Innovation Universe is a blog written by innovators and practitioners of the innovative process. We welcome posts from the expert to the novice and encourage all perspectives on innovation. Please share with us your innovative ideas and tell us how they – and you – will change the world!
What is innovation? Is it the most ground-breaking technology, or having cutting-edge performance specs? Is it that which has the most elegant design, or that with the more simplistic? Is it driven by efficiency, cost, or scalability? Many of you might say it’s a little bit of all of these. I would say that it’s none. The bottom line is there is no form, function, or flavor that defines innovation; no path it must follow, and no effect it must achieve.
It is everywhere, and it is everything: art, science, music, economics, health, medicine, politics, technology, aerospace, love, food, people, business, athletics, education, inspiration, and more. Could you honestly prove to me that Miles Davis was any less (or more) of an innovator than Steve Jobs, Mahatma Gandhi, or John Keynes? Of course not! (In fact, Kind of Blue is kind-of-awesome, as I’m sure Mr. Jobs would agree) What about your third grade teacher? Were his/her leadership tactics any better or worse than Machiavelli?
Innovation is all around us in everything we do. What’s even greater is that innovations lie inside every one of us. Your next brainstorm might come in the shower, in the lab, on the way to work, jamming with your buddies, or working out by yourself. It could transform the way you do things, and it could change the world.
Still don’t get what I’m talking about? Take a minute and look around. What would you modify, or what would you do differently? What problem could you solve for yourself, your friend, or that stranger right across from you? Repeat that process one hour from now…five and a half hours from now…..three days from now, and so on. You’ll be amazed at how your mind works when it’s free to move about and explore. If you don’t do it, who will?
So, where’s your inner innovator, Gator?
-The Vitruvian Gator
Innovation is not just a one time deal, one idea, one product, but a never ending process. It is a continual endeavor building on the ideas and innovations of yesterday and constantly improving it. Sometimes, companies stumble on great ideas and innovate a service or product that become staple.
For example, think about Apple’s domination in the phone and app industry. With it’s innovative new products that streamline many different applications in a easy to use device, Apple seems to on top of the world right now. But nothing is forever. Through the course of time there have been a plethora of companies that dominated a certain market, and everyone expected them to be on top forever. However, when a company fails to continually innovate, they will eventually fall behind, which makes it easy for other companies to gain the lead. A good example would be Yahoo, a company that was one of the first pioneers of internet search engines, but eventually became complacent and was surpassed by Google.
These big companies are never too big to fail. In this article from the LA Times, it was mentioned that companies such as A&P, Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co., use to be completely dominant in the retail industry with stores nationwide, but then came Wal-Mart. Now A&P is a a regional supermarket facing bankruptcy. Therefore, to stay competitive in the business world today, innovation is always needed and is the key factor in keeping your company competitive and relevant. Without it, your company, without a doubt, will fail.
So keep on thinking and innovate.
Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive! – Sir Walter Scott
To begin with, let’s think about how we define the ‘big idea’. Our forebears tagged ‘big ideas’ onto the ones that helped us to understand the world better, inspired us to think deeper, and sometimes even incite revolutionary debate. Nowadays, we still appreciate the value of information and intelligence, while we believe that big ideas are the ones that make our lives easier and entertaining; these are the ideas that are eye-catching and profit-making, and most importantly, able to generate fast money.
We use various means to obtain information and to spread the latest and coolest news on Facebook or Twitter among our peers. In other words, we prefer knowing to thinking or analyzing by our own. The ‘idea’ itself doesn’t matter, and innovation becomes a package deal – innovation= idea + execution. In order to cater the dominated laziness of the human mind, contemporary innovators are required to polish their products into a fashionable icon that is worth being known.
Gone is the essential notion of the big idea. What makes big idea elusive for entrepreneurs is the pain they need to suffer while growing their IDEA. We were assigned to weave that tangled web; first, we practiced to decorate deceptively; then, to lure them into an illusion consisting of trendy and fancy elements. The most successful web would be the one weaved by consumers – and everyone is dying to be part of it.
Alicia Qin Tan
They would not listen, they did not know how. Perhaps they’ll listen now. – Don McLean
A couple of days ago, my friend M told me that he is hired as an art designer of a digital art magazine. He and his friends gonna provide short stories, review of literature, music, movies, and illustrations for a new application funded by a company called Apple. Surprise, surprise, it’s the Apple ‘the Apple’. To be honest, this makes me, an engineering grad student, really jealous. Come on, that pure artist has nothing to do with the computational realm, and he even does not have a Facebook page!
Banish those biased thoughts clouding my mind, I see this is an evitable trend, and evolutions should benefit people from all walks of life. Recently, we heard voices from Silicon Valley saying that we’re in a native apps world now, and going to see an explosion of Web-based apps over the next couple of years. With the launch of HTML5, artist no longer necessarily need to be a web expert themselves- for example, <html>5gallery convey them to reach a larger audience within a shorter time. On the other hand, you can comfortably sit in your home, sipping coffee, listening to Mozart, and attending the latest art show.
Faster and further, however, turns the advent of HTML5 into the nightmare of intellectual property custodians. Ironically, this never bothers our artist friends, because they take it as personal flattering when people ‘learn’ from their works. What really perplex them is the impact computational power has on the way we think about emotions, personality and even mortality. Provided that Vincent Van Gough lives in modern time, after his pictures widely spread among the cyber space, he may get too much public attention, and be heavily medicated, but not able to commit greater things any more. In other words, it is the loneliness and poverty Vincent suffered that shaped who he was, and gave birth to the ‘sanity’ across the Starry Night.
If HTML5 lives up to its promise, the singularity is near. While before HTML5 or its relatives lead us into this new era of computational power, we still have some serious philosophical questions to be solved- What is means to be ‘human’?
Alicia Qin Tan
“A weak man has doubts before a decision. A strong man has them afterwards.” -Carl Kraus
Telecom is an interesting industry – its first breakthrough can be traced back to the 1830s, with the push to fully develop the telegraph; while over last hundred years, it has never occupied spotlight as Lady Gaga does, neither was it a one-hit wonder. But, somehow, it became one of the necessities of our life; ironically, even in this recession, unlike those in the same category as rent and food, phone services are regarded as non-expandable. People are actually increasing their expense on broadband and wireless services, even smart phones are selling in unpredicted volumes.
Telecom innovation, serves like DreamWorks, keeps incubating game changers, and industrial pop stars. Just in the past 15 years though, telecom industry erected a fast-moving, energetic market, and the innovations that link investors and entrepreneurs worldwide find their nexus in various bases.
1) Telecom is the artery of modern business, and it vitally supports your productivity. Even under setbacks, people would also try whatever way to enhance their communications, in order to expand network, and find out just in time needs. Don’t forget, it had already revolutionize the world with the break-in of e-commerce (hey, do you know when was it officially released?).
2) The development of telecom innovation opened doors for new wonders in almost all the other industries, including recreation, sports tournament, military, online education, etc. Neither iPhone nor iPad could boast such a dazzling record if AT&T does not provide wireless Internet access. And our friends in homeland security may sleep better if there was stagnation in this swifter high-tech industry.
3) Still wandering between 3G and 4 G? Never mind, Shenzhen-based Huawei Technologies is pushing the world into a new era with what it calls “100G”. You may have not heard of Huawei due to its geographic focus, but currently it is the second-largest telecom-equipment supplier. They introduce themselves as a leading global telecommunications solutions provider with long-term partnerships with operators around the world. And this is the coolest part – they solve global unmet needs via breaking the limit.
Never doubt whether you can be a part of this magical stage or not, think on, ‘cause there is no boundary.
Alicia Qin Tan
Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better. -Samuel Beckett
About failure, I really found it has nothing innovative to talk about. People tell us not to give up, tell us it is the mother of success, and the path of least persistence. All those clichés like they really know what we’ve been through. But for most people in my age (maybe for all of us), failure sucks, and I gotta tell you, that hurt – it ruins the heaven you dreamed about, it shatters your efforts brutally into pieces, and humiliates you harshly.
The reason I’m mumbling here is because I saw Kick-Ass. The story based on an unnoticed nerdy high school student and comic book fan who one day decides to become a super-hero, even though he has no supernatural powers, training or meaningful reason to do so. Like other Hollywood movies, he got his ass kicked so hard, but at last, he kicked ass in taking the bad guy down. They say, with no power, comes no responsibility. Except, *that* wasn’t true. We keep fantasizing, while like every serial killer already knew: eventually fantasizing just doesn’t do it for you anymore. Dave got excited, and became Kick-Ass; after the chaos, Kick-Ass was gone but not forgotten. And the world was a lot safer with the new generation of superheroes. They said he was their inspiration. But all he did was open a door to a world he’d dreamed about since was a little kid.
Once you began to fight for your goal, you not only pave a new path for yourself, but also open a door to the others. When Sweeney Todd first released in the London Theater, it didn’t really attract the audience, but it caught the eye of Tim Burton, who made it into a new legacy in the motion picture history. Athletes, like Fernando Alonso, Michael Jordan, the only reason kept them practicing is they were losers. The winners won the glory, felt satisfied, got the girls, and stopped playing. In the world we live in, superheroes only exist in comic books. And I guess that’d be okay, if problems and obstacles were make-believe too, but they’re not. Be your own Kick-Ass, because Dave would tell you, ‘all I knew was, I never felt so good about myself’. Failures keep you en route, and as a great man once said… wait ’til they get a load of me.
-Alicia Qin Tan
The internet is becoming easier.
With the new advent of HTML 5, the internet is becoming more and more user friendly and accessible to all people of all ages. You might think as the Internet becomes more advanced, it will take more training and computer knowledge to understand how to access it all, but it’s actually the contrary.
Because of advances in computing programming as well as advances in computer hardware, things that were difficult to process and display are now much easier. For example, a couple of years ago videos took up a lot of bandwidth and processing speed to run. It took forever for videos to load and play, and the quality was lacking. Nowadays, there are side videos playing advertisements while you visit your favorite websites, which load before you can click them off. Because of these advancements, the graphical user interface for websites are becoming more and more intense.
But these actually make things easier for the user. The new graphical interfaces make web browsing more easy and fun for users to use, and also makes things a lot less mundane. Take for example, New York Times 5.0. Flipping through the news becomes a lot easier for the eyes then navigating through the website, and imitates flipping through a real newspaper, something that feels more familiar for people that are not very tech savvy.
Making the web more accessible to people will only add to the rich diversity and content of user generated content, which makes the Internet such an amazing place. As more and more people add their thoughts, creativity, and ideas to the Internet and we all collectively share our knowledge, Innovation will continue to skyrocket as it has seen the creation of Web 2.0 with all the blogging and social networking. Again, when we thought that the Internet is amazing and what possibly could we add on to it, things are about to be shaken up again. Who knows what wonders HTML5.0 will bring and what new companies and innovation will spur from it?
That’s up to us.
Until next time readers, Think On!
Failure, we have all experienced it. Not achieving a goal can always be a painful experience; however, it is through these experiences that we learn how to succeed. Whether it is a business venture, invention, or even a personal goal that turns south – it is these experiences that allow for us to see our fault, build upon them, and then come out stronger the next time. It is this very process that has continued to evolve the world and allow us to build upon our prior achievements.
There is not a person in this world that can claim to have succeeded 100% of the time every try, it is impossible. Failure goes hand-in-hand with success, and without one you cannot have the other. By learning what does not work you are one step closer to figuring out what does. Let’s look at company X, this company was just started by an ambitious entrepreneur who feels he has a great idea for a software distribution platform on Windows. His ultimate success or failure is dictated by the way his company interacts with the consumers, market, and competitors. If his product fails due to lack of users, than he now has obtained some invaluable knowledge; people are not interested in his particular product. This could be due to numerous reasons, but now he can change aspects of his company, and due to his failure, he now may have the possibility to turn it into a success. Maybe the prices were too high, or the software selection was too limited. If he has the ability to change these factors, then he will be in a much better position than someone with a similar idea but has not failed at all; for with every failure comes invaluable knowledge and wisdom.
Failure is an investment. By failing to be successful today, you are now one step closer to success tomorrow. To fail at something, you must first put the effort into trying to succeed. It is this very effort that may seem wasted when something does not go as planned, but, it is this exact effort that now leads you to see your ambition in a new context, with more wisdom than before. If fear of failure had stopped people from innovating, where would we be? The first computers, cellphones, and light bulbs were not instantly successful; the very first of anything is typically not a resounding success. Refinement, trial and error, and gained knowledge are what lead to success. Do not be afraid of failure, be afraid of nothing; if you do not take the risk of failing, you will have gained nothing.
Innovation is today’s future.
Innovation is a never-ending process that we are witnessing every day. There are constantly new cars, phones, computers, and even things like dishwashers being released to the market that are an improvement upon their predecessor. However, there are also new innovations that seem to come out of nowhere. Facebook and Myspace are two innovations that completely disrupted many previous technologies. Think back five years ago before you were part of a social network, how did you communicate and share with your friends on the computer? Probably through email or instant messaging.
If you consider the way people have changed due to technology its astounding. We have had a total shift in our society in a matter of a decade. How was this possible? Disruptive innovation. There was an opportunity in the communication market. Emails were too formal and linear, and instant messaging was too demanding and confined. Social networking changed that.
Facebook and MySpace created a more public yet personal platform that allowed people to show their true colors while still being able to go into the confines of personal messaging if one so desires. Photos, videos, chatting, and status update all help fill the complex communication void when one is confined to cyberspace. By innovating on various platforms like photo sharing sites, instant messaging clients, and email, social networking was able to become one of the world’s most dominating phenomena. By innovating and combining various platforms a totally new market was captured. Once the market was captured it began to expand and now we see many people choosing to communicate through Facebook instead of the former choices. It is this continuous cycle that allows for the further advancement of our technological world. Disruptive innovation is a tremendously powerful effect that allows for new players to enter the market and increase the pace of innovation.
Innovation is today’s future.