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Mikael Eriksson Björling

Things that matters! About digital transformation, design, culture and lifestyle in the Networked Society

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Game Changers

Why is innovation the buzzword right now?

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What exactly is innovation? And how does it work in the business transformation context within ICT?

At Ericsson, we have talked about the fundamental digital transformation that is taking place across our entire society for many years, with particular focus on the new opportunities and challenges it brings.

This shift has matured recently: new businesses move from startup buzz to industry disruptor at lightning speed. Just take a look at the great impact on traditional businesses that companies such as Airbnb and Uber have had in their industries. This will only accelerate as more and more intelligence moves up in the cloud.

Just a short while ago, digital transformation was only on the agenda of the larger tech players. Now, it’s on everyone’s agenda. Businesses and organizations of all sizes in every industry understand that digital transformation is also affecting them and the way they do business both now and into the future. They are all aware that in this new world there might be a garage startup, either around the corner or on the other side of the globe, with ideas that will disrupt their current market by offering radically different propositions.

So, when there is awareness, what should traditional businesses and organizations do? Let’s begin by answering the questions I asked in the beginning of this post.

There are four different drivers in our innovation model, which you can see in the figure below:innovation-model-768x332

  • ‘Outside Drive’ (at the top) are areas outside of a company’s control. This could be changed laws or regulations, shifting consumer behaviors, or new disruptive technologies such as AI, VR or 5G.
  • ‘Inside Control’ (at the bottom) are areas a company can control, such as definition of their core business, consolidation, scale gain opportunities or maturing technology.
  • The left side of the model is evolution from where the business is today, to the right which is disruption.

To secure a good position in the future market of your business, you must be aware of what is happening in your broader industry related to the fields in the model. If we plot where innovation is happening, we can see that traditional businesses focus naturally on the left side of the model in value chain effectiveness and efficiency, while we often find the digital giants and startups on the right side of the model.

The lower left corner of the model is about using new technologies to innovate for better performance of current offerings. If we take the example of a car manufacturer, this could be using ICT to automate the flow and construction of cars in the factory. Basically: do what you do more efficiently than the competition. ict-cityview-768x440The upper left corner is about using ICT to innovate value chain efficiency and improve offerings to the current market. In the car industry, this is typically a connected car. Today’s connected cars are sold as any other car, but they make use of the connectivity to improve the offerings toward the car buyer. This could be to offer safety features like calling 112 automatically if an accident happens, or having built-in connected features like ‘find where I parked my car’.

Read the rest of this blog post at Ericsson Big Idea Blog

Life in 2025: A new model for emerging roles

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We are now sixteen years into the new millennium and we have had internet and a global standard for mobile telephony for a quarter of a century. The new millennium marks in many ways the transition from the age of industrialization to a new paradigm, which we call The Networked Society.

Now, with some distance, we are able to see the age of industrialization for what it really was. To generalize, it was an era of escalating capitalism, mass-manufacturing, mass-consumption, and a highly modernistic organization of life into clear cut categories, invented by the great institutions of the 20th century: governments and large enterprises.

During the age of industrialization the individual left her rural and collective societies, moved into cities and urban areas, separated work life from private life, made more money than ever before, increased her standard of living, and started to consume the fruits of the free markets. But how are these structures being challenged? What is happening with life and lifestyles right now? In what direction are we moving? How are values and attitudes changing? And what clusters of different lifestyles do we see emerging? These are some of the questions we explore in the Life in 2025 work. This work is based on multiple sources from the research we done the last five years (which you are welcome to explore at The Networked Society site)

On an overall level we’d argue that it’s possible to understand the new structure of society along two dimensions: inside the system vs. outside the system; that is, those that are part of established institutions, networks, and employment and those who are not. The next dimension is if you are empowered or dependent; that is, those who are active in society and strive to control their own situation and those who are dependent on other groups in society and with less control of their own situation. This gives us four macro level groups to consider: The Resourceful, The Social, The Players, and The Anchored. Into this model we also want to plot a fifth group we expect to emerge in the Networked Society, The Mobile, which gives us the following model.life-in-2025-588x300

All these groups have different life conditions, their lifestyles, values and attitudes are different. So this model is a framework for thinking and analyzing, rather than a quantified picture of the world. The size of the quadrants and how many people that will be empowered vs. dependent is very much a political and ideological question and this will be different in different countries. I hope you’ll join me over the course of my next five blogposts, as I describe the different lifestyles one by one.

Read more the the Networked Society blog >>>

Tales of transforming cities

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The fifth report in our Future of Commerce and Consumption report series, The Tale of Two Transforming Cities, depicts two cities that are redefining themselves through ICT and entrepreneurship. In the research for these reports, we visited two iconic American cities, Detroit and San Francisco: Detroit once famous for its motor industry, now more known for all its abandoned buildings and a budding entrepreneur scene; San Francisco known (apart from the classic tourist spots) for the tech companies in the Silicon Valley. Both these cities are redefining themselves through a number of grassroots initiatives and startups trying to solve a number of challenges.

Detroit is particularly interesting because it involves the failure of two of capitalism’s most important institutions: big corporations and government. When traditional institutions like those are no longer around to provide people with a place to be and a sense of meaning in everyday life, it becomes an increasingly individual project to make sense of the world and society. In Detroit, a new scene of small-scale businesses and social entrepreneurs is rising to fill the gap the institutions left and building a new identity. This movement includes the return of local craftsmanship, changed consumption patterns – such as buying local and avoiding big international brands – and community activism. One example of the new type of social businesses that are stepping in where society has failed is Rebell Nell. Rebell Nell is a graffiti jewelry workshop that employs disadvantaged women in Detroit and educates them in financial management to give them the platform to successfully change to an independent life.

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Rebel Nell encourages the rise of local craft businesses

If you find a lot of space and affordable properties in Detroit, San Francisco is the opposite. In San Francisco people are aware that the big corporations and the government are not going to fix the challenges we face. The “creative elite” is taking the visionary lead, both commercially and socially, and expectation is placed on digital technology’s ability to conquer the social and environmental problems of today. Yerdle, for example, is an San Francisco business with a higher purpose – an ambition to reduce the number of new things we all have to buy by 25 percent by swapping things we don’t use.

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Yerdle modernizes swapping and barter to reduce consumption

These types of developments are, of course, something that you can discover all over the world in different cities, with different starting points and different shapes. The New York Times recently published an article about Pittsburgh once known for its steel mills, but is now changing through a new food and tech boom that attracts people to the city. Which is the next American city in transformation we will read about?

Connected communities are driving a new do-ocracy

I wrote earlier about the game changers and how creative people no longer practice their hobbies in the private sphere but rather in networks and communities. The ‘maker culture’ is growing stronger and we see a growing ‘do-culture’ covering more and more areas in society.

Easy access to information about almost anything is fundamentally changing our possibilities to do things ourselves. For do-it-yourself (DIY) people, it is much easier to find information and much easier to link up with people who share the same interests. This, together with affordable technologies, tools and services are lowering the barriers to nearly a zero cost in many areas.

Another driving factor is that people feel the need to connect with the outcome of their work. It is hard to see the importance of creating yet another PowerPoint file when you can’t see the final result of your efforts.

How and where things are produced is also becoming important and many people have started producing and experimenting with their own productions. We have seen this in food preparation for some years now with sourdough baking, homemade sausages and advanced barbecuing as just a few examples of what people are doing.

The ‘maker culture’ is now reaching a critical mass. There are new hackerspaces starting every day with a lot of people engaging in millions of ongoing projects. All these communities are sharing information and have new sources for funding such as Kickstarter. Things that use to be really complex, and that only a couple of years ago could be done by big corporations or academic researchers, are now being done in a growing number of hackerspaces, meetups, basements, garages and lofts. Topics such as 3D printing, robotics and DNA projects are now common.

 

Read more at the Networked SOciety blog >>>

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The Network is the organization

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wrote earlier about how creative people use tools and resources found on the web to realize their ideas. We call them the Game Changers, and we found out that they organize their work using ten different networked organizational forms (see image).

These ways of organizing work is used within any field of creativity; from fashion startups and charity, to journalism and music creation. If we look at music and the DJ community they have for a long time employed remixing as a way to create music; like in the Jamaican dance hall culture of the late 60s or the disco culture of the 70s. Modern DJ’s are also remixing, borrowing, copying, reusing, interacting, contributing and creating new tunes and beats to create new music.

Read the rest of the article at the Networked Society blog

Profiling the producers in the open marketplace

Lately, I have written a number of posts about creative individuals whose product, talent and service innovations are turning the traditional market logic upside down. Previously, homegrown innovators and artists never reached beyond their friends and family. Today, however, they are competing with corporation heavyweights and entertainment superstars by simply being recommended and pushed forward by social media, recommendation engines and widgets.

So, who are these people and what drives them? First, individuals who produce and innovate are jacks-of-many-trades and often have several skills and competencies.

These skills and competencies are often self-taught, by means of different internet resources, as well as through interaction with people that have the same interests. They also tend to have active social lives.

When creating and producing output (ideas, products, content), they are primarily driven by self-fulfillment and the desire to build up their image within their networks. Usually, money only comes as a bonus.

The most successful individuals who produce digital output combine their interests and skills with social and digital capital, and a marketing mind. While some are spontaneous, others are strategic when choosing projects to work on. However, most strive to be able to work with and make a living out of the things they enjoy doing. Read more about the Game Changers at the Networked Society blog

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