Is Miami the place to catch the next Unicorn or just a bunch of mosquitos?

Start-up city Miami

Start-up city Miami

Sometimes opportunities reveal themselves in very subtle ways that only trained eyes can spot.  Some other times, opportunities are like a mosquitos that it just keep coming back, and keep buzzing around until you slap yourself, only to realize that you missed it.

The story of Miami and its up and coming startup scene, is turning out to be like that of the mosquito; an opportunity that you almost slapped your neck and missed it – but didn’t!

Back on September 16th, 2013, I wrote in this same blog, a post about the Miami tech scene (https://innovationstrategy4.biz/2013/09/16/is-the-super-hot-miami-tech-scene-sustainable/ ), in it I speculated if the movement that started to gain the attention of a few was sustainable, it could turn out to be something big. The post attracted some attention and was the trigger for many interesting conversations with high-tech investors and VCs in South America, Europe and the US Norths East.

Fast-forward to today and you can actually feel the vibrant ecosystem buzz with energy, very accurately represented by the sign on the terrace at the top of BUILDING.co, one of the newest and hottest co-working spaces in Miami that reads: “Start-up City Miami”.

I think the 2015 Kauffman index (http://www.kauffman.org/microsites/kauffman-index ) is not wrong, Miami has the highest startup density, and if you have already started your search to catch the next Unicorn (a company valued at $1 Billion dollars+), you most definitely need to keep a watchful eye on Miami, because if you blink, you will end up slapping your neck, only to realize that just like that mosquito, you might have just missed your chance of a life time.

Sustainability Management as part of your Innovation Strategy

In order for a company to have a sustainable business each senior manager should have assigned responsibility for sustainability within each business unit.  Innovation strategy and sustainability management go hand in hand for future growth, and excellence in execution of ‘brilliant’ innovative ideas. The senior managers should oversee the following:

  • Implementation of local sustainability policies and initiatives.

  • Development of local sustainability policies and processes.

  • Collation of all relevant data on sustainability issues.

  • Reporting of all progress to company’s sustainability team.

In many companies and business units, individual managers might oversee sustainability activities alongside other professional responsibilities. These activities are therefore reflected in the overall assessment of the sustainability manager’s job performance.

The need for sustainability team is vital for business success, thus the company has to appoint a Head of Sustainability to execute their enterprise wide sustainability goals.

The Head of Sustainability should report to the CEO, and the organization should have a member of company’s Management Board be responsible for sustainability issues. Questions of strategy and policy are subject to approval by company’s Executive and Management Boards.

For example the Aegon company uses this innovation model and embracing sustainability management successfully with excellent results as reported in their 2012 Annual Report (what sustainability means to us).

In this business model. the responsibilities of local sustainability management include:

  • Managing the strategic framework for business unit sustainability activities; developing and introducing relevant policies; and

  • Supporting operating entities in integrating and implementing the department’s strategic approach and policies

  • Coordinating the main sustainability activities between subsidiaries, strategic functions and Executive Board of Management

  • Further integrating sustainability aspects into existing business processes and operations

  • Acting as a knowledge hub and facilitating best practice exchange across the business units

Additionally, the company might utilize existing business processes, such as Risk Management Framework, Project Management Framework and Compliance System, to establish minimum sustainability standards and monitor compliance with them.

By Tanya Petrova, MSMIS, PMP at Green PM Consulting
www.LinkedIn.com/in/tanyapetrova

Is the super hot Miami tech scene sustainable?

According to a recent article published by Fast Company, Florida ranks number one for Innovation and number three in Revenue per startup at $1.2 million.  There seems to be a consensus from the various media outlets that Miami’s high tech movement has legs.   I can attest to the veracity of the rankings and media buzz because almost every other day I learn about a new startup, technology event or product being launched either here in Miami or by a Miami based startup.

Brickell Ave

Brickell Ave

Unlike some hyper-local technology hubs, the theSouth Florida (SoFL) and in particular the Miami (MIA) tech hub has significant international influence and its ripples can be felt from as far as Buenos Aires (Argentina), Santiago (Chile),  Western Europe and of course San Francisco, California.  Much of the success can be attributed to the many local organizations doing a great job energizing and attracting talented individuals to the region.  Their hard work in conjunction with local and state leaders, educational institutions and local companies is paying off big.  I do want to mention some of the organization that should receive recognition, below in no particular order:

http://www.southfloridatech.org

http://venturehive.co/

http://refreshmiami.com/

http://sfima.com/

http://www.lift1428.com/projectlift

http://www.miamijobfest.co/

The good news is that all this attention is good for Miami.  The fact that media is labeling Miami’s Technology hub as “Silicon Beach” and social medial hash-tags like #SunshineEconomy are found frequently in twitter, has help attract some key technology events and conferences, like:

 http://tedxmiami.com/  

http://tfamericas.org/

http://fiba.net/

http://www.simemia.co/

http://webcongress.com/miami/

But I believe being able to attract great talent, foster collaboration and innovation, will only get you so far without a steady flow of capital.  To really make a significant and sustainable impact, investors must make money.  It seems traditional venture capital (VC) firms have just begun to expand their portfolios in SoFL, but most remain cautious and most continue to fund predominantly west coast startups based in “Silicon Valley”.

But not all the recent buzz has gone unnoticed, we have seen some organizations very active locally like the Knight Foundation and some non traditional organizations making inroads. Many agree that Miami already has the attention of the Latin American investors, or at least the local media is quick to point out in some of their recent publications like: “TechCrunch Disrupt Finale: Mark Zuckerberg, Marissa Mayer and .. The Latin Invasion” or “How Miami Is Filing The High-Tech Void In Latin America”.

And all this is beginning to sound very familiar, it it sounding like an excerpt from Andres Oppenheimer’s best seller book Cuentos Chinos, where he proposes a connection of between Miami’s success and the worsening economical and social situation in Latin-america.  I am not an economist, but one can easily extrapolate and conclude that if Miami’s high tech success is depending heavily in Latin-america, then the party will abruptly end by 2017 when Brazil economy decelerates and the rest of the region finds some form of equilibrium.

But independently of the outcome of Latin America and its impact on Miami, the region still must prove to the investors one thing and one thing only: it must show returns.  All this must produce success stories and demonstrate there are profits to be made.  If “Silicon Beach” is here to stay, it must produce a stable stream of IPOs (Initial Public Offerings), buyouts or any arrangement where institutional and private investors can see returns.

It takes a couple of years for the average startup to start seeing profits, this means if Miami’s high tech scene is going to be sustainable, we should be starting to hear the IPO chatter soon and hopefully thing getting ready to go no later than 2016.

So lets get the ball rolling, shall we?  What Miami based company do you think will IPO or be sold/bought first?

by Juan Meza

Why should we hire you when we can outsource or crowdsource it?

Yes, I know, it is a loaded question, but every opportunity I get to run this experiment on my digital marketing students I do it; and to add a little motivation for them to participate, I add: “… and whomever gives me the right answer, I will make sure they get the job.”

Usually many eager hands go up for a chance to answer the question, so I pick a few students and listen to their answers, but so far to this day, all have missed the point.  But everyone deserve a second chance and invite them to think about it a little more and write me an email with the answer.

Imagine you are at a job interview — I tell the class — and the interview has gone great, they like you, you like them and then, as you are just about the head out, someone knocks at the door and a head pops in through the corner of the door frame.  The head belongs to the  the boss of-the-boss of the people interviewing you.  She apologizes for the interruption and ask you if she can ask you one last question before you leave.  You nod your head in approval and she walks into the room and asks the question — “So why should we hire you and not just outsource/freelance it?”

Although the scenario above is unlikely to happen to you in an interview, I can assure you it is happening, and it is happening every day in all companies.  The main reason for this is because employee costs have a direct and significant impact the to the bottom line. But the interesting part is; if the current trend towards an open talent economy holds, things will flip upside-down and the same question might sound something like “So why should we freelance/crowdsource it and not just hire you?”

According to my friends at Deloitte, in their Human Capital Trends 2013 leading indicators publication, by 2020 half the people you rely on will not actually work for you.  So allow me to be the first one to welcome to the open talent economy — “a collaborative, transparent, technology-driven, rapid-cycle way of doing business. What the open source model did for software, the open talent economy is doing for work.”

So getting back to what is the right answer, as you might already suspect, it depends.  Not all the jobs can be outsourced for a myriad of reasons.  To name a few, security, intellectual property, technology trade barriers, physical location dependency, etc.  But many can be freelanced/outsourced/crowdsourced and by doing so, companies and individuals will gain significant advantages in cost, flexibility and speed.

If I was at that interview, I will answer to the executive something like “If your company is ready to outsource/crowdsource/freelance then you should and I am the freelancer to do it for you.  If in the other hand, the company is not ready, I can help you innovate faster and more efficiently than anyone else.”  Then I will pause to let her process the info and then toss my favorite theatrical quote for the occasion, “Help me… help you.” — Jerry Maguire [1996].

by Juan Meza

Most Innovative Companies of 2013

The most innovative companies of 2013 can be considered to be the ones which are on the verge or already leading a market takeover. These companies combine together a diverse group of experts and innovators, all of which have their eyes set towards changing the world. Whether it is the creation of new technology or the innovative footwear, these are the top 5 companies which leaped all others according to the fast company magazine.

1. Nike

FuelStefan Olander,  the lead of the Nike’s Digital Sport division, is working in collaboration with a team of engineers who are creating of a pair of Nike Shoes with embedded sensors. These sensors would be able to detect the pressure which is created by the shoes. The data collected is then digitally fed to an iPhone. This device is just a fragment of the innovative products and services the company plans to launch.

2. Amazon

Having introduced the same day shipping options in a number of US Markets, and then same day delivery service Amazon deserves to be at the top grabbing the 2nd spot among the most innovative companies. In all, the entire retail industry has by now realized the true potential of Amazon, as it notches up its market shares with every second that passes by. That’s not all, as every other week the company manages to make the news through the launch of a new technology or service.

3. Square

Empowering the customers with the credit card management and transaction services using a mobile device, is the basic idea which Square had at the start, but now it has managed to extend its lead over all of its competitors.

4. Splunk

Whether it is the billions of clicks on Facebook and Twitter or any activity on all other websites, Splunk has the expertise and the resources for monitoring, indexing as well as collecting the data and putting it to good use through which has provided new business opportunities and profits for its clients.

5. Fab

With dozens of online boutiques and design centric products, Fab managed to capturea revenue of about $ 150 million in 2012. Moreover, the membership for the company is also progressing at maddening pace which earns it the right to be termed among the top innovation companies.

For the complete list go to http://www.fastcompany.com/section/most-innovative-companies-2013

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Building innovation teams is a top priority for CEOs

The creation of an innovation team is not something that can be taken lightly in order to be effective.  The job demands good strategy and strong commitment and involves the formulation and creation of a culture that would encompass the whims of innovation through the process of encouragement and promotion of entrepreneurship in the organization.  According to the most recent research conducted by the Conference Board, CEO Challenge 2013, innovation is among the top 3 challenges faced by CEO’s in 2013. need to tackle. Moreover, this report also ranks at the top, issues related to human capital, for example training and retention, both important aspects of innovation.

Conference Board, CEO Challenge 2013

Conference Board, CEO Challenge 2013

In the pursuit of growth and innovation, executive leadership is committing to the allocation of dedicated teams that are responsible for leading the entire organization.  The Chief Innovation Officer is yet another important figure when it comes to guiding the plans and goals of organization towards creation of new ideas and profit. The Innovation Leader Forum (ILF) has been working for the past three years connecting innovators and leaders who are directly concerned for the initiation of an organizational change.

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Innovation must encompass the entire organization

Innovation in any organization is about doing something new or different which would turn out to be beneficial.  It involves the encouragement of new ideas and perspectives in all dimensions of the business and it must go all the way from operations to customer service.  For innovation initiatives to be truly effective, they must encompass the entire organization.   Among the numerous facets to consider, there are four key aspects that require special attention and these are,

Sony Latin America’s Juan Meza asked, “Who is going to make the next iPhone? Is it going to be Apple? Probably not.” PHOTOS: Carlos Miller

Vision

Many organizations lag behind maybe because they over emphasize on historical performance and data.  Traditional thinking leads us to repeat those things that have worked in the past.  The risk of only focusing on what have worked in before, is that the one thing that was successful before does not guarantee success in the future.  In reality, innovation encompasses looking in the forward direction and not necessarily backwards.

Training

Another core reason, for which most of the companies fail to respond to the need of the modern times, lies in the lack of training.  If the employees and other people linked to the organization are not trained on the latest techniques and methods, growth and expansion of a business will be much slower.  This is often one of the most overlooked aspects of the innovation puzzle, yet one of the most important since most often than not, employees and partners play the most important role in accelerating organizational change or stopping it on its tracks.

Teamwork

Collective effort is something which can be termed to be the backbone of an organization.  The outcome of teamwork is speed and efficiency.  Most modern business challenges are extremely complex, it is unlikely for individuals to get as far as if the task is done collaboratively.  There is no such thing as individualism when working an organization and the companies which emphasize on the teamwork and collaboration are the ones that gain the maximum rewards and profits.

C-Level Support

We are beginning to notice some organizations embrace innovation at the highest levels with the creation of a new C-Level function; welcome the new Chief Innovation Officers. We are seeing these new CIOs transforming the innovation arena, as they not only get the chance to tap on organizational wide resources but have also the responsibility to bring new revenue.  The key point is to secure executive management support to tap the right resources across the organization.

Innovation initiatives are often seen as risky investments by some, however in the hyper competitive environment we live in today, those organizations who do not innovate will soon find themselves fighting for survival as they one day will notice their sales had vanish overnight.

For more on this topic go to  http://www.worldcityweb.com/event-coverage/marketing-connections/101-innovation-sonys-meza-says-must-encompass-entire-company

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Principles of persuasion

  1. Reciprocity
  2. Scarcity
  3. Authority
  4. Consistency
  5. Liking
  6. Consensus

BitCoin (BTC) an alternative to cash – Trends to watch in 2013

According to Global Trends in their GT Briefing December 2012: Trends to watch in 2013, they mention BitCoin as an alternative to cash under “Who needs Banks anyway?” section of their report.  This along with Mobile-wallets and Crowdfunding, are definitely things to keep close tabs on as I suspect they will gain significant traction to in 2013.

 

The Global Trends to watch in 2013 are:

  1. Social everything: New generations and their digital world stepping forward
  2. Redefining value: The consumer is winning the fight to own the new consumer
  3. Distributed everything:  Mobility in production and consumption
  4. The next “industrial” revolution: Robots and smart machines reshaping work
  5. The new space race: Pushing the frontiers of technology once again?
  6. Geopolitical wars: The fight to control the future
  7. Resource wars escalating: From a world of abundance to shortage
  8. Business stepping up:  From profit to purpose
  9. Information is power: The security challenge
  10. Who needs banks anyway? Reshaping the financial system

Extracted from Global Trends http://www.globaltrends.com/monthly-briefings/176-gt-briefing-december-2012-10-key-trends-to-watch-in-2013  Related presentation materials can be downloaded in PDF for further reading at http://www.globaltrends.com/images/stories/GT2013/Global%20Trends_Ten%20Key%20Trends%20to%20Watch%20for%202013.pdf

10 Crucial Consumer Trends for 2013

According to @trendwatching the top 10 Crucial Consumer Trends for 2013 are:

  1. Presumer & Custowners
  2. Emerging
  3. Mobile Moments
  4. New Life Inside
  5. Appscriptions
  6. Celebration Nation
  7. Data Myning
  8. Again Made Here
  9. Full Frontal
  10. Demanding Brands

Extract from Trendwatching.com  http://trendwatching.com/trends/10trends2013/

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