IT and Disruptive Innovation – A wicked problem yet an empowerment opportunity!

Kuva

kuku danceAt its peak, Kodak employed over 140,000 people, while Instagram today employs only 13 people – Jaron Lanier

Not so long ago, there were businesses thriving by making / selling radios, cameras, alarm clocks, calculators, cassette players, compass, GPS, pocket dictionaries, atlas map, video recorders or … but today you can replace ALL that by one device – the smartphone. –  Christopher Mims

There is however a converse note. Firstly, consider yourself in the Kodak age. You just captured an amazing moment on your Kodak film and you wish to share that picture with your relative or friend who lives in another country. Try, just try to imagine the process. Again, Imagine how many of such virtuous desires went unfulfilled, at that time.

Still another converse note, imagine the possibilities that the smartphone brings to its users. The extent of the reach of the smartphone era can be easily visualised if you imagine yourself having to carry all Those gadgets with you all day! It borders close to incredible if we consider what is possible today with a single device compared to what we could do or how we would have done these same things, a couple of years ago.

These two simple but classic scenarios typifies what I term as the wickedness and empowerment nature of the Information Technology and Disruptive Innovation Combination (IT & DI Combo).

I first came across the term wicked problems in a consortium foresight in Australia as part of the 6th ISPIM Symposium in Melbourne. The more I listened to the discussion of wicked problems, the more I could see how closely related the concept is with the disruptive innovation phenomenon. Wicked problems as described by Head (2008) are problems that are assembles of complex, uncertain and divergent problems all at once. Disruptive Innovations are on a similar pedestal as they introduce dilemmas that are of a complex nature to organisations facing them. They give rise to a treacherous uncertainty that makes decision making a cumbersome headache for managers. Furthermore, they introduce divergent metrics that are tangential and many-a-times at direct conflict with the performance measures with which an organization has built its success in the past. 

Information Technology on the other hand has evolved to be a pervasive technology. It has become so ubiquitous That at every turn we can almost always identify the presence of IT in some sense. From the bedroom – to the kitchen – to the car – to the office to the … IT is seemingly present. This pervasiveness comes with both +ve and -ve social and economic implications. Now however, these implications are further amplified when these attributes of IT Innovations lends themselves as a platform for disruptive innovation. Whenever this occurs, a formidable partnership is usually introduced to the world which not only touches individuals or Organizations but possesses the potentials to span across nations.

The impact of the IT and DI combo is not necessarily only wicked or disruptive. Infact, this combo can as well be (and have indeed been) empowering – albeit to a relative audience to the disrupted. There are loads of literature, blogs, news articles and … about the disruptive axis. In the next blog post in this series, we would be examining several known IT disruptions from the perspective of their wicked nature but with more emphasis on the empowering capability of this combo.

In the mean time here are two open questions: What advances in IT comes to your mind as disruptive? Can you identify one that has also been empowering or not empowering?


TwitterAbayomi Baiyere
@speak2ab

Image:  Kuku Dance (Malgorzata Korenkiewicz and Boguslaw Zen) Arts Meet Ice, Helsinki 2014 

Apurahalotto

Onko kukaan laskenut, kuinka paljon rahaa säästettäisiin tutkimusorganisaatioissa, jos apurahoja ei haettaisikaan vaan ne arvottaisiin?

Joitain vuosia sitten purin turhautumistani, kun taas olin saanut joltain säätiöltä hylätyn hakemuksen, ja kotifyysikkomme lohduttaessaan heitti tämän apurahalottoajatuksen ilmaan. Mitä jos tutkijat keskittyisivätkin hakemusten tekemisen sijaan julkaisemiseen ja kansallisella tasolla säätiöiden sekä Akatemian ja Tekesin tutkimusrahat pistettäisiin yhteen, ja arvottaisiin satunnaisesti kilpailijoiden kesken? Lue loppuun

PELIALA PELITTÄÄ

Suomen ja varsinkin suomalaisen tietojenkäsittelyn tulevaisuus on pelialalla, muuta johtopäätöstä ei voi tehdä seuratessaan tämän ajan talouspoliittista ja muuta keskustelua.  Muutaman menestystarinan voima on uskomaton, ja Angry Birdsien ja Supercellin menestys siivittää tuhansia ja tuhansia ohjelmoijia ja yrittäjiä uusiin ponnistuksiin pelialalla.

Megatrendi on selvä:  koneille siirtyy rutiininomaisten töiden suorittaminen, jopa kiihtyvällä vauhdilla. Taidetta, tiedettä ja kulttuuria on jo kaikki kanavat pullollaan, eikä television tosi-tv sekään jaksa kiehtoa loputtomiin.  Ihmisille jää aika entistä enemmän aikaa toisten kanssa seurusteluun, usein sosiaalisen median kautta, mutta myös pelaamiseen. Varsinainen hitti syntyy, kun yhteisöllisyys ja pelaaminen yhdistetään.  Jos mukana saadaan vielä hyödyllisyys, esim. terveyden edistäminen, ja mahdollisuus ansaita rahaa, on keksitty varsinainen Sampo, hyvinvoinnin ja rikkauden lähde.

Peliala on kuitenkin metafora itsestään, rehellinen ideoilleen.  Ehkäpä juuri siinä on sen voima.  Pelien kehittäminen ja markkinoille tuonti on yhtä suurta peliä, jossa sattumalla ja onnella on suuri merkitys, toki myös taidoilla.   Pelien kehittäjät elävät rehellisesti itse sen maailmankuvan mukaan minkä ovat itse luoneet, siitä heille suuri plussa. Yhtenä päivänä peli sujuu, toisena ei, se on pelin henki.

Kielenkäyttöön pelaaminen on hivuttautunut jo pitkään.  Pitkään on jo ollut tapana tokaista, että pelimerkit eivät riitä jonkin asian toteuttamiseen.   Vähän myöhemmin taloudellinen ja poliittinenkin eliitti alkoi käyttää termiä pelaaminen, yritykset ja organisaatiot alettiin nähdä talouden pelureina, jotka pelasivat markkinoilla.

Uusinta innovaatiota rummutetaan nyt kovalla voimalla.  Eihän kyse ole mistään pelaamisesta, vaan kaikki tämähän on e-urheilua.  Kulman takana odottanee m-urheilu.

Peleissä voi melkein aina painaa reset-nappulaa, ja tuusan nuuskaksi ammuttu pelaaja nousee tuhkasta nappia painamalla.  Tämä sama ajattelu halutaan myös viedä reaalielämään, epäonnistumisten tulee olla sallittuja, ja aina on mahdollisuus aloittaa kaikki alusta.   Valitettavasti yhteiskunta on pelillistymisessä tässä suhteessa vasta alkumetreillä.

Meille tietojärjestelmätieteen opettajille ja tutkijoille peliala on haaste.  Meidän yksi keskeinen argumenttihan on ollut se, että tietoteknisten taitojen lisäksi toimijoille tulee opettaa liiketaloudellisia taitoja.   Pelialan ideaalihan on kaukana tästä:  Pääasia on että alat innolla ohjelmoida uutta peliä, unohda liiketoimintamallit ja ansaintalogiikat.  Hyvä konseptisi löytää kyllä sitten itsestään markkinat, hyvin todennäköisesti jostain löytyy business-enkeli tai pääomasijoittaja, joka haluaa välttämättä sijoittaa peliisi tuhdin summan rahaa.  Unohda kannattavuuslaskelmat ja riskianalyysit, ne ovat vain lahjattomia varten.

Reaalielämässä ei nousta tuhkasta kuten Feeniks-lintu tarussa.  Sampoa joka luo vaurautta tyhjästä ei vielä liene keksitty.  Ehkä tietojärjestelmätieteelläkin on vielä tulevaisuutensa.

Are there really high-end Disruptive Innovations?

A colleague recently raised interesting questions about the notion of high-end disruptive innovation and that has inspired me to write this blog post. While I have my opinion on this topic, this is by no means a definitive post. Your comments and opinions are also welcomed.

Before you read further, take a pause and consider if you can come up with 2-3 examples of high-end disruptive innovations.

  • .Example 1…?
  • ..Example 2…?

Not easy hun? Let me guess, Apple had something to do with one of the examples you came up with, right? Almost everyone I have asked gives one Apple product as their example. If Apple was not one of your examples then that’s impressive or rather, I’m very curious. Lue loppuun

Avoidance economy

As a young man I occasionally played the Space Invaders computer game, that simple computer game where one tries to escape and shoot ugly looking invaders from the space. The reason why to play was not clear to me at that time, but now I understand the value of the game: it was a crucial learning element towards the modern society that I call avoidance economy.  We live nowadays in avoidance economy, where being able to avoid different things is a key skill, competency and resource.

As a simple first example, take direct dialogue campaigning, made for example by Greenpeace and many other organizations.   If you in city settings want to proceed without delays, and avoid being brain-washed and finally cashed out of your money, avoidance skills are crucial. Lue loppuun

Futile tasks

jonna-jarvelainen-pieniOn Sunday, Helsingin Sanomat, the leading newspaper in Finland, published an excellent article about futile work tasks. Journalist Anna-Sofia Berner had asked from readers to post stories about their work tasks that seemed to be useless, due to bureaucracy or to the fact that somebody else does the task also etc. The conclusion was that there are a lot of futile meetings, reporting or work tasks due to poor organisation or – poor information systems. For example some teacher had to report to a system before a lecture the topic of the lecture, and then after the lecture again the contents of the lecture. Lue loppuun

Zen and the Art of Rock Drilling

In year 1974 Robert Pirsig published his best-seller book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values.  As any decent doctoral student at that the 1980s, I (was strongly suggested to) read it, and to be honest, I did not like it and still today feel that I did not get much out of it.   In my eyes it was the hype of that time (the word hype was not even introduced at that time).  Maybe I did not like it as I did not find the reference group of motorcycle drivers as in the book to be close to me.  However, in the book’s spirit I now want to share my experiences on rock drilling.

The case is that my otherwise perfect yard was dominated by two ugly rocks, mainly buried under the ground, but anyway visible, and all too far heavy to lift.   I would not like to afford an excavator, and it would have done anyway bad tracks to my yard.   I started to look for solutions.  One was found in non- explosive demolition agent, which would slowly generate pressure and to break the rock. To take use of that effect, you must first drill a lot of holes to the rock.  For that purpose, I bought for myself a very good and rather expensive drill.

Also to drill! During drilling I think I learned a lot and want to share with you my experiences, and extend them to the art of making science.  Luckily I had read before the start of the work, that do not press the drilling machine too much.  Let the machine do its task.   Lesson number one: in science, don’t push too far and fast, but let the scientific system do its task. 

During the drilling, there were moments of desperation: the drill did not proceed at all during some periods. But then, as you were most hesitant, sand began again to come up fluently from the drill.  Lesson number two: to the activity, both drilling and academic, belong both moments of ups and downs.

I got carried away by the joy of drilling, and suddenly understood, that it was already late in the evening, yet anyway much light in the Finnish summer night. I did not understand the pass of time, and saw that it is best to stop my noisy activity for today, not to disturb neighbors. Lessons number three and four: both in drilling and academic activity, to gain results you need time, and in both, do not do harm to your environment and people living or working with you.

During the drilling, the machine got rather warm, and I can just imagine the heath at the top of the drill meeting the hard rock.  When making a pause, my hands continued to tremble as if drilling would continue.  Lesson number five:  Both in drilling and academic work, you and your tools are put under hard pressure.

When I got accustomed to the routine, almost fell to automatic action of just letting the drill run, suddenly my handgrip lost touch and the drill began to circulate.   No big trouble, at the same time your touch on the power button is also automatically lost, and no hazard emerges.  Anyway here we have the lessons number six and seven: be aware all the time, and equip yourself with safe and good tools.  Both are again more than true in rock drilling as well as in academic work.

After several hours and nights of routine drilling, the needed ten holes were finally there.  I was ready to mix the demolition agent with water, and to pour it to the holes.  Here it was extremely important to have the right amount of water: with too much or too less water the demolition agent would not work.  Lesson number eight:  stick to prescribed and tested working and research methods, do not start doing your own experiments.

After six long days, the goal was finally reached: when coming home from work, the stone had gone to smaller pieces, and I could start digging them away from the ground.  A great moment of achievement! The pieces were still too big for one man to lift, but with the help of my sons I could get the stones up from the ground. Lesson number nine: do not hesitate to ask for help when you need it.

After all this rock work, my yard still looks rather devastated at the place of action.  Next spring it is time to finally fill the holes with fresh ground and to seed lawn to the place.  Lesson number ten: do not forget to do the needed afterwork as you have accomplished the first primary goal.  Then finally the lesson number zero, the most important lesson and the mother of all lessons: never leave a learning opportunity unused and unreported.