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Gert’s Digigram Newsletter of September 2019!

Glad to see you back after – I hope! – an enjoyable summer with some time off and returning with fully recharged batteries. Below read what I feel is hot in technology and innovation and ­therefore worth thinking about.

Quite a few of you commented on the “XaaS Everything as a Service”-article in the last newsletter. Thank you for confirming my opinion: It is a topic worth strategizing about, and that is why I continued to write about it in this newsletter.

In June I again led master students from HWZ University Zurich through Silicon Valley and one of them, André Meister, compiled his learnings from the tour and his studies into 7 takeaways for digital leaders that you can read below or more detailed in the article on my website.

Welcome back and I wish you a successful start into the fall.

Happy reading and ‘till soon, Gert


Hot Trend: XaaS – Everything as a Service is how we work and live today

In my last Digigram, I wrote about XaaS and wondered what would be next for this trend. Since then, I have concluded that XaaS includes much more than only technology platforms that virtualize assets in value chains: XaaS covers how we work and conduct business today, and how we consume modern products and services.

New work = Gig economy = Work as a Service

Image source: www.fabrikbrands.com/what-is-the-gig-economy

We all agree that companies such as Uber, Lyft, Airbnb, Upwork, and WeWork disrupted the value chains and asset distribution in many industries. Like it or loathe it – the fact is that these models fit the way many people live their lives today. Both as consumers of services (e.g., getting even small items delivered by Amazon or bike couriers instead of going to a store) or as a provider of services (e.g., teaching via the internet or contracting via Upwork). The megatrends of changes in life- and work styles are what enabled the XaaS phenomenon in the first place. Especially Gen Ys love both sides of XaaS! It provides them the flexible lifestyle they prefer as consumers, and it allows them to work as professionals when and where they want.

Tipalti, global Gig economy payments

I recently met the company Tipalti who solve the “last mile” of the gig economy: They provide a platform-as-a-service to handle payments to freelancers across 190 countries and in 120 currencies, including the correct handling of tax and documentation for all participants. This is an impressive service and solves a critical problem. It is, of course, also slightly ironic that we now have a B2B gig economy supporting the B2C and C2C gig economies!


New innovation = Crowdsourcing = Ideas & validation as a Service

A conference that brings together the world’s crowdsourcing community

All agile ways of working, such as design thinking, scrum, and lean startup, have one thing in common: Observing and obtaining feedback from real users is vital. Never ever develop a new product or consider a product ready for sale without first soliciting input from the crowd. Today’s users and consumers are very able and willing to give input and to participate in trials and tests that aim to answer questions during innovation projects. And some now even make this their careers: Ideas or customer validation for hire as a service. I attended the Crowdsourcing Week conference in San Francisco at the invitation of its founder, Epi Ludvik Nekaj. I have been a fan of working with “the crowd” for a long time, and the conference really opened my eyes in just how many ways crowdsourcing can now be applied and how technology platforms (and the gig economy!) facilitate the process.

Outsource your Hackathons. Fully online thanks to the crowd.

Two examples: You can order Hackathons as a service from Agorize who already brought together more than a million people to solve challenges for customers. How I wish they had been around during my startup promotion times at Startzentrum Zurich and BlueLion Incubator! Crowd services even exist for the newest and coolest of disciplines, data science. Mathesia has more than 3000 vetted experts who can be hired as a service to solve mathematical and data science problems. It is very hard to hire data scientists today! This as-a-service offering is an excellent alternative. Also, the results seem to speak for themselves: Mathesia claim that their service accelerates projects 3x and saves costs compared to traditional external contracting or in-house projects. No doubt, when you look at XaaS in the light of the crowd and the Gig economy, it starts making even more sense, it touches even more areas of our private and working lives and it has endless potential.


7 Takeaways of what constitutes Leadership in a digitalized business world

(The full article was first published in German by André Meister for HWZ University’s Institute for Digital Business. The full article in English is posted on my website.)

#1 Digital leaders are able to lead experts and teams in virtual organizations, recognizing the potential of diversity such as gender, cultural background, personality, age, skills, and experience.

#2 Digital leaders have these traits: Vision, clear values, being role models, being present, developing employees, being communicative and just, having some expert knowledge, and being self-reflective.

#3 Digital leaders shape agile, flexible, and efficient organizations capable of succeeding in VUCA environments.

#4 Digital leaders transform both the core business for optimization inside of the existing organization and create new businesses fit for tomorrow outside of the core organization while connecting today’s capabilities with tomorrow’s.

#5 Digital leaders understand that “10% better” is not good enough an objective anymore and they aim for 10x better.

#6 Digital leaders understand the success factors of digital businesses: Global platforms, the fusion of new and old functionalities, open organizations, disruptive hypothesis, testing & learning fast, use of assets owned by others, data-driven, design thinking & UX management, consciously dealing with cost of innovation, maintaining a sense of urgency.

#7 Digital leaders promote a spirit of entrepreneurship, accepting naivety, asking for endurance, maintaining the culture, and practicing “chutzpah.”


Top of the Month

Congratulations to Optimus Ride, who started the first autonomous vehicle service in the state of New York. This is already the third state where Optimus operates self-driving shuttles. Congrats to Ryan Chin, way to go!


Flop of the month

Adam Neumann, founder and until recently CEO of WeWork, for still not having gotten the message. Your behavior and greed as a founder are not acceptable anymore and influence how your startup is perceived and is funded. What a disservice you did to all the employees who trusted you!


Meet me here

The University of California, Berkeley, is fast becoming a new favorite meeting place of mine. Not only because I teach there, but also because of the incredible innovation community on and around the beautiful campus. Let me know if you want to meet!

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