Author: admin

The Futility of Chasing “Unicorns”

Baseball has long been a sport that values home runs and grand slams (home runs hit while there are already 3 players on base) above all else, with fans and sports analysts alike often focusing on the big hits as the ultimate measure of a player’s worth. However, a sophisticated baseball enthusiast knows that this focus on grand slams may be misguided, and that the most desirable hitters are those with a high on-base percentage.

An on-base percentage (OBP) measures a player’s ability to get on base safely, including hits, walks, and even being hit by pitches. This statistic is widely recognized as a more accurate measure of a player’s overall offensive contribution, as it takes into account not only their ability to hit home runs but also their ability to get on base and contribute to rallies.

Conversely, the focus on grand slams perpetuates a “boom or bust” mentality that can lead to inconsistent and unsustainable offensive production. While grand slams can certainly be exciting and impactful, they are also relatively rare and often rely on a combination of luck and timing. Hitters who focus solely on hitting grand slams may sacrifice their ability to consistently contribute to their team’s offensive efforts.

Furthermore, the emphasis on grand slams can result in a lack of diversity within the sport. Teams may prioritize power hitters who can hit grand slams, even if it means sacrificing players with a more well-rounded offensive game. This can limit potential growth and innovation within the team and sport overall, as well as create a culture that values individual accolades over team success.

In contrast, focusing on players with a high OBP can lead to a more sustainable and consistent offensive approach. These players are more likely to consistently get on base and contribute to rallies, creating a more dynamic and diverse offensive attack. This approach can lead to more consistent success for teams and players alike.

As such, while grand slams may be exciting and attention-grabbing, the focus on these big hits is indeed rather misguided. The most desirable baseball hitters are those with a high OBP, as they contribute to their team’s offensive efforts in a more sustainable and consistent way. By prioritizing these players, teams can create a more dynamic and diverse offensive attack, leading to more consistent success on the field.

Now, while you might believe that this article is about the popular sport of baseball, in truth, it is actually about Silicon Valley. “Really?”, you ask. 

To be sure, Silicon Valley has long been a hotbed for startup investments, with investors seeking to find the next unicorn – a startup that achieves a valuation of over $1 billion. While the allure of such high returns is certainly enticing, sophisticated investors know that this focus on unicorns is misguided. To be more successful in achieving long-term, sustainable portfolio returns, investors in Silicon Valley and other startup ecosystems around the world should definitely consider shifting their focus away from unicorn startups.

Firstly, the unicorn mentality often leads to a focus on short-term gains over long-term value creation. This can result in startups prioritizing growth at all costs, even if it means sacrificing profitability or sustainability. This short-term mindset can lead to burnout and ultimately result in the demise of the company.

Secondly, the unicorn mentality often leads to a lack of diversity in the types of startups that receive funding. Investors tend to gravitate towards startups that fit a specific mold or have a proven track record, which can result in missed opportunities for innovative startups that do not fit this mold. This lack of diversity can stifle innovation and limit the potential for growth within the broader ecosystem.

Thirdly, the focus on unicorns can result in a culture that prioritizes hype and buzz over substance. Startups may feel pressure to generate hype and media attention to attract investors, rather than focusing on developing a solid product and sustainable business model. This can result in a skewed perception of success that prioritizes flashy headlines over real-world impact and steady, long-term investment returns.

So instead of focusing solely on unicorns, investors in Silicon Valley and elsewhere should consider a more measured approach to startup investments. This includes a focus on sustainability, diversity, and long-term value creation. Investors can seek out startups that prioritize profitability and sustainability, rather than simply prioritizing growth at all costs. Additionally, investors can broaden their investment portfolios to include startups that may not fit the traditional mold but have the potential for significant impact.

In conclusion, like measuring the success of a baseball player on the number of grand slam home runs they hit, Silicon Valley and other startup ecosystems should not measure their success on the number of unicorn companies they produce. One very important thing to bear in mind is that all great home run hitters have one other very specific thing in common – they strike out a lot. So, analogous to measuring a ball player’s OBP to gain a more accurate assessment of their overall contribution, startup ecosystems and investors should be measured based on how many of their portfolio companies are “singles, doubles or triples” vs. just home runs and/or grand slams. And to put one final nail in this point, nearly 1 in 5 unicorns no longer exist or are “under water”, i.e., below their earlier valuation in public or private markets.

So, let’s strive to create startup ecosystems that foster high numbers of successful, viable, profitable businesses, stimulating economic growth, job creation, increased tax revenues, innovation, international competitiveness, and numerous other benefits, versus merely focusing on creating unicorns. 

Let’s play ball!!

#siliconvalleyinyourpocket #sviyp #startupecosystem #unicorns #investors #startups

De-centralized healthcare is coming …… fast!!!

I find it interesting how rapidly things can change, may it be an entire industry, the landscape of a city  or the inevitable graying of a head of hair, being surprised when these events occur even while thinking your eyes never drifted away. The most dramatic of these shifts can be triggered by externalities that also just seem to “appear”, with the COVID-19 pandemic being a recent example that causes significant hardship for the world while at the same time becoming a rapid accelerator of trends that had previously been introduced but not yet widely adopted.

As we began 2020 approximately one year ago, several structural changes were already rippling through the world’s economies, politics and cultures with e-commerce, social media, and  entertainment streaming all taking a larger share of our daily attention.  Moreover, these same trends with COVID-19 becoming a formidable driver only accelerated as the virus caused significant adjustments in how we live, work, socialize, and even get physical exercise. Until a vaccine is readily available to the public during 2021 most of us who have a choice will continue to work from home, our children will receive primary and secondary learning (at least part-time) over the internet and we’ll  be limited to smaller gatherings in order to reduce risk of spreading infection.

In this challenging environment major shifts have now impacted most if not all industries and none as critical or as relevant as in the healthcare sector. Perhaps this is unsurprising since COVID-19 is first and foremost a health crisis that imposes by its highly infectious and deadly nature a re-imagining of the way healthcare will be delivered to the general public. Ironically this crisis also creates an opportunity to revamp the traditionally expensive and underperforming healthcare system in the US by moving from “words to actions” as a decade’s worth of progress in some areas has been achieved during the past months with continuing momentum heading into the new year.

But let’s not overlook the COVID – 19 pandemic is truly a terrible situation for the world that has only reinforced dramatic weaknesses in national preparedness for such an emergency due to limited equipment, resources and hospital capacity as well as inequalities shown by large segments of people without access to even basic healthcare systems. This  requires our political leaders, scientists, regulators, hospital practitioners as well as the entire medical equipment supply chain to consider more innovative approaches to compensate due to the severe constraints COVID-19 presents.

Hence in the case of the healthcare industry, there’s now greater focus than ever on leveraging creativity and resourcefulness to see us through these challenging times while concurrently developing improvements that in the future will grant safe and secure access to health facilities for those patients severely hampered by COVID-19 (and future pandemics) while still effectively managing treatment of patients with more routine conditions.  In order to achieve this dual mandate, we’re now seeing the beginning of an evolution toward the “de-centralized” model of healthcare delivery, a trend that was slowly gaining attention but not tangible adoption pre-2020.

What’s the de-centralized health model being described? One example which many of us are now quite familiar with during the past year is use of telemedicine services. These online digital communication platforms facilitate patient access for interactions with their healthcare providers for consult, examinations as well as for some treatments without having to travel to an office where there’s risk of virus exposure. Although this technology has been readily available for many years, this is really the first instance telemedicine services are being used by the public in such an extensive way and is gaining  wider acceptance:

Fact: During the COVID-19 pandemic, consumer adoption of telehealth has skyrocketed, from 11% of U.S. consumers using telehealth in 2019 to 46% of consumers now using telehealth to replace canceled healthcare visits, according to consulting firm McKinsey & Company’s COVID-19 consumer survey conducted in April 2020.

McKinsey’s survey also found that about 76% of consumers say they are highly or moderately likely to use telehealth in the future. Seventy-four percent of people who had used telehealth reported high satisfaction.

There are several experts like McKinsey who believe telemedicine only encompasses a small step  toward a “virtual” delivery model using digital health tools for patient  diagnosis, monitoring and treatment with a more extreme transition away from hospitals and stand-alone facilities for routine care soon to come. Over the past year it’s been shown several treatments including for respiratory conditions and musculoskeletal pain can be adequately self-managed by patients and doesn’t necessarily require a visit to a primary care facility. This then frees capacity (both human and beds) for those more serious medical cases or even when a medical emergency like COVID-19 strikes.

Moreover, a beneficial second order effect of a sped-up evolution toward digital health brings us closer to the vision of offering a larger proportion of the global population access to quality healthcare which is significantly lacking in the developing world today (eg. only 20% of these populations even have access to X-ray imaging!) and doing so at a cost point that democratizes health delivery even in the poorest countries.

Prior to COVID-19 four megatrends were already set in motion that exemplify this paradigm shift in  healthcare and now hasten changes moving us ever closer to the de-centralized digital model:

  1. Global Resource Constraints limiting capital, qualified people and equipment in which to invest such as in new healthcare facilities while also having an appropriate supply of medical professionals to deliver required services. This is no longer a “future” problem even in wealthier western societies and causes a re-thinking of how to manage these constraints when there is higher demand for care in both larger and older populations…Speaking of….
  2. Older Populations/Demographics & rise of chronic illness places the current system of reliance on overwhelmed in-hospital care less realistic as populations get older and a higher volume of treatments become necessary which should enable an increased use of network/telehealth and home-based treatment. Furthermore, this will create job opportunities for those on the new front lines with delivery of point-of -care treatment outside the hospital (eg nurse practitioner) either in the home or at other patient “touchpoints” such as pharmacies that expand today’s in-store health services.
  3. Increasing consumer engagement with personal health, wellness and health trackers such as Apple Watch, Fitbit, Whoop….etc. These devices provide accurate and granular understanding of human health and body offering diagnostic insights for both self-evaluation as well as to share remotely with external medical providers. Based on wider adoption of these devices going forward as well as improved performance (eg. alerting you to a significant cardiac event that in many cases go undetected will reduce fatalities from heart attacks), the opportunity to pinpoint a specified condition with crucial data will offer doctors even without being at the patient’s side more valuable information to make faster and more accurate diagnosis while also planning follow-up treatment. Should this new workflow and patient interface operate as intended, it will undoubtedly result in less waste and improved medical outcomes for a wider segment of the population due to its clear efficiencies.
  4. Ultimately Digitalization is the key to the de-centralized model by connecting people, data and software. This will allow truly “virtual” healthcare that’s well supported by AI diagnostics and smarter algorithms that provide the basis for more accurate diagnosis as well as more effective diagnostic and treatment workflows. In 2020 we saw the first AI-based radiology software platform approved in the US for reimbursement and the expectation for wide-scale use of these advanced algorithms has only become more amplified.We also witness the private sector and non-traditional companies like Amazon starting to enter healthcare delivery based on both the significant business opportunities it presents as well as their comfort level and experience using data to disrupt markets and meet unmet customer needs: It’s not hard to imagine a day not far off when Amazon is delivering COVID tests and other basic health services directly to and inside the home.

One segment that has used the COVID-19 crisis as an opportunity to deploy recent innovations is the medical equipment industry which includes  X-ray imaging equipment, patient monitoring and lab analysis tools. This industry stands to significantly benefit from current emerging trends as it presents new opportunities in modalities that have recently become stagnant such as CT/MRI and especially within the developed countries of US and Western Europe.

As Medical equipment OEMs start to re-think the traditional equipment “configuration” from hospitals to a wider range of  treatment locations including patient homes, more innovative designs and products will be developed to meet the needs of their customer as well as the promise of better patient outcomes while at lower cost.

Fortunately there are several companies already developing novel solutions into this emerging healthcare model and I’ve highlighted below a few that have the industry’s attention:

GE Healthcare and Philips now both offer mobile point- of-care ultrasound machines for diagnostic and therapeutic applications, wherever the patient is located, for instance, at the bedside, in an ambulance, hospital emergency room, or in remote locations such as, villages or distant towns. Ultrasound is a cost-effective and easy to operate diagnostic tool that provides critical imaging data for patient diagnosis in a number of pathology categories

diagnostic equipment

Nanox is a start-up X-ray imaging company that has designed a cutting-edge, downsized imaging scanner that aims to compete against larger and more expensive existing x-ray machines, with the first model called the Nanox.ARC.  The technology, size of the system and price point target also means that it can be used for more regular scanning in smaller physical locations

Nano equipment

Hyperfine is a start-up MRI company offering a low-cost and high-performance portable MR system called SWOOP which wheels directly to a patient’s bedside, plugs into a standard electrical wall outlet, and is controlled by an Apple iPad® to obtain brain images of patients of all ages, in variety of clinical settings.

hyperfine equipment

Crosscope is a start-up that provides an imaging analysis service  leveraging machine learning and cloud-based platform to enhance pathology workflows, accelerate image analysis and support collaboration among healthcare professionals to dramatically increase speed of cancer diagnosis

tech illustration

There are a great many other innovations now coming to market as this article only scratches the surface of the dramatic changes we can now expect to see in the healthcare sector as we move through the 21st century; of course these products have major hurdles to overcome for adoption (think about the overhang of how insurance works or more appropriately fails to be efficient in the case of the US) as well as greater risks of a less-controlled environment in which healthcare is delivered that will require reaching a certain acceptance level by both doctor and patient alike.

Nonetheless, changes strongly accelerated by the COVID-19 virus and the likely promise of future pandemics  in the years ahead have only brought digital health and de-centralized models to the forefront with significant effects widely expected by 2025, at least in more developed countries. Using digital technology as the foundation, the hope is we will use the learnings of a difficult past year to properly prepare ourselves in dealing with the next health emergency while “doubling down” on those innovations and new approaches that will improve general healthcare delivery for all.

What’s the Secret to Success: Collaboration

This is the inaugural entry for a series of articles I will publish on the topic of Collaboration. Collaboration becomes ever more critical in the current environment of continuous technology changes, increasing expectations of customers and seemingly regular disruptions in the economic, political and social order.

Looking back we lived in a very different world when I began my career in 1994; no email, Slack or Zoom Video-conferencing to communicate with work colleagues, customers or even loved ones. I can still remember using pay phones in airports during layovers which required me to walk around with a supply of quarters. It was also a time when the term “Uber” was known singularly as the German phrase for “Super” and renting VCR tapes was still very much in fashion (in the US primarily from now-defunct Blockbuster Video) as streaming entertainment content was still several decades away.

By established management theory, the main principles of successful business have remained constant over time, including differentiating products and services through innovation, developing deep customer intimacy and building organizations based on strong values, trust and talent. On the other hand, the driving forces in the commercial sector have changed quite dramatically over the past 25-years with globalization, expanded communication links via the internet and rapid technology shifts becoming the norm shaping 21st century industry and society.

(NOTE: the current environment of “trade wars” and increasing nationalism will once again impact the direction of business in the short term although success factors hold over time).

Over the next months I will publish a series of articles sharing what I believe has become the key success factor influencing how we must now manage businesses and relationships in the current environment. Collaboration, such as increasing the practice of cross-industry, and cross-segment partnerships, may provide a significant competitive advantage for companies open (enough) to accept the value of welcoming in partners for co-creating dynamic solutions that both thrill customers and create new market opportunities, otherwise left untapped.

A general definition for Collaboration is “in the context of business, allow people to work together in achieving a defined, common business purpose” ( Collaboration is considered an important method to more efficiently, effectively, and creatively reaches desired outcomes when compared with independent thinking or based solely on individual efforts. This sounds straightforward but much more difficult to implement and is a challenge both inside (with co-workers) and outside (with customers or suppliers) organizations as they attempt to meet a range of objectives.

Over the past few years’ macro trends including slower economic growth, exponential speed of technology change, and increased pressure for faster development cycles have created a need to more closely align these realities with corporate strategies and corresponding innovation processes. In fact continuous innovation is no longer a “nice to have” in a world where virtually every company has become a technology business, in response to the impact of the Internet, Digitalization of everything, and cultural shifts causing huge disruptions.

Moreover the difficulties generating innovation today inside Corporates most often begins with the hopeful expectation that the people in charge of running the day-to-day business can allocate the time necessary and are adept enough to generate and experiment with game changing ideas; this happens to be a well-documented myth.

As a way to address these challenges, successful companies seek to leverage Collaboration by developing external partnerships as a central part of their innovation strategies. This permits a more effective way to gain new technical or commercial capabilities, De-risk “unknown” disruptive factors inherent in innovation projects and share the significant investment requirements most often found in these endeavors.  

As an example, just think about the major disruption and changes currently evolving in the automotive space with electric and autonomous vehicles as well as ride sharing on the cusp or already in the mainstream. This has caused companies from wide-ranging industries to form non-traditional alliances in this newly created “trillion dollar” mobility vertical (General Motors/Lyft, Fiat Chrysler/Google, Volvo/Uber, Intel/Mobileye…and on and on).

Another recent example of this phenomenon is how well-known industrial conglomerates such as GE, Siemens, and Bosch have dealt with the increasing reliance on digital technologies. With these technologies they now assist customers to generate productivity gains within product and services offerings that greatly depend on data analytics and advanced software using artificial intelligence and machine learning. Software capabilities at this advanced level are by no means native for these firms and have required them to spend billions of dollars in recent years adding new software and automation expertise. These critical additions have been acquired through various collaborative associations with small start-ups, via strategic alliance or within corporate incubators, M&A, as well as minority investments that bring them required competences to deploy new business models.

Many more positive examples exist that highlight the advantages of “going for it” together to address the business opportunities arising from the challenges of our time. Moreover, there are consistent themes found within these examples that exemplify how leveraging Collaboration with a proper approach can be used as a key competitive advantage:

● The importance of a well-communicated strategy by top management that signals full support for collaboration activities to help overcome the “not invented here” syndrome and other internal hurdles that can only be addressed by strong leadership

● As part of a clear communication strategy to all employees, it will be important to articulate what the company’s focus will be (Who we are!) and which are the capabilities truly core to the business so the focus of internal activity is clear and recognizing we can’t do everything ourselves as much as we’d like think so

Once communicated, Collaboration becomes an excellent option to consider addressing those requirements that fall outside the core business. Main considerations include how fast can the collaboration be accessed and by evaluating whether a partner can do it better or less expensively to meet the objectives

● We see several ways companies choose to collaborate with partners in terms of venues, like innovation labs, or in the types of partnerships, such as joint development agreements, licensing models or by making minority investments. Increasingly companies use digital tools to collaborate over long distances and can rely on new emerging technologies that will add further choices in the future to support successful partnerships. M&A is also still a well-used method although typically bringing the highest risk; however in cases where speed is paramount there are examples where acquiring an “unproven” entity may be worth the risk

● Expert collaborators have common operating models and playbooks that have brought them success with culture, talent, methods, proper measurement of results and dedicated organization commitment being key dimensions. As example, having skilled project managers that are fluent in the languages of both start-ups and Corporates and provide that critical link as challenges arise is found to be a key success factor in these ventures. Finding those skilled people is not easy and in many cases requires letting employees spend ample time outside the organization to develop multi-views.

The next articles will focus on each of these themes to show the positive impact Collaboration can have to support achievement of a firm’s strategic goals. I’m hopeful the posts as well as examples given will ultimately offer insights that are helpful to those readers responsible for driving innovation in their companies as well as for managing key strategic relationships. Moreover, it will be most valuable if the ideas and thoughts are transferable so they may become actionable within your own projects.

Of course I welcome comments and feedback as this will only add to the knowledge base we all have to learn from.

Enterprise Mobility: The Key for a Company’s Development

What is Enterprise Mobility?  How can your company benefit from it? Tigo Business Forum in Guatemala City promoted new ways of adapting technology to your production chain.

By Louisa Reynolds,

Enterprise mobility as a new global trend was the main subject of the second edition of Tigo Business Forum 2015, which had the participation of distinguished international speakers such as Apple’s co-founder Steve Wozniak, enterprise mobility guru Jeff Wallace and Waze’s co-founder, Uri Levine.  Leading companies in the technological sector such as Fortinet, Huawei and Avaya were amongst others participating at the event.

Tigo Business’ Director Francisco Mancilla, explained that enterprise mobility is a new way of doing business that promotes innovation and new ways of external and internal collaboration. Amongst the industries that are adopting enterprise mobility are distributors, manufacturers, educational and health services, Banks, entertainment sector, financial services and automobile industry.

“The most important corporate processes require for employees to have essential data at their fingertips so that they can make crucial enterprise decisions”, said Mancilla.

Steve Wozniak captivated the audience with his anecdotes and advice to become a successful entrepreneur in modern times. “I think there are two versions of success: the success that others think you have and the success that you think you have. I think I got to impress myself. I would be my own hero”, said the innovator.

Apple’s co-founder said that as a child he stood out in math and developed the capacity to design a computer in just two days, but he asserted that “his only stroke of genius lies in his ability to make others believe that he is a genius.”

He added that “the most important thing in life is to be happy” and said that “honesty is the center of everything that is good in life.”
His main advice for Central American entrepreneurs would be to design projects anchored in local needs and reality.

How to implement enterprise mobility?

Jeff Wallace, enterprise mobility guru, said that currently, technology is advancing in giant steps, which imposes companies with the challenge of remaining up to date, but this must not inhibit the creative and development processes. “Companies are in a rush, they are pressing the panic button and saying: ‘let’s build an app’”, said Wallace.

To effectively implement enterprise mobility, Wallace said, it is necessary to follow the next steps:

1) Form a Mobility Council within the company to determine the needs of the organization in terms of process support, policies and tools that support mobility;

2) Develop an enterprise strategy and roadmap that should include the organization’s justification to create the app and its competitive advantages;

3) Invest in projects that will not be outdated in the future;

4) Create an organizational policy that allows collaborators to bring their own devices.

Wallace warned that no device is one hundred percent safe. “If you want security guaranties you must disconnect the devices. Any device that has an IP address is susceptible to hacking”, said the entrepreneur.

He also mentioned the role that technology and social media have played in recent social movements going on in Guatemala and Honduras that have demanded the resignation of President Otto Pérez Molina and Juan Orlando Hernández respectively.

“It is a phenomenon that is not exclusively Central American; we have also seen it in the Middle East. Social networks have become a vehicle to communicate the truth about what’s going on. People with mobile devices have the freedom to communicate the truth in ways that defy traditional media”, said Wallace.

The Waze phenomenon

Waze’s co-founder, Uri Levine, said that between 60 and 70 million people around the world have downloaded this innovative community based traffic and navigation app. Initially, the user profile was professional men, between 30 and 50 years old, with vehicle and access to smartphones, but gradually became popular between women and currently the number of women who use the app is greater than that of men.

At a Latin American level, countries with the larger number of Waze users are Brazil, with 30 million, Mexico and Colombia. In Central America, Waze has become popular in countries like Costa Rica and Guatemala, where it has 800,000 users.

After Google purchased the app for US$1.3 billion in 2013, the enterprise has continue to grow and Levine estimates that it is very likely that in the future it can be used for Google’s automated vehicles. A new app called Moovit, developed in 2012, seeks to adapt Waze’s concept to public transportation.

After selling Waze, Levine has worked in developing other apps that seek to empower consumers, the main ones being: Feex, an app that calculates the fees for financial products acquired by consumers (for instance, retirement funds and credit cards), Zeek, a virtual market where vouchers obtained by consumers when returning items at retail stores that are not frequently used can be sold, and Engie, an app that logs into your vehicle’s internal computer to detect mechanical failures, find the best car shops and compare prices.

Trends: Enterprise Mobility and Apps for Social Change

By Soy502

During several hours, great gurus of technological entrepreneurship shared with Guatemalan entrepreneurs in Tigo Business Forum, whose main figure was Steve Wozniak, co- founder of  Apple.

During the Forum, Wozniak explained how he designed the Apple I and II, while Steve Jobs was the one who sold and monetized his ideas, but neither of them knew about business management.

“I wanted everybody to have a computer and I didn’t mind to give away my designs so that others could replicate them. But Steve Jobs told me once: we could sell this.

Steve Wozniak

The entrepreneur of the gigantic Cupertino company gave advice to Guatemalan entrepreneurs, indicating that if “you have an idea, you don’t have much money and you want to begin an enterprise, how do you do it? Simple, work from your home garage”, he said.

During a press conference, Wozniak explained that the next steps for technology are headed towards developing more software, and the famous wearable devices.

“There is enough hardware already, there are tablets, watches, smartphones, laptops… the next step will be towards software, developing more ideas.

Steve Wozniak

Enterprise Mobility

Tigo Business Forum 2015 focused on enterprise mobility for enterprise transformation, looking for new ways to work, as well as adaptable innovation for companies.

800 thousand Waze users in Guatemala

The speaker who opened the forum was Francisco Mancilla, Director of Tigo Business, who highlighted that technology reaches companies with its employees, whom already have devices with internet access and that is something that needs to be used to improve work processes.

Mancilla assured that there is an estimate of at least 7.5 million smartphones in the country, which implies a potential to improve enterprise productivity and lessen operational costs.

Enterprise mobility is a global trend that contributes with the development and growth of companies through the use of technologies that facilitate work. Currently we account for 7 million smartphones, and that improves the internet’s penetration in the country. 

Francisco Mancilla

John Cupit, Huawei Global’s Director, presented organizational structures that entrepreneurs can use to improve processes.

Jeff Wallace, co-founder of Global Kinetics, spoke about technological aproaches that companies can use to improve their processes, reduce costs and grow their contacts and possible client’s lists.

Uri Levine, founder of Waze, was the last speaker to be on stage and he described that in Guatemala there are more than 800 thousand users of this app, and currently they are developing more apps that seek to empower the user.

Tigo Business Forum 2015

This week, I had the privilege, as President of Global Kinetics, to speak at Tigo Business Forum 2015 in Guatemala City (; #tbf15). This is an annual symposium where Tigo Guatemala ( hosts a networking event aimed at regional CEOs and CFOs to discuss key technology topics relevant to emerging technologies impacting businesses across the region. Last year, the theme was Big Data and this year it was Enterprise Mobility, Global Kinetics’ area of expertise.

I had the wonderful opportunity to meet with many talented and innovative people and companies visiting from across Guatemala and Central America at large. I was also able to meet, share a few meals with and co-keynote the event with both Steve Wozniak (co-founder of Apple; @stevewoz) and Uri Levine (co-founder of Waze; #urilevine). Each of these gentlemen are not just amazing for their respective technology accomplishments, but also humble, down to earth and simply kind, sharing beings.

At the event, I was fascinated to hear about so much technology history as told by, and even created by, Woz – truly mesmerizing stories indeed. From Uri, I learned how and his partners came to create Waze – put simply, he hates traffic and thought that there just must be a better way. When he didn’t find one, they created one and later got acquired by Google for nearly $1 billion. Now, Uri is off on additional entrepreneurial journeys to solve similar everyday challenges in areas of fees, public transit, automotive repairs and air fares. Stay tuned for more great disruption from his efforts.

There was such a high degree of excitement and passion among the nearly 1,200 attendees and the energy was, truthfully, beyond infectious. Throughout the day of the event I met with numerous regional press organizations and addressed a panel of local executives discussing business trends related to topics such as mobility, cybersecurity, user experience, internet of things, the sharing economy, regulation, innovation and more. And, I think I took more photos with fellow attendees than I have taken in many years!

Here are my key takeaways from the conference:

  • I need to spend more time in this beautiful country. Guatemala has great food, beautiful geography and warm, welcoming people.
  • There is a broad and great hunger for knowledge about how best to leverage emerging technologies to achieve business benefits.
  • There are respectable technical capabilities in the Central America region that could create great near-shoring opportunities for U.S. companies, given the proximity, time zone “friendliness”, language skills and competitive rate structures.
  • As an example of #3 above, two wildly successful solutions, DuoLingo and reCAPTCHA, were developed by Luis von Ahn, a Guatemalan entrepreneur and an associate professor in the Computer Science Department at Carnegie Mellon University. I look forward to meeting and working with other such innovators in the near future.
  • Tigo has a wonderful foundation doing amazing things to help modernize schools across the country to help children across Guatemala gain access to modern internet and computer technologies – a commendable undertaking that is showing awesome results.
  • The family & friends of the family that owns much of Tigo Guatemala are fun, interesting and wonderfully hospitable people.

With just this “too short” visit to Guatemala, and having worked with other offshore companies for several years, I can see how Guatemala’s future as a partner and collaborator in these technological areas looks bright and I am excited to engage more and more on these fronts with Tigo Guatemala and many other companies in the region, not to mention keeping in touch with Woz, Uri and many of the other wonderful people I met at the event.

Ready or Not, Here Comes the “Third Big Wave” of the Internet – The Internet of Things

(co-written with Robert Westacott from the Enterprise Mobility Exchange)

An Ever-Connected Ecosystem

According to the Harvard Business Review, “IoT is expected to connect 28 billion ‘things’ to the internet by 2020, ranging from wearable devices such as smartwatches to automobiles, appliances, and industrial equipment.”

Take a moment if you will to re-read that statement. Let it sink in, as you comprehend the vast magnitude of this advancement of technology. Realise too – that this is merely five years away! This is not science fiction by any means. It is real and it is happening today. To be sure, the cost of sensors, processing power and bandwidth to connect devices has already dropped low enough to spur widespread deployment.

As one considers the implications of IoT, it soon becomes apparent that there are more and more innovative use cases emerging, and as HBR further indicates, “the repercussions span industries and regions.” But don’t think that such repercussions will only address complex situations or uses. In fact, some of the more conventional examples of success thus far have included applying IoT to patient healthcare, manufacturing, retail, and even restaurants/hospitality.

While there are surely complex applications for IoT technologies, other applications can be targeted to simply make everyday, ordinary situations better. They can enable consumers, employees and companies to enjoy vastly improved experiences. Some such scenarios will involve connected devices talking to other connected devices, and some will involve connected devices communicating with people directly. It will empower improvements in efficiency, productivity and pro-action vs. inefficiency and reactive approaches.

One such example of this would be in a manufacturing scenario, specifically around the notion of predictive maintenance. In this environment, “rather than performing routine calendar-based inspections and component replacement, predictive techniques monitor equipment for pending failures and notify you when a part replacement is required. Sensors embedded in equipment can check for abnormal conditions, and trigger work orders when safe operating limits are breached.” In high value industries where equipment failures have steep costs and impacts, this approach is beneficial by preventing failures, saving time and money on detrimental down-time.

This technology translates equally well to consumer-facing situations, with a similar procedure being applicable to inventory or stock running low in a store or vending machine, for instance. Imagine a simplistic scenario wherein a vending machine can alert the local distribution centre that it is low on a particular product, thereby automatically triggering a mobile or email dispatch calling for re-stocking.

Even more commonplace, imagine “you are with family, friends or colleagues, having dinner at a restaurant.  It’s time to order another round of drinks, more food, or it’s getting late and you need your bill. So, where’s your server?” 3 What if IoT technology allowed you to have a device on your table with three simple buttons: Drinks, Bill and Service – so that you could simply call your waiter ‘on-demand’, eliminating lost time and greatly improving the customer experience? In such a scenario, when one of these buttons was pushed by a customer, the waiter would be wearing a watch that would immediately notify them of the specific request from the specific table. Such uses of connectivity and machine-to-machine communication, combined with preventive maintenance dimensions when applied to fundamental business processes, offers significant opportunity for savings and other benefits for enterprises across a broad spectrum.

Additionally, connected devices and mobile applications are now proving to be valuable to an enterprise for the data collected, and the subsequent analytics which can be leveraged to improve employee performance and refine promotions to consumers. The insights brought about by these technologies and the data and analytics are proving tremendously valuable to enterprises and consumers alike.

While much of this connectivity is being made possible by beacons and wearables, in reality, we will see more and more obscure objects being creatively transformed with digital augmentation to enable them to become part of a coalescent ecosystem of ‘smart’, connected devices.


Overcoming Challenges – the Changing Roles of the C-Suite

With so many benefits from deployment of such IoT solutions, some may be surprised that such technology is not yet being implemented by more organisations and gaining mainstream status. However, there are still many complications and challenges which have negative connotations, and are causing business leaders to hesitate.

Despite this, it’s not the technical challenges which are causing difficulty for the obvious security concerns which always have and always will accompany mobility. Rather, the organisational challenges which are presented by digital transformation.

This reluctance towards IoT seems to be directly related to the risk behind investment, and the impact this could have on a business and on the decision makers themselves. There is the perception that it is better to stay in a comfort zone and avoid making critical mistakes, letting other organisations test and trial new technologies first. Ironically, it is the businesses which are prepared to make mistakes, to fail, and to embrace change which have been leading the way in the IoT space.

In order to truly innovate, there needs to be a willingness to fail. More importantly this failure must be quickly rectified, and taken as a constructive lesson to breed future success. You’ve likely heard this notion referred to as ‘fail fast’, and those that are willing and able to do so will ultimately reap great benefit from this mindset and tolerance. The need for such an outlook has a pronounced effect on CIOs and CTOs to adapt their roles, looking more at nurturing innovation than information, and embracing transformation instead of technology within the business.

This is the big step that will need to be taken for the C-suite, to overcome their challenges with IoT and move towards becoming a leading digital enterprise. Once this is understood, this indicates the right mindset for a company to really push boundaries with technology. Within this IoT based world, there might even be a new role within the C-suite focused on the user or customer experience. To be sure, Jerry Gregoire, CIO of Dell Computer, best sums up where the lines are being drawn in this new world regarding the battle for competitive advantage, “the customer experience is the next competitive battleground.”


Reaping the Rewards

If an organisation can move past these barriers, then the key competitive differentiators which should be sought out are time and experience. The intuitive nature of technologies within IoT will save businesses time in ways which were never possible before. For example, a restaurant will be able to accelerate their table service by having customers able to alert staff of orders directly from their table to a wearable device. By saving valuable time, better services and faster processes (such as better customer and user experiences) can be delivered, which will present higher revenue or greater savings, thereby offering vast bottom line benefits.

Additional advantages which can be expected, as previously mentioned, are deep insights into customer behaviour and preferences. Organisations in industries such as retail, financial services, and other customer-centric verticals should view connected hardware like a Trojan Horse of sorts for their capturing of invaluable customer data and analytics. Real-time monitoring of behavioural patterns, reactive actions on mobile devices, location-based routines and other important aspects can help companies vastly improve their services and tailor their individualised offerings to have a maximum impact on their target audiences.


It’s Here – Are You Ready?

The new frontier in digital technology appears to have arrived, and contrary to initial impressions, IoT is becoming the all-encompassing, pervasive umbrella under which prominent technology trends such as enterprise mobility, big data, analytics, security and collaboration all work together to serve the wider network of connected devices.

Business leaders need to quickly realise that IoT is not a buzzword or a temporary phase. More willingly, it is spreading virally across the globe and across industries and will only continue to gain momentum, as more use cases emerge for wearable devices, beacons, mobile apps, smartphones, location-based services, data analytics and everything in-between. The best advice we can offer is to immediately start thinking about how IoT can and will impact your very own business, because it inevitably will. As a result, it only makes sense to get ahead of things and take the bull by the horns.

Poland Day in Silicon Valley 2015

This week, I had the honor, as President of Global Kinetics, to participate with and speak at the 2015 Poland Day in Silicon Valley event. This is an annual symposium where the US-Polish Trade Council ( hosts “a networking event aimed at enhancing collaboration between science and business in the context of cross-regional cooperation between Poland and the United States.” I had the opportunity to meet with many exciting and innovative people and companies visiting from Poland. There was such a high degree of innovation among this group and the energy was quite tangible.

Throughout the three-day event, local Silicon Valley business leaders shared their expertise with the attending Polish companies about how to establish or expand operations, secure customer or partner channels, raise capital, manage intellectual property and other legal matters, and more.

Some lessons that I came away with were that there are specific things that are universally needed by these Polish companies to help them accelerate their time to market in the US. Specifically, as they enter the US marketplace, they need to be cognizant of the various cultural differences which translate into different approaches to conducting business. Additionally, while many of these companies are already locally successful in Poland, there remain challenges of access and know-how when it comes to translating this local success to success abroad (in the US). These matters, of course, are in addition to understanding the different legal/regulatory, financial and social/interpersonal aspects of doing business in the US vs. Poland.

I also ascertained that Polish companies have fantastic technical capabilities, specifically around code and highly quantitative skills, that can be leveraged at far more competitive rates than locally in the US markets. The opportunity for US companies to tap into this vast talent pool is tremendous. As we struggle to find, obtain and retain such skills locally, especially as we continue to see shortages in graduation rates of the STEM disciplines, knowing that cost efficient ways to obtain such skills via collaboration with Polish companies with great amounts of such skills, is critical.

To a large extent, the mission of the USPTC centers on fostering such relationships between US companies in need of such skills with Polish companies who can provide them at highly competitive rates. And, I should not forget to mention that the language skills (specifically English) of everyone I met were great. Having worked with offshore companies for several years, I can see how Poland’s future as a partner and collaborator in these technological areas looks bright.

Global Kinetics ( serves as a corporate advisor and market development accelerator partner to early-to-mid stage clients seeking to establish operations or expand within the U.S. marketplace. The services provided include commercial introductions, investor introductions, marketing/public relations, social media/content marketing, user experience/design, strategy/market positioning, sales processes/strategies, formation of industry advisory boards and interim executive services.

With so many amazing Polish companies seeking to bring their solutions and skills to the US, we at Global Kinetics are excited by our inaugural participation at Poland Day in Silicon Valley 2015 and hope to continue our involvement and partnership with the USPTC into 2016 and beyond.

Enterprise Mobility – Lots of Hype but Where’s the Spending?

Ok sure, mobility is a white hot topic in the enterprise space. But, for all the hype & rhetoric, are enterprises really opening up their purses and spending at levels matching this level of noise? As someone who has been at the forefront of the enterprise mobility space for the past several years, my own experience is that the reality of corporate spending on these initiatives falls far short of the hype. But, to be sure, the reasons for this are actually somewhat understandable.

First, while there is no doubt much that mobility can do to help enterprises in the areas of employee productivity, partnership enhancements and revenue generation, there still remains much more confusion than clarity when it comes to sorting out how to go about achieving these benefits. Why is this? To me, the volatility within the mobility solution provider space is still clicking along at a feverish pace, not to mention the “race to the bottom” with mobility service provider pricing. And these circumstances are not likely to abate any time soon. So, for obvious reasons, in such a highly volatile environment, executives in charge of making the decisions on such solutions/providers naturally are hesitant to make such choices for fear of making a selection only to have something new come along just days, weeks or months later, perhaps negating the value of their selection. As such, this leads to much “pilot” level work within mobility – just enough to keep the higher ups satisfied that progress is happening – but not enough to risk a “career-limiting decision”.

Second, many of the early mobility efforts that were undertaken, were done so on limited budgets to merely “prove the point”. As such, in a world of “you get what you pay for”, the results were rather underwhelming and often led senior management to feel as though mobility is not quite ready for prime time or able to deliver on the promise of fabulous benefits. But, the truth of the matter is that without spending the “right” amount on these mobility initiatives, the lackluster results should have been expected. I have a rather simple mantra about mobility, and specifically ROI from mobility initiatives. It goes like this: “user experience drives user adoption, and user adoption drives ROI.” So, rather simply, if you want to generate ROI from mobility efforts, and who doesn’t want this, you MUST focus on delivering a high quality user experience. But, too many companies (1) don’t have true mobility UX capabilities to match user expectations and (2) don’t budget enough money for these aspects of the project.

Third, companies wish to achieve what I call the “holy grail” of mobility – the highest quality user experience, across the broadest set of devices, at the least costly manner (including initial development and ongoing maintenance/support). But, with all the confusion created by the various development approaches, the myriad promises made by the solution/service providers and the ever-changing landscape of mobility, how can they go about achieving this in a risk-acceptable manner? Of course, that said, my first instinct is to say that with respect to technologies such as enterprise mobility, IoT and the like, companies must generally take a more risk-tolerant attitude. Failure must be tolerated and respected for the learnings they generate. Without a doubt, risk averse companies will be overtaken by those more willing to take risks and garner lessons from the associated failures along the journey. Additionally, companies must take affirmative stances on solutions/providers and just “go for it”. Waiting for the proverbial dust to settle is a sure fire way to be overtaken and fall further and further behind. The “fail fast” mentality is tailor made for enterprise mobility. Finding those technologies that you believe can help achieve the “holy grail” and trying them out immediately is the key to realizing the desired success within these efforts and generating the needed ROI to justify further investments.

The bottom line is that there is a lot of hype about mobility and companies surely desire to reap the benefits promised by this amazing technology. But, the volatility of market conditions and corporate risk aversion are holding back such rewards. The key to unlocking value within enterprise mobility is to focus on UX by creating apps & solutions that people want to use and trying things now vs. waiting for a clear winner to emerge. There are tools today that can get close to achieving the holy grail, certainly close enough for enterprises to try them out. So, work with those experts in the industry who can help sort through the noise to help identify those solution providers that can offer the best opportunity for success and get going. Benefits await those that take the risks.