Dienstag, 17. Oktober 2017

Exponential Technologies Pairing with Transforming (Traditional) Industries

Since the opening of Singularity University at Moffett Field in Silicon Valley in summer 2007, a lot has happened. Not only has SU opened up quite a bit (the last conference Exponential Manufacturing was completely live streamed, and is available on the web to rewatch (partially) to anyone's convenience, see this compelling article "We Are What We Make: Manufacturing's Digital Revolution is Here" on the conference was written by Alison E. Berman), it is opening dependencies in Eindhoven in the Netherlands (which opened on 2nd of June in presence of Queen Maxima), and their first official appearance in Germany at SingularityU Summit Germany in May 2016 (on Twitter and Facebook more under to be found under the hashtag #SUGermanySummit).

The public awareness about these exponential technologies that are largely based on the properties of digitization and the "6 D's of Exponentials" (how Peter H. Diamandis, one of the co-founders of SU calls this phenomenon ) is still low. The topics seldom make it in the local, and even national newspapers in a way that the topics connected with the challenges in the region. Even if they are available on social media it is by far not clear who will get notice of this, and how business leaders who might have a slight feeling that something is happening, yet sense that they will eventually affect their business, but they are not certain how to react in an appropriate time, and resources frame.

What is quite certain is that different cultures and industries around the globe will react, and adapt in quite different ways. Whereas the "Americas" have been the explorers for centuries (Silicon Valley is just one of its foreseen outcomes), "Asia" is a "buzzing hive-like" multi-cultural area, "Africa" a "forgotten continent", and Australia and Oceania so far away from the rest despite their explorer culture, Europe seems to be out of the show, as it tends to be slow.

... and yet, despite the fragmentation of nations within Europe, recent struggles in the EU about pressing social and economic challenges, and languages that are not widely spoken around the world (German, Italian, Finnish, ... to name just a few) the tide is shifting, or better to be said, rising. This not being a sign of drowning threat rather opening up the opportunity for "big wave surfing" wisely preparing to make valuable use of the upcoming opportunities for civil society, and the business community alike.

Europe's strength of the past has been in inventing, designing, and business innovation around machinery, England was the hotspot of the 1st Industrial Revolution based on the steam engine.

Over the last couple of months quite astounding conferences took place in Dresden, Saxony (which used to be the economic "powerhouse" of Germany for a long time until 1945, based on silver, and other ores first in the 13th century, about a hundred years ago the economic heart fueled by art and science was beating in the region). Early successes in optics and fine mechanics lead to becoming Dresden the main ICT provider for the COMECON states during the "cold war", and now it's again Europe's most prominent hub for semiconductors, microelectronics, and adjacent science fields like material sciences, and life sciences.

What most people don't remember is that Dresden was once a major hub for print technology, and today still over 130 companies in the region are active in this area. Mostly rather small, they don't receive much attention, as they would have due to their former economic power. KAMA GmbH (founded 1894 under the name Sächsische-Cartonnagen-Maschinen-Actiengesellschaft) was currently showcasing its latest products that enable print finish of small lots of folded/ printed packages with rapid change-overs.

The reason to mention this that this company is not just only one of a dozen print-related companies the world biggest trade fair for print and media in Düsseldorf at DRUPA (May 31 -June 10, 2016) which takes place every four years. The globally acknowledged trade fair has dared to step into the digital space beyond embedding smart technology already in their machines. The industry is placing itself on the intersection of many emerging trends like additive manufacturing, print-on-demand, Industrie 4.0, IoT, sensors, etc.

To make the stroll around the halls more pleasant and easy, even if you were not in Düsseldorf, check on Twitter #drupa2016 on what happened there.

Quite coincidently, Saxon State Minister for Labor, Economics and Infrastructure, Martin Dulig, will be touring the Netherlands, including Eindhoven visiting the High Tech Campus, this week, October 17-20, 2017. Within short distance there are two other hotspots of exponential technologies, science and, of course, business connections (have a look on the map (link), and how one gets across the city by bike). Singularity U The Netherlands is one of the two others, and TU Eindhoven the other one.

Just imagining such a constellation in Dresden which holds all the ingredients for good, only to be used effectively with all stakeholders, including citizens, for co-shaping the future with local businesses and engineering ingenuity.

When I should bring the essence of the above into a #PresencingStatus (short personal reflection) it is that:
  • Good - a minister who is going to places (outside his normal working area) where the highest future possibilities are in another state and "on display"
  • Tricky - connecting with the local community to what is feasible (even in the case the basis for future progress seems low, SMEs instead of DAX-registered companies), and pull them into an opportunity as the CEO of KAMA GmbH has been doing for quite some time
  • Learned - blog posts in draft-mode of the past may become timely when serendipity is happening, digital communication enables to expand the vision and also connect with the #GMISroadshow which touched down in Dresden just a week ago (see post on other blog, though in German)
  • Action - we will follow the activities in the Netherlands as soon as they are on social media via HTxA and HTxAlive 






Montag, 5. Juni 2017

The Exponential MOOC - by Singularity University

Singularity University most recently in June 2017 has started a MOOC around exponential thinking, technologies, organizations, and its implications on society.

The introductory course is free of charge, self-paced and worthwhile (not only to learn something new but also to connect with a community of like-minded people around the world). Do you dare to join in?



Here the link to the courses: https://beta.su.org/exponential-foundations-series/

PS.: In case you are serious, and would like to learn first hand (via digital communication) from the upcoming Grand Solutions Program 2017, #GSP17, check them out on Twitter 

Mittwoch, 8. März 2017

Stepping outside the comfort zone is when learning scales

Today, Sunday March 5, 2017, is the final day for handing in applications for the Global Solutions Program GSP17 of Singularity University.

Different to the first application which I successfully did (in 2011 for the #GSP11) and which I had the (not-solved) challenge to raise $25k within one (!) week the 8-week accelerator program is paid for by Google mainly.

So after one year of pausing, I took it to my heart and started the application some weeks ago. The process is pretty much streamlined, including essays about achieved successes as well as failures, and  an outlook into the future on personal goals.

... and as you might suspect one real challenge is there also:

making a 2 min video answering three short questions. This really pulled me out of my comfort zone, delaying it until the very last moment almost.

Here the video (which due to passion rising went off to almost 2:30 min):




As John D. Sterman, the Jay W. Forrester Professor of the System Dynamics Group at the MIT Sloan School of Management once told me in a private message after introducing me to some colleagues, "Now the ball is in your field. I am stepping out."

Freitag, 16. Dezember 2016

Crisis - Opening Future Opportunity Windows

Prior to the two-day conference #SUGermanySummit this year a tiny mockup of a project (not bigger than a shoe box) triggered my curiosity and caught my & our interest.

Rapid First Response Center@rfrc_eu
Mirko Bass, one of the two initiators of this idea, explained the purpose to me and what seemed abstract and small in cardboard became a powerful vision. Having an influx of foreign language speaking refugees also in Dresden a service providing real-time translation services via digital communication technology in a healthcare context. Over the course of the next months, I followed the progress of the project. As TEDxDresden approached in September 2016 in Dresden with the motto "The Social Turn", the idea of inviting Mirko and Harald (the 2nd mastermind of the concept and leading figure behind MLOVE) to Dresden (actually the sister city of Hamburg) came to mind.

What seemed like an obvious project, considering the partners (as seen on the picture on the right), was by no means an easy march through. Corporate projects always have a clear output, and financial return. This idea, as tiny as it seemed in the beginning, had neither. Being an employee at CISCO did not help much to bring it off the ground and visibility it now is attracting. Not only that the Krankenhaus Hamburg-Eppendorf caught interest, the Red Cross and the Dorit und Alexander Otto Stiftung (link to video documentation) but over time networking connections widened and the project caught interest outside Germany. It was Greece, and CISCO's country manager, that led to the involvement of Startupboat.  Soon enough the vision to bring one container to Samos (from where the founder of Startupboat comes from), just several hundred meters away from Turkish mainland, one of entry points of refugees to the European Community became reality.

Here the 'power of connection' becomes reality again. A week ago Mirko sent me notice of an event, as part of the #TLVweek (Tel Aviv Week) at Factory Berlin. Tuesday afternoon at 2pm I found myself in a small street in Berlin near U-Bahn station Bernauer Straße bumping into an arriving participant from Israel searching for the location.

Here you details to the event: Startupboat @ Factory

What happened then, overshot my expectations. Not only hearing about projects like ROC21, Institute for the Future, the Pritzker Prize, Park(ing) Day, Zaatari Refugee Camp (Jordan), National Day of City Hacking, Migration Work and more. Overwhelming to say the least. Connecting these dots, and enabling new developments and take adaptive moves to bring these early stage projects even more so forward into social impact and involving citizens and migrants alike.

Paula of Startupboat
Mirko of RFRC


Where there is a 
vision there is a way

... and doing a final #PresencingStatus on this experience last week:

  • Good - new learning, new contacts, widening the scope
  • Tricky - coping with a cold, power plugs for smartphone rare (as most often)
  • Learned - take opportunities as they open up; Impact Hubs involved (also part of #ulab)
  • Action - connecting people with people in my network (done!), #ShapersUnited (Dresden)







Mittwoch, 30. März 2016

Industrie40 - Is Now, and Hannover Messe Ante Portas

Last week government of Saxony and Plattform Industrie 4.0 invited stakeholders involved in the changing landscape of business towards a digitally driven one to "Industrie 4.0 - Sachsen stellt sich auf" in Dresden. About 400 participants from across all possible stakeholder communities, from HR to politics to banks to chip manufactures, and ICT companies and CEOs of local SME followed the invitation.

As disruptive as it feels digital is nothing new in the business world, even outside chip factories or car manufactures, though everywhere there is vast room for improvement and valuable use cases and applications.

#Industrie40 is the German expression for IoT (Internet of Things) in a production and manufacturing context, one of the core industry field in which Germany is strong and world-clas to this day. It was coined and published during the 2011 Hannover Messe (article in German) by several ministries and engineering organizations (which are also the driving force behind the current activities at Plattform Industrie 4.0). This year's main topic at Hannover Messe 2016 will be Industrie 4.0 so it makes sense to extend the view towards the underlying technology platforms that will enable this transformation (and not just within the fenced properties of production plants).

However without the necessary technology there will be little to no implementation of the vision of digitalization in the manufacturing space. With having a major chip factory by GLOBALFOUNDRIES (formerly known as AMD Dresden) in Dresden it is worth to read into what an expert has to say:

IoT is Now! (PART I) • IoT is Now! (Part II)

by Rajeev Rajan

It is going to be an exiting future, and it is happening today. Why don't we take active part in it ourselves?

PS.: A first view on last week's conference #SachsenIndustrie40 can be found here.


Donnerstag, 18. Februar 2016

Visioneer - Peter H. Diamandis

Be quick - till February 20, 2016:

#Visioneer is on Sneak Preview

h/t Jonathan McGuiness posting on Facebook this news 

Mittwoch, 20. Januar 2016

The Emperor has no Clothes - REALLY?

It's been a couple of weeks since Nikola, a GSP11 alumni (as I almost did become; one week's notice to raise $ 25K was insane and so I did cover Amplifyfestival 2011 in Sydney that summer), shared his talk with the title The Emperor Has No Clothes: Socrates Deconstructs Singularity University.

In short, and that has come to my personal understanding is that:
1. Singularity University (SU) is not about the Singularity
2. Singularity University is running a traditional business model, not focused on exponential
3. Knowledge is not publicly shared as in announced in the first announcement at TED 2008

Even though I have to admit that I go along with many of Nikola's points he has made in his speech and the following Q & A I'd counter answer as the situation is quite more dynamically complex than it seems at first sight.

I will draw on the three points I have stated above.

ad 1. 

When Ray Kurzweil, chancellor and co-founder of SU, at his TED talk 2008 "A University for the coming Singularity" he stated the following:

"Its students and faculty will study these technologies, with an emphasis on their interactions, and help to guide the process for the benefit of humanity and its environment"

... per se the "Singularity" is not the focus.

Additionally, SU is not a "traditional" university, though it makes sense to use the known term that is well understood by the public, as the curriculum is constantly in development (much faster than a university department normally changes the syllabus, even from year to year).

SU is rather about technologies and how they can be applied (yet missing out the social innovation part at large in the curriculum to what I see, and know) to solve the world's greatest challenges. As the TED talk came up, and I was in the phase to create a smaller version of SU AKA LockSchuppen here in Silicon Saxony's capital Dresden, we did manage to collaboratively translate the talk into German using the back than official TED translation tool dotSUB, in order to make it available for local business folks, and SMEs, as well as politicians and educators.

ad 2.

Concerning the business model, this was publicly outlined by Salim Ismail at the Foresight Conference 2010 (see the last presentation which includes slides and video on the schedule). This alone per se is quite unique as you seldom see this openness on how the business model is supposed to work in other companies.

As I found out myself ("the hard way"), building a business model on openness and exponential technologies (especially communication tools) the "normal" business world does not understand the implications of exponential technologies in its total impact (also on their business models, and economic future). Therefore, it makes sense to keep the "money for service" paradigm within SU for some time. As over time, the demand was growing this resulted even in raising the tuition for the Executive Program. Probably on one side to lower the overarching demand that could not fulfilled in the wished quality - I remember a workshop on lean manufacturing in 2005 that had allowed in twice as many participants (for the same price) than the year before, only to become overcrowded, crappy, and not recommendable anymore; the People Express Airline story how lowering prices can become fatal). On the other hand this "entrance barrier" forces potential participants to think more about the topic of exponential technologies, and get their grip on MOOCs, local communities such as XPRIZE Think Tanks and learn about it outside SU.

In both cases favorable.

Not to forget in this context is that Google now sponsors the tuition for the yearly 80 participants of the GSP program, meaning you don't have to raise the $ 25k but still there is the challenge to write the essays for the application, and do the video - which in itself is quite a challenge (I have done it three times, once in 2011 even successful)

Of course, this shouldn't the last step on the "ladder of progress", and SU is progressing in this as well being present at other conferences as in Hamburg at the ZEIT FESTIVAL Smashing Ideas (photos, own review on the event (in German)) in Hamburg in February or even doing the first SingularityU Germany Summit.

ad 3.

When SU started in 2009 with its first GSP cohort and the executive program it was intended to share the video lectures in public. Some of which especially in the early days became public such as "The Best Way to Predict the Future is to Create it Yourself" (by Peter Diamandis) and "Bob Metcalfe discusses the Enernet" by Bob Metcalfe (both talks have become real inspirations for my own work)

Some great videos which were already out on the web even had to be taken down due to copyright issues, or lectures probably who didn't want their talks to be freely available to everybody.

Over the years, however, this has also become "better". As many of the attendees of the GSP-programs (#GSP09, #GSP10, #GSP11, #GSP12, #GSP13, #GSP14, #GSP15) are on social media, especially Twitter and the hashtag #SingularityU.

Rather than sharing the information with the organization itself, providing the context for participants to share ideas, information, knowledge, and connections themselves openly on social media so others (even outside the programs, and not paying thousand of dollars to attend) can become engaged, inspired, and pulled into taking action themselves.

During the GSP14 program, Angela Incampo (my co-initiator of HTxA - HighTech x Agency) and I decided to partner with Eventifier to bring the shared knowledge from Silicon Valley to a broader audience. Here our interview on the Eventifier blog and the one Angela did with three passionate and crazy attendees of GSP14 on the HTxA-blog.

... and finally, a great way to learn more about the protagonists of SU, and exponential entrepreneurs this series by Alison E. Berman is worthwhile.

Finally, the future is not there yet. A lot is ahead of us all. Becoming aware of our own mental models and how innovation, business models, and making a living in an exponential world is the first step the  #MoonshotThinkers we are all probably are once we become aware of our capabilities!!


My #PresencingStatus on the issue:

1. Good - glad Nikola had the courage to bring the issues to the table
2. Tricky - quite challenging to keep the emotions calm and see, and become aware of  the facts
3. Learned - technology is by far not enough to make the world a better place: social comes along
4. Action - PRESS RETURN to make these thoughts available for the conversation & dialogue

Yours, Ralf