Sunday, 17 December 2017

What to look for in innovation

Photo by Andy Kelly on Unsplash
This week I attended a webinar on AI in the aviation industry. I don't envy anyone in doing a summary of AI in under an hour leaving enough time for the rest webinar! IT's a shame that one bit that gets missed is the role of supporting technology or ecosystem in innovation.

Looking back one of the big factors allowing AI to become useful has been the supporting technology. Namely, speed of processing power and availability of memory.

Taking a different industry, the Netflix business model was helped by increasing broadband speeds, encoding formats, and again processing power. The change in the shape of overheads was probably a key enabler. Switching to an internet streaming business allowed the delivery mechanism to scale on demand.

Going to the root of both of these, Get off the grass by Hendy and Callaghan had the best history that I have read of Silicon Valley. The innovation didn't come from research into completely new technology. In theory transistors could have existed years before. It was a combination of skilled workforce and government procurement processes that enabled the technology to flourish.

So, a key take away for me is that when looking for innovation look for the enabling factors. The complementary products. Look for changes in the ecosystem that are precursors to wider availability. Alternatively look for the complementary products that change behaviour. 

Going back to AI, smartphones changed the way we accessed AI powered software. My first encounter with voice dictation was on a desktop. The software had to be installed and was essentially fixed when shipped. With the developers not being able to build on how the software was used in the real world. Now Siri can take advantage or a speedy local processor coupled with a fast connection to centralised software. Like Amazon Alexa, Siri can take advantage and learn from every single usage of the core software.

Further developing an onboarding process for a green field product

This is  part of a series  about my side project  Bashfully , which aims to give graduates and other new entrants to careers a seasoned prof...