The Wednesday of our Ignition Bootcamp boasted a jam-packed program with a major focus on technology and entrepreneurship: design thinking, growth hacking, Big Data, Artificial Intelligence (AI), machine learning, robots, Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality.
How to rapidly design and deploy
Omar Mohout started his session in full force by stating that no less than 9 in 10 startups fail. He continued by saying that the Business Model Canvas - used in the workshop the evening before - is an excellent starting point, but does not cover every step of creating a business. There is nothing in it about cash flow, growth strategy and pricing, for instance. Omar went on to stress that it is not so much the idea that’s important for a business as how you execute it. And IF you have an idea, you have to be extra critical about it, because building something that is only 10% better than the competition is not an incentive for customers to switch to your brand: you have to be 10 times better or you won’t make it.
It’s also about finding a shark bite problem on a mosquito bite scale, as explained in Omar's visuals below.
Safe to say that Omar really kept us with both feet on the ground, though our eyes were still looking at the stars … or rather at the moon and Mars (Yes, we did totally misquote Theodore Roosevelt and mixed his statement with references to GoogleX’s moonshots and SpaceX’s missions to Mars.)
Growth hacking in practice
Next up was the riveting growth hacking case of Movilitas as told by managing partner Dieter Laevers, who explained how companies can reach a very large international audience with (almost) ZERO budget. His company did so by sharing a campaign on the SlideShare platform with a Big Bang diffusion on every possible channel, from as much employees and partners as possible. “Use your employees as marketing capacity”, was one of our favorite quotes of his.
Entrepreneurship of 0 to 1
Mathieu De Lophem, general manager at Deliveroo, told us in his turn what makes their business model so successful. For one, his company used the network effect, local attention and a strong focus on operational efficiency to the fullest in order to scale. Here too the “when digital becomes human” theme of Steven Van Belleghem resurfaced: digital plays a key role in Deliveroo’s operational efficiency, but the bicycle couriers were the ones really making the difference, Mathieu stressed.
Big data 101
After lunch, Advanced Analytics & Big Data Architect Bart Van der Vurst of Element61 gently nursed the Bootcampers through the topic of Big Data. True, data and analytics have allowed us to gather insights and make data-driven decisions for a pretty long time now, but a fast-changing environment like ours, requires new tools. And that’s where Big Data comes in. According to Bart, it’s an evolution and NOT a revolution: it’s all about adding new technological building blocks to your existing IT. But THE most important thing, is to discover first which building blocks your organization needs in a step-by-step manner: create awareness, try something out, scale and learn. “Don’t try to solve everything at once”, was his final advice.
What can Artificial Intelligence do for you?
Jeroen ter Heerdt (Microsoft) talked about the hot topic of artificial intelligence, machine learning, deep learning and what it can actually do for companies. He showed us how to look beyond the buzz words and not to forget that the technology of machine learning, for instance, already exists for years. What has changed is that today, “everybody” can use AI as it is becoming more and more affordable. Today, we DO have the computing power to achieve what we could not at the dawn of Artificial Intelligence. It has been democratized and THAT is the exciting part. One of the problems is data: we have all these zettabytes of data, nicely contained in data lakes, but as Jeroen puts it “Most of us don’t know how to swim in it”. Jeroen saw trend monitoring, removing bubble blindness, improvement of decisions, improvement of proactiveness, product improvement, boosted intelligence and profitability as the biggest ways in which AI can already help our companies today.
When robots become human
The leitmotif running through the presentation by VUB professor Bram Vanderborght was the question if robots are a curse or a godsend. His message was that disruptive technology WILL transform life, business and the global economy and that companies just have to prepare for that.
According to a recent study in Oxford, 47% of current jobs will be replaced by robots and computers in the coming decades. But people shouldn’t be afraid of losing their jobs to robots, Bram feels. On the contrary, robots offer a solution to societal challenges like ageing, reshoring as well as healthier, better and more jobs. Robots can also create new economic markets, new products and new jobs.
The point – as Steven Van Belleghem stressed on Day 1 of the Ignition Bootcamp – is not the machine being the prime consideration, but the employee. Most important of all, Bram says, is to be able to take care of one another. Perhaps robots will free up time, so that Management can become more human again.
How to tell great stories
Next up Axelle Vanquaillie showed us the power of great stories and how story tellers should as much be story listeners. Don’t just tell “a” story, always keep your eyes fixed on what you want to accomplish and work your way up to that. Also, always keep the five main ingredients of storytelling in your mind, as beautifully drawn by Axelle here below.
Workshop: when robots come marching in
Robotics will change our future, whether we like it or not. That’s why Fyxxilab prepares ‘children’ between the ages of 5 to 99 years by training them with 21st century skills: learning how to encrypt, make basic robots, try-fail-try again ... “It might, one day, even change your life”, was Isabel Allaerts’ message to the bootcampers, before her workshop, featuring the LEGO Mindstorms robot. The aim of the short challenge was to show that programming robots isn’t all that difficult. Like many things in life, it’s about trying, making mistakes, learning from them and trying again!
A wider perspective on Virtual Reality
Nanopixel’s Jochen van Lysebettens believes that our imagination is the only limitation in VR. Where we are today, with VR, is a bit like where social media was a little over 10 years ago. It’s waiting, just around the corner, to become integrated into society. Companies and brands such as HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Google Cardboard and PlayStation VR have already ensured that VR has been democratized and has found its way into millions of homes. Now, innovative companies too have already incorporated it in their sales- and marketing strategy. VR will soon be a tool – a medium – that is an integral part of every new sales- or marketing plan.
The future of Augmented Reality
Nick Thienpondt of Delaware Consulting explained how Augmented Reality - instead of creating an entirely new environment (like Virtual Reality does) - places a graphic overlay over the physical world. Whenever immediate contextual information is required, AR apps can enhance day-to-day operations in a very proactive and intuitive way. When field technicians scan a part of a machine with their HoloLens, for instance, it can guide them through the entire process of replacing components for maintenance or repair. The HoloLens allows technicians to scan certain parts hands-free and to check information through voice commands while staying focused on the task at hand.
Day three’s activities came to an end in the Experience lab, with a chance to experiment with VR, AR and robots. It was the time most of us rediscovered our inner child. And we have the tweets to prove it!
Inspired to join our next Ignition Bootcamp which will take place in Utrecht between 20 and 24 March 2017? Register now as seats are limited!
For those who are not familiar with our Bootcamps, they are insanely intensive 5-day perspective-shifting experiences. We organize them because we believe that you cannot “learn” innovation. It is not a theory. But you can pick up an innovation mindset by opening your eyes to the biases that (mis)guide you, by incorporating radical new trends, by looking outside your comfort zone of knowledge and experience, by talking to mind-mates (like soulmates, but for the mind) from different sectors, and by thinking and doing things that might seem counterintuitive to you.
Our innovation Bootcamps don’t “teach”. They want to embed participants into a network of intelligence. They move beyond knowledge and aim for cognitive agility as well as real impact on how participants think and solve problems. In short: they transform the mind-set. This is how we help our bootcampers lay the groundwork for change.