Trend Watch #4: Business Week “Innovation Predictions 2008”

In this Trend WatchI’m taking a closer look at the following article from Business Week: “Innovation Predictions 2008” While you can see the full list of 14 predictions at the bottom of this post, here are the 7 items that I think are most important for customer experience:

#1) Innovation Consolidation. Excerpt: “One of the big, established consulting firms such as McKinsey, Bain or BCG makes a pass at one of the small design-turned-innovation consultancies-Jump, Continuum, IDEO, or ZIBA-to bolster its innovation practice.”

  • My take: Many of these “innovation consultancies” are going beyond product design and deeper into overall customer experience design — which needs to be a core part of any business strategy (from my point of view anyway). So it makes sense to see the strategy titans trying to expand their offerings in these areas. But I’m not sure if these design firms can survive the post-acquisition culture clash.

#2) B-School Goes D-School. Excerpt: “Business administration focuses on making existing business processes and products better and more efficient. Business design focuses on creating new options for new forms of enterprise.”

  • My take: Design is a loaded word. In some cases it is viewed as a narrow domain. In others, like here, it’s referring to an overhaul of business strategy. However the word is used, keep the three questions of Scenario Design front-and-center: Who are your users?; what are their goals?; and how can you help them accomplish their goals? 

#3) Creative Growth. Excerpt: “As the traditional, cost-cutting workout fails, the private equity firm brings in innovation consultants to shape a growth strategy.”

  • My take: I hope that the private equity firms find creative ways to develop long-term value and not just package the firms up to flip them. A good place to look for creative growth is by applying one or more of the five disruptive customer experience strategies: Ultrasimplicity, online infusion, service infusion, service amplification, and value repositioning.

#5) One Laptop Boomerangs.” Excerpt: “OLPC is criticized as “Western high-tech imperialism.” Governments in Asia and Africa reject the beautifully designed children’s computer because of high costs for installation, repair, and electricity as well as limited local educational content.”

  • My take: I hope that this doesn’t happen. I’m a big fan of the OLPC (One Laptop Per Child) program. But any new and radical effort like OLPC will always find some bumps along the way. Hopefully the OLPC organization can respond to, and correct, any of these potential issues.

#8) Unfriend Me. Excerpt: “People move to gated networks from Facebook and MySpace (NWS), fleeing the commercialization of their personal information and relationships.

  • My take: Social computing has so much buzz (or should we call it a “friending frenzy”) that a backlash is highly likely. I know that I  get barraged with invitations to join this network or that network. I think Woody Allen got it right in Annie Hall: “I would never want to belong to any club that would have someone like me for a member.”

#9) Mobile Explosion. Excerpt: “A flood of new applications for the iPhone (AAPL), the newly opened Verizon (VZ) network, and Google’s (GOOG) Android platform generate an explosion of great cell-phone experiences.

  • My take: I’m not sure that we’ll see a ton of “great experiences” on cell phones in 2008, but we’ll see some good ones. Companies are recognizing the right types of applications and target audiences for mobile apps. And, the iPhone opens up many new opportunities; I only wish that it was available on Verizon.

#13) The Customer Is King. Excerpt: “Consumers replace competitors as the key reference point for corporate strategy. Reason? Disruptive innovation now often takes places outside the normal competitive environment..

  • My take: This is music to my ears; and, as many of you know, my mantra. There’s no better strategy than knowing your customers better than your competitors. So I agree, I agree, and I agree. Take a look at the post: “My Manifesto: Great Customer Experience Is Free.”  

14 Trends To Watch from Business Week

Here are all of the trends listed in the Business Week article:

  1. Innovation Consolidation
  2. B-School Goes To D-School
  3. Creative Growth
  4. Presidential Policy
  5. One Laptop Boomerangs
  6. Our Urban Planet
  7. Fly WiFi
  8. Unfriend Me
  9. Mobile Explosion
  10. Kindle Catches Fire
  11. It’s All About Me
  12. Hang On To The Good Stuff
  13. The Customer Is King
  14. Shape-Shifting Enterprises.

Also see: Trend Watch #1: The Economist “The World In 2008 (Business)Trend Watch #2: The McKinsey Quarterly “Eight Business Technology Trends To Watch,” and Trend Watch #3: Advertising Age “Trends To Watch In 2008.”  

The bottom line: Innovation, design, mobile, and customers are hot, but friending and OLPC hit a few speed bumps.

About Bruce Temkin, CCXP
I am a customer experience transformist, helping large organizations improve business results by changing how they deal with customers. As part of this focus, I examine strategy, culture, interaction design, customer service, branding and leadership practices. I am also a fanatical student of business, so this blog provides an outlet for sharing insights from my ongoing educational journey. Simply put, I am passionate about spotting emerging best practices and helping companies master them. And, as many people know, I love to speak about these topics in almost any forum. My “title” is Managing Partner of the Temkin Group, a customer experience research and consulting firm that helps organizations become more customer-centric. Our goal is simple: accelerate the path to delighting customers. I am also the co-founder and Emeritus Chair of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA.org), a non-profit organization dedicated to the success of CX professionals.

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