GET AHEAD WITH REMOTE AND AR
USING CROSS-SECTIONAL TECHNOLOGIES AS AN OPPORTUNITY
Keep your rocket on course…
The technologies “AR” (Augmented Reality), “VR” (Virtual Reality) and “Remote” are playing an increasingly important role for more and more companies. However, the value potential that can already be leveraged with these technologies along the value chain is often not immediately visible.
Let’s get started…
…imagine you are sitting in a rocket and have to steer it through space. On your way, you will encounter several meteoroids with valuable properties. If you recognize them early, you can use raw materials to reach your destination faster. If you miss a meteoroid, which may even be on a collision course, it can slow down or even destroy your rocket. The rocket represents your company and the decisions you make. Meteoroids are new technologies and innovations that can give you an competitive edge – if you take advantage of them early. However, if they pass by unnoticed, the competition may take advantage of these same raw materials. In the worst case, a disruptive technology can ruin your company.
We give an overview which meteoroids are already buzzing around in orbit today.
One of these meteoroids is “visual assistance”. We are currently experiencing a high innovation momentum in remote technologies such as “AR” or “video” and “real-time voice translation”. What if your employees were already leveraging attractive value potentials in technical consulting, installation or after-sales services – in other words, generating more money? And successfully face the shortage of skilled workers in the process?
We know: AR is no longer just a “gimmick”. And it is not only used by large corporations under laboratory conditions. Rather, AR and remote technologies offer innovative hands-on solutions that inspire customers and employees. And enable competitive edge.
In particular, these are cross-sectional technologies. This means that they can be used throughout the entire value chain. Starting with the visualization of technical advice and sales, through visual work instructions for production processes during assembly, to remote support for technicians for installation, assembly or maintenance – remotely.
Let’s give your rocket a quickstart – insights into three valuable use cases …
# 1 – Remote repair and maintenance with the customer
Many of us have already encountered the idea of digital assistance. Especially in the B2C area: for example, about 80% of the usual customer inquiries of a website are answered by a “chatbot”.
In the B2B sector, the framework conditions usually look different: missing standards, complex requirements, flexible adjustments, special machines… Therefore, in most cases, service technicians are contacted when problems occur. Long journeys, overnight stays with expenses lead to high time and cost expenditures. Is this possible in another way?
With remote and augmented reality, such deployments can be avoided. The cooperation between PTC and Howden, for example, shows that this technology is already being used in practice to create value. They are already very successfully using augmented reality services for remote support. With the new service, the customer is advised live by a product expert and guided to carry out the repair independently. In this way, technicians and companies save time and money and can cooperate with each other flexibly and independently of location.
# 2 – Virtualize technical consulting and sales
Not only “aftersales” but also “presales” can get a quickstart with remote and AR. For example, integrating new tech-nologies in “video and voice in sales” can save time and money. PS-AMS PSL, for example, has integrated a virtual showroom with a live consultation – and successfully digitized presales as a result. This is just one example of many B2B cases that already use the advantages of virtual showrooms today.
# 3 – Digital employees and customer training
Requirements for products, processes and applications are becoming more and more complex and diverse. The challenges: How do my employees always stay operational and beeing up to date? How can I train my employees despite a shortage of skilled workers? Also here, new technologies can offer a perspective for using these risks as an opportunity. A good example: Volvo and ABB. Volvo uses AR technology to train employees efficiently, enabling them to react quickly to changing requirements.
… Back to your rocket: You’ve probably noticed that speed gives you an huge competitive edge, and the number of metroids that may still be ahead of you is growing. Now, it is your turn to bring your rocket in the most successful orbits.
Catch the Future…!
Innovation Spotlight: Artificial intelligence
HOW ARTIFICIAL INTELIGENCE IS ALREADY BEING USED TODAY
Exciting areas of application for artificial intelligence from practice
Artificial intelligence or “AI” is a key technology of our time that basically mimics our human actions and our ability to learn. This results in exciting application options and innovation opportunities for companies to strengthen their competitiveness. Companies across all industries want to understand how artificial intelligence can help them. And gain experience with the technology. Every day with our EARLY BRANDS innovation & technology scouting, we see exciting new opportunities for companies to use and benefit from AI technologies. In this innovation spotlight, our innovation and technology experts highlight three areas of application where AI already provides a high level of practical benefits.
# 1 ROBOTS & TRANSPORT
Robots as physical machines have been successfully in use for decades. For example, they support the automotive industry in vehicle manufacturing with repetitive activities such as welding of vehicle components. Even without artificial intelligence, industrial robots already provide great added value, because they work reliably, quickly and precisely, day and night. Artificial intelligence as a further cross-sectional technology besides mechatronics, sensors, etc. raises the capabilities of robots to a new level. Because it gives robots a “brain” that allows them to perceive their environment and adjust their behavior. They learn and make decisions independently. This is not only helpful in exploring the universe, where robots like from DFKI Robotics Innovation Center become independent actors to build base camps on alien planets, for example.
Use cases for autonomous robots are of great interest to many sectors: from manufacturing industry, medical sector, disaster relief, to catering and agriculture – the smart helpers enable diverse innovation opportunities. For example, in the form of drone robots: the intelligent drone from the Israeli startup Tevel Aerobotics is equipped with a gripper and handles the care and harvesting of orchards autonomously. The drone recognizes different fruits, their quality, maturity and decides what to do. As a result, farmers save valuable time and money. Also, vehicles are becoming increasingly autonomous and are gradually changing our understanding of how humans or goods are getting from A to B. The number of companies and projects working on smart mobility and transport solutions is increasing rapidly. Whether autonomous car taxis from Waymo, air taxis from Airbus, delivery vehicles from Nuro or Alibaba, or the autonomous snowplow at the airport – startups and big players are already shaping the future of their and neighboring industries. Through innovations that are only possible with AI technologies. And AI companies such as the startup SparkCognition supply the right “artificial brain”. In addition to robots with an increasing degree of autonomy, mastering complex tasks, robots are also increasingly cooperative. They work actively with people hand in hand: the surgical robot Da Vinci already assists physicians in hospitals by enabling precise and safe operation.
We are convinced: AI-based physical robots and smart transport solutions provide businesses various innovation opportunities across processes, products, services and business models. The areas of application and benefits already go far beyond efficient manufacturing and logistics.
# 2 INTELLIGENT SERVICES
The first AI-based services have been with us for years: e.g. smart email filters that protect us from annoying spam emails, or the navigation app on our smartphone which shows us the best routes depending on the current traffic situation. In our worldwide EARLY BRANDS real-time scouting for AI innovation, we see a growing number of companies that explore the opportunities of artificial intelligence for new and enhanced services.
Technology companies such as Automation Anywhere, IBM with Watson or Amazon Web Services already offer a wide range of “AI-as-a-service” tools that enable new services based on voice, image or video recognition. One main area of application are recurring activities in the context of digital services: e.g. processing of customer questions by email or live chat. Learning chatbots are increasingly handling this customer interaction. The software robots interpret the enquiries thanks to “nature language processing” and help customers 24/7. Digital experts are also changing the financial industry. Fintechs like Scalable Capital gain market share in financial advice with AI-based online investment managers: depending on the personal risk profile of retail investors, the robo advisor “intelligently” invests the money – or even trades stocks, commodities and other asset classes automatically. Professional investors have been relying on AI-based trading, or algorithmic trading, for years. And in the healthcare sector, digital doctors like Ada combine medical knowledge with artificial intelligence. It helps in the analysis of symptoms and choosing the right treatment – for self-diagnosis on the web or as a professional assistant to physicians: Infervision already enables hundreds of hospitals to analyze lung images in seconds with AI-based image analysis. The diagnosis of lung cancer is thereby accelerated. The result: Human doctors have more time for their patients.
Also insurers such as AXA XL are increasingly relying on AI-based online services. In the case of building insurance, the company optimizes its risk assessment through AI-based analysis of comprehensive building reports. It enables a faster determination of insurance conditions and quotation preparation – to the joy of the insurance company and its customers.
EARLY BRANDS is convinced: there are many exciting starting points for digital, AI-based services across markets and industries to support internal processes or new customer services and business models. The starting point for this should always be the customer and user needs. And more than ever, attention is needed on creative use cases where artificial intelligence creates a high level of customer value compared to the status quo. Be it faster response to customer queries like with AXA XL or accelerated diagnostics by Infervision. Companies should deal with the individual potentials of “intelligent services” at an early stage. This is important in order to develop successful services for the future.
# 3 SMART DEVICES AND FACILITIES
With smart devices and facilities, we mean, for example, virtual assistants such as Amazon Alexa, who reads our wishes from the lips – and enables us to control networked devices such as coffee machines and lamps by voice control. The internet of things combined with artificial intelligence makes it possible. Another example in the context of smart home are smart grids. They monitor and control themselves and ensure a stable grid in times of renewable energies and decentralized energy supply. This helps network operators and energy providers to ensure the high quality of their services. At the same time, the AI-based network creates opportunities for new services such as flexible electricity tariffs. Individual devices such as smart meters play an important role in this connected system, as another piece of the puzzle.
The example of smart grids can also be transferred to other application areas such as warehouses and factories: e.g. Alibaba’s autonomous warehouses with intelligent goods management or intelligent factories with predictive inspection and maintenance of production machines. The intelligent interaction of individual devices and sensors accelerates processes, prevents expensive failures and increases quality. Here, artificial intelligence is the “learning agent” that interprets logistics and manufacturing facilities with large amounts of data, orchestrates them autonomously or semi-autonomously and constantly improves itself. The startup Iron Ox with its fully autonomous vegetable farms shows the disruption potential of smart plants: AI-based robots, moisture sensors and other farming components enable a completely new interaction: sowing, quality assessment, care and harvesting of vegetables and herbs are realized autonomously, 24/7. The mobile farms can be flexibly placed near major cities, save on transport costs while providing freshly harvested vegetables.
From robots and intelligent services to smart devices and facilities: we already see how artificial intelligence as an important cross-sectional technology is creating high value for users and companies. In combination with creative ideas and strengths of companies such as brands, distribution channels and customers, new opportunities for innovation emerge. Regarding processes, products, services and business models. Companies in all sectors are in demand to identify the individual opportunities of AI technologies, and to explore the potentials together with partners and users in an agile way.
Catch the Future…!
Innovation Spotlight: Blockchain in Banking
BLOCKCHAIN AS AN INNOVATION DRIVER FOR BANKING
Exciting use cases for blockchain in banking
Blockchain is a hot topic – and more than just a buzzword. Innovative applications and high interest are currently developing in almost every industry. Why should top decision makers in banking deal with the opportunities of blockchain and its potential for disruption? In the following, we inspire you with three use cases of the blockchain that provide a high benefit in banking. With our EARLY BRANDS real-time scouting, we keep pace with the times, recognize global innovation and technology developments very early.
This EARLY BRANDS innovation spotlight doesn’t focus on the prominent blockchain use cases like digital currencies such as Bitcoin, or ripple for international cross-currency payments. We show three other blockchain use cases and innovative projects that bankers should know: from syndicated loans, promissory note placements, to trade finance, the blockchain technology offers a high potential for innovation and disruption in banking.
USE CASE # 1 – BLOCKCHAIN-BASED SYNDICATED LOANS
Syndicated lending – this is the granting of a single loan by at least two financial institutions to borrowers. The processing is complex, with many participants involved and high administrative effort. Multiple agents, borrowers and hundreds of lenders need to coordinate and exchange information repeatedly. Countless faxes, e-mails and telephone calls accompany this process – agents spend about 70% of their time on administrative activities. At the same time, it is difficult for the players to keep track. This makes the financial instrument a hot use case for the blockchain technology: new digital solutions based on the blockchain help to reduce the administrative burden on syndicated loans. At the same time, the process becomes more transparent and secure. Through a private-blockchain trading platform, for example: it bundles all information and makes it accessible to the verified actors in real-time. Secure against the loss or falsification of sensitive data. The result: Syndicated loans are processed faster and safer. The bank’s employees, lenders and borrowers are pleased. And the bank is strengthening its competitiveness through efficiency gains in the double-digit percentage range.
There are already exciting projects out there: Finastra’s blockchain-based online marketplace Fusion LenderComm for syndicated loans was launched in 2018, after a successful pilot phase with several banks. On the one hand, the platform enables credit officers to securely publish their data and share it in real-time. On the other hand, many lenders can view the automatically consolidated data and their balance sheet items, in real-time. This saves time and money, also because the obligatory requests from lenders disappear. Another project is BBVA’s digital financing platform: it completed a first real-life transaction for a blockchain-based syndicated loan at the end of 2018. The entire processing of the syndicated loan amounting to EUR 150 million was coordinated via the private blockchain network. Agile and with maximum transparency for all parties involved. The individual negotiation steps up to the agreement of the loan contract were documented in a secure, unchangeable way on the blockchain.
USE CASE # 2 – PROMISSORY NOTES FRESHLY THOUGHT
The situation is similar with promissory note placements. The process is highly standardized but involves many manual activities during negotiations and the exchange of hundreds of documents with multiple parties. The existing inefficiencies offer attractive opportunities through innovative, digital solutions. One example and pioneer project: the promissory note platform VC Trade. It digitally maps the entire process. Most of the manual administrative activities and communication steps are eliminated. This makes the handling of promissory notes much easier for the arranging banks, issuers, investors, lawyers and rating agencies. And ensures an overall shorter processing time. With significantly reduced costs. Example: Together with Commerzbank, Helaba has transacted a promissory note worth EUR 700 million for the automotive supplier Faurecia via the VC Trade platform. Compared to the standard promissory note, about 40% of the costs were saved. The focus of VC Trade is currently on the digitalization of the promissory note process itself. For regulatory reasons, it is open to the advantages of the blockchain technology but does not emphasize them now. Through self-executing digital contracts, i.e. smart contracts, integrated into the blockchain different activities like transaction of payment tranches are automated. And faster, safer than ever.
For example, LBBW demonstrated the opportunities of the blockchain through promissory note placements for Daimler and Telefónica. Because of regulatory reasons, these placements also were conducted in a conventional way at the same time. Nevertheless, such projects have strong signal effects and show the innovation potential of blockchain for banking. Another example: Erste Group’s permissioned blockchain platform issued the first pure blockchain-based promissory note for the motorway operator Asfinag. Further projects like DEBTVISION show the disruptive power of the blockchain technology for banking: the digital promissory marketplace and subsidiary of the Stuttgart Stock Exchange and LBBW has the potential to “replace” the arranging banks as intermediaries in the promissory note placement. The blockchain platform brings together borrowers and potential investors. And it regulates and oversees the full process. Safe and fully automated. As a digital trust for all involved actors. Of course, this does not just apply to promissory notes or syndicated loans…
USE CASE # 3 – CHANGING TRADE FINANCE
Trust also plays a major role in trading transactions. Letters of credit serve as a payment method for trading transactions with the greatest possible security for sellers and buyers. But they are time-consuming and costly. The main reason for this: Trade finance is still based on a lot of paperwork with a high administrative overhead. Documents such as shipping documents, invoices etc. are processed, documented and exchanged between the actors manually. The result: It takes five to ten days to complete a transaction that funds export goods. In the case of blockchain-based trading, the identities of the trading partners are clear, the documents are transparent, counterfeit-proof and administrative activities automated. Trade transactions take only a few hours. The transaction is automatically carried out via smart contracts when the goods arrive at the recipient. At the same time, the blockchain ensures for the seller that the money is transferred once the trade route is completed. Everything without the intervention of third parties. Already possible today.
Some examples: HSBC, ING and six other banks have launched Voltron to digitalize global trade finance based on the blockchain platform. All finance and trade documents are exchanged quickly and securely between the parties. First transactions via the platform illustrate the benefits: the transaction processing of Cargill’s trade of soybeans from Argentina to Malaysia or polymers from India to Peru took only one hour instead of a week. We.trade and Batavia are two other innovative projects. Both rely on IBM’s Blockchain Platform and have been developed closely with multiple banks. First trading transactions for cars from Germany to Spain or raw materials from Austria to Spain were carried out faster and more secure. At the same time, smart contracts automatically triggered the transactions as soon as specified steps in the supply chain were met. The information is then automatically visible for the exporter, importer and the arranging bank, safe and in real-time.
The blockchain revolution in banking is well underway – in the sense of practice-relevant projects that add value to banking institutions and their clients. Already today, we realize innovative business models and services with the blockchain technology. Jointly with leading companies. And in close cooperation with strong startups and tech partners. We recommend dealing with the topic early – and getting to know the individual opportunities for your company at an early stage, testing them and gaining experience with the exciting blockchain technology. Think banking new together with us and keep your finger on the pulse of the times…
Catch the Future…!
Technologies of our time
ON EVERYONES’ LIPS: WHAT’S BEHIND AI, AR & CO.?
We give insights into technologies of our time
Internet of things – PRODUCTIVITY, SAFETY AND SUSTAINABILITY.
When do we talk about the internet of things (iot)? Let’s start with a few examples: A washing machine that turns on automatically, when energy is cheap and sends messages via WhatsApp when laundry is ready to be hung up. Streetlights, that turn off self-controlled when no passenger is nearby. Cars that communicate with environments so that accidents and traffic jams are avoided. How does this work? Technologies like RFID-chips, sensors, data storages and software systems are needed. They make it possible to connect things with each other and also with us. By using data exchange at the internet. From our latest smartphones, to digital displays on our fridges through to car sensors.
Opportunities and application fields are varied. Advantages and values are perfectly clear: connect things and people with each other to operate in an easier, safer, more sustainable way – from smart home, predictive maintenance to smart cities and industries.
ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE – COMPUTER AS INTELLIGENT AS HUMANS.
Ada is my personal health guide and doctor. Bitesnap counts calories for me by using a simple picture of my food. Replika – lends an open ear no matter if I am anxious or just need somebody to talks with…What sounds a bit strange at first glance, is already in full swing: artificial intelligence (AI) is on the move and already established in many different fields of application.
In a nutshell: We understand AI as technology that imitates our human behavior by using complex mathematical algorithms. Just as voice recognition like Siri, Alexa & Co. Or the identification of textual and visual contents like IBM Watson. Or innovative Google‘s image search, that allows us to visually find everyting we are looking for.
Application fields of AI are nearly unlimited. AI can be used for process optimization and identification of customers’ needs and desires. In health care AI can identify diseases on early stages. Also, by using AI, robots and machines get able to take over dangerous tasks for us: like in space, underwater or mining activities.
BLOCKCHAIN – A NEW BLOCK FOR THE CHAIN.
Blockchain has the ability to restructure our habits and markets and to revolutionize the way we carry on trade today. In our centralized “platform economy” with Google, Amazon, Facebook & Co., blockchain enables decentralization + self-determination.
In a nutshell: blockchain is a chain of data blocks. In this data blocks, all transactions ever done are recorded and managed in a decentralized way: within a network of countless participants, referred as to nodes, all over the world. Specific encryption codes ensure that data stored in blockchain are unchangeable and reliable. Only if many participants have checked and validated, transactions take place. Not until then, a data block is added to the next one so that a long chain of blocks (blockchain) is created.
Reasons to pay attention to blockchain are countless: from secure supply chain and proof of origins in logistics, to healthcare with unforgeable electronic patient files through to automatic land registries by using smart contracts. Use cases for blockchain are varied.
MIXED REALITIES – EXPERIENCES IN DIFFERENT WORLDS.
Virtual Reality (VR) – Experiences in virtual worlds.
With VR-Glasses and other gadgets VR technologies makes it possible to fully dive into virtual worlds. It’s not just that: we can move and interact in a 3D virtual world. We can operate, plan and move about freely. Feel and experience things like we would do in our real world.
Augmented Reality (AR) – Bring virtual elements into real worlds.
As opposed to VR, we do not dive into virtual worlds with AR. We rather combine our real world with virtual realities by using innovative software. Thus, we widen, enlarge and enrich our physical world by technology. Ever since the hype about Pokèmon Go we all know which huge impact AR technologies can have. How does this work? AR becomes possible by using mobile devices or specific data glasses that transport virtual elements into our real world. Thereby, computer-generated visuals are integrated into our reality – so that we give our realities an upgrade.
The whys and wherefores? Receive and experience the right information at the right time at any place – omnipresent. Increase customer experiences, facilitate learning curves, foster inspiration, widen horizons and perspectives… It becomes clear as water: mixed reality application fields are varied. Already today, we see an increasing number of use cases…
In our work with leading medium-sized companies and family offices, we have our finger on the pulse: Everyday, we support people and companies successfully shaping the future with innovation and technology. Especially with regard to new technologies, our experience and recommendation is: People make the difference. With empathy, creativity and enthusiasm for innovation, success and competitive advantages can be realized with new technologies.
Catch the Future..!
Identify innovation opportunities
Insights into EARLY BRANDS Innovation & Technology Scouting
Create something positive together with positive people
In the digital age, business success strongly depends on the premature identification of new technologies and innovative business opportunities. How to keep one finger on the pulse of time? How to recognize business opportunities on early stages? How to make impulses usable for my company? Kamil one of our scouting experts finds answers for these questions.
EARLY BRANDS Insights: Kamil, how can you easily explain Innovation & Technology Scouting?
Kamil: Innovation & Technology Scouting summarizes all activities to prematurely identify relevant market developments and trends – cross-market, world-wide. To recognize and utilize business opportunities for our partners. Thereby, impulses can be very diversified: from innovation and technology trends to startup activities and new tech companies through to new findings in sciences.
EARLY BRANDS Insights: Which attitudes and perspectives are needed to identify early stage innovation opportunities?
Kamil: First of all: an open mind + broad perspectives. Cross-market and cross-industry. Competitors of today might be not competitors of tomorrow. Thus, resting on one’s laurels is not enough. Continuity is essential to identify innovation and technology developments at early stages. In short: companies need to broaden their horizons by opening valuable playing fields for the future. All our partners have a clear understanding about that. They are willing to proactively create their future success.
EARLY BRANDS Insights: How do you and your colleagues support all that?
Kamil: We are an innovation consulting with strong expertise relating to early stage innovation. Thus, we support our expedition partners precisely and individually. From identification of business relevant innovation and technology impulses such as startups or market trends to creative design of business opportunities together with employees and users through to coordination and realization with potential technology partners. Scouting is an essential starting point and one key success factor for that.
EARLY BRANDS Insights: What distinguishes EARLY BRANDS approach for Innovation & Technology Scouting? What’s different?
Kamil: The formula for success: passionate, creative innovation and technology experts and knowhow + strong network of experts + positive, interactive collaboration with our partners. Also, our partner’s employees and corporate management are vital. We combine our knowhow and experiences with external scouting impulses. Thus, we create business opportunities with high relevance for our clients + their customers. In sum, our scouting approach is focused on people. That requires strong collaboration from day one.
EARLY BRANDS Insights: What is the value of your activities?
Kamil: Our partners pursue the goal to successfully develop their future business. We support them by identifying and creating short- and long-term innovation and technology opportunities. The value perspectives are varied: from efficiency and productivity benefits to improvements of product quality through to innovative opportunities for new income streams. We quantify values of innovation and technology opportunities prematurely. That supports decision-making: if an R&D manager can quantify potentials of material savings, he or she will get support for implementation. If a board member can assess how many users are willing to pay for a new innovative subscription offer, he or she might become interested to realize such services.
EARLY BRANDS Insights: How do you combine results from scouting with ideas from your partners?
Kamil: For this purpose, regular interaction, cooperation and communication is crucial. We have a keen intuition to capture and incorporate expectations, topics and ideas among different organizational levels – precisely, cooperative, productive, considered. This is exemplified by our insight dialogues as a starting point for our projects or by our regular stakeholder jour-fixes where different people an decision maker come together.
Last but not least my personal advice:
Identify business opportunities of tomorrow already today – proactively, creatively and jointly – for competitive edge and innovation success in the digital age.
Catch the Future…!
Decentralization on the fast lane
BLOCKCHAIN – BIG BENEFITS ALREADY TODAY
Six eye opening and inspiring blockchain use cases
Blockchain is on everyone’s lips. The main idea: decentralized data bases, unforgeable and clear identities. But: is blockchain able to revolutionize our economic system? Should all companies pay attention to innovation opportunities and disruptive potentials of blockchain for their business models?
We give some insights and inspiration in six blockchain use cases: from innovative applications in banking, logistics, production and trade through to health care and human resources.
use case 1 – New ideas for trade finances
DEFINITELY – and it already happens.
We realize innovative business models and services related to blockchain already today. In behalf of as well as together with leading companies. What are the chances and opportunities? How can we assess disruptive potentials for our markets and customers?At our EARLY BRANDS location in Bremen we offer the possibility to dive into the exciting blockchain use cases. Based on best practices, our experts’ knowledge and experiences, a worldwide scouting and appreciation for your needs and expectations. It is beyond question that blockchain disruptively change our economy and society. Thus, we recommend identifying and exploiting opportunities and risk on early stages – to realize future fields of opportunities prior to your competitors.
Catch the Future…!
Blockchain – brilliant technology
Brilliant technology behind the hype on crypto currencies
Blockchain – more than just Bitcoin
Topics around blockchain, crypto currencies and bitcoin are not only discussed among “tech insiders” in Switzerland or Singapore, but also all over the world. There are countless reports, valuations, forecasts. Why is it such a hype? Why will this technology keep us fascinated for a very long time?
The promising technology behind Bitcoin is the distributed ledger technology, which is usually referred to as “blockchain”. It enables a profound change in many industries and offers numerous fields of applications. Our experiences show us that the blockchain will be applied in more and more companies and industries in the future because of its various possibilities.
What is behind the blockchain?
The heart of the blockchain is a decentralized and secure data storage as encrypted data were distributed across a network of nodes. The data were stored tamper-proof and transparent but cannot be subsequently changed. Compared to the classic models of online data storage, there is no need for a central third-party data storage. Consequently, only the producer of the data has the control.
With this fundamental evolution of data storage in place, many companies explore new opportunities to store digital content such as photos, music, texts or information about valuables like art or diamonds. For example, Everledger offers blockchain-based solutions to track art, wines, and other valuables transparently throughout their lifetime and to identify their origins. This ensures trust and transparency along the supply chain.
It is not surprising that blockchain technology has particularly become well-known in the financial industry as Bitcoin, Ether and hundreds of other cryptocurrencies are products of this technology. Compared to the traditional money transfer of banks, which can take few days, the blockchain enables cost-effective, secure payment transactions across borders in real time. Ripple is just one example for many other implemented projects in the financial industry.
What is a smart contract?
Another fascinating thing are smart contracts. Smart contracts mean nothing else than the automated execution of a predetermined operation with the fulfillment of previously predetermined conditions. The decentralized recording of the date on the blockchain supports the execution of these contracts, which in some cases significantly speeds up processes and reduces costs.
What comes next?
There are so many different and promising applications for the blockchain – the ones described here are just the beginning of a new and exciting era. We are eager for the exciting changes and technological advancements and are looking forward to shaping them together with you.
Catch the Future…!
Rocking Innovation & Technology Scouting
Scouting for Success
Achieving innovation and technology advantages in the digital age
As companies gain innovation and technology leadership in the digital age, innovation and technology scouting is playing an increasingly important role. But how can the identification of innovation and technology opportunities be a success?
EARLY BRANDS Insights: What is innovation and technology scouting?
Alexander: It is the targeted tracing of valuable innovation and technology opportunities. The time dimension and the quality play a special role here. Think of consumer goods manufacturers with strong brands, retailers or retail banks. They all have the ambition to discover valuable business opportunities and partners before the competition.
Our clients want to be “first mover” even in the digital age, which is a tough challenge considering their size. To deliver power to the slope, they need pinpoint access to relevant innovation impulses, tailored technologies and opportunities for cooperation along their value-added streams. Worldwide. With start-ups and tech companies as win-win partners. The whole thing in a way that it can lead to success within a year or two. And all without the need to build a new factory on a green field.
Therefore, quality in scouting means: Even with all the dynamic and complexity of the digital world, seeing the wood for the trees. And find valuable fruits in this forest, harvest with partners, with which more than one new variety of fruit salad is possible.
EARLY BRANDS Insights: How is the growing interest of top decision-makers in scouting shown?
Alexander: Managers and decision makers in research and development, production and marketing have recognized the strategic importance of scouting for their business success. Anyone watching “Shark Tank” or “Die Höhle der Löwen” in German TV, and seeing how agile start-up companies generate millions of euros in sales within months, would like that too. Only bigger, because your own company base is multiple times larger. Therefore, they address these exciting topics by their own, aiming to position their companies with innovations.
EARLY BRANDS Insights: How did innovation and technology scouting come about as an EARLY BRANDS expertise?
Alexander: The discovery of valuable technological and innovation opportunities has always been part of our DNA. Already in 2007, we had the opportunity to identify tailored innovation opportunities and technology partners worldwide for technology participation projects and open innovation initiatives. Leading companies such as Coca-Cola Corporation or GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare gave us their briefing. And then we started the first expedition around scouting. With first own scouting teams, who identify in the USA, Canada and Europe, what is out there, also capturing product samples and consumer voices in the local markets. Supplemented by media research, our first own technology and innovation databases and doctor Google. As well as solid brand and consumer insights thinking that as a leader in my corporate career at KRAFT Foods Europe and KraftJacobsSuchard I was able to appreciate. Technology edge plus partners plus consumer centricity matters.
However, in days of the Google “filter bubble” and coded patents, much more is needed today.
One example: Try Google for ten days looking for a purple cow. If you are just looking for the word cow on the eleventh day, chances are good that Google will offer you a purple cow and even a Milka chocolate. That’s why we built up our own scouting technologies at EARLY BRANDS a few years ago and continue to develop this with many great partners.
My understanding of the art of scouting is to filter 50-100 out of 50,000 potentially relevant impulses every month and identify business opportunities. It’s all about tailored results that together with the innovation and research goals, the brands and the know-how in the company make something valuable possible.
EARLY BRANDS Insights: What significance do trend forecasts and patent databases have for technological detection and innovation success?
Alexander: Of course, there are a lot of trend gurus, research oracles and very well-made trend analyzes that provide inspiration. Or IT companies that want to predict innovation and technology developments through patent databases. My experience is: trends and market-driven growth drivers are a very welcome tailwind. We catch it and gladly take it on the expedition for growth and economic success through innovation. But at the same time, new boats, sails or even spaceships can rarely be built from it…
EARLY BRANDS Insights: How does scouting become a success for companies?
Alexander: The high benefit and value is created regularly when as many different scouting aspects as possible are included – from start-ups to competitors to suppliers and experts. Secondly, it is also about thinking and acting across market and category boundaries. It’s not about looking for a new refill ink for the pen, but thinking in broader innovation and technology categories. Why not speaking instead of writing? This is how Siri came into existence. Thirdly, strategic suppliers and tech partners like to be actively involved in scouting. It is about working hand in hand in partnership and recognizing potential.
To capitalize on these benefits, we at EARLY BRANDS play the entire gamut from scouting strategy and conception, operational scouting with our networks and digital tools, to innovation and technology portfolio management. As well as the tech relationship building with start-ups and tech companies.
EARLY BRANDS Insights: How to use innovation and technology opportunities in the company profitably?
Alexander: It’s about linking the impulses with the company’s ideas to new business opportunities with know-how and strong partners. And to bring these implementation concepts as initiatives into the exploration and implementation in an agile way. Also, ideas of customers and consumers can be included at an early stage.
Our task is to facilitate the exploitation of valuable innovation and technology opportunities. And also to support their rapid economic utilization at all levels. Team playing with the top decision-makers and employees in the companies.
EARLY BRANDS Insights: Can you make this concrete with the help of successful examples?
Alexander: Definitely. For many very cool brand companies, tech companies and b2b industrial companies, we have been making lasting economic contributions of up to 10-15 million euros per year, and sometimes even more. However, this is the result of the performance of the people in these companies. We act as enablers and supporters, doing the innovation designs, making values transparent or coordinating.
The value of scouting arises in particular from the development of new profitable sources of revenue. It’s about on-top sales and boosting profit margins. Not as individual projects, but in the overall view as agile innovation and growth portfolios, the optimal opportunity and value profile of such a portfolio is created. As with professional asset management, it is the same with the detection and utilization of innovation and technology opportunities: If several valuable balls are up in the air at the same time, more valuable results will reach their destination. Further positive effects for the companies are quality improvements or sustainability advantages often associated with efficiency or productivity improvements.
EARLY BRANDS Insights: What is the receipt for success?
Alexander: Innovation & Technology Scouting is an important and essential starting point for successfully exploiting innovation opportunities for business development. At the same time, in the end it is always the people – in our team and in our partners teams – who make the difference. With passion and know-how. Thinking and acting in terms of market and customer needs remains crucial to success.
It is all about understanding the people with whom we shape the future together and enabling them to be successful with their companies. Learning every day and growing together.
Catch the Future…!