Posts Tagged ‘post industrial platforms’

Exploring post-industrial platforms

This spread is the centerfold of an interesting little PDF called Fact, Forces, Fog:: Reckless guesses in a time of change by The Doblin Group of Chicago.  I was first introduced to it in the Fall (Autumn) semester of 2003 when I took Larry Keeley‘s class “Design Planning” (or whatever its being called now) at the Institute of Design-IIT. It captured my imagination, and to be honest, hasn’t let go since then.

I bring it up in order to introduce the basic concept of a “post-industrial platform”, from a post written some three years ago, here is my snippet:

What do we see when we look at the PDF centrefold?
Keeley shared that if we look at the way things were – the greyed out section on the left hand side titled Industries gave rise to material goods & services then look at how things are ‘now’ [approximately 2002/2003] Digital systems and connections amplify trends, using Doblin’s methods they were able to forecast the future direction of way things were going to be evolving.

The essence of the evolution if you look at the clusters closely is that business models are evolving away from the capital intensive industrial infrastructure requirements of an Industrial era towards post industrial platforms based on intangible concepts. On the far right hand side is the final section titled Hot fields foster powerful convergence. Doblin’s team identified 11 key areas:

Simplicity – Enlightenment – Talent leverage – Mastery – Travel – Entertainment – Personal Expression – Relationships – Financial health – Health & Environment – Political Freedom

Now, at first glance, comparing these words, with those I’d extracted in yesterday’s post, it seems as though Wisdom itself is a meta-platform, comprised of the following:

Value –  Understanding –  High Standards –  Curiosity –  Love –  Uncompromising vision –  Ennoble – Eternal.
But a closer look at the concepts themselves will show that they are not all capable of becoming platforms in their own right, by virtue of the definition given above.  These are the individual qualities of wisdom, and needs must be taken together in order to embody Wisdom itself.
On the other hand, Love, as a concept, can and does exist outside of wisdom (as any cheesy soap opera will inform us).  And Umair Haque’s articulation from his Wisdom Manifesto, has it as:

Strategy is the application of force. Wisdom is the application of love. Strategy suppresses, but Wisdom evokes. Its test is the ability to spark new ideas, concepts, and solutions. That is how to be valued by people, communities, and society

Wisdom is the application of love. That is, one discovers, that perhaps wisdom is not a platform per se, but its manifestation, which then can be articulated in the many ways already so discussed.  Therefore, one is left with the point to ponder further, is Love then a post-industrial platform in its own right? And if so, is it repeating any of the concepts that have already been covered by the existing 11 platforms articulated above? The closest seems to be Relationships, so I zoomed in on the clustering of tags shown around it from the PDF.

Interesting. As a platform for business models, the intangible concept of Relationships resembles all the services available online for social networking, matchmaking, dating, sharing media and common interests as well as those which have tried to embody ‘trust’ into their interactions. But there’s no mention of the emotions behind these qualities, the engine or driver of empathy or that indefinable, inexplicable sense of our common humanity.

Perhaps there is, indeed, room for one more post-industrial platform then. But  how would we extrapolate its manifestation, since so much of what we know as “love”  has been commodified into meaninglessness by every pop song or preacher around the world? Although it must be acknowledged that everything we talk about when we look at “doing well by doing good”, or “social impact” or even, the triple bottomline over pure profits, seem to implicitly imply a form of love, perhaps for nothing else but simply that for our own emerging future.

This conversation will undoubtedly continue…

Your thoughts?

The maturing of the African mobile phone market Feb 2008 to Nov 2010

This post has been percolating through my mind for the last couple of days, its time to attempt setting it out in words for a stab in the dark at some clarity.  The trigger was the recent hue and cry over Nokia’s percieved downfall as the calculated global market share for the device manufacturer dropped to under 30% after the heydays of hitting almost 40% in the recent past. Digging through the data showed that the actual size of the market had grown significantly, the equivalent of a large size pizza instead of a medium sized one. Naturally the percentage share would drop even if the absolute numbers of devices sold increased. The growth in overall market was primarily driven by the category called “Others” and to a smaller degree, the exponential growth of Android as an OS. The data is all available here, I am not bringing the table into this post because I can already sense that my circumlocutory meanderings in this space are going elsewhere.

Before I go forward, I want to step back.


Its a pity I deleted my old blog and can’t link to the relevant post directly, but regular readers may recall this visual that I’d used for a post on Africa as the driver for innovation in the mobile space. Googlefu finds that the wayback machine has finally done its job, so here’s the relevant snippet accompanying the above visual from a post written December 14th, 2007:

Lets face it, Brazil, Russia, India and China have emerged and we can start calling them ‘driving markets’. So what’s really emerging in the mobile innovation sphere?


Think about it, where did the concept of airtime minutes as an alternative currency arise? Along with numerous different innovative business models centered around the use of airtime as a means for making transactions, providing credit and other banking services? What about the proliferation of small business opportunities for the entreprenuerial? From car battery charging stations to sophisticated voice and text based social networking services? Not from the BRIC for sure.

Shortly thereafter, Emerging Futures Lab stuck its head into the space directly with an African fieldtrip looking at the lower income demographic. From that foray, the following sketch emerged as our synthesis of the market forces at play in the context of the mobile phone landscape as of early 2008,

Africa Mobile price shift by Emerging Futures Lab, Torino February 2008

Africa Mobile price shift by Emerging Futures Lab, Torino February 2008

In summary, back then the situation was primarily focused on the killer app of voice and text – communication leapfrogging the vacuum that the high cost and lack of appropriate infrastructure had created as its legacy.  The market had just begun to show the crazy growth – where did we recently read that it took 25 years to reach the landmark figure of the first 20o million African mobile phone subscribers but the next 200 million have emerged in the past 3? The crown prince was the basic Nokia handset and the average price for a candybar was 50 USD so we put that in the middle of our bell curve of price vs purchasing opportunity.  Cutting a long story short, projecting weak signals a short distance forward implied a rise in numbers across the board in terms of sales and new buyers but also a concurrent flattening of the curve as the price line stretched out between the high end and low end – this was looking at the “prepaid” market or those who manage on irregular income streams. Services were the next major opportunity space, given time to market in a product development cycle.

But that was then, this is now.

Everything has changed in the three years and the market is now showing all the signs of imminent maturity rather than potential growth. Sure, numbers sold and new phone users are increasing exponentially but that is not the primary focus anymore. The African mobile market has not only matured rapidly, even while growing, but its leapfrogging the traditional “market analysis curve and behaviour” to attempt to articulate the complex situation. Its sophisticated far beyond its youthful years and this is the underestimation that is creating a cognitive dissonance amongst those seeking to address the challenges from the point of view of corporate strategy.

Look, the phone has already become established as the go to or default technodevice building block. Erik Hersman puts it well in today’s blogpost, here’s a significant yet relevant extract:

We’re already seeing stories of the way guys are doing everything from creating their own vehicle security systems, home security systems, distance-triggered food preparation and even fish catching alerts. That’s with no support at all. What happens when you provide a space to make it faster, better and possibly an avenue to manufacturers and funders?

The vacuum leading to innovation and leapfrogging of technological solutions has not been limited to simply the device and service alone as in the beginning. As soon as a critical mass of devices and service affordability was reached, experimentation, innovation and invention took over to provide a host of relevant, ingenious and sometimes mindblowing solutions.  This is no more simply a market for affordable mobile phones and uplifting solutions for the world’s overlooked and underserved. Africa has become a pioneer in technological innovation on the wireless platform – products, services, applications far ahead of anything we can imagine for this little brick in our pocket.

Our biggest error would be to continue to use the same lens by which to view the African mobile phone market as we did three years ago. The mobile phone has already changed the world.  Where do we want to go tomorrow?