Friday, October 31, 2014

Ok Go - again! It's unbelievable...

The guys from Ok Go have made another unbelievably intricate, one-shot video. Wow.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

On not getting by in the sharing economy

A very good,and very long, article by Sarah Kessler in FastCompany examined the realities of doing tasks for TaskRabbit, Fiverr, Uber etc. She found that making a living in the “gig-economy” is not easy at all.
For 4 weeks she tried to make money by using all the sharing economy services she could – from walking dogs, tutoring kids, and delivering packages to wrapping gifts.
It’s an excellent piece of journalism.

Along the way she experienced a lot of weird and worrying situation and she got a first hand view of what life is like when you surviving from one small gig to another.
Anyone interested in the collaborative economy should be aware that there is a very harsh competetive economy alongside the warm and friendly sharing of resources among people who have something to spare.

“Because of the way TaskRabbit works, job posters can easily find the people willing to work for the least amount of money. A user with the screen-name BaubleBar (the name of an online jewelry vendor that has raised $6 million to date) creates a task for $40. "We need 10 TaskRabbits to help us pack and check the quality of merchandise, and add labels to merchandise tags," it says. "PLEASE NOTE: We cannot allow frequent cell phone use during this task, so if you need to be on your phone often, this is not the task for you. This job will take approximately 8 hours. From 8am to 4pm."

“Setting up a full day of gigs--or even a gig in a target free period--isn't easy, and it often takes as much effort as applying for a regular economy job. I get rejected from about five tasks for every one I win. Sometimes I hold spots in my calendar that I could fill with other tasks for jobs I've bid on but haven't heard from. I'm essentially competing for every hour of my employment.
Even if I land a gig with a decent hourly wage, it typically looks like nothing once I factor in the time spent looking for jobs and commuting between them. Despite the oft-repeated promise of the gig economy, in fact I have no control over when I work, because the only way to get gigs is to be available sporadically and often without much notice. For example, the only people who respond to my DogVacay profile want a dog sitter over Christmas, when I am also out of town”.

“I have come to realize that one of the cruel ironies of the gig economy is that even though it's geared almost exclusively to serve urban markets, the kind of densely packed cities where space is at a premium, one needs a car to have a shot at the cream of the work that's available. Even worse, the universe of gig economy startups is mostly relying on young people and others who are underemployed--exactly the people whom are least likely to be able to afford a car in a city. Or have an extra bedroom. Or a parking space. Or designer clothes. Or handyman skills”.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Indlæg om mobile banking og nøjsomme løsninger i DR2 Dagen

DR2 Dagen havde igår en sektion om brugen af mobile banking, og jeg var en tur inde og fortælle om brugen af mobiler i U-lande, og om forskellen på almindelig vestlig innovation og nøjsomme løsninger ala MPESA.
Indslaget starter 38:35 minutter inde i udsendelsen med et interview med direktøren for centralbanken i BanglaDesh, så kommer jeg på ved 45:20.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Datsun is too cheap for India

It seems that Nissan's attempt to create a low cost car for emerging markets under the Datsun brand name is not succeeding. According to Business week, Nissan is making the same mistake that Tata motors did with the Nano; marketing a car as cheap, without realizing that most aspiring people don't want to be seen as driving cheap. 
The point seems to be that affordability is not enough, the product needs to be attractive, too. 

Business week reports
"In India, where the Datsun Go went on sale on March 19, deliveries through August totaled 9,557, according to the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers. By comparison, Maruti Suzuki India (MSIL:IN), the country’s top-selling carmaker, sells just as many of its similarly priced Alto hatchbacks every couple of weeks. Only 607 Datsuns were sold in July, falling 77 percent from their peak in April and dipping below sales of Tata’s Nano, though they rebounded and exceeded Nano sales in August, according to SIAM data."

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Crowdfunded public transport - line six in Toronto

Here's an interesting version of crowd funding: A group of Toronto citizens crowdfunding a bus line, which the public transportation company is unwilling to establish. 
In the collaborative economy it seems that political activism and business entrepreneurship are blurring. 

Here's more from the Canadian Broadcast company's article about the initiative: 
"In a move to alleviate the cattle-car conditions transit riders in the west-end neighbourhood endure almost daily, Scollon has co-founded a service that will attempt to operate — at least on a trial basis — a private, crowd-funded bus service with daily trips into downtown during rush hour from the fast-growing neighbourhood along King Street West.
Here's how it will work. For a minimum donation of $25, riders are guaranteed five seats on the bus. Scollon's company will charter the bus using a private company. Line 6 has a $2,500 funding goal before they will launch the pilot. So far, they have raised $1,450"

Friday, October 10, 2014

The incredibly shrinking time horizon of stock market investments

Just stumbled upon this very illustrative graph from LPL Financial research showing how the average holding period of stock has fallen from years to days. Long term thinking is over, it seems. 

Here's part of their analysis: 
"The time horizon of the average investor’s investment perspective has changed dramatically over the years, as you can see in Figure 1. According to data from the New York Stock Exchange, the average holding period for stocks in 1960 was about eight years. By 1970, it had slid to a little over five years. By 1980, it had fallen to just under three years, by 1990 to two years, by 2000 to just one year, and in 2010 it reached a mere six months. In 2012, the ETF that tracks the S&P 500 turns over its full market capitalization in trading volume about once every five days".

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

How to thrive in the we-economy

Thriving in a we-economy

The products that drove the industrial economy are becoming commodities: They have matured to the point where it’s hard and expensive to squeeze additional value from them. Instead, new value and growth now comes from connecting and combining technologies to create broader solutions, starting from the customer’s perspective.

Industrial products were mass-produced, one-size-fits-all. Now, value is increasingly created for specific customers in a specific context, here and now.
Rather than thinking in terms of standalone products, customers will buy devices and services that fit together with all the other stuff they are using – and the value they derive emerges from the interaction between large numbers of companies, often from very different sectors. Just consider how many providers are involved and coordinated to enable the services that are available on a smartphone.  

In the global market place, pressure to deliver more for less is as high as ever, and as we go forward, the demand for efficiency will only increase because of growing concerns about the environment and the tightening supplies of natural resources and energy.

Computers and connectivity are making it cheaper to coordinate and orchestrate transactions widely, with great precision and efficiency.
In all industries, products are digitized, networked, and equipped with sensors. They are exchanging data and coordinating, to compose solutions that are adapted to individual and local demands – but drawing on global networks and a wide variety of resources – including input from users themselves.

A new approach to meet new conditions

To thrive under these new conditions, companies need a new approach to business and value creation.
The main characteristic is a shift from a ME perspective towards a WE perspective.
This means seeing yourself as part of a much wider set of stakeholders, and understanding that your success depends on the success of all others involved in creating a common solution.
Taking a we-perspective means realizing that you cannot create complex solutions alone, and that opening to co-creation with other stakeholders, including users, will give you access to greater insight at a lower cost.
Thus, the we-approach is one of interaction, collaboration and interdependence.

This in turns implies that businesses need to rethink the way they organize value creation.         

- Focus shifts towards processes and applications, rather than providing finished products. Design is largely about creating and contributing to tools, services, platforms and systems that make it easy for a wide range of participants to join and contribute to creating the results they each want.
- It’s a participatory economy, based on a much deeper interaction action between producers and consumers. The traditional, industrial-era division of roles and responsibilities between suppliers, manufacturers, users, and customers are blurred. 
- Openness and sharing is a prerequisite for developing and operating a We- economy business concept. However, when knowledge and resources are shared, the ownership, rights and profits from activities are not so straightforward.
- The motivation to contribute knowledge, effort and other resources is not purely economic. Participants may equally be driven by the desire for recognition, by professional interest, social interaction or a wish to help others. Concerns about sustainability, minimizing the waste of resources and the environment in general are also important as motivation.
- Leadership and decision-making happens across organizational boundaries in networks, that can include not only the individual company's own employees, but also workers from other enterprises, volunteers, public servants, users, suppliers and customers.
- With less central authority or ownership, control of the process is replaced by influence.
- The connection between efforts and pay-off is less direct, and investments must be seen in a wider and longer-term perspective when you are contributing to make the ecosystem, which you are ultimately dependent on, thrive.
- A different set of skills is required. The traditional, rather passive and reproducing role of workers and consumers in the industrial age, need to change towards more personal initiative, assuming responsibility, sharing, communicating and creating. 

Elements of a new normal.

Interestingly, these characteristics are very visible in a number of new and often overlapping approaches to business, which have had considerable success and attention recently.

The sharing economy matches idle resources with needs. Access to use is more important the individual ownership Instead.
The maker movement is democratizing innovation and making it possible for virtually anyone to develop, manufacture and sell products.
Co-creation and broader participation in the development and production of solutions is possible in digital networks
The circular economy sees business as an ecosystem where everything and everyone are ultimately interrelated and interdependent.
Social enterprises work to make services and goods accessible to as many people as possible – rather than maximizing profits.

A lot of experimentation is going on, and not all companies and business models will have staying power. However, looking at the big picture, it’s hard to imagine that elements of these approaches will not become part of the new normal way of doing business.