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Dissecting ‘The Collaborative Economy’ – The Innovation Inside Data, Blockchain, Customers & More

Innovation Xchange is Cintrifuse’s signature event. It is the culmination of our body of work and a precise, direct action on our mission and strategy – to build a sustainable, tech-based economy for the region through the construction of an active network of BigCos, universities, investors and startups.

In years past, feedback from our community was, “how do I find out more?” The event was reserved for BigCos and startups involved in our customer connections program, those directly taking part in the creation and sourcing of innovation briefs. While our network is wide and literally spans the globe, we had never opened our doors wide – until this year.

This year anyone was able to register to take part in a morning and an event that reshaped regional thought leadership on corporate innovation.

At the center of this public event was Jeremiah Owyang – our keynote speaker for 2017. Jeremiah is the founder of Crowd Companies, a paid network for corporate innovation leaders. With a career built around corporate innovation and blossoming technologies in Silicon Valley, Jeremiah was a voice we had long sought to bring to StartupCincy.

Read his work. Jeremiah’s research can be found at: http://www.web-strategist.com/blog/research/

And, this year, as we aim to touch more guests and more of our ecosystem than ever before, we’re bringing our learnings to you. Use these highlights from the morning, not just to catch up on our event, but as a way to shift your company’s focus and become more innovative in our ever-changing economy.

Corporate innovation in a new “connected” economy

At the front and center of IXCincy, we brought you Jeremiah Owyang – who tackled corporate innovation in our region. In 2017, Jeremiah handles this task through his explanation of what he calls “The Connected Economy.”

The Connected Economy is phase three of four in Jeremiah’s classification of the four digital eras:

  • Internet Era (Mid 90s)
  • Social Media Age (Mid 2000s)
  • Collaborative Economy Age (Now)
  • Autonomous World Age (Emerging)

This era that we live in now, “The Third Era,” gave birth to access-over-ownership, subscription models and on-demand service. In the on-demand period, more than 22.4 million consumers are being reached each year and they spend more than $57 billion annually. Examples include Instacart partnering with Whole Foods and increasing average “cart sizes” by 2.5 times the size of an average in-store cart.

This leads to another point Jeremiah drove home in his address – customers expect goods quickly and personalized while seeking longer-term relationships. This isn’t limited to retail. One example Jeremiah offered was Cohealo modernizing hospital supply chains by enabling an equipment marketplace. Through the use of Cohealo, hospitals share expensive medical equipment when not in use, making the latest medical technology affordable and accessible. Even better, it allows purchasers to pay of devices swiftly and redeploy capital quicker into new tech.

And with tech continually advancing, Jeremiah spoke at length on the rise of our next era, “The Fourth Era” – the autonomous world. This is a world affected by automatization far beyond transportation. However, transportation is exactly where Jeremiah prefers to start.

Taxis and Car Services – Car-sharing startups will shift to the management of self-driving vehicle fleets, leaving millions of drivers unemployed or seeking alternate roles.

Auto Manufacturers – With less cars needed on the road, auto manufacturers expand their offerings to include complementary services like insurance, safety, logistics and more.

Travel and Hospitality – Two hour flights and short-stay hotels will give way to brand-sponsored driverless cars that offer onboard hospitality.

Insurance – When smart vehicles avoid accidents, insurance carriers will have to modify products to focus on insuring car makes and models as well as fractional plans.

Retail – When customers shop online and mobile, autonomous vehicles will seamlessly satisfy every fulfillment and delivery need. Stores will become showrooms.

Telecommunications – Internet and wifi access will matter more than ever and every vehicle will become a hotspot, connecting passengers everywhere.

Medical – As self-driving cars take on safer transport, hospitals and clinics will adapt services to longer lifespans, less emergency need and greater at-home care.

Logistics – Logistics and delivery companies will shift models to focus on fleet and inventory management as self-driving cars and drones handle delivery.

And what to do about all of this? Jeremiah’s answer: prepare your company. This means launching an innovation program to lead experiments. Even if these conflict with existing revenue streams, it’s vital to your company’s success. We’re at the dawn of another changing era and the companies that prepare themselves are the ones who will succeed.

To hear Jeremiah word-for-word, we are happy to provide you access to his full keynote address from our Facebook Live broadcast.

The morning of thought leadership in Union Hall was not limited to Jeremiah’s time on stage. Following Jeremiah’s keynote, participants broke out to discover three unique and engaging panels.

‘Unlocking Your Data – busting up silos down on the data farm’

Led by moderator Blair Garrou, Co-Founder and Partner at the Mercury Fund, the first of three IXCincy panels took a deep dive into the world of corporate data.

As Blair began he restated how much technology has matured over the last five years. If you’re at a BigCo, his panel discussed, there are now APIs being written capable of pulling all your data into a dashboard to help customers – not matter the company size.

Participants on the panel included representatives from startups in attendance at Astronomer and OpenLegacy. Both companies provided opportunities and products similar to the first of Blair’s main points.

Another key learning from the “data panel” was to “hold off on the tools.” Opening data for opening data’s sake doesn’t make sense. Companies must, first, make sure they have a problem that needs resolving before they jump to transform a company.

Last, the panel encouraged participants to understand how different service providers are out there for most of your data problems out there. “You don’t have to do it internally,” he said. All these data problems and solutions can be done as a service. Tools have come so far now that if you know the business problem, you can develop 10 to 15 APIs in under a week.

‘The Blockchain Revolution – not just for fintech anymore’

A second panel – held in the Union Hall living room – took a unique look at the expansion of blockchain. At the helm of the panel was moderator Semil Shah, the founder and a partner at Haystack.

Semil’s panel began around  the tension between “I don’t see the use case for blockchain” and “this is a global phenomenon.” Centers of activity are not in New York City or Silicon Valley. This trend is truly global. It’s in Central and South America. These are the areas people with a need are actually building it. The panel decided that there is a tidal wave coming from all around around the world.

Next, in the same way you want to learn about something, it’s time to start learning about blockchain. It should be no different than the way you discover new ways to stay healthy, exercise or learn new coding skills. Download podcasts. Seek out experts. Find out which digital currencies you may want to own.

But also, the panel provided a word of caution. Blockchain seems to be and can be the cause and solution to all problems. It’s intoxicating because it’s spreading throughout the internet. It can create a lot of efficiencies. But it can also create headache.

One example we learned was that if you have data you input into the ledger,  it can’t really be changed. “You could be on the short end of that,” Semil said.

However, blockchain is very early in its time. It’s time to be more educated on it.

‘Reaching Your Customers in a Digital Age’

Our third panel of the morning provided attendees a chance to dig deeper into the changing nature of customer interactions. Joining IXCincy from Ernst & Young was Marcie Merriman, Executive Director – who moderated the panel of three others.

The “customer connections” panel gravitated towards one large question – Is it more difficult to be a BigCo, startup or a small company? From there, the discussion went much deeper.

As participants answered the question, many agreed: being a startup in 2017 is inarguably more difficult than five years ago. “The space is so much more crowded,” participants said.

If businesses think about reaching customers – regardless of B2B or B2C alignment – everything is beginning to center around innovation. Marketing now more strategic. Efforts involve more CIOs or CTOs than it ever has before.

How do companies combat this? Commitment. Innovation used to be a thing that companies did “when they had time for it.” It’s time for businesses to build a culture that enables this commitment and allows for the flexibility to do it. It’s time to dedicate the resources to do it.

Still looking for more coverage from this year’s IXCincy panels? Here is a full recap on panels with Jeremiah, Marcie, Semil and Blair from Facebook Live.)

Sources: Owyang, Jeremiah. “The Collaborative Economy.” Presented June 22, 2017 at Union Hall. http://www.web-strategist.com/blog

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