Archive for January, 2017

Six ways to add customer value

January 30, 2017 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » Guest Bloggers

Do you know what produces the most value for our customers today? Many companies are looking for new, tangible value to incorporate in their strategy to win customers. My friend Robert Tucker over at The Innovation Resource has come up with six ways you can examine our overall value proposition to strengthen your strategy. I’ve shared three of them here, and a link to the other three. Check it out:

1. Take on the customer’s problem. Powerful things begin to happen when you go beyond merely trying to sell products and services. Instead, strive to understand the customer’s unmet and unarticulated needs. Are you the customer’s trusted advisor, advocate, problem-solver, coach and partner that you say you are? Value-leading firms start by walking in the customer’s shoes. They think deeply about the job customers are struggling to get done. They look for unmet needs and underserved customer groups, and they take action.

Example: BankPlus, in Jackson, Mississippi, took a fresh look at unbanked consumers in their region, those caught up in the payday loans lending cycle (typical interest rate: 400 percent per annum). Research revealed that a surprisingly large number of these people were police officers, teachers, health care workers and others who simply managed money poorly. They responded to this problem by creating CreditPlus, an innovative program offering low-interest loans to unbanked consumers, provided they enroll in a three-hour financial literacy seminar. Today, BankPlus is recognized in community banking circles for having taken on their customers’ problem. And for signing up a growing cohort of new and appreciative customers in the process!

2. Make the customer’s life easier. Every business (and every product offering) has a “convenience quotient.” The customer calculates it by dividing his or her desire for fulfillment by the hassle and annoyance (and time) that must be endured to complete the transaction. Ask your team: Are you easier or harder to do business with today than a year ago? Are your hours of operation reflective of today’s busy lifestyles? What about customer-irritating policies, procedures and complicated voicemail systems that block rather than enhance communication? Take action: Survey customers to discover the most frustrating aspects of doing business with your company. Consider offering extra measures of convenience and simplicity and you will add incredible value to today’s harried consumer.

Example: Car accidents are stressful. So Boston-based Plymouth Rock Assurance, pioneered Crashbusters, a program designed to lessen the hassle of the claims adjustment process. Their mobile claim representative will meet you at a time and place that’s convenient for you to assess the damage to your vehicle.  The policyholder receives a check on the spot, so repairs can get underway. And if you want to outsource the entire process, Plymouth’s Door-to-Door Valet Claim Service provides one-stop fender bending repair.

3. Provide access rather than ownership. Access rather than purchase is the mantra of the Sharing Economy, and new entrants such as Spotify, ZipCar and Uber are transforming industry after industry. Incumbent firms can profit from this trend as well. Ask yourself: what do we currently sell that could also be made into a service? Look for more and more product categories to continue to increase in the years ahead, including automobiles.

Example: TechShop, based in San Carlos, California describes itself as a “health club for geeks.” Customers pay a monthly fee for access to its R&D labs, but don’t have to purchase or maintain expensive equipment such as 3D printers, laser cutters and oscilloscopes. With nine locations so far, the concept is attracting small businesspersons, students, and hobbyists of all skill levels, who gain access to expensive industrial tools and equipment without incurring the cost of ownership.

Read the rest of Robert’s excellent article here.

15 Surprising Environmental Trends to Watch in 2017

January 22, 2017 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » Green Innovation

The care of our planet is always on the minds of innovators who are presenting the newest technology and scientific advances.

Ensia, an independent, nonprofit magazine presenting new perspectives on environmental challenges and solutions, asks, “What should we be thinking about when we think about the future of biodiversity, conservation and the environment?”

Here is part of a report (with a link to its entirety):

An international team of experts in horizon scanning, science communication and conservation recently asked that question as participants in the eighth annual Horizon Scan of Emerging Issues for Global Conservation and Biological Diversity. The answers they came up, just published in the scientific journal Trends in Ecology & Evolution and summarized below, portend both risks and opportunities for species and ecosystems around the world.

“Our aim has been to focus attention and stimulate debate about these subjects, potentially leading to new research foci, policy developments, or business innovations,” the authors wrote in introducing their list of top trends to watch in 2017. “These responses should help facilitate better-informed forward-planning.”

1. Altering Coral BacteriaAround the world, coral reefs are bleaching and dying as ocean temperatures warm beyond those tolerated by bacteria that live in partnership with the corals. Scientists are eyeing the option of replacing bacteria forced out by heat with other strains more tolerant of the new temperatures — either naturally occurring or genetically engineered. Although the practice holds promise for rescuing or resurrecting damaged reefs, there are concerns about unintended consequences such as introduction of disease or disruption of ecosystems.

2. Underwater Robots Meet Invasive Species

If you think getting rid of invasive species on land is a challenge, you haven’t tried doing it in the depths of the ocean. Robots that can crawl across the seafloor dispatching invaders with poisons or electric shock are being investigated as a potential tool for combating such species. The technology is now being tested to control crown-of-thorns starfish, which have devastated Great Barrier Reef corals in recent years, and invasive lionfish, which are competing with native species in the Caribbean Sea.

3. Electronic Noses

The technology behind electronic sensors that detect odors has advanced markedly in recent years, leading biologists to ponder applications to conservation. Possibilities include using the devices to sniff out illegally traded wildlife at checkpoints along transportation routes and to detect the presence of DNA from rare species in the environment.

4. Blight of the Bumblebees

We tend to think of pollinating insects as our ecological friends, but in the wrong place nonnative bees can spell trouble instead by competing with native insects, promoting reproduction in nonnative plants and potentially spreading disease. And they’re doing just that, thanks to people who transport them internationally for plant-pollination purposes. Out-of-place bumblebees are already spreading through New Zealand, Japan and southern South America, and there is concern they could do the same in Australia, Brazil, Uruguay, China, South Africa and Namibia.

5. Microbes Meet Agriculture

Select bacteria and fungi are emerging as potential agricultural allies for their ability to help kick back pests or stimulate growth in crops. As research advances in this area, questions are being raised about potential implications for nontarget species, ecosystems, soils and more.

6. Sand Trap

Sand is mined for a wide range of uses, from making concrete, glass, asphalt and electronics to reclaiming land and aiding in the extraction of fossil fuels. And with sand mining comes disruption and loss of habitat in sand sources such as quarries, rivers, lakes and oceans. As demand for sand grows, efforts are underway to develop strategies for restoring areas from which sand has been removed and to advance the use of alternative materials such as mud or recycled construction material where possible to reduce stress on existing stocks.

Read more here.

The blockchain “buzz”: the rise of a new economy?

January 17, 2017 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » Innovation In The News, Uncategorized

A few weeks ago I posed the question: Have you jumped on the blockchain wagon?  A blockchain is a data structure that makes it possible to create a digital ledger of transactions and share it among a distributed network of computers. It uses cryptography to allow each participant on the network to manipulate the ledger in a secure way without the need for a central authority.

I’ll be sharing a lot more about blockchain innovation in the months ahead. Here is an interesting article I came across from Michael Kuegeler over at Medium.com. Here’s a snippet and a link to the entire article on his site:

In the year 2008, a mysterious author known as Satoshi Nakamoto published a document http://www.bitcoin.org/bitcoin.pdf about a peer-to-peer trustless system of digital “currency” that purports to solve the problem of double- spending. Nakamoto wrote: “A purely peer-to-peer version of electronic cash would allow online payments to be sent directly from one party to another without going through a financial institution.“ Although not mentioned by Nakamoto, the term ”blockchain” became widely known as the underlying technology of bitcoins, the most popular implementation of cryptocurrencies. Basically, the idea of the blockchain is anticipated to extend far beyond financial services to include various applications of authentication and data storage. Potential scenarios include real estate property records, HR, digital content ownership verification (art, music, literature,..), mobile networks, e-mobility, the energy sector, business process management, self-driven mobile networks and more.

Just another animal in the “buzz word” zoo?

Compared to other “buzz words” like “IoT” (Internet of Things), blockchains seem less inspiring in terms of fancy marketing stories. The first time I became aware of the term blockchain, I realized that it could be one of the key concepts driving digital transformation in the future. “Internet of Things” is about connecting everything with everything, big data is about collecting data and the effort to make sense of it, but what blockchains make outstanding is that they are about how the transport layer of data in networks is managed in itself, regardless where the data comes from and it goes to. In short, blockchains provide a method to run decentralized networks of data distribution which challenges the traditional role of central brokers if not make them neglectable. Most interesting is the impact on digital ownership.

Read the rest here.

Bird-drone keeps airports safe

January 13, 2017 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » Interesting links

Birds flying near plane engines are dangerous. If they get sucked into the engines, there will definitely be an “incident report.” Now one company, Clear Flight Solutions, has developed “Robird,” a drone that flaps its wings to frighten other birds.

The developers say they designed Robird to mimic the movements of a raptor, gliding through the air like a bird of prey would do.

Operators can move the drone however they see fit, depending on weather conditions and birds in the area of the airport on any given day.

The company says it has been working on perfecting a wing-flapping drone for 15 years, and did a trial run in the Netherlands. Check it out:

 

8 Housing Trends in 2017

January 10, 2017 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » Interesting links, Trends

If you are thinking of buying or selling your home this year, you may find these trends interesting. The housing market is slowing a bit, according to Forbes.  Here are the first of eight things housing experts expect to see in 2017:

1. Prices will continue to rise–but more slowly. 

Prices rose every month last year (through October) with the largest gains coming in the later half and a 5.61% increase in national. Experts expect prices will continue their climb, but gains will slow. “We believe price increases will hold steady despite slowing sales growth, because homebuyer demand is stronger now than it was at the same time last year, and because we foresee a small uptick in homes for sale,” notes Nela Richardson, chief economist at real estate brokerage Redfin.

2. Affordability will worsen. 

Wages are expected to grow in America’s big cities this year, but the share of homes affordable to someone earning the median income is not. This trend, which has stymied many aspiring to buy their first home over the past few years, will be intensified by a continued shortage in low- to moderate-priced inventory and rising mortgage rates.

3. Mortgage rates will be volatile. 

The two major political events of 2016 set mortgage rates moving in opposite directions. In June, the British vote to exit the European Union put rates near a record low. In November, the U.S. election of Donald Trump had the opposite effect, sending rates above 4% for the first time in two years. By historic standards rates are still low. In 2017 experts expect movement, but differ on where for the 30-year fixed rate will land. Estimates out there range from between 3.75% and 4.6%–not so far from where it is today.

Check out the other 5 housing market trends at Forbes.

Will robots with friendly personalities capture consumers’ hearts?

January 8, 2017 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » Cool videos

One of the top trends in robotics this year isn’t just about how cool the functionality is getting; it’s robots designed so that consumers will develop affection for them. There is a purpose in making these robots “cute” and friendly. Innovators know that the number one thing they would look for in a personal robotic assistant is a sense of companionship.  That’s right, robots who are friendly and personable will rule the day.

That was the thinking behind this year’s CES debut of Kuri, an adorable little robot designed for the home. The robot from Mayfield Robotics  (a Bosch strtup), responds to voice input just like Google Home or Amazon Echo, but she puts a face on the experience rather than just a voice.  Kuri was meant to be a companion or assistant:

 

Leading Change: How HFM Shaped and Hardwired a New Innovative Culture

January 4, 2017 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » Conferences, Webinars and Podcasts

If your organization is like most, chances are new challenges require new ways of doing things. I’m hosting a free webinar in a few weeks to show you how you can meet those challenges.

Culture change is critical, but far from easy. This was the case for Holy Family Memorial (HFM) health network. Healthcare is in a seismic transition period, changing from a volume-based to a value-based system of care.  In order to create more value and secure their network’s future viability, HFM’s leaders knew significant changes to its culture were necessary. The actions they took were strong, deliberate, and organization-wide.

Join us online on Thursday, January 26, 2017 for an interactive free webinar Leading Change: How HFM Shaped and Hardwired a New Innovative Culture as Mary Maurer and Laura Fielding share:

  1. How and why HFM began its deliberate journey toward a culture of inspired caring and innovation.
  2. Specific culture shaping tactics for leaders, employees, and physicians.
  3. How they hardwired the “HFM way” (innovation) into the HFM culture.
  4. Results achieved from HFM’s journey.

This is an excellent opportunity for innovation leaders and teams to attend together, ask questions, and gain insight to help create a new, sustainable innovation culture in their own organizations.

Sign up today, spread the word! Online at http://www.roundtable.com/audio-sessions/HFM or call 781-891-8080.

Register Now

We look forward to your participation!