Archive for May, 2010

Audio waves will soon turn your cell into a hotel key

May 28, 2010 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » Innovation In The News, Technology, Trends

On this Memorial weekend, many people are traveling and spending time in hotels. Here is a Friday fun technology trend to kick off the holiday weekend: Some hotels are now allowing customers to use their cell phones as hotel room keys.

The customers are test marketing the idea in two Holiday Inn locations in Chicago and Houston.

According to reports I’m reading, the system is called OpenWays, which sends a unique and encrypted audio code to a customer’s phone before arrival and check-in. He or she also gets a text message with the room number, allowing that weary traveler to skip the hotel registration desk.

The designers say it is safe as a hotel keycard to use, and will be tested in more hotels in June—just a few days away!

OpenWays is available to users on iPhone, BlackBerry and “Droid” phones, and will soon be usable on other platforms as well. I haven’t downloaded the app yet, but I may have to check this out!

Future Media Fest 2010

May 24, 2010 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » Event Info, Events, Speaking Engagements

Cheryl will be moderating a “Birds of a Feather” session, which will explore open innovation, at “FutureMediaFest 2010” in Atlanta, GA. The event is hosted by the Georgia Institute of Technology and provides an “interactive mash-up of talent, ideas, trends and technology.” Attendees will be able to speak with investors, interactive marketing experts, network and experiment with real-time open innovation.

For more information, visit

Changing culture takes time and patience

May 23, 2010 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » Culture of Innovation

One of the innovation principles I’ve written about here (as well as in my regular Post-Crescent column this week)  is about the idea of corporate culture. It’s not as easy to describe a good (or bad) corporate culture as it is to simply experience it–and let’s face it, we all have.

We’ve all heard bosses say, “That’s just how we do it here,” and we often wonder why.  Most likely it is because leaders base their beliefs and corporate philosophies on what has been successful in the past, rather than evaluating policies to determine  whether they are helping or hindering your company’s success. If it worked ten years ago but isn’t working now, it’s time to let outdated ideas die and try something different.

One of the biggest components of culture is top-down communication. It’s important for leaders at the top to share goals and vision with employees clearly and consistently. Employees want more than just communications about mundane procedures and financial results; they want to hear why the leader’s vision is important to him or her. And that helps build trust and employee loyalty.

If your company is in the process of trying to change its corporate culture, be patient. If you were hoping for a silver bullet to fix a broken culture, know that real and lasting change may take several years.  But if you’re willing to wait and “suffer through” the setbacks that are sure to come, it will be well worth your time.

Google partnership prepares to lauch “smart TV”

May 21, 2010 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » Innovation, Innovation In The News

Can Web surfing unite with channel surfing on televisions? Google thinks so, and it is partnering with Sony, Intel and Logitech to explore what it calls a “smart” TV. Imagine speaking into a remote and seeing your page or show pop up onto your screen!

The vision is to turn televisions into computer monitors for surfing the internet. About 5,000 people gathered at a news conference today so Google could demonstrate, and you can read about it here. In fact this new technology is already slated for sale in the fall, but the question remains on how much you would expect to pay.

Sony will make the TVs using microprocessors from Intel, while Google will provide the software and Logitech the special remote and wireless keyboard.
Check out the Google TV video the company launched today to promote their product, and you’ll get a good idea about how the companies are aligning expectations:

Solar Success!

May 14, 2010 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » Green Innovation, Sustainability, Trends

Solar power companies are partnering with many top corporations to help power their offices, plants and retail outlets. Copanies like Kohls, Dell, Whole Foods, J&J and Intel are using the sun and the power of strategic collaboration to save energy.

You can read up on how each of these companies is finding solar success via a voluntary program called the Green Power Partnership, and it is changing the way many Fortune 500 companies track their annual green power costs.

Lessons from a Grocer on the Unintended Consequences of Poor Metrics

One of the lessons of our recent book from John Wiley and Sons, Conquering Innovation Fatigue, is that the choice of metrics that business leaders use to track and drive innovation can actually contribute to innovation fatigue. Unfortunately, one’s choice of metrics can have unintended consequences that drive bad decisions and poor behavior. A recent example of how metrics can actually achieve the opposite of the intended results comes from a Wisconsin grocery chain, where a friend employed there explained the unintended consequences of management’s good intentions. Management is now pushing for higher levels of IPM, items per minute, as a metric for the performance of cashiers. This is a measure of how many items per minute the cashier processes. IPM looks like a valuable metric for productivity. Faster checkout means happier customers and shorter lines, so of course we want IPM to be high, right?

However, as with all metrics, the details of how IPM is calculated come into play and may bring unintended consequences. For IPM, the clock doesn’t tick when a lane is closed or, more specifically, when the cashier’s terminal is in “secure” mode. Shut down the terminal to the “terminal secure” state and the clock stops, something that some cashiers use to their advantage while checking out a customer.

A new manager at one store is pushing for IPM scores of at least 30 for all cashiers, but as one cashier explained, the only way that you can achieve that high of a score is to routinely go to “terminal secure.” If the cashier has to help with the bagging or do other tasks that reduce IPM, they can secure the terminal and then reactivate it before they continue scanning goods. That gives a higher IPM score, but the back and forth of securing and reactivating the terminals actually SLOWS DOWN the real work because it involves extra steps that eat up valuable time. By focusing on IPM as a proxy for productivity, productivity can actually decline. Lines can get longer, not shorter.

A further consequence of securing a terminal is that the customer may need to swipe his or her credit card a second time. The card readers in each checkout lane allow customers to swipe their credit card during the scanning of goods, but when the cashier switches to terminal secure mode, the swiped credit card information is discarded and the customer will have the annoyance of having to swipe a second time. By focusing on IPM as a proxy for customer satisfaction, the annoyances to the customer and the time to check out actually increase.

Unintended consequences of metrics can easily follow similar patterns when it comes to innovation, intellectual assets, and new product development. Leaders need to step back and observe the impact of their metrics on those in the ranks and on the actual performance of the company. A carefully selected basket of metrics with frequent reality checks are needed to avoid hindering real productivity and innovation with your good intentions.

Innovationedge can help your organization explore the impact of its metrics and find a better bundle to help you deliver on your business plan. Metrics are one of the factors we can help you explore as we work with you on your technology roadmap or your Ascent to Collaboration™ (your strategic plan to realize your open innovation potential). Give us a call today! We’re at 920-967-0470.

Oil disaster needs innovative solutions

May 7, 2010 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » Innovation In The News

The oil spill disaster off the Gulf Coast is truly tragic. The numbers–from the billions of dollars in damage to the environmental toll–are barely fathomable to most of us.

Here  is a look at a chart that ties the disaster together with amazing clarity. Another site is hosting some incredible photographs of the disaster including some from NASA that you might want to check out.

One blogger out there is calling for the most innovative minds to suggest possible solutions, and is promising to share those solutions with government authorities.

“One amazing idea could slow the Oil Leak modestly or even stop it, slow the spread, or minimize effects, then every day wasted is measured in real environmental, human, and economic toll,” says blogger Dwayne Spradlin of Perspectives on Innovation.

I do agree that there needs to be a formalized system in place when these unexpected disasters happen.  But just as important: preventive safety measures. Like that $500,000 safety valve BP could have used to prevent the now-estimated 60,000 barrels a day from spilling into the ocean.

Clean Energy Technology: Where are companies investing?

There is a lot of buzz these days about clean energy technology and where U.S. companies are putting their money.

A few hours ago Google Inc. announced that for the first time it is making a sizable investment in renewable power as a way to accelerate the deployment of the latest clean energy technology while providing attractive returns to the search engine giant. (Read about it here.)

Google’s $38.8 million investment in an incredible wind energy project in the North Dakota plains involves two wind farms owned by NextEra Energy Resources that generate 169.5 megawatts of energy, or enough to power more than 55,000 homes.

Not every company is investing locally. One trend we are noticing is that clean energy technology has globalized and  innovation has followed suit.

One nation in particular continues to reap the benefits of this trend. Companies like GM, Dow and and Intel have constructed high-tech research labs in China. In fact the Chinese have 750 foreign-funded R&D centers in China—up from 50 just 13 years ago. Meanwhile the number of R&D sites in the United States dropped from 60 percent to 52 percent in the past decade.

You can read more about this phenomenon in a new Business Week article titled America’s Green Innovation Problem. The report does a good job explaining the numbers, and showing that as many companies are becoming truly global in their R&D, manufacturing and marketing, they’ve been collaborating even more with foreign companies and governments.