Most people will also recognize the Google mantra “Don’t be evil”. This is a mantra, which in recent years has been tarnished. Especially in connection to Google Maps’ launch of Street View. And one might think such mistake could give rise to red-faces in the board of directors and dismissals further down in the organization. Not necessarily.

    One of the key elements to Google’s success comes from the ability and the will to rise again after the occurrence of a mistake. Mistakes are simply a part of the company, which is reflected in the company’s nine rules of innovation.

    1. Innovation, not instant perfection

    There are in general two ways to approach software development. You either code for years until you end up with the completely perfect, shiny, and infallible product. Or you release a product on the market, and make adjustments along the way. The latter is the classic Google way of doing things (Google has a long and proud history of beta), and it allows development of a released product. For that exact purpose the company has its own playground, Google Labs. All possibly viable ideas end up at Google Labs, and from there they can be developed interactively. Sometimes they end up with a real Google product, at other times the product is simply being removed quietly from the Lab when it has been tested.

    
2. Ideas occur everywhere 

    Knowledge sharing is a key expertise. Google has an internal platform onto which the employees can post their ideas. Their Google colleagues are afterwards able to have a look and review the ideas and potentially cooperate on developing them.

    
3. License to follow your dreams

    Cooperation and development of the employees’ own ideas and of business potentials, is exactly the key behind the famous 20% rule of Google. In short terms the employees are allowed to spend 20% of their working hours on “individual projects”. You can compare it to spare time, which the company pays for, and Google only benefits from it, if the ideas are good enough. Thankfully it is working. Google Wave, which is now closed down, and Google Chrome, which is alive and kicking are both results of the 20% rule.

    
4. Fuse projects – don’t kill them


    When a project struggles to survive, many companies have a tendency to either try to save the project or quickly kill it. In both cases the focus on creating tools to the customer is quickly disappearing, and instead it is a struggle staying alive, or an attempt to delete projects and everything that goes with it. Google has a philosophy which revolves around how these kinds of projects often have obvious opportunities to do well in other project. It means that you pin out the best elements from failed project and fuse them with other projects.

    
5. Share as much information as possible

    
In a company with more than 25.000 employees it can be a struggle to know exactly what each employee is working on. Every week the employees write an email in bullet point form, which contains the projects they are working on. All of these emails are indexed, so if you want to find out if anyone is working on a project you came up with in the first place, you are able to figure it out. It reduces the amount of double work considerably and promotes a great deal of transparency within the company. At least for the employees.

    
6. Users, users, users

    Earlier on it was called “Users, not money”, but the philosophy is basically the same. Satisfy your users’ needs, and money will come to you. Either in consists of advertisement or in subscription payment services. The key element in both cases is creating a big enough collection of consumers to support the economy.

    
7. Data is apolitical


    There is no doubt that Google is a highly academic company. Therefore no haphazard decisions are made based on some designer’s or developer’s discretion. Consumer testing is always completed before anything hits the market. And itdoes matter whether the little button on the center of the screen is grey or blue.

    
8. Creativity loves boundaries

    
If you begin the process of creativity with fixed boundaries, the project participants are inflamed to break them. It is much easier to achieve success with fixed boundaries telling what is possible, than throwing in ideas all directions.

    9. You are skilled – we hire


    Even though no job ad is out, there is always a job for the right employee in the organization. Google is mainly on the look for entrepreneurial developers, who address the company with a good idea: an idea that will be ready to hit the market after a few months. All solely based on the size of the company, and its ability to constantly launch and support new projects.


  • NEW WAYS OF THINKING

    Before he became a fulltime college drop-out, Steve Jobs attended various courses chosen exclusively on the quality of sounding exciting. One of the courses, calligraphy, later provided the idea for the fonts of Macintosh.

    Favorite example of the world, Apple, is in fact one long string of examples of how development is driven by things that are different, surprising approaches, that the pioneer spirit is of great value (and maybe the only one of real value!), and that a mistake can easily turn out to be an early stage of success. NEXT has caught one of the strategic thinkers of Apple, Clark Dodsworth, to share some of his formulas for success.

    When the iPhone was launched in 2007, and ushered in a new and mobile centre for the sharing of the world’s knowledge, it was proclaimed to be as a gigantic mistake, a flop, by most critics. But the iPhone was, once again, one of Apple’s many examples of their strategic and holistic approach, in chains rather than individual products, and their uncompromising insistence on user experience.

    One of the thinkers behind Apple’s successful products is NEXT speaker Clark Dodsworth. His thoughts are also the basis of the technical venture of EU’s sixth framework programme. He invented the expression ’ambient intelligence’, and is the man behind Philips’ current product philosophy and their entire digital product catalogue. Today Clark is counseling independently from his company Osage Associates, but he still has his finger placed on the spot, from which most companies won’t notice the pulse until later.

    Clark delivers clear messages. Apple once contacted him to get a lot faster to adapt to the world’s changeable circumstances. His answer was: ’Rely uncompromising and steady on the user’s inputs to a process of development.’

    Today single product development is more or less being replaced by ecosystem thinking. If you aren’t capable of placing your product in a context – and maybe even design that context – you can forget all about being successful.

    With the market of the smartphone, the door to the semantic web’s era is open, pervasive computing, ambient intelligence and hundreds of other expressions for the technological future with merging types of computers which respond intelligently on our behaviour instead and not the other way around.

    Everything changes, and the only way to get organised is to be dynamic. That means, you have to be prepared for constant changeability, and not being much conserned about the current shift. It requires the right approach and the right tools. The tool developing process is divided into three stages – empathetic pragmatism: Intuition and widely knowledge updates are central when creating tools for a changing world. Perspective: The users point of view is the internal perspective and Work: All theory must be put into practice – is must be tested in reality, and it must work. A scythe is actually a nice example of a good tool – no straight lines, everything is designed to match use and user. Nobody has to spend more than 10 seconds finding out, how to hold and use a scythe. This is the way all software and product development should be like according to the man whose thoughts have had a massive influence on the way our everyday life is working.


  • WHEN MYTHS ARE BEING MARKETED

    How do you create one of the world’s largest brands without spending a penny on marketing? Admitted – you don’t. But if you take a look at some of the world’s largest brands, you sometimes come across marketing budgets so small, that you have to wonder. One of these brands is Ferrari.

    The legendary Italian car manufacturer’s history is shrouded with glamour and myths. It is actually one of these myths, that defines the essence of how Ferrari administers their brand. To put it briefly, you can draw up two key issues of Ferrari: Design and way of life.

    You will always be able to recognize a Ferrari on one of the four typical colours, red, yellow, black, or silver. The red colour is of course the “right one”. Additionally the design is characterised by the low profile of a sports car, the elegant sweeping curves, and the fabled logo with the rearing stallion. You never be in doubt when you see a Ferrari.

    The way of life, the stories about the races with proud traditions and mane playboys, is highly connected with a love for mechanics, pace and car races. A passion, which was a big part of the deceased founder of the company, Enzo Ferrari. Even though he wasn’t an engineer, or well educated in any way, actually he was a mechanic at Alfa Romeo before he founded his own company. His dream was to build amazing racing cars and with his persistence this was the main reason that maybe the best known sports car brand has reached this position.

    But what is your PR going to be like, when you’re sitting on the shoulders of a giant, and moreover never have used money on marketing and advertisement? Matteo Sardi can answer this question. He is Head of Communication at Ferrari and has furthermore created the fashion company WonderMode.com. At the NEXT Conference Matteo is going to provide exciting stories about marketing in a world full of gigantic brands. It will be a wild game, where traditional PR strategies meet the latest of psychoanalytic methods in an attempt to understand how the so-called modern consumer actually navigate.


  • THE COMPANY THAT CHANGED THE WORLD

    … And is going to do it again. Forget career plans, talent programmes, and fringe benefits. The upcoming generation wants to go out and change the world. One company has done this more than any. And now they are stirring again.

    Before the telephone business became a place for customer hijacking without any rules, protected behind the monopoly earnings, it was a true paradise for research, where fundamental technologies was realized – technologies which nowadays allow us to navigate by GPS, use broadband, and even see television.

    More then any other company AT&T, American Telephone & Telegraph, has speeded up development. Their development department was called Bell Labs, named after the inventor of the telephone, Graham Bell, who spent 50.000 franc of the earnings of his first invention to start Bell Labs. Since the fax machine was presented to the World at Bell Labs for the first time in 1926, the bright minds at AT&T have won 11 Nobel prices. Even side gains such as films with speach, measuring of distance in space, and solar cells can be ascribed to the monopoly protected lab research. An interesting perspective, when all that everyone want is to complain about the telephone companies’ monopoly.

    Today AT&T is a company with more than 250.000 employees and an annual turnover of more than 300 billion dollars. The Nobel Price research has in a long period been replaced by the traditional focus on making money for the loud and chronically hungry shareholders. But the giant is beginning to stir again – tired of the greedy, reactionary, and unfriendly image, which almost naturally follows too much care for the investors. New technologies are going to be created, new ways of activating live stores, new tools for marketing, new ways to organise your company, and new ways to run cooperative innovative work – outside the lab.

     

    To be head of the new Lab strategy, AT&T has chosen the colourful David Polinchock, who previously started Brand Experience Lab and among the first of the fabled MIT Media LAB. David is coming to NEXT in August to tell about the new methods. It will be a peek forward from the one place which can, with coolness, say that they have been a creator to the view of the world as we know it today.