Archive for September, 2018

Digital Innovation

September 26, 2018

FountainBlue’s September 21 When She Speaks event was on the topic of Customer-Led Digital Innovation, When She Speaks in East Bay! Below are notes from the conversation.

We were fortunate to have such a diverse panel of leaders with decades of deep experience integrating digital solutions into work challenges. Although they represented a wide range of educational and professional experience, they had much in common.

  • A passionate curiosity for solving complex problems efficiently, so that everyone benefits.
  • A customer-first mindset which helped them lobby for solutions to meet the needs of their customers.
  • A flexible and versatile approach to work situations, and the courage to reach for what’s next.

Below is a summary of advice on how to lead digital transformation in your company.

  • Lead the digital transformation initiatives in your company.
    • Embrace opportunities to lead digital transformation for it will help set your company apart.
    • Accept your team and partners for where they are, yet help them reach for a simpler, more elegant way to solve pervasive problems.
    • Work with people across product, sales, marketing, engineering, etc.,
    • It’s going to be difficult for some people to embrace digital solutions. Work with leaders at all levels to help everyone elegantly transition to the right digital solution.
  • Be strategic.
    • Research market trends. Understand use cases around digital transformation. Adopt strategies which might work for yourself and your company.
    • Change is happening rapidly, and digital transformation is inevitable. Respond accordingly.
    • Be visionary about the possibilities, agile around the implementation.
    • Focus on the intended result. Automate the processes to help deliver measurable progress.
  • Focus on the data.
    • Know what you’re measuring and why. Know how you’re measuring it, and report on the data. Tweak the plan as needed.
    • Leverage the data to efficiently create personalized solutions, products and reports for individual customers.
    • Aggregate findngs between customers so you have a larger general understanding of each type of customer.
  • Be customer-oriented.
    • Create an engaging, immersive, memorable experience for the customer.
    • Be ever customer-focused, and make the time to understand their current and anticipated needs.
    • Make your offering simple, your workflow intuitive and easy-to-use.
    • Have a detailed profile of your target customer and design a solution which would resonate for him/her.
  • Understand the market trends.
    • Embrace a subscription economy, where the focus will be more about the data and the service rather than about the product.
  • Accept that there will be an increasing level of automation, but know that there will always be a need for versatile and talented humans.
    • Relationships need to be developed and maintained between humans.
    • The creative edge will always belong to humans.
    • It will take a human to represent different viewpoints and constituencies.
    • Only a human can take responsibility for a project – not a machine or robot or tool.

As we look for what’s next, there’s a hope that it will make life easier, and a fear that it will make parenting and managing more difficult. Go forth with hope that we can leverage the best of the Age of Digital, the Age of the Empowered Customer.

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Please join me in thanking our hosts at Five9 and our panelists for FountainBlue’s September 21 When She Speaks event was on the topic of Customer-Led Digital Innovation, When She Speaks in East Bay:

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue 
  • Panelist Carla Di Castro, Technology Sourcing Leader, Workday
  • Panelist Maranda Dziekonski, Vice President of Customer Success, Pared
  • Panelist Niki Hall, VP Corporate Marketing, Five9
  • Panelist Sri Mudigere, Senior Vice President, Head of Digital Product Management, Customer Insights & Experience Design, Wells Fargo 
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Telecommunications and Mobile

September 21, 2018

telecommunications

FountainBlue’s September 20 VIP roundtable was on the topic of ‘Telecommunications and Mobile Trends and Predictions’. Thank you also to our gracious hosts at Comcast. Below are notes from the conversation.

Everyone remarked on the technological changes which are creating the infrastructure and enabling the evolution of telecommunications and mobile solutions. There was a lot of discussion on the opportunities and challenges associated with providing 24×7 cable in the home. Everyone remarked on the up-sides:

  • The huge volumes of digital content streamed through a wide range of devices across the home provides massive opportunities for both content creators and device manufacturers alike.
  • Flexible options for managing devices and content for users within the home provides a similarly large array of opportunities.
  • There is a large gamut of software and hardware options available for users to manage day-to-day living, working and thriving at home – from the kitchen with its internet-enabled toasters and refrigerators to the entertainment and security devices distributed across the living spaces.
  • Open innovation is allowing companies to jump-start and complement their own development efforts, and also facilitating collaborations between teams, leaders and organizations.

But there are also down-sides to this explosion in telecommunications and mobility, which in turn opens up market opportunities.

  • Those who do not gain digital access and literacy will be left farther and farther behind. But there are opportunities for companies and organizations to provide digital access and digital education, to help ensure that fewer people are left behind.
  • Weak links within a system may bring down a whole network, so you need to have an ecosystem approach to designing the network. There are consulting and management opportunities as a result.
  • Compatibility between devices within a network may make configuration difficult or even impossible. Companies who make it easy for impatient, non-technical consumers to adapt and integrate their solutions will likely get more market share.

Below is advice for navigating this time of hyper-innovation in telecommunications and mobile.

  • Embrace Change
    • Be open to the inevitable rapid change, and help your team to also be open to it. It will only get more complex and happen more quickly!
  • Be Collaborative
    • Embrace opportunities to innovate collaboratively.
    • Connect marketing leaders with product and engineering leaders.
    • Build a culture of trust within your organization, and an organization which customers could trust.
    • We should all assume some responsibility for the policy decisions made, to help ensure the business opportunities are available. Which countries are more business friendly? How would net-neutrality positions impact businesses? What are the GDPR repercussions? 
  • Embrace Diversity
    • Welcome people with diverse backgrounds and mindsets. They will help you see the problem better, and brainstorm solutions better as well.
  • Put Customers First
    • Focus on the needs of the customer, with an eye on the overall market trends.
    • Take a customers-first mindset. It may not be your fault when something unexpected happens, but try to take responsibility and partner with others to solve a customer’s problem.
  • Be Strategic 
    • Embrace the old and the new, explore solutions offered in adjacent industries, be open to integrating old tools and offerings in new ways.
    • Advances in telecommunications and mobile solutions may be adapted across industries, but only if we first understand the needs and the challenges of the end users for these other industries.
    • Proactively plan, but be prepared to react when it doesn’t go as planned.

Below are some ideas for opportunities ahead:

  • Elegantly balance privacy, security and access across a wide array of devices and solutions.
  • Manage the variability of access. We still have dead spots in geographies (‘Food Deserts’ also means internet access deserts), and hiccups in service when volumes of data traverses our lines.
  • Leverage technology and data, ML and AI to help customers systematically and proactively detect and respond to problems within a network.  
  • Design solutions for more concentrated populations as people will continue to move from rural areas into the cities.
  • Leverage Machine Learning to document known traffic patterns and also to identify anomalies at scale.
  • There will continue to be an explosion of low power hear-ables and wearables, in response to high customer demands.
  • Find elegant opportunities to upgrade legacy solutions, or at least elegant integrate these technologies, solutions and data into new offerings.
  • Embrace integrated hardware and software in upcoming innovations. Software alone will not be enough in this next stage of innovation.
  • As we look at having 5G solutions in your pocket in the near future, the possibilities around apps, wearables and IoT solutions are mind-boggling. What could we do with 5G on a stick? or AI on the go?

The bottom line is that there is a lot of chaos and change right now as we evolve into the Connectivity of Everything. Convergence is happening across technologies, leaders, industries, geographies and solutions. The solutions will be seamlessly integrated and woven deeply into the fabrics of our life and work.

Those who are open during this turbulent time are more likely to navigate this cycle of change than those who are electing to remain siloed, independent, complacent with the way-things-are.

Showcasing Collaborative Innovation

September 20, 2018

Screen Shot 2018-09-20 at 3.40.43 PMFountainBlue’s September 14 When She Speaks event was on the topic of ‘Showcasing Collaborative Innovation’! We were fortunate to have a large range of perspectives on our panel on the collaborative innovation topic. Our panelists represented the wide range of roles, levels and functions across tech companies small and large, and even representing different industries. But they also had much in common.

  • They explored many different classes, roles, and responsibilities, bravely trying new things and courageously delivering results in a wide range of contexts.
  • They have decades of experience, witnessing and contributing to the evolution of technology.
  • They pay close attention to the needs of the customer, and deliver what the customer is looking for.
  • They pay close attention to the market trends and advise their customers based on what they see with the market trends.
  • They are in alignment with the strategic direction for the organization and its leaders. In fact, they have chosen their role and company as they were inspired by same.

The way we do business is very different than it used to be.

  • Innovation is everywhere – in universities, at standards bodies, through start-ups, in Open Source solutions.
  • The problems today are much more pervasive, much larger, much more global than they used to be.
  • It no longer works to be the only local offering as the world has become flatter, so everyone can easily get anything from anywhere.
  • It’s becoming more expensive to solve even simple problems.

They each exclaimed in different ways about the pace of change, the rate of change, the constancy of change. Collaboration helps each of them to best cope with this change.

  • Collaboration enables people to specialize in specific technologies, partnering with others.
  • Collaboration helps companies address multiple market segments, again partnering with others.
  • Collaborative Innovation helps companies to differentiate themselves, focusing on their core value-add, and partnering with others to deliver complementary offerings.
  • Collaboration allows others to vet and trouble-shoot a solution, before it goes to market.
  • Collaboration helps all parties to consider additional applications for existing and known solutions.
  • Collaboration helps with product planning and implementation by identifying more corner cases.
  • There is less likely to be group-thinking when you are collaborating with a range of partners.

Below is advice on how to make your collaborative innovation projects more likely to succeed.

  • Gather a wide range of partners and collaborators.
  • Encourage brainstorming sessions.
  • Get all perspectives on the table, even from those who are not generally vocal.
  • Empower and engage all participants.
  • Encourage all to submit ideas and input, even if they are not involved in the project.
  • Consider that a solution for one problem may contain ideas and technologies which could be applicable to a totally separate problem.
  • Be bold and persistent, resilient and positive.
  • Have the hard and difficult conversations to stretch your own comfort zone and that of others.

It was fascinating to see how each of our esteemed panelists looked at innovation from a different perspective, yet each delivered a new and better product, process, solution, technology. 


Please join me in thanking our gracious hosts at TI and our panelists for  FountainBlue’s September 14 When She Speaks event on the topic of ‘Showcasing Collaborative Innovation’:

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue 
  • Panelist Mary Emerton, Vice President, Manufacturing, Nutanix
  • Panelist Padmaja Nimmagadda, Applications Program Manager, Texas Instruments
  • Panelist Laura Patton, VP,  Customer Solutions, Flex
  • Panelist Sangeeta Ramakrishnan, Distinguished Engineer, Cisco
  • Panelist Nithya Ruff, Senior Director, Open Source Practice, Comcast
  • Panelist Jeremy Yaeger, MGTS Systems Engineer, Texas Instruments

Ode to a Hat

September 1, 2018

The summer, the year, she has passed so quickly, so eventfully, with the highest of thrills, the darkest tragedies of loss; the indulgent and sinful decadence of time well spent, laughter well expressed, and the regret of time not taken for and with others.

So I find myself reflecting on the transiency of time, the joy of hope, the importance of faith.

So this month, as we enter into a new school year, and also come upon the anniversary of a fire which touched my family deeply, I will honor a poem written by my brother-in-law, who so eloquently expressed his thoughts following that fire last year. I hope that it touches you deeply as well.

CalicoHat

Ode to a Hat 

 It was down in the hold of the ship: 

 I crocheted It in the half light of crew arguments and 

the stomach-bending pitch of the vessel,

While far away, my mother wondered if I still Loved her. 

 It was colored the give and take of Calico–

and I realize now I must have borrowed the yarn 

 (after all, I didn’t board with any). 

 And its Presence insulated me from where I was, 

 And from who I have become. 

Afterwards, I did mail it to her…my Mother. 

 Then, much later, it appeared in photographs – 

in scenes of her 

studying Chinese, playing piano or some such thing — 

in those cold Northern California days, bathed in Hope.

 There was always that special Covering, 

an Object Captured, yet rarely mentioned… 

 Well… then… “The FIRE”: 

The FIRE, She took the HAT. 

 The FIRE took almost everything–even the piano I learned on. 

 Plus… …that silly bit of spindly, mottled poly-thread covering which 

Most likely had believed Itself safe. 

 Safe in a box where it had been deliberately placed so as not to be Worn to Death. 

 Safe where it might continue–as all Love Hopes to. 

 Safe, where, when the Flames finally found it, 

 It told them it had already served a Greater Purpose. 

 Greater than all its Adversaries possessed.

 And it spoke the Truth to that Flame:

 “I’ve mattered more in this world than you could ever possibly Hope to. 

 I have done my Work. 

 Now take me Home.” 

 – Ladd Holroyd