Technology Insights

Technology is transforming society and having an impact on every aspect of our daily lives, reshaping businesses, markets and entire economies.

Our insights into technology are listed below in the form of articles and interviews with founders and senior executives for your perusal.

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Chris Saad: The Innovation Interview

Chris Saad, Chief Strategy Officer and Co-Founder of Echo shares his thoughts and insights on Social TV, Streaming Content Companies and the 2nd Screen.

Chris brings over 10 years of entrepreneurial excellence to Echo, having founded over seven workgroups, non-profits and start-ups over the last 14 years. Most recently, Chris co-founded the Data Portability project, an initiative supported by Google, Facebook, Microsoft, MySpace and Plaxo that enables web users’ identity, photos, videos and other forms of personal data to be discovered and shared between chosen tools and vendors. Chris also co-founded the APML (Attention Profiling Markup Language) Workgroup, promoting an open format for describing a user’s ranked interests for ‘Attention Aware’ applications. Chris has also co-founded the Media 2.0 Workgroup, Faraday Media, RedShift and Radioactive, where he set strategic direction and championed the advancement of the real-time social web.

Chris’ role at Echo is to track trends in the marketplace, listen to and participate in the community and translate those needs into actionable and product direction.

How do you define innovation and what does it mean to you?

Innovation is when you create something that looks like nothing before it, and it affects the way everything looks from that point on. To me it means a chance to change the world for the better.

What industry needs to embrace innovation and take more risks?

No industry can avoid innovation. Either the established players innovate or (more likely) they will get disrupted by startups.

Also, of the best opportunities for innovation is not just in products and services, but governance. By improving the process (both in the private and public sector) you can affect all the outcomes at once.

What is the best piece of advice that you have been given and received?

Pay Attention. Why? Attention is one of the most powerful human cognitive functions. It determines what we see, what we hear and what we act on. Attention motivates us. It compels us. We are drawn to those who have it while we ask for others to give it. In an age of abundance the key economic driver of the coming decade will be Attention. Measuring it, learning from it, managing it and sharing it.

What is your greatest achievement and why?

It’s not a ‘thing’ I’ve created but rather a skill I’ve learned:

Learning the technique to, as often as possible, maintain objectivity, perspective and rapid learning for continuous personal and professional improvement.

Newspapers and Books: Digital or Physical?


How is Echo building great real-time experiences for the consumer?

By understanding that household consumer brands like Disney and ESPN know more about delivering great experiences than Silicon Valley tech companies. As such we build tools that enable these great companies to quickly build, scale and deliver first class real-time, social experiences for their audiences.

What is the future of Social TV?

Much like the future of everything, Social TV will be seamless, multi-screen, personal, bi-directional and we’ll soon forget the word Social. It will start earlier in the process (concept and script phase) and end much later (in the post-game, behind the scenes wrap-up phase).

As Social TV grows, can you see a point in time when consumers will have say in the story line to create a truly social “crowd sourced” television series?

That will be a form of entertainment – but it won’t necessarily be the way ALL shows are made. In a very real way shows are already co-created with the audience. Show runners, writers and actors are clearly reading and responding to social media and discussion forums every day.

Also very pragmatically (and not very social), TV is old enough now that the young fans of yester-year are now running the shows.

When will we reach the tipping point in terms of streaming vs cable? Consumers perceive streaming companies as cool and cable companies as greedy. Will the consumer eventually force the cable providers into a la carte pricing?

Increasingly the lines are being blurred. Cable is just a content delivery pipe. The only question is, is the content being delivered on demand via IP or using the old school appointment/broadcast model.

A range of business models will continue to make sense for a little while – including subscription, rental and purchase of shows or seasons. They fit different consumption patterns and budgets.

When do you think we will see a demand for the 2nd screen at sporting events? Will venues such as baseball stadiums eventually add a screen to the seatbacks, which would allow a fan to watch instant replays, check stats and follow the social conversation?

I believe in the Steve Jobs school of thought that suggests consumers will demand something awesome once they see it. A stadium or sports franchise needs to take the leap and show the fans something new/innovative – then the demand will drive it’s broader adoption. The group that takes that first leap of faith will be handsomely rewarded.

Håkan Hellman: The Innovation Interview

Håkan Hellman, Product Manager, Infotainment & Connectivity for the Volvo Car Corporation, shares his thoughts and insights on the connected car and how technology is allowing Volvo to innovate and the in-car entertainment experience.

Mr. Hellman has had an illustrious career at Volvo spanning over 30 years. He first began his career as a Development Engineer in the Electronic Climate System division of Volvo. Today he is working on the Sensus Connected Touch system which will the in-car for owners of Volvo cars.

Mr. Hellman holds a Master of Science, Electrical Engineering degree from the Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, Sweden.

How do you define innovation and what does it mean to you?

Innovation is a new way of doing something that is made more useful. We talk of incremental and radical innovations. Incremental innovations are evolutionary innovations built on an existing development. Radical innovations are innovations that will have a breakthrough effect on the market or are challenging the way we do things in the company. We actively work with product innovations as well as business, market and process innovations. We use eg. processes of “crowd based” idea generation within the company. We also have dedicated teams handling innovations at the top level as well on dedicated innovation teams for certain areas of technology, for instance active safety, that is a key area for us.

What industry needs to embrace innovation and take more risks?

Generally you want to lead the market, or be very early, with the introduction of innovative products. In industries where the cycle time is very short, there is little time to validate new innovations. In industries with longer cycles, the risk of not being unique is more pronounced.

What is the best piece of advice that you have been given and received?

Be open minded to new ideas, be a good listener and try to see the whole picture. Have endurance. Utilize and enhance the strength and possibilities of teamwork and the force of good team spirit and good partnerships.

What is your greatest achievement and why?

1. Working as project manager introducing a completely new car electric network architecture for Volvo cars 1998. It was innovative and very challenging in many ways. We introduced new technology by utilizing new working processes to make this happen. And it was a big step into future electronic possibilities for Volvo cars especially for introducing new functionality and, later on, connectivity. This early project was the first time we at Volvo were planning for the introduction of connectivity with a system called “Volvo On Call”, but the Volvo On Call system was delayed until 2001.

2. Introduction of the Volvo USB & iPod Music Interface in 2006. This was an important step into interfacing new consumer electronics products like iPods and USB devices.

3. The introduction of the Sensus Connected Touch. A major step to introduce Connectivity for Volvo Cars.

Newspapers and Books: Digital or Physical?

Professionally, digital, due to great access and richness. Personally, for pleasure, I appreciate physical newspapers and books. I enjoy reading physical books and the feeling of real physical books.

With Irv Gordon’s 1966 Volvo P1800 going for four decades and over 2.7 million miles, how will Volvo build on such a great legacy?

I think that this points out the great heritage and core value of Volvo cars . They are long lasting quality products that we continuously need to live up to and work for, and something that we as employees of Volvo Cars are very proud of.

What technologies did Volvo use make the Sensus Connected Touch system a reality?

For the Connected Touch we had an advanced engineering project study which was started  as early as 2006. The project was then put on hold as we felt that the market was not ready or mature enough for this technology. When we finally started the sharp project up again late 2011, we demanded and requested a solution from a creative supplier with a rather powerful and flexible platform.

1. A powerful processing hardware platform able to handle functional and graphical features to satisfy good customer experience and to have the capacity to handle future expansion. We selected the french supplier Parrot to fulfill our criterias for the Sensus Connected Touch system.

2. An open operating system enabling flexibility and quick to market possibilities. We selected Android for the Sensus Connected Touch system.

3. Creating a “light” interface to the car’s infotainment system to handle the HMI, but without jeopardizing the base car functions and security.

4. Partnerships: Software partners for developing applications and also for the the interaction design (HMI) and graphics together with Volvo cars. We selected partners like Cybercom and Interaktionsbyrån here in Gothenburg Sweden, partners with high competence and located very close to the Volvo Cars development centre.

5. A new working process and environment, working with software/functionality with agile / scrum process that shortened the development lead times.

6. Ability to upgrade functionality over the air, a necessity to be able to provide apps like the integrated Spotify. The very strong development of smart phones, their fast growing market share and roll out on the markets, with apps and increasing network data capacity, also including better business models for data traffic over the air, has of course been a necessity for the introduction of the Sensus Connected Touch.

How important was it for Volvo to add Spotify and TuneIn Radio to the Sensus Connected Touch system? Was there a demand from your customers to add streaming music?

Yes, there is definitely a very strong demand from the markets. The increased popularity and growth of streaming music services like Spotify and also internet radio is putting requirements on a car connectivity system. The car is a very good place to enjoy your favorite music and radio channels. Many customers use those music/radio services at home and on their smart phone. Now with the Sensus Connected Touch they can enjoy Spotify and TuneIn in the Volvo cars safely while driving without using a mobile device and have that as a distracting factor while driving. So to be able to incorporate music services with the Sensus Connected Touch was very strong demand from the beginning. This was driven by consumer behaviors and expectations.

When did Volvo first identify a consumer demand for in-car wi-fi?

Bluetooth was the technology first chosen in the early study as the link for data transfer between the mobile phone and the Sensus Connected Touch. But from the beginning of the sharp project, late 2011, we changed the track to WiFi internet data transfer between the mobile phone and the Sensus Connected Touch. At the same time this enabled us to provide sharing a WiFi network in the car if you use a USB 3G/4G broadband dongle to get the internet connection to the Sensus Connected Touch. So WiFi was strongly driven from technology benefits, but also from a strong customer demand.

What is the future of the connected car?

Currently the Volvo On Call system has, for instance, a 50% take rate on the Swedish market and in Norway the take rate is even higher. The tendency is high take rates for connectivity solutions. The future for connected vehicles is very positive. We foresee a great interest in many markets and a heavy increase in connectivity take rates in the coming years starting now. We forsee a strong demand from our customers to make the car driving experience more enjoyable and car ownership simpler thanks to connectivity solutions. In addition, we have experienced an extremely high interest worldwide from customers and markets for the Sensus Connected Touch.

Additional information on the Sensus Connected Touch:

The Sensus Connected Touch product is a quick to market solution to enable connectivity in Volvo cars, connectivity with a very rich content, with a fresh, intuitive/easy to use HMI. The system will be available in the following models: S60, V60, XC60, S80, V70, XC70, V40, V40 CROSS COUNTRY starting in May 2013.

The Sensus Connected Touch can also be installed in cars from model year 2010 and onwards that have a 7″ screen.

Gary Shapiro: The Innovation Interview

Gary Shapiro, President & CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA)®, the U.S. trade association representing over 2,000 consumer electronics companies and owning and producing the continent’s largest annual tradeshow, the International CES® shares his thoughts and insights on how technology and innovation are impacting the consumer electronics industry.

Shapiro led the industry in its successful transition to HDTV. He co-founded and chaired the HDTV Model Station and served as a leader of the Advanced Television Test Center (ATTC). He is a charter inductee to the Academy of Digital Television Pioneers, and received its highest award as the industry leader most influential in advancing HDTV. He focused on the need for and led the effort to obtain the 2009 cut-off date of analog broadcasting.

As chairman of the Home Recording Rights Coalition (HRRC), Shapiro led the manufacturers’ battle to preserve the legality of recording technology and consumer fair use rights.

Prior to joining the association, Shapiro was an associate at the law firm of Squire Sanders. He also has worked on Capitol Hill, as an assistant to a member of Congress. He received his law degree from Georgetown University Law Center and is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate with a double major in economics and psychology from Binghamton University. He is married to Dr. Susan Malinowski, a retina surgeon.

How do you define innovation and what does it mean to you?

Innovation is doing something a different way so that it has value. It is a strategy that embraces careful planning and risk-taking, bold action and stealth. These elements seem to contradict one another, but as I started to really ponder what innovation looks like, I began to see connections between modern innovators and the ancient ninja warriors of Japan, which I elaborate on the book that CEA is publishing in January, “Ninja Innovation: The Ten Killer Strategies of The World’s Most Successful Businesses”.

Ninjas were up-and-comers who relied on their talents to succeed. They were strategic and disciplined, but able to adapt to new challenges quickly. They had to be focused, constantly analyzing their surroundings for threats or tools. They were ruthless, but followed a code of honor. The same characteristics are required of today’s innovators, so I call them “Ninja Innovators.”

What industry needs to embrace innovation and take more risks?

All industries could use more Ninja Innovators, but one that stands out right now is broadcasting. Broadcasters’ market share has declined annually for 30 years, and they have relied on government to protect them. I advise them to take advantage of their lower-cost structure as a strategic strength and “own” the local geographic area and go beyond broadcast. The industry should work to free itself from government strings and compete with cable, satellite, and Internet. Rather than seek regulation, they should remove all the content restrictions, programing requirements, retransmission mandates, and costly requirements imposed by bureaucracy.

What is the best piece of advice that you have been given and received?

Never stop learning. The most successful organizations have a culture of sharing and training. This means that the more experiences and success a person has, the greater the obligation to impart wisdom and pay it forward to the next generation.

What is your greatest achievement and why?

I am proud of helping set the American strategy for HDTV as we are know doing for the next generation of HDTV, Ultra HDTV. I am also proud of building up the Consumer Electronics Association at the world’s greatest innovation event, the International CES. I also was thrilled to be part of the group that created the world’s first set of laws laying out how business can be done on the Internet. Preserving fair use rights and promoting home theater also give me pride.

Newspapers and Books: Digital or Physical?

The trend is clearly toward digital. There will always be a special place in my heart for printed books and newspapers, but the accessibility, portability and other features offered in the latest wave of e-readers and tablets makes them hard to beat – until some ninja innovator thinks up a better one.

How are government policies impacting technology and innovation today?

When good leaders collaborate with a common purpose with stakeholders government can do great things as it did with HDTV and the Internet. But generally, government responds to the established powers with money and reputation to influence leaders. Rules are necessary, but if they are ambiguous or unclear, overreach, or give too much discretion to their enforcers, they stifle business and innovation. Regulation should not replace ethics. A government that works against or demonizes business and success is not helpful to innovation.

In your opinion, who has been the most innovative company in the past decade and who do you think will be the most innovative in the next decade?

I go through many of modern histories of the best innovators in “Ninja Innovation,” but Steve Jobs and Apple possess many ninja qualities. Jobs was smart, passionate, and relentless. He never retired while he could still produce. In the twilight of his life, he was still vowing to “destroy” the competition. His example inspired countless people to pursue victory in their own lives, if not necessarily in the same way.

Jeff Bezos of Amazon is another ninja innovator. Jeff is regularly described as brilliant, not only because of his native intelligence, but also because he has led Amazon to breakthroughs and prospered in tough times like the dot-com collapse in 2000. I think part of his secret is that he’s willing to challenge the status quo as well as shift his strategy when it’s required.

With Paul Otellini retiring as CEO of Intel in May of 2013, how do you feel the company is going to change? What new directions do you think the new CEO of Intel will take the company? Will the new CEO follow in the footsteps of Qualcomm and focus on mobile chips?

I’m sad to see Paul leave Intel, but excited to see where the company will go under its next CEO. Intel has set a great example for innovative thinking obviously in terms of technology, but also in branding. In the 1990s, they made people start caring about the chips in our computers. The “Intel Inside” brand is so ubiquitous now it’s almost difficult to remember how crazy that strategy was in the early 90s. Whoever the new CEO is, I’ll look forward to hearing from him or her at the International CES. Paul delivered a 2012 International keynote, and his predecessor, Craig Barrett, delivered CES keynote addresses several times as well. Intel has always used the CES platform masterfully, demonstrating how Intel “gets” technology and alternative futures.

While researching and writing your newly released book, “Ninja Innovation: The Ten Killer Strategies of the World’s Most Successful Businesses,” what was the most surprising strategic tactic that you learned?

One difficult concept is the value of failure. If you never fail at something, you are not stretching, risking and subject to self delusion about your own brilliance. (Of course, I want my Delta pilot not to follow this advice). American society as a whole, perhaps more than others around the world, values failure as experience. The American view of failure has led to our historical innovation dominance, but being “okay” with failure is very foreign for many businessmen. I write a lot about failure – my own as well as some of the big failures in the CE industry, like Microsoft’s “Bob,” aka the Dancing Paper Clip.

Which new companies and technologies do you expect to be the game changers at CES 2013 and why?

I am excited about UltraHD, 3D printing and heath care technology. But I am sure my answer will change soon. One exciting aspect of the International CES is how everyone who works in technology, or any industry that touches technology, is at the event and that we don’t know who are going to be the game changers at CES until the show begins. That is why face-to-face events like the International CES still are so crucial to how business gets done. People relish the chance to experience products first hand and to network with professionals from some 150 countries, to launch new products, pitch ideas and make a name for themselves amongst the “who’s who” of the global tech world.

With some 20,000 new products expected to be launched at the 2013 International CES, we expect to see game changers across many categories, including automotive technology and connected vehicles, digital health and fitness, gesture and voice recognition, smartphones and connected devices overall. The fun part is discovering the surprise successes and watching innovation abound across the CES showfloor.

Matt Mills: The Innovation Interview

Matt Mills, Global Head of Sales & Innovation for Aurasma – the world’s first visual browser for smartphones and tablets leading the market in Augmented Reality shares his thoughts and insights on how technology and innovation are impacting the Augmented Reality industry.

Aurasma was developed by software company Autonomy – an HP Company. Prior to working on Aurasma, Matt held the position of Senior VP for Autonomy’s Optimization platform for Europe. Matt holds a Degree in Computer Science from the University of Durham and has given the TED Talk on the future of Image Recognition and Augmented Reality.

How do you define innovation and what does it mean to you?

Innovation means challenging the status quo by changing the way people view and interact with the world around them. True innovators stretch boundaries, erase limits and deliver solutions to fill a gap that you may never have known even existed. In the case of Aurasma, we are shifting the way people consume information by bridging the gap between offline and online interactions. Our platform is only the beginning to this fundamental paradigm shift and we’re excited to be leading the charge.

What industry needs to embrace innovation and take more risks?

The publishing industry has been around for years and years, but in the last five to ten years it’s been challenged to adopt a digital identity while still maintaining its traditional heart and soul in print. It’s important for publishers to embrace the shifting landscape and accept the digital evolution as another means to reach their increasingly mobile audience. What makes Aurasma unique is that it serves as the mobile gateway between print and digital offering the best of both worlds to readers.

What is the best piece of advice that you have been given and received?

With over four million users and more than 10,000 partners not a day goes by without receiving some form of advice. Our partners and fans have been a huge resource in building our business and developing our platform over the last year and a half. From big brands like Marvel to elementary school teachers, our partners have challenged us to test boundaries and deliver on these requests. Ultimately, it is thanks to the input from our loyal partners and fans that we’re excited to announce our rebranded and fully equipped Aurasma platform that includes many new features and functionality.

What is your greatest achievement and why?

We will talk about Telefonica shortly, however, it still needs a mention here as it was a ground-breaking move for the AR industry as a whole. But overall, GQ remains a significant milestone for the augmented reality (AR) industry. With every single advertisement augmented as well numerous editorial pieces, it is an example of a true cover-to-cover augmented reality magazine. Conde Nast is setting new standards for the publishing industry and serves as a proof point that AR is happening today and Aurasma has the scalability to make it happen.

Newspapers and Books: Digital or Physical?

Working in the tech industry, I am lucky enough to have a number of great devices for reading on-the-go. There’s no doubt that for browsing newspapers and glossy mags the iPad has advantages and the Kindle is great; however, as a digital native I still prefer the print copy and physically holding a book. One of the reasons I’m passionate about AR is that it bridges the gap between the two.

Augmented reality will change the way the physical and digital worlds interact with each other. How do you see the technology evolving in the years to come?

The big change will be a move away from gimmicky fun and towards scalable platforms and everyday use cases. As this starts to happen you will see consumer adoption rise and this will drive the industry forward. We are still educating the general public on augmented reality, but as smartphones become more prevalent and brands and publishers adopt the technology, the experience will naturally weave itself into our everyday lives.

Aurasma’s deal with Telefónica Digital will allow your augmented reality platform to possibly reach 25 markets and 300m customers. Will you continue to grow the business by partnering with other telecommunication companies?

We are always interested in partnering with people who will grow our business. This week we announced a similar partnership with another telco which will see our platform distributed to some 100m subscribers across the Middle East.

We first met with Aurasma regarding the creation of an augmented reality experience for a major label recording artist. Lately you have announced partnerships with The Rolling Stones, Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood. Are the major labels embracing your platform?

Yes, we have a very strong relationship with many of the major recording labels. For them it is a great way to add digital content to existing materials which can increase their value, be a forum to share exclusive content to their loyal fans, and generate buzz through social channels when launching a new album. We are starting to see some labels build teams around Aurasma production as more and more of their artists have a desire to use AR for these goals.

What sector do you think would most benefit from integrating augmented reality into their existing businesses?

I have been running around with a wireless router in my bag for over a year now and nobody has yet embraced at scale the idea that you can point a device at a physical object and see instructions on how to install it.

Ironically, the direct answer here might be the technology industry, but there are many instances across all sectors in which this use case can benefit an organization or industry especially with training programs.

As 2013 steadily approaches, do you feel that Apple, Google and Samsung will follow in the steps of Nokia and integrate augmented reality into their phones and tablets? If so, how will this affect your business?

Well – I certainly hope so! Aurasma has always been about building a platform and in order for AR to be successful there has to be content for people to view. As a result, we hope that over the next 12 months we see more people building their own AR viewers that draw on the wealth of augmented reality content we’ve been building up for education, advertising, editorial content, and even user-generated content over the last 18 months.