Monday, October 25, 2010

Eilif Trondsen, Strategic Business Insights

Eilif Trondsen from Strategic Business Insights was the second speaker on our tour in Silicon Valley. SBI is a consulting comapany, they work for their customers to identify new opportunities based on emerging technology. There are several programs focused on different details. SCAN program is an intelligent tool to realize the early symptoms of a change in the industry. It is interesting to find out how they do it. The following picture depicts the process, look here.
50-75 employees of SPI are sending two paragraphs long abstracts every month. Abstracts shortly describe something interesting they read, thought or saw. Contributors wear several heads, they are specialists in different markets or technologies. A filtering process at number of levels is narrowing down the ideas. Its is a time consuming process, Eilif reads abstracts on Sundays. In the next stage they meet with 20 – 25 analysts and some clients to do a pattern recognition clustering across different areas. They try to understand and point out why is the cluster interesting. There are people with different specialization politicians, economists, technologists, anthropologists etc. The variety of skills is bringing together many different opinions and views enabling to discover new combinations and see them differently. The result of this process are signals: faint signals of change, discontinuities, inflection points, disruption technologies, outliers, unconventional signals.
There is no guarantee in their research, but the have a very pragmatic metric: the customers are the signal of the quality. If the information is not valuable for them they would not pay. The clients feedback is also a very valuable for improving or altering the research.
Their main customers are SMBs, they do not have easy access to this kind of information. Governments also buy the know-how to look at disruptive technologies and to help their SMBs. EU Science Park use it for analyzing start-ups opportunities. Japanese look at global perspective they are coming to SBI and let them do the market analysis if the results are the same as their own they invest mbugs. SBI has also done some work done for Norwegian government.
I am sure the Czech SMBs, start ups and research institutes including government will greatly benefit from this kind of information to focus their work in the right future direction too.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Some more comments, SRI meeting

As the previos written for my students.
This is the second part of my report from Emil Wang’s presentation about SRI international, venture capitalists and start ups.
Before we continue let me review some basics. First venture web definition is: venture is a speculation, an investment that is very risky but could yield great profits. This is what venture capitalists (VC) do, they invest to startups. Venture is for them a process of a value creation. Alas, venture is very risky, only few of the startups turn to be prosperous companies. The trick is to invest to the right companies.
Here we continue.
Emil suggested that venture is not driven by technology. Universities have created lot of intellectual property (IP) but did not create the jobs; therefore professors will never get funded. They are too technology driven. SRI recruits experts to run the venture, company. Who is most likely to be funded? SRI and VC’s in general are focusing on successful entrepreneurs who have already been funded. VCs invest to people, they trust people with good judgment. They trust the people not the technology.
Bad news 1: Location, location, location
The only way you will be funded is if you stay no more than 20 miles from Menlo Park, where all the major VCs are located. If you are not here you will be at least 6 months behind the market, research and technology. Second, you have to stay in touch. The major (Google, HP, Oracle, …) companies are next door and this means you can network to know what is going on.
Bad news 2: The idea for venture is in market and competitive research
Researchers, geeks and technologists ask how cool is their technology. The better thing is to ask: what is your market, who is your customer, what is the value for your customer. SRI answer is methodically guided innovation process five disciplines of innovation 5DoI. The advice: the researcher needs to understand what his market is, what the value is for the customer. This should be a starting point.
Good news: Cooperate
Emil and many other think that the best single model to start bio tech, clean tech, IT or high tech companies in general is starting to cooperate. Emil’s advice is do not compete leverage. This is the process SRI is proposing, network with people, work together, develop relations, and collaborate.
I would like to finish with the Emil’s formulation of the SRI mission: There are lots of research institutes and they have different goals. SRIs main purpose is to help the society and boost the economic development.
Great, it was an exciting presentation summarizing modern view on creating the technology and innovation to impact our society. We must learn from his words and start acting.

First report from sunny California

Originally I have written this for the “Otevrena Informatika” blog. Since my friends wanted my notes, I am putting it on my fresh new blog.
Those of you who are not taking the OI-VIA course may not know, but I am visiting sunny California this week. The weather is very hot for the season, 25-30C. The entrepreneurial spirit is even hotter. I have met excellent people. I came with other coleuses. Lenka from Czech Invest organized for us visits in several institutions, corporations and Stanford University, thank you Lenka, great job. First we have visited the SRI international Research institute originated by the Stanford University in 1946. SRI is a non-profit independent research institute focusing on projects funded mainly from the government. FYI: Mouse has been developed at SRI, and then transferred to Xerox Park. The first message over the network was sent from UCLA to SRI.
Emil Wang gave the first presentation and it was great, very inspiring. Emil is a consultant for SRI and owner of several start ups. The key for SRI is innovation and they approach it very systematically in a much formalized way. The main concept is described in the book: Innovation: The Five Disciplines for Creating What Customers Want [Hardcover] Curtis R. Carlson (Author), William W. Wilmot (Author). Highly recommended!
Emil has conveyed several interesting thoughts. SRI strives to find how is research impacting society, how to make the Earth a better place for living. We were surprised they do not measure the success by number of published articles, but how many new jobs were created, how much money they have generated.
SRI is constantly collecting information from employees for interesting business ideas. Emil is on the board deciding which of these to support. They collect 1000 ideas a year and select about 10. Selected ideas get $10-20k NOT to prove the technology. NOT to make a pilot. NOT to make the prototype, but to create a market study. Find what is the market opportunity, who is the customers, what is the value for customers. The venture concept is not driven by technology. Too bad for us technologist, but that is the fact. We have to work on real problems not on interesting “crossword battles”.
There were many other interesting ideas in the talk, but I will conclude with quoting Emil saying “Do not compete with Silicon Valley cooperate“. I think this a general statement; we all should stick to it especially at the university.
And I am concluding with inviting you for discussion and questions.