Archive for Nicola Smith

5 Rules for Driving Innovation

Posted by Nicola Smith on October 28th, 2012 at 12:29 pm

First of all, let’s get one thing straight: Innovation is NOT technology.  Technology is often a driver and enabler of innovation, but innovation itself is more about the cultural and behavioral shifts that occur in society as a result of a new technology, product, service or belief. And for something to be considered truly “innovative,” it must drive substantial positive change.  So we are not talking about the Spork [1] here, people.
Innovation also tends to arrive in clusters; at certain points throughout history, humanity has overflowed with new ideas, products, services, art, literature, philosophy and technology, and I believe that we are living through one of these clusters right now.
So now that we are all on the same page regarding the definition of innovation, I want to share 5 rules about innovation that will help you understand how to foster forward-looking thinking within your own business or organization.

Exposure Often Lights the Fire – Exposure to different industries, technologies, content, processes, ideas, products, etc. is often the spark that drives innovation. Exposing yourself and your team to other ways of thinking and doing, even in relation to the simplest tasks, can drive more innovative thinking.  And today, with the access to information... Read more

The Robots Are Coming! The Robots Are Coming!

Posted by Nicola Smith on September 19th, 2012 at 6:51 am

For several decades, the symbol of the future has been the robot. Throughout history there have been numerous references to animatronic, mechanical beings created to perform specialized tasks. One of the earliest mentions of a robot-like, artificial people appeared in Greek mythology with the god of metalwork, Vulcan, who created mechanical servants and handmaidens. Since then, literature and entertainment have given us example after example of what the future holds. There was, of course, the Jetsons’ robot maid, Rosie, the Mechanical Hound from Fahrenheit 451, and Gigantor from the black and white vaults. Robotics, however, are very real. The future is now.
The world’s robot population is staggering. The service robotics market alone is valued at $20.73 billion and expected to reach $46.18 billion by 2017. iRobot, the maker of the Roomba robotic vacuum, alone reports a 50% year-over-year increase in Home Robot revenue. It’s here-and-now evidence that we’re closer than ever to bringing our imaginative ideas around these machines to life.
Many of you reading this may already have a Roomba, or its floor washing sister, Scooba. Both were designed for a singular purpose, just as my historical and mythological examples were. Yet these modern robots have one key differentiator; aside... Read more

Why Buy When You Can Print?

Posted by Nicola Smith on June 12th, 2012 at 8:23 am

Where would we be if Gutenberg had not combined paper, ink, the screw press and movable type to bring us the printing press?  Well, I wouldn’t have a stack of magazines sitting on my desk. More importantly, we wouldn’t have the foundation for the mass distribution of information that we have today.  In other words, the true innovation driven by the printing press is the democratization of written communication. What’s more amazing is that we’re facing another revolutionary shift right now.
This revolution doesn’t have to do with the development of written content or information, but rather the physical production of products.  What I’m referring to is 3D printing technology. It’s a wave of innovation that’s about to hit us – and the industries we support – like a Muhammad Ali knockout punch to the jaw.
For those who aren’t familiar with the technology, 3D printers allow a user to manufacture or build an actual, workable item or product (including kinetic functionality) layer by layer, similar to the way that ink printers create an image on a piece of paper.
3D printing is often called additive manufacturing, and its real strength is that it’s much less reliant upon economies of scale, allowing for... Read more