Silicon Valley is more than a place, it’s a movement. While many debate where the “next” Silicon Valley will gain prominence, the point that many onlookers miss is that innovation is at the heart of the crusade. Whether it’s in the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, New York, London, Paris, India, et al., innovation is global and its sole purpose is to disrupt our way of life…for the better of course.
Just because things have always been done a certain way, doesn’t mean we couldn’t improve it…
Why couldn’t we try it this way?
What if we developed something that finally allowed us to…
There’s no reason this couldn’t be done better to improve…
These are just a few of the scenarios that drive entrepreneurs and inspire investors to bring ideas to life. And some of those ideas generate enough momentum to change behavior, create new opportunities, solve problems and earn big payouts in the process.
I once proclaimed that I couldn’t imagine a day when SnapChat would see an acquisition offer of more than the $3b Facebook brought to the fledgling startup’s doorstep. Shortly thereafter, Facebook acquired WhatsApp, a mobile messaging network, for a mind-numbing $19b.
With 450 million regular users sending 20 billion messages per day, WhatsApp is demonstrating in real-time how disruption emerges out of nowhere. This phenomenon, as Orange Silicon Valley, the Bay Area division of the French telecommunications company, sees it as a new billion dollar hunt for digital “unicorns.”
This acquisition led Orange to study 60 companies that Orange calls according to The Wall Street Journal, “unicorns—a new type of legendary startup” with rapid growth and a rapidly growing valuation that doesn’t look like startups of the past.
The report is intended in part to explain what is happening in Silicon Valley so the rest of the world can learn from it.
Chris Arkenberg and Ken Yeung of Orange reached out to me as they were deep in the research process to discuss disruption and what lies ahead. More so, I wanted to offer guidance to big and small companies alike to better understand how innovation isn’t limited to startups or locales. What entrepreneurs are to startups, intrapreneurs are to the enterprise. They are leading a new genre digital transformation, a renaissance of sorts that allows bigger companies to compete in connected markets.
Whether you’re in a startup or leading digital transformation efforts, I wanted to share my conversation with the Orange team with you here.
Your work explores the impacts of what you call Digital Transformation. What does this mean for companies trying to keep up?
If you attempt to compete for the future, if you invest in new technologies to meet the needs of your market, then you will win. But there’s a more prominent part of Digital Transformation that comes from how you and I are changing as a result of technology’s impact on our lives. That’s where a lot of innovation can occur. Innovation has less to do with technology than it has to do with how you think about the opportunities to evolve or to create. I’ve found in most cases that change doesn’t start from the top down. You have to rely on the change agents to create a sense of urgency from the bottom-up and then win over executives in order to drive change from the top-down. That’s really how a culture of innovation starts.
How can older incumbents adapt to the change and disruption? Can they evolve and play on this field without getting run over?
A lot of organizations today are very stubborn. They have cultures that are more management-driven so they are optimized to scale and to grow based on the world that is and the roadmaps that exist today. It takes a culture of innovation and resilience to be able to even think you have something to learn in the first place. When you have a leadership infrastructure that’s really focused on today, they aren’t necessarily in touch with how things are changing. Until leadership leads, the culture is going to have to adapt slowly.
What’s your perspective on Unicorns and the new tier of billion-dollar-plus valuations?
When you talk about spotting a Unicorn, we tend to get caught up in trying to find the next thing based on historical performance, traction in the marketplace, investment dollars, investors, founder teams. But these factors aren’t enough to find a Unicorn. What’s going to help you find a Unicorn is digital anthropology, to recognize an opportunity based on behavior. It’s what I call the Dilemma’s Innovator. It’s solving problems and creating opportunities based on unmet needs.
$19 B is an exorbitant amount of money to pay for WhatsApp, for example. It’s going to create an unfair bar because people are going to look at the users, the potential revenue, and the valuation instead of the reasons why WhatsApp is what it is and why Facebook bought it. WhatsApp is special because it addresses a market need that was unaddressed. Text messaging and iMessage weren’t meeting the needs of the younger generation.
Facebook famously said that “we want to be the dial tone for the internet”. That’s a really big statement. That means that they want to change how people communicate. If you really extrapolate what $19B means, maybe at some point you’re not going to have a phone number. You’re going to have an IP address. You’re going to have something that’s unique to you regardless of the device or the platform. That’s a powerful future to consider. It’s a $19B bet on that.
Altimeter’s resident Internet of Things expert Jessica Groopman talks with UnboundID’s Emeka Obianwu.
Altimeter’s latest consumer survey focuses on privacy in the new age of connected devices.
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The impact of IBM’s partnership with the Weather Company and its mammoth investment in IoT.
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A look at the digital ethics and privacy conversations from this year’s SXSW conference.
How leaders can make the most of the biggest digitally-focused event of the year.
Why won’t Apple focus on the actual use cases for Apple Watch instead of how it looks?
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What social media teams need to do to get tweets showing up in Google search results.
How companies can use the Internet of Things to create experiences that benefit both the brand and its customers.
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A new book by Charlene Li tells today’s leaders how to start engaging their employees on the same digital channels as their customers.
NYT- and WSJ-bestselling author Charlene Li guides business leaders deeper than ever before into the uncomfortable and ever-changing terrain of the digital era.
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This year’s results have troubling implications for the technology industry.
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The digital trends and practices that require the most attention from business executives this year.
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If you’re making the trek to Austin in March, we hope you’ll catch up with the Altimeter crew.
A look at what we give up and gain when we allow our lives to be turned into sources for data.
How content marketers can take advantage of the new partnership that allows tweets to show up in Google search results.
Successful IoT strategies the consumer product world can learn from B2B enteprises.
Sprinklr will be looking to its new COO to convince enterprise leadership of social media’s importance across the entire organization.
Brands aren’t the only ones who must adapt to a mobile-first audience.
Takeaways from all the advertising we saw on Super Bowl Sunday.
Here are five data questions about the Super Bowl that we’d like the answer to.
With a slew of new features, Facebook could be taking up more space in the video marketing mix.
This month, we welcomed Omar Akhtar as our Managing Editor, a role that we created to shepherd exciting new initiatives at Altimeter.
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This week, the Altimeter team quietly moved from San Mateo to our new location in downtown San Francisco. We’re excited today to make the announcement official!
Highlights of what the Big Boulder Initiative accomplished in 2014, and its plans for the new year.
The essential steps you need to take to start building your customers’ mobile experiences.
A look at the best new startups to graduate from Alchemist Accelerator, an accelerator for enterprise collaboration tools.
Things you need to know before you consider spending on Snapchat.
CES 2015 showed that companies are building too many devices, and not focusing enough on the the value they can provide through connectivity.
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This document is just a first step toward setting context for the many disruptions of ubiquitous and complex data, but it includes preliminary frameworks to help us examine these issues in more detail.
Charlene Li and Jon Cifuentes share research on how leading organizations use social and digital technologies to create holistic employee engagement strategies that drive business impact and cultural change.
We evaluated the US Congress according to our social governance framework, and the results weren’t great.
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What you need to know about Facebook’s newly launched workplace collaboration tool, and the impact it could have in a highly competitive space.
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Predictions? Humbug. Never done ‘em, never will. As a research analyst, predictions are antithetical to my methodology, which is research followed by analysis.
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The story of the blind men and the elephant originated centuries ago in the Indian subcontinent. In the well-known parable, each man has limited context and therefore believes the elephant to be something different. One feels the trunk and thinks it’s a fountain. One touches the ear and thinks it’s a fan. Others think it’s […]
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We can all pretty much universally agree that with native advertising comes the obligation of disclosure and transparency.
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Charlene Li and I are pleased to offer you Altimeter’s latest research report focused on Social Business Governance.
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I crossed an item off my bucket list when I gave a TED Talk at TED@IBM on Sept. 23rd. The event was part of the new TED Institute, which partners with companies to create TED-curated events.
Altimeter and Capgemini Consulting to Collaborate on Thought Leadership, Research, and Global Consulting
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Altimeter’s recent research for its report, The 2014 State of Digital Transformation, uncovered that investing in new digital technologies (social, mobile, big data, cloud, etc.) doesn’t always equate to uniting those efforts around a common vision supported by an updated, integrated infrastructure.
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Ten years ago today, I wrote my first blog post, entitled “Blogging as a State of Mind.”
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As part of our open research process, I would like to extend an invite for your input, feedback, case examples, or any other insights you’d like to contribute to our upcoming research around the Internet of Things.
Today, we’re happy to officially announce the launch of our new site, designed by digital marketing firm Bluetext.
A genuine culture of content goes far beyond enabling and empowering content creators outside of marketing.
In this one-hour webinar, Brian Solis shares research on how businesses explore digital transformation, including results from a 2014 survey of leading digital strategists.
We’re pleased to announce that Susan Etlinger, Brian Solis and Rebecca Lieb are each speaking at this year’s event.
While most of the tech and business press focused on the functionality of the Apple Watch (digital crown, battery life, taptic engine, yadda yadda…) discreetly milling around the event were the fashion press, invited by Apple’s new fashion and design team.
In this 45-minute webinar, analyst Rebecca Lieb shares best practices for your content marketing software selection process.
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How should content be measured and analyzed? Let us count the ways (or at least begin to).
How should content be measured and analyzed? Let us count the ways (or at least begin to).
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We recognize that existing RFP templates cannot be retrofitted to the task of soliciting content marketing solutions due to a number of specific challenges.
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