On May 5 and May 6 next week, I'll be live-blogging the World Innovation Forum from the Nokia Theater in midtown Manhattan. Please join me as we learn the innovation insights from some of the biggest stars in the world of innovation - including my personal favorite Clayton Christensen - as they describe the challenges and solutions for companies grappling with the current economic uncertainty.
At the end of the day, any industry can be thought of as an ecosystem. In this compelling presentation, social media strategist Jeremiah Owyang suggests that the social web can be thought of as a "social reef" populated by all sorts of individuals, companies and organizations.
Watch it and decide for yourself where you fit into this social reef ecosystem -- you might just be an octopus or blowfish.
Within the Web 2.0 world, there's been a lot of buzz about "unlocking" content so that it is free to travel across the social Web. With that in mind, I've "unlocked" the text content of the Endless Innovation blog so that it is available to readers who'd prefer to receive it as an audio podcast. What's amazing is that the whole process took less than an hour and all the heavy-lifting was performed by the very blog-friendly tech company Odiogo: "Odiogo's media-shifting technology expands the reach of your content:
It transforms news sites and blog posts into high fidelity, near human
quality audio files ready to download and play anywhere, anytime, on
The part about "near human quality audio files" is no joke -- I recently posted about innovative Japanese retailers, and Odiogo had no problem whatsoever with pronouncing the Japanese names. I've seen other blogs integrate Odiogo text-to-voice technology, but I hadn't realized how easy it was to do, especially within the Typepad blogging platform. The next step, of course, is to upload the Endless Innovation podcast to iTunes and embed ads inside.
These are Darwinian times, in which only the fastest and strongest survive. With that in mind, Google has partnered with London Business School and the Daily Telegraph in the U.K. to produce a series of quick-hitting business videos in a wide range of areas - from finance to e-commerce to marketing - that has been branded as Survival of the Fastest:
"Turbulent times offer an opportunity to the most nimble businesses to get ahead. Decision-makers must act without delay. Drawing inspiration from successful leaders becomes critical. London Business School, the Daily Telegraph and Google are partnering to provide unique bite-sized insights contributed by some of the UK's leading organisations."
Ever wanted to become part of a collaborative
Internet community where individuals, experts and companies come
together to transform ideas into true innovation? Taking advantage of the buzz surrounding crowdsourcing and the ease and simplicity of Web 2.0 tools, Phoenix-based bulbstorm is making it possible for people and organizations to come together to share, improve, and market new concepts for
products and services. Bulbstorm - started by a former P&G exec - has already received a glowing write-up from the folks at Wharton, so this is definitely a company to watch within the innovation space. Especially if you're one of those innovators with a constant stream of new ideas every day that are begging to be monetized!
As the economic recession continues to take a bigger and bigger toll on people's livelihoods, a number of companies are stepping up with new promotions that seek to reduce some of the pain. I'm calling this the Denny's Grand Slam Strategy, in honor of the Denny's Super Bowl ad this year that announced a free Grand Slam breakfast from 6am - 2pm on the Tuesday following the Super Bowl. A free breakfast, what could be better?
Well, as it turns out, a lot. This approach has really resonated with the American public. In fact, I've been keeping an informal scorecard of the companies that have announced similar types of deals. For example, FedEx Kinko's offered free resume printing for out-of-work job seekers, while Adobe recently announced free software for out-of-work programmers. And the list goes on -- Jet Blue was recently guaranteeing airplane tickets, just in case you lost your job before the flight.
It's a strategy that's breathtakingly simple: offer free stuff to people who need it, when they need it, and wrap it all in the context of the economic recession. The favorable word-of-mouth alone is worth it. So for companies out there thinking about innovation, take a page from the Denny's playbook and hit an innovation Grand Slam.
This month's issue of Monocle magazine (a cross between the Economist and Wallpaper magazine) takes a closer look at the future of retail, focusing on the "smartest shopkeepers, best buyers, happiest consumers and sharpest ideas on the street, in the aisles and online." If you think the smartest ideas are coming out of the U.S. or Western Europe, think again.
Monocle acknowledges -- even apologizes for the fact -- that most of the really innovative thinking about retail is taking place in Japan: "Japan's economy may well have been in the dumps for far too long but it's made it the most gracious place to part with cash, be inspired and receive peerless service. Breathtaking innovation, Japanese culture and fierce competition are what keeps it moving forward."
With that as backdrop, here are a few of the Japanese innovators at the top of their game:
Best shop designer: Masamichi Katayama of Wonderwall Best mix of fashion and function: Hirofumi Kiyonaga of Soph (Tokyo) Most clever retail concept: Hankyu Department Store at Nishinomiya (Osaka) Most innovative merchandiser: Hirofumi Kurino of United Arrows (Tokyo) Best airport gift store: Tokyo's Tokyo Most innovative retailer: Tadashi Yanai of Fast Retailing